Hi, my name is Andrea Rijkeboer-van Gemert, Master of Science in Human Resource studies. After 9 years counseling and lecturing both international as well as Dutch students at a University of Applied Sciences, I have chosen to pursue a different kind of career. I followed my heart in wanting to contribute to students’ well-being in my own way. I’ve created Finding Flow, in which I incorporate my own search for flow with all lessons I have learned so far.
I feel that the time has come to pass these lessons on to students, so they can enjoy their student life more.
It must be because of my bilingual upbringing and my Dutch and Czech roots that I have always loved travelling and speaking foreign languages. An international environment makes me feel at home. One of the most rewarding things in life is connecting to other people. Examples of happy moments in my life are when I am with my husband Mark near our fireplace with our cat Pooky and a nice glass of beer. Yes, those are my Czech roots speaking.
I love reading books that enrich my life or easygoing novels that make me relaxed. Examples of the first kind are books written by Brene Brown or topics within the field of psychology and spirituality. I am fascinated by Nelson Mandela’s courageous story. One of the things I try to do several times a week is go for a run, since it makes me clear my mind. I love being outside and connecting to (my) nature.
My search for happiness began when I started working fulltime at the age of 18. I had just quit college during the second year, since I felt extremely unhappy there. It was not at all how I expected it would be and I didn’t fit in. As things were rough at home, I was dealing with the situation by myself. I hardly took time to recuperate from the whole situation which had caused me a lot of stress and energy. I started working straight away. As I wasn’t able to find what I was looking for and I was easily bored, I kept on changing jobs as if it were clothes.
The urge to proof myself
My image of the future had been destroyed, so I had to rebuild it from scratch. It felt as if I had failed, so I needed to prove myself and my family what I am worth. That is why I wanted to find a job in which I was able to show my capabilities. Since I have always loved learning, I was looking for challenges. It made me feel empty not to be able to find them, so I lost my motivation, my ability to work hard and in the process I lost myself. I wasn’t able to enjoy life.
Deep down I felt that I didn’t want that kind of life for myself and I knew that I would be the only one who could change something about it, so going back to college wasn’t an issue anymore. I know what it’s like to do work that doesn’t suit you, spend your days watching the clock and how life can seem meaningless.
Back to college
I wanted to help people find the right position in companies, so they feel happy and they are able to add value in return.That is why I decided to study human resource management. ‘Most hours of our lives we spend working, so let’s do work we love.’ It is still my motto.
The master’s degree opened doors, since I have been able to work as a lecturer in higher education for 9 years. For the first time I felt challenged and valued for what I did which was a wonderful feeling I hadn’t experienced before. Study counseling was the part of the job which made me happiest, since I felt that my added value was highest.
At the age of 33 I was experiencing major personal changes in my life. I was looking for a new challenge, had switched jobs in the same organization, got married and on top of that my husband changed jobs as well. I was under a lot of stress during that time and I felt trapped in my job. I stagnated and was experiencing less energy and motivation.
The path of soul searching
Something needed to change. It was the moment I started moving down the path of soul searching. I have practiced several methods such as mindfulness and yoga, I have been coached myself by several people using different methods and I have read many psychological and spiritual books. I have learned to deal with emotions and my energy level. I have opened up to listening to my intuition, so I have come to understand what it is I want from life.
For years I had been working hard to make things work and I felt it didn’t bring me enough results. That is why I longed for things to be effortlessly, which is the state called flow. Stress is the opposite from flow, so I wanted to learn what is needed to live a life from flow. I enrolled in a study program for Stress counselor, so I learned important tools.
Building confidence to make my dreams come true
Both my intuition and confidence were growing stronger, so I started to listen to my inner voice which was telling me to move down a different path. That is how I came to quit my job as a lecturer and set up my own business as life coach for students. I feel that this choice touches the core essences of who I am and therefore makes me happy.
Coaching people feels like touching people’s souls. When a coachee gains new insights, there is so much relief and hope for the future, which brings calmness in their lives.
When people open up to who they are and are able to see their own potential, they are able to seize opportunities. To me that is incredibly rewarding. That is why I do what I do.