This will be a somewhat different About Me page than you might be used to. If you want to see a sanitized, more conventional version, check out my LinkedIn – if you want to get to know me however, read on.
Table of Contents
The reason I’m writing this page is because I find it important to understand how a person came to be. Most of the time when people see someone, be it in real life or as some online profile like this one, they only see the surface level. This page is a work in progress. For now I just completed my personal story, which may still get extended or changed as I work on it.
A lot of information here is very personal, and possibly not even of any interest to you. Regardless, I choose to be open about myself, my flaws and who I am. If people this means you lose interest in employing me or becoming my friend, then it was probably better this way to begin with.
I was born on August 6. 1991 in Mainz, Germany, son of my mother, Meike Irrgang-Lück (then just carrying the surname Lück) and a German Turk man whose name I don’t even know. The exact circumstances elude me, though as far as I know he wasn’t a kind man, and after (among other things) threatening to kidnap me to Turkey and make sure my mother would never see me again, my mother left him with me. My last memory of him is of him trying to lure me out of the primary school playground, but at that point I was already so far estranged from him, that I was too scared to do so. I didn’t even fully understand that he was my biological father.
My mother raised me largely on her own, working menial jobs to support me and my grandmother. Her father had passed years before. While she worked, my grandmother would take care of me, who herself suffered greatly from the loss of her husband. My mother had several siblings, who elected to flee the nest, not before at least one of them plundered their parent’s bank account. This and the loss of her father’s income left a large amount of debt that my mother struggled to pay off. I was blissfully unaware of how tough those times were, and only have pleasant memories of a large garden, helping my grandmother watering the flowers or playing under the large cherry tree. I owe a lot to both of them, and I am very thankful for their sacrifices.
When I was around 8 years old, my father joined our family, and I always considered him as such. Together my parents carved out a pleasant little life for ourselves. My mother continued to work odd jobs to help out and my father worked full time as a train conductor. Money still remained a problem and continued to be the cause of a lot of misery in all of our lives.
Neither were privileged enough to enjoy a particularly extensive education, so their abilities to support me during my own educational endeavors were limited. This came to bear particularly when I struggled with Math. During a crucial part of my education, I failed to grasp the fundamentals of Algebra. My parents, unable to help me themselves, also lacked the funds to hire a tutor or otherwise get me the help I needed. A neighbor’s kid eventually tried to help me, but as the saying goes – too little, too late. As such, I never learned basic Algebra – and with it, essentially all fields that employed it, so basically nearly all of science, remained barred from me, seemingly forever.
I tried to do my best. I avoided Math heavy subjects and did reasonably well. Eventually I even managed to get my Abitur – the highest level of education anyone in my extended family had ever reached, and my parents were proud of me.
I arrived at a crucial point in my life, in which I was expected to set my long-term goals. At that time in my life I had already gained an interest in the arts. Through circumstance I had gained artist friends, and spent a lot of my time in the year I finished my Abitur traveling through Germany and visiting many (art) museums. I did two internships, one at a design studio and one at a photography store, both of which allowed me to look into different kinds of artistic careers. For a time I strongly considered studying Communication Design. It was a fascinating field, and I had an interest in design, photography and typography. Eventually I decided that the artistic life wasn’t for me. I was suffering heavily from mental health issues at the time, as well as a strained relationship with my parents. I was convinced that the pressure of work in the arts would be too much for me.
Instead, I chose to do an apprenticeship as a “computer technician”. Back then it was already clear it was a lucrative field, and I at least had a passing interest in computers. It was nothing compared to many others who I would eventually meet at university, who would have been at the same age at the time – but it seemed like the most reasonable option for me.
Turns out that I did rather well during my apprenticeship. I ended up applying for an apprenticeship at the Deutsche Telekom AG – my reasoning being, a company as large as DTAG would have the resources and interest to give me the best education possible. A mistake I would sadly make again at a later point in my life. It required me to move to Berlin, move 600 km away from my parents and live on my own. Considering my at the time difficult relationship to them, that seemed like a plus.
DTAG ended up not to actually give a damn. Luckily through my own initiative, I taught myself through an offering of the trade school the art of networking. I gained my first Cisco certificate there, and I was even offered a special opportunity to gain another certificate – all my employer would have to pay would have been travel and hotel expenses. But they denied my request – something I’d never forgive them – and I decided to pay for it out of my own pocket.
I graduated from my apprenticeship with an 1.0 – I was even awarded as one of the best apprentices of the year from the trade office. All seemed well.
It was now 2014, and through personal connections I got a job in Munich as a consultant. Work had its ups and downs, but I continued my education then. Gained a lot more certifications and expertise. It culminated in working on a project that would take me to Iraq, working on a contract for the local government. But I eventually grew tired of my work. It seemed like there wasn’t much room to grow, or at least the perspectives weren’t particularly enticing. I still felt largely unfulfilled in life.
Through circumstance I learned of something called MOOCs, which gave me the opportunity to learn Math again – on my own time. Together it sparked the idea that – hey, maybe I could study at university after all? I ended up studying Math from what was basically pre-algebra up to a pre-calculus level through the help of Khan Academy and ALEKS, access of which was provided through the platform edX. I spent evenings after work and weekends studying. I applied to study Computer Science at the Technische Universität München (TUM), and got in.
University life was… tough. I was much older than everyone else. I had a much worse educational background, and was still ways behind everyone when it came to Math skills. But things went reasonably well. I even organized a self-help group and resources from the university to help each other. Unfortunately, things would not continue as well as things had started.
As I mentioned before, my grandmother and I were very close. She was an integral part of my early childhood, and she spent a lot of time with my parents and I. The last months of her life were rather ugly. Old family feuds reared their ugly heads, which culminated in a full-blown conflict when my grandmother was moved to the hospice wing of the hospital she had stayed at.
It even came to a conflict between me and my parents. Long story short, I ended up staying with my grandmother when everyone else had left. People visited throughout the day, but would go home at night. And I could not bear the thought of her being alone during these crucial times. I did not want her to be scared. I wanted to be there for her, so she would have a familiar face by her side on her last steps through her life.
University life didn’t stop during that time, so I would try to do my coursework on my laptop while sitting beside her bed, playing calming music on my Bluetooth speaker and occasionally holding her hand. My intuition would turn out to be correct. It was night, I was alone with her. She had grown increasingly tired, spend most of her time asleep and unresponsive. At last, it was time. People don’t pass away gently in their sleep. That is something we like to tell each other to make the passing of a loved one easier to bear. More commonly however, is a dire struggle of the body trying to keep its basic life functions working as it slowly starts to fail. The respiratory system would struggle to force air into the lungs, causing strained, heavy breathing and gasping. The failing circulatory system would impede blood flow to the brain, causing among other things hallucinations of a dying brain. And so I would stand beside her bed, crying, holding her hand and telling her not to be afraid, and that I would be there for her, while she reached out to the ceiling, gasping for air. Until she stopped. I kept telling her that I loved her and continued to reassure her, until a nurse told me that it was time for me to go. I cried my eyes out. Even now as I write this, the tears are once again streaming down my face.
It was a traumatic experience, that I don’t wish upon anyone to experience on their own. But I am glad that I did it, and it is probably still the proudest moment of my life. That despite everything, I chose to stay by her side when others had left, to not leave her alone in these last moments. The experience shook me. It made me reconsider my relationship to my parents, which was at the same time not particularly healthy. We have grown a lot closer since then, and mended a lot of the past hurt we had inflicted to each other. That was at least one of the good things that had come out of the passing of my grandmother.
Still, it wasn’t an experience that I could easily shake off. In total it took nearly two months from my grandmother first falling ill until her passing. Two months which impeded my studies severely. Considering that, I did surprisingly well. I passed 3 out of 4 classes, only failing my Discrete Math class. Still, it would severely impact my studies regardless.
Once I had fallen behind on my studies, I severely struggled to catch up. Already at a disadvantage from my particular history, it stacked the odds even further against me. And despite doing my best, I found myself not catching up. I like to compare this to Red Queen’s Race:
“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”Carroll, Lewis: Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, Chapter 2
In particular for my Math studies, this meant that my success was limited and rather mediocre. It caused delays in my studies which would continue to further strain me mentally.
Eventually I decided I needed to take a break. I spent a few months in a mental health clinic where I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD for short. This particular personality disorder requires a certain kind of treatment that the clinic couldn’t offer. So it seemed like the best idea to move forward would be to seek treatment afterwards.
The date was December, 2019.
When COVID hit, I was still out of university, to tend to my mental health. I spent most of my time with my family, as was a lot more enticing than spending my time cooped up at home – and more importantly, it allowed me to help my parents raising their new German Shepherd Dog puppy, Aki. Aside from that I tried to catch up on my studies. Getting therapy was put on hold because of COVID as well, so I tried to make the best of it. Eventually a year passed, and I went back to university.
Mediocre success at my studies and my mental health continued to weigh me down, one amplifying the other. It eventually lead to another “crisis” which would make me question my position in life, my desires and what I would consider my personal reason of life. Since then I have spent a lot of time studying Philosophy and trying to find my place in life, to finally find that which would fill that void inside of me, which I had attempted to fill ever since that summer after I completed my Abitur.
I’ve grown increasingly disheartened from my studies and my general trajectory of my life. Lately I have finally begun properly investing my time and mental energy in studying art. It is time I finally genuinely fulfill that desire to create, and become at least a hobby artist.