I grew up in Germany, and spent most of my life there. And yet, I never felt at home in Germany, never liked living there. If Germany was a family member of mine, it would be a heartless, cold, disapproving stepdad—that’s how I’d describe it.
But I don’t want to feel that way. My family lives here, many of my friends live here, and whether I like it or not, Germany will be part of my life for the rest of my life. So in this episode, I’m wondering how I can improve my relationship with Germany, and make it a place that I like staying at.
[00:00:00] Let’s talk Germany. There’s no way dancing around this.
We ought to talk about it. my, our I’d like to say hate love, but it’s more hate and mildly appreciate that is, but a description of. the edges of the, uh, relationship spectrum. It’s interesting. Right? Because when we think about relationships, we usually think about relationships with other individuals, with other people in our lives.
but we do have relationships with things other than just humans, right? Sometimes it is, it could be. An idea. It could be a sport and activity. People are in love with objects, right? The bicycle, their car, their handbag, whatever the hell it is. and we also have relationships with things like the countries we’ve grown up, right.
Neighborhoods. You can have a certain feeling towards a neighborhood. And have a [00:01:00] history with a neighborhood and have animosity or love or anger or the stall Gera, whatever, with a place. But when we talk about places, we don’t think, I don’t think we do often really contemplate what kind of relationship we have with those places and how those places have shaped us and how the relationship will be.
Feelings that we have towards those places might be influencing the choices we make in life. Now, for both of us, maybe let’s start at the beginning and then we’ll work our way into the present. But for both of us, I’ll speak for me. First. I grew up in Germany as an immigrant kit in an immigrant factory work with family.
I distinctly remember. I grew up in a neighborhood full of images. Where most people didn’t speak German. Well, didn’t have an education. Most pens of my friends barely spoke. The language had never gone to school and were all factory [00:02:00] workers. And I remember from a young age at that time, very much having or receiving the message that I am not.
That welcome. Right. I’m sort of, it’s okay for me to be there, but I’m not necessarily truly welcome and I’m definitely not embraced. And that started for me, I think in first grade where I had unfortunate, no, whatever you want to circumstance. Of having a t-shirt that was maybe slightly racist and was having, you know, anger attacks and kind of fits of rage.
Anytime I spoke a word of Greek with my best friend in first grade, who was also a great kid. And so in the, in the breaks, when we would speak a little Greek with each other, she would step in really hard and scream it us. No hit us. [00:03:00] Uh, she grabbed me once by the hair and threw me down my chair. Um, and so that maybe is the furthest, I can trace it back, but I remember kind of the general consensus with all the kids that I grew up with was fuck Germany.
You know, Jeremy, like whatever, and it was a content kind of like us against them. And if we’re not good enough, fuck them. They’re not good enough. They’re dumb. They’re this they’re that, that was kind of a very, no very, um, rebellious sense. And so I grew up with that feeling of, I’m not really that welcome here.
People don’t really think that well of me, they would call this black. Uh, black in the sense of black hair in German, right? Or K’nex, you know, like a soul is so German, like German Germany, like in Berlin, we didn’t even use, like, I don’t think anybody said that’s funny. Yeah. [00:04:00] no, but it was sort of like, you looked very, it was clearly that.
No, you had dark hair, you look a little kind of foreign and then usually the name also give it away. Right. Just having like a terrible forest, long name. Yeah. In my case. Um, and so I remember growing up and feeling, not welcome feeling for most of my teachers and kind of the school as a system or entity rejected and, you know, Told that I’m not good enough and that I don’t belong.
And that instilled in me that feeling of, well, fuck you then. Right? Where the fuck are you? And then I was seeing and seeking the things I disliked about the country. Right. Uh, and I saw it as a adversary versus my home and this continued, I mean, even, uh, you know, I remember going to new school in fifth grade.
And the principal was also the [00:05:00] German teacher. And remember the very first class. How old are you at fifth grade? I was a, I don’t know. Oh, you’re like 10 years old or something. 11. I was shitting in my pants being in that class, you know, the fucking principal. And it was like super conservative and he walks around and watches us, try to like hand, write something off the whiteboard and he looks over my shoulder and it looks at me really sternly.
With this kind of writing, you don’t belong here and you won’t last very long. That’s the first thing he told me, right? I’m like a 10 year old kid in first class. It was the first class, the first, you know, it, this is the, this was the kind of consistent messaging that I was receiving. So I was always thinking, fuck Germany, fuck these people.
I am here, not by choice. Right. My grandparents and parents immigrated here. I’m kind of boring. But one day, I’m going to pack up my shit and I’m going to get the fuck outta here. And that’s exactly [00:06:00] what I did. Um, things got better, you know, w with age, you know, once I, I think dropped out of school and I started engaging in some entrepreneurial endeavors and seeing some success, you know, I did okay.
In Germany and I didn’t encounter some like, consistent. Bad situations once I passed the teenage age, I think, but I still definitely held on to that, that feeling of not being welcome and that feeling that this is not a culture that appreciates me. And I also don’t appreciate it that much. I fucked off when I was what 23 came to the U S.
And for a number of years, I sort of was like, just doing my living, my version of the American dream, which was, you know, most struggled angle dreams. Um, and you know, it’s funny. I, I, uh, just as an exercise, we’ll jump to that maybe later, but [00:07:00] I wrote, I was doing a creative writing exercise and I started writing a letter to my.
Stepfather Germany. Right. And kind of like wrote it as if it was this. I was in this household of this conservative, you know, Germany and I was allowed, but never accepted or embraced and that, you know, kind of hyper conservative archetypal, the stepfather was always looking at me and telling me I’m not good enough.
I don’t belong here. I’m dirty. I’m dumb. I’m yeah. Whatever. And I was just waiting like one day, I’m going to fucking leave this house. I’m going to drown you in my success and come back, you know, kind of count of Monte Cristo style and read my revenge on you. but in a sense, once I was gone, oh, and in that, in that letter, funny enough, kind of, there was a paragraph where.
That step, you know, when I [00:08:00] was struggling in the U S I was hearing my German stepfather or the stepfather Germany saying, they’re not telling you, it’s not going to be a fucking Hollywood movie. You can’t just go there with no education, no college degree, no connections, no visa, and make it, you’re going to fail and come back here with your tail between your legs, just like I told you.
And I was like, fuck you, I’d rather die than come back a failure. Um, but. You know, I did my, my American thing. And then when I started traveling back to Germany to visit family and friends, I felt a softening of my relationship. I felt, you know what? I kind of appreciate the nice things about Germany. I would go to a German bakery.
Great fresh bread. You know what, uh, what a beautiful German thing, you know? Uh, I think I honor, or I would, uh, you know, whatever, like go through a building an old building and see how well it was maintained. The Germans, they don’t, they know how to do things well, [00:09:00] and correct. They know how to organize. I remember being at the airport in Frankfurt, oftentimes it would see these German managers with their perfect haircuts and their perfect suits not to fancy, but, and I was like, I was always laughing and thinking German managers, they amazing.
It’s just a beautiful breed of human, so efficient, you know? Um, and I started C softening up a little bit and seeing things and remembering and being open to things. Are great about German culture and that had benefited me and influenced me greatly. Right. Um, to a large degree, uh, I am, you know, German, I think probably, maybe 40, 40, 20, 40% German, 40% American and 20% Greek, you know, I’ve all three cultures inside me, but I could start seeing kind of the nice things.
Yeah. But that was as I was a visitor, you know, like when I was living there, I hated it. Then [00:10:00] I kind of grew up and left and I started coming back to visit. And then I kind of, I made peace with it and I appreciated it. And then life circumstances changed again. And I started part time living there again.
Right. Having. Next wife and having children that live in Germany and me going back and forth between Germany and the U S and that’s when I went back really hard, at least emotionally. And I started hating anytime I was in Germany. This feeling of being restricted, confined the feeling of being somewhere that I’m not fully of my own choosing and really struggling to appreciate its beauty.
And especially, there’s a lot of beautiful things there for me besides my children. They’re my brothers, my nephews, my nieces. There’s [00:11:00] my mother. There are incredible friends. Um, I have many, many, many people I love deeply. And when I go there, I am surrounded by amazing people, but I can never appreciate them as much as I’d like to because I hold this grudge and in the last year or so, I’ve been thinking, I need to fix this.
I need to change. My relationship with that country because it’s not just the country, the country is some sort of like anonymous thing concept. Right. But because so many people that I love live there and they all know how much I hate being there. It creates a kind of energy that I. Dislike myself. I mean, even with my mother, I remember having tea with her, um, couple of weeks ago.
[00:12:00] And then she said something along the lines of, yeah, you really hate it here. Right. And we talked a little bit about it and when I left, I was thinking, wow, how do the people that love me feel about me, obviously disliking it here so much because they chose this is. So when I come and I look around and I make, you know, a disgusted face, I’m looking at their home, I’m looking at the place they choose to live in the place they like, and I come and kind of poo on it.
I don’t say much, but everybody kind of feels it. And I hate that. I don’t want to be that person and be that way. And I’ll also just selfishly want to be happy when I’m there and enjoy it because I’m going to be. There’s no way around that. I’m not coming to you. My friend, you grew up in somewhat similar [00:13:00] circumstances or very different place in Germany, but I assume I always assumed you try to escape and left and immigrated to Thailand.
And I remember when you were coming back sometime. Seemingly also having some problems in that country, but just to, you know, not to put words in your mouth, but how would kind of summarize your own little journey in terms of living there leaving, and you are not in the situation I’m in now, when you go back to Germany, you’re visiting at this point.
Yeah. It’s, it’s a nice shot vacation and the most beautiful time you’re in Germany and Sprig. so it’s, it’s much more easy going. Yeah, it’s funny. When I was listening to you, I was actually realizing how we grew up in such a different kind of journey. Like you grew up in German, Germany country. Right.
And I grew up in Berlin where it was actually like in, in Clarksburg at the time where, it was actually good not to be German. Like the German kids [00:14:00] in my school had more issues because know. Other people would kind of bully them with the cutter potato. Right? Dude, you grew up in the hood, like was the fucking hood.
That’s where all the gangs are represent. Jerry would rap about, he could not the way you grew up could not be more different than where I grew up. Yeah. And then, I mean, I hated my teachers, but I didn’t think of them as like, oh, the Germans, but it was just the teachers. Right. And we have like Turkish teachers.
And so, you know, they were assholes too. So for me actually the feeling of like, oh, Germany sex was just more when I, well, it was most pronounced that I felt that way about Germany when I was coming from another country Back-to-back. Um, and specifically Thailand, right where I really, I just loved Thailand so much. Every time when I went there, I was excited about it, about the way people acted with each other.
Right. And then I came back and I saw all these serious German faces. Uh, that just, just [00:15:00] that contrast was so intense.
And you know, like you said, now my relationship with Germany is so, so easygoing because I just go there maybe once a year in my favorite time of day. That I, I almost have a hard time, like remembering how much I hate it, but then, then, like, I recall just, okay. Visiting you and going to your favorite coffee shop in the little town that you lived back then, right?
Yeah. Fuck. I can’t breathe in here. I love. That you were more snobbish about hating everything that I was, you know, that was saving me. I’m like, finally, somebody that gets it, you know, that it’s taste, this is terrible. You know what else? So remembered. Um, I remember when we traveled through Thailand together the first time, and I remember going out with you in Thailand and having drinks and [00:16:00] dancing in a club a little bit, and you was just like super loosey goosey and just enjoying yourself.
A few months later, I remember you being in Germany with me. And I was trying, we were trying to get you to go out and just even just sit with us and have a beer or something. And there was just no talking you into it. And even at, at a birthday party or something, you. You were determined not to have any good time in this country, not to be out socially at all, because you hated every, and I was thinking, wow, the Rameen Thai, Thailand and Germany.
Rameen I do very different people. Like you had a very hard off switch on fund as I remembered it when you were back. Yeah. Yeah. This is a long time ago, but it is true.
Like also like at the school experience, like. There was a lot of things that, you know, people in particular teachers told me that kind of stuck with [00:17:00] my German mind.
Right. whereas that you never going to be, you, you’re not even good enough to become a garbage man. Right. And you’re a little shit and all of this stuff. Um, and I think I internalize that so deeply that it kind of, you know, I built up this wall around me there. And, you know, in another language in another country, I think I didn’t have that, but it was a kind of freedom that it was more easy to ship it,
which is part of why I think that I love kind of this. Part of the Australian culture, where, you know, people, once they are whatever 18, 19, before they go to college or something, they have this very strong backpack, uh, a backpack, a culture of like traveling around the world and visiting different places before they go to school, which is amazing because truly at that age, when you were, I don’t know, 18, 19, if you can travel and experience totally different culture than your own.
And with that, the freedom to express yourself [00:18:00] completely. To take on new identities because nobody knows you right. To take new kind of risks without seeming inconsistent in your environment, um, can be such an empowering and educational and freeing experience. And I remember when we first met, which was at those hypnosis and NLP workshops, you very much were operating within a black box.
Right. You interaction with people was very limited. I don’t know what kind of secret code people had to have to get into your box, but it wasn’t definitely a secret, you know, it was not easily accessible and your energy was very inward and you would just sometimes stand or sit around people, but you were not with us.
You were inside of your own mind doing your own things. And then I remember seeing you the first time in Tyler. And I saw you [00:19:00] out of the box, just with people, your face awake, outside your eyes, connecting, you know, and I thought, wow, holy shit, this Thailand is good to this man. It was meant as completely different than what I remember him a few months ago in Berlin.
And yeah. To some degree. I mean, you visited with your family and your, your daughter and obviously today, you know, it’s different. It’s not, the contrast is not as stark in my observation, but back then, I feel that you really were kind of unconsciously talent had become this place where you could be a different version of you.
And when you came back to Germany, you just. Took up your box, you know, as you were landing with the plan package, you’re going to luggage claim and you were also claiming your box, but just put yourself back in the box with two holes where you could [00:20:00] just see your eyes and you just like walk her a hundred mini that little box and not willing or interested in interacting too much with people.
funny, like when I went to the U S years ago and I went to chinese Mexican place? And then I said, they ate and then I heard a voice, Hey man. And it kind of window my direction. So my wife and I say, bye, because I’m German. Right. And it’s like the voice. Okay. How’s the food. Okay.
I’m looking around and I see a man sitting at the next table trying to make conversation with me. And the first thing that comes to my mind. What does this person want from me? And to me, it was weird that a stranger would talk to me. We were both like sitting alone at a table, just eating right.
And this was before the time of smartphones, where everybody was in the smartphone anyway. But, um, and then I, you know, I, I met my friend afterwards and told her about. You know, the strange man that’s tried to talk to me. She wasn’t like, well, isn’t it strange that you were sitting alone in a restaurant and he tried to string over conversation and you felt that way.
Isn’t that strange, huh? Yeah. Yeah. I told him, yeah. I told you this, this story where I was in San Francisco after a couple of years, and I hear a, was an older German. And then with a map and we’re trying to figure something out and they had a strong Swabian accent, which is the area of Germany I grew up in and I hear them and I just smile and look at them and go, oh, are you guys from sweet?
You know, from Swabian in ju I say that in German, big smile. I’m just happy that I found them. And I’m instantly thinking I’m going to help these people if they need something. And they look at me in trouble. All right. And put down the map real quick. Almost like hiding the map and going, uh, yes. And then do walk away.
You know, to a place where I couldn’t hear them anymore. And then they put up the map and struggled again, to try to find how to go, where they wanted to go. And I remember standing [00:21:00] there and thinking you fucking Germans, you struggle with your stupid map and it hits right here. I could have helped you, but they’re like, what does the stranger, this stranger hurt us talk.
Let’s go further away. Uh, Okay. Having said all this, um, you know, what’s funny, I’m curious if this is going to change, but because like I’ve always maintained that my kids, when they’re 18, I’m gonna push them to go and travel for a year or two around the world. Right. Don’t start, study, still start working, studying, working, all this stuff can wait for you to go travel the world.
Um, and I. Make that a standing offer to the kids of my brothers told them, Hey, if any, one of you wants to do this uncle, seller’s going to pay for it. Right. Pay for the tickets, obviously in the [00:22:00] little bit of money, you know, so they can do some hustle stuff. And then they still have to do a little bit of hustling and working, right.
Not kind of not buying them five star hotel experiences. Um, and none of them I think is interested in doing any of this, which blows my mind. Like I would’ve, I would have totally taken myself up on that offer, but I think they are all way less ambitious than I was. And also way more comfortable where they are in a bit, maybe too.
Um, Grew up very protected. So they’re, I think they’re also a bit afraid, like none of them has ever traveled alone and traveled in the kind of backpacking way or any, any of that. Um, but maybe those all still young, right? I mean, the oldest of them just turned 18. Um, my niece is seven. No, she’s also 80. I have two 18 year old, a niece and nephew, and then the next youngest is like 16.
So maybe give it a year or two, maybe they’ll [00:23:00] reconsider. But, um, putting all that. My question to myself. Well,
what I’m wondering today is how do I change my relationship with that country?
Because today it’s very different. I mean, today there’s plenty of people in Germany that admire me and that celebrate me and. think that I’m a great example of a German entrepreneur that went to Silicon valley and did it right. And over the years where it lived there, I helped an advice that met with hundreds and hundreds of drunk German entrepreneurs and VCs and investors. So people in Germany know me, or there’s some people in the startup scene or in the startup scene, a good amount of people know me and they don’t go this asshole is nothing to do with us. They celebrate. [00:24:00] And in general, I don’t have any authority figures that are making my life difficult.
And yes, there are things about the culture there that I don’t love. Right. People are colder. People are way more small minded, way more conservative. There’s less smiles. There’s less. Laughter. There is less, you know, zest for life. So when I’m in that country and I look around, I’m not inspired by the surroundings and I’m not kind of inspired by the people I encounter randomly. Right. It’s kind of the, especially where I’m from in Germany, it’s way more gray. Efficient, very German.
It, um, yeah, so these things I don’t love and I can’t just force, function myself to all of a sudden go. This is the most beautiful and romantic and inspiring [00:25:00] town in the world because it’s not, not for me,
but how can I relax more and change my relationship? And I think it’s not just the country of my upbringing as a child.
It’s also maybe the fact that I have this story that I’m there in voluntarily when I’m there. You know, I feel sort of like I’m forced to show up there 10 times and there’s something in me that obviously rebels against being there, not fully on my own choosing,
but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what the circle. Again, I can rationally see rationally. I can challenge all these thoughts, right? Even the I’m not there. My own choosing. I am. I’m not in fucking prison. I could choose not to go, not to visit my family, not to visit the people I love pat. I don’t want that.
I want to go. Right. So I do choose to go. That is the [00:26:00] rational side of things. And in my mind, I could make gratitude lists and I could make lists of all the things I love there. And I could think about the activities that are appreciated and the things in the culture appreciate it and how to expose myself more to these things and all that, all these things rationally, like even the quality time I get to spend with my family there and all that.
But emotionally I have not yet been able to penetrate and. Reshape the way I feel when I’m there. All right. So Dr. Samy, besides moving to Thailand, right? What other remedies, what other remedies could you think of? What else could I do? I mean, one thought that I had was. Let me write a letter to it. The whole, this whole practice of writing letters, you can write a letter to yourself.
You can write letters to people that have died, people that are not within your reach anymore to tell them the things you really want to tell them to get things off your chest. So writing a letter [00:27:00] definitely felt good. I don’t know if it’s changing something I’m not in Germany. I’m like I’m still in the U S so will we shall know that that’s something, but that was one idea.
Maybe I need to write a letter. Discuss and work through my relationship with this country and see if we can make amends and find a better place. What else could I do? No, no, I like it. I like your letter idea. Um, there’s also,
I mean, the parts about Germany that are beautiful, right? Um, yeah. It’s even like, like great German writers. Right. So meeting them in German could be something. Um, but remember when we talked about this, where was, uh, reading? Um, yeah, CAF, eh, no. Who has how many essay? And it was reading it. Yep. And you were saying, why do you read a great driven writer, not in the, kind of the original versus the translation.
And that [00:28:00] was like, I don’t know. There’s a part of me that just threw the book in German. I have also not read a, uh, a book in German in, I mean, since I was 17, 18, when I started reading. Business books in English, there was no going back. And that was it. Then I just stopped reading in German. I was like, just going to read all these English books.
but yeah, there are, uh, you know, amazing, there were incredible writers and thinkers and philosophers that wrote in German and wrote very poetically. And it’s a very distinct and different language that has its own power and magic that can’t be replicated or translated. Just like every language has certain things that is so.
Their own that when you translate some of that magic goes away. Right? Um, oh dude, Schopenhauer Shamar is great. I’ve never read Schopenhauer. Really? There you go. Yeah. That’s a great starting point. Cause he has often these [00:29:00] short little ones in it. So. The language is just amazing. I’ve never looked them up.
I just typed it into Wikipedia his picture. I’m going to like this just because of the sky looks right. I didn’t realize that Chapin hall, it looks like a fucking bad-ass. He looks like a captain of a, of a warship or something. He’s imagined some like neat little guy. This guy looks like the fucking, he means business.
He looks like he’s. Killed a few men in his life, you know, to reach old age Jesus. This is, um, this is the kind of look that I can respect in a man. Right. I get it. I like this showing them how. Okay. I didn’t know. Yeah. So reading German, uh, for sure, uh, is something, I mean,
the other thing also is, and we’ve talked about this, creating more of a home base.
Right. I’m in this [00:30:00] Airbnb apartment there that are, that is very practical because it’s sort of full on service. It didn’t have to care about anything. It’s in a very good spot, but I don’t like the Airbnb. Like it’s not a place that I feel like home. It’s not a place that I feel inspiring sometimes. You know, I’ve been to many Airbnbs that I didn’t feel like home, but we’re inspiring.
Um, in spaces, but this place I don’t like. And so that adds to it as well. And I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, but again, see, there was something in me resisting doing, going through and putting in the work and effort to create and find a spot there that I find inspiring or beautiful that I like being.
So that’s definitely something that I want to work on because that would make a big difference. Honestly, like when I’m there. I don’t spend a lot of time outside. Anyways. I spent most of the [00:31:00] time either in the apartment doing work or, you know, going to training, going to the gym or being with my family and friends.
And so the amount of time that I’m in that space that I don’t like on top of not liking maybe some other things, if I can. Take that out of the equation, make that a space. I really like also space a real, like being with my friends, but like maybe a space it’s a bit bigger so I can host people. People can stay with me.
You know, it’s a bigger space. This space is the Airbnb I’m in is very small. Um, to me when I’m with my boys there, it’s just too tiny, not as comfortable. So I think switching that could make, could make a difference, creating, finding a nicer place, a place I enjoy spending time in. Reading. I love reading so much these days, maybe reading in German and rediscover the love for the German language, um, is a cool idea.
If the first letter didn’t hit, maybe I have to keep writing letters [00:32:00] until, until one of those letters does something that worked really well for me. Is to spend as little time as possible. Beautiful. I love that. We’re ending this on a note that is completely useless to me, but I appreciate, I appreciate it.
Um, but it’s, you know, the idea I’ve never thought of Germany as a place, as an entity. I have a relationship with where. I had a Rocky start as a kid that develop animosity and resistance and also resentment on my part. And I’ve been holding on to that for way longer than it’s been useful.
And now finding myself in a life situation where I cannot have the relationship improved by sheer. Not being there. Right? I’m all, I’m not, I’m like two [00:33:00] completely different place. I barely go there. So my relationship now is good, but now I have to face that place more often than face. Maybe some of the grudges that I’m holding onto unnecessarily and find a way to let them go and find a way to, we discover in redefine a new relationship with that place because Germany, for as long as I live will be part of my.
Greece. As long as I live will be part of my home and the U S as long as I live will be part of my home. And this is a tricky, beautiful, and very enriching, but also tricky situation to be in where you’re somebody like me, where there’s not one place on earth. That’s my home. I, for most of my life chose to feel, not at home anywhere and everywhere.
Like I never felt. I belonged when I was in Greece at Emma felt I belonged when I was in Germany and never fully felt that belong where I was in the U S and now at this stage of my life, changing that and seeing the flip side of that coin, the beauty of, yes, I’m [00:34:00] I’m to some degree of foreign and all these three cultures and countries, but to a much larger degree, I am at home at all these cultures in places, and I can make.
My life, very rich and very fulfilling by finding a way to integrate all three places into my life. And, uh, that sounds very beautiful. But next week I’m going to be back in Germany and then we shall see in reality what kind of progress I can make, but I’ll definitely try.