The Mind Behind Beyond Boundaries: Valmir Ganiu

Today is my birthday, and I just turned 27. Besides feeling old already, I thought it would be a good time to make Beyond Boundaries a bit more personal. The best way to start this blog is by telling my story as a short novel. And short it shall be.

Hey! That’s me.

This story started in 1994 when a boy was born in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Uncertain times and encircled by the misery of illiteracy, the place he lived in had nothing much to offer — for him or his older brother. So his destiny would be to become a simple farmer boy or a construction worker at best in the future, or so he and his parents thought. As the years passed by and hopelessness would reach its climax, his parents decided it was time to leave. There was family all across Europe, but strife and malice tore most of it apart. There weren’t many anchors, more so land mines. Mother wanted to move to America, the land of opportunity, but father said, “no, America is too far away from ‚home‘“. So he suggested Germany, and Germany it would be — for better or for worse.
The first priority was to enroll both boys in school. The older one being eleven years of age and the younger one seven, both were already late to the game. After a short check-up by a principal, it was suggested that the older one would fit into the sixth class and the younger one could go straight to the second — albeit with the information that both had received education in their homeland. In both cases, this wasn’t the truth.
Work was required, as Germany wouldn’t support unemployed refugees at the time, so Father had to find a job as soon as possible. There was a surplus of construction jobs, and the next opportunity soon presented itself. A tiler company was looking for new employees. What a relief! With every success comes a price to be paid, and thus, the father had to give up his academic pursuit. However, time would allow him to visit an afternoon school to acquire a master craftsman’s certificate.
With both parents at the necks of the two boys, there was neither time for mischief nor a childhood. Both of them knew what the boys didn’t know, and that was that they had to do a lot of catching up. Paid help was never an option. Money was scarce, and the boys knew there was none to spend. So asking for some was not worth trying.
Peace never lasts, and in time the father had to search for a new job as already two employers would try to cut his salary or pay none at all. Frustrated and fed up, he had to make a decision. Instead of searching for a new job, he decided to create one. A tiler company would be the only way forward. A relatable decision, since he already had the master craftsman’s certificate. However, it was a decision much to the detriment of the boys, but they did not know it yet.
Off school time, both had to help out, be it on the construction site or documentation on the computer. Money came and went by, but it seemed like it would never stick around for too long. „It is for the future and the both of you“, mother would explain. Was it frugality or still poverty? It felt all the same.
Years passed, and both boys came of age. The end of school moved closer, and all the preaching of doing a diploma came to fruition. „Why“, the boys kept asking and every time the parents would tell them, „so you don’t have to suffer like us“. Weren’t they already suffering?
With no plan and no ambition, it was time to carry on. Going to university was the next step, for whatever reason. The older one of the two boys enrolled in a bachelor’s program to study architecture, and three years later the younger one would begin enrollment to study automotive engineering. He always had a flair for cars. What an average interest to have.
For a multitude of reasons, it was at this stage in his life that he came to read a book voluntarily. “The Art of War”, by Sun Tzu it was, and an impact completely unforeseeable on his life. „Do you want to go into politics, boy“, his parents would jokingly ask, „we thought you wanted to become an engineer“. No, that wasn’t it, the boy knew that much. It was this new perspective on life — this approach to something new that struck him. Yes! How remarkable of a feeling it was to read and absorb these different thought processes. The pages flew by in what seemed like an instant, and the next book had to come around. Another exotic one it had to be. And an exotic one it was. ‚The Prince‘ by Niccoló Machiavelli. He never saw such beautiful practicality in someone else’s thoughts. Something struck his cord, and although just a translation, he fell in love with the writing style. Long and nested sentences where misplacing one comma would destroy the whole intention. What a beauty the German language can be.
With less work in his father’s company and more studying, he eventually found an engineering job as a student towards the end of his bachelor’s. After a couple of months, it was time to finish what he started and write the thesis that would get him his diploma. A problem to ponder upon was quickly found, and a supervising professor as well. It has to be a scientific paper he told himself, but he couldn’t resist the influence all these books had on him throughout the years. Three months of hard work and hours of uninterrupted writing gave birth to a seventy-five pages long piece, which felt like his very first book. „It was a great work, but very hard to understand at times“, his professor told him. And although not a compliment and probably a negative impact on his grading, the boy was content and maybe even a bit proud. It was exactly how he wanted it to be. „What a joy it is to write“, he thought. With a diploma in his hands, there was another big decision to be made now. One option was to let it end here and work full-time at his current job. Or continue and pursue a master’s degree. He was hungry, and there had to be more than this, so the decision was clear. A master’s degree it would be then. Meanwhile, he had to keep writing. It had to be something long, and he wanted to tell a story. So a novel would do the trick.
With even less dreaded work in his father’s company and staying true to his engineering job, he read even more books as time passed. After three years and relocating to a new city to start a new job, he landed exactly where he wanted to be. A medium-sized car manufacturing company. Electric cars, to be precise. Eventually, the master’s degree had to come to a close. His thesis proposal got accepted by the company, and everything was ready for him to do the last sprint. No one is safe when life hits — and massively it did hit.
A pandemic struck, and every plan began to waver. It was said that every contract with students was to be canceled immediately. However, with the help of a fantastic mentor at work and a strong team behind his back, he was able to successfully compose his master’s thesis. What a great experience it was. The people he met; the knowledge he gained — everything was worth it in the end.
„What a journey“, he thought. Twenty-six years of age, with a master’s degree in hands, and no job, he was strangely satisfied. In the end, it seemed all the struggles paid off. Although he fought against all odds, he was proud that he could call himself an academic. It was time again for another major decision in this young man’s life. There were no fairytales for this young male. But he had a working brain, so what more could he ask for. Should he find a job and work or pursue a Ph.D.? And what about his passion for writing? He worked all his life. Maybe it was time to take a step back and follow a dream. The dream of becoming a writer and author. And writing he shall do.

I hope you enjoyed this little biography of my life. I just wanted an excuse to write my first short story.
Every year on my birthday, I like to take a step back and look at my life. I remind myself of my short- and long-term goals. Then I ask myself if everything I have done, from my last birthday to my current one, was in any way beneficial to achieving that goal.
Ultimately, I have one big goal I want to achieve before my last day — the goal of a lifetime, so to speak. If I ask my inner child or the idealist in me, I would say it is to build the grandest library the world has ever seen. Ideally a physical one.
I started on Medium last year, right around when I almost finished my thesis. I purposely chose not to use my real name, not because of cyber-safety reasons or anything similar. It’s just that I believe that there is nothing to a person’s name. It is hollow when you don’t know the individual. However, when you know a person and hear their name, there is a certain ring, like an echo within you. Not the name echoes, but the qualities and deeds of the person. So following my conviction, I chose a pen name and ultimately decided on Beyond Boundaries. At the time, it just flowed out of my mouth, and I didn’t have a good reason in mind why to use it. It just felt right.
As I wrote these lines and took some time to reflect on my life, I now know why I chose that name.
I believe that this name captures my essence the best. I was given clear boundaries from the day of my birth, but through hard labor and a lot of sweat, I managed to rise beyond them.
As for my different publications, I just wanted a place to categorize my blogs. Similarly, this one hit me as well. All my publications are like different sections of a library, waiting to be filled with content. So my goal today is to build a giant digital library. And in time, maybe — just maybe — if I manage to accumulate enough money, I will be able to build an actual library that would perhaps rival the original Library of Alexandria before it burnt to ashes. What a shame…

Thank you so much for reading this personal blog to the end. As I see no real value in just telling a personal story, I decided not to monetize this blog, as not to waste any capacity for free users. However, I would be immensely grateful if you could leave me a clap and a follow on Medium.

You have feedback, complaints, or anything you want to ask me? Please don’t hesitate to write me a dm on Twitter or an e-mail at v.ganiu@gmail.com. Or just leave a comment on this blog.

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Beyond Boundaries

Top Writer in Productivity. Productivity, programming, and Engineering Blogs. Strong focus on tech.