On the blog of Anne (who lives in Berlin), October is all about ‘the young woman’. There were several daily topics: from trends to uncertainties, from hormones to feminism. Very interesting topics and a great initiative. She also developed the tag ‘for the young woman’. You are free to join this tag, spread the love. Here we go.
What did you like about growing up? Are there things you did not like?
On one hand my childhood was quite unconcerned. Let me start by saying that my parents were the most amazing parents you could wish for. They let me make my own choices, right or wrong, and gave me space to do what I wanted to do, wear or who I wanted to be at that time. They were always there for me. We did lots of fun things, and I think back with a smile. Growing up was exciting, fun, scary, a discovery that I was able to experience myself. We went on holidays, each weekend we made day trips, they taught me about life and they have set me free. Later, my father picked me up at the disco in early mornings and my mother was always at home with a cup of tea and a listening ear. I danced, competed, I was always outside, had mountains with girlfriends to play with and I grew up like every child is supposed to grow up.
On the other hand, there were a lot of violent problems with my brother who have had influence on the whole family and my mother was always very ill. Chronically ill, with ups and downs. Regularly she stayed in hospital for weeks, months and even years. I was picked up at school every day by my father, and then we went to mom in the hospital the rest of the day. I took girlfriends there and we played along the fountain in the hospital and when I was sad, I was allowed to buy a pair of Spice Girls-platform shoes. My mom was strong, we were all strong and all kept ( besides deep conversations ) humor in this situation .
Despite the uncertainty and sadness sometimes I can think back to my childhood with a smile. It was a part of us. And my parents have always let me be a child, even if this was actually pretty something to handle- for a child. I am proud of who I’ve become . I think that is the best part of growing up: that you become someone. And that you can always be proud of.
What aspects/achievements in your life are you most proud of?
I actually always change my dreams into plans, by just doing what I want to do. If I want to make a trip I’ll make sure I do. And I believe that everyone can. I left to Greece to work there in between studies when I was 17, and when I was 18 I studied in London. When I was 20 I lived in Africa, 21th in Paris. I just did it and that I continue to do so. I lived out of my backpack and moved abroad when I could. And I stayed who I am . That sounds very typical, but I have always been myself. I am also quite a bit proud of who I’ve become, precisely because of the things that were going on. And I am proud that I go where I want to go, that I gave up my good job to find my core back and trying hard to turn my dreams and passions into a business.
What is your ultimate youth sentiment?
Summer holidays. Every summer we were given the Vacancesoleil’ book, a book with holiday sites to choose from. Every year we went to France by car for a couple of weeks. My parents chose the region (every week a different area) and we could pick the campsites from that book: we gave them one to five stars. Five stars were campsites with large pools, ten slides, children’s activities and entertainment, discos and the sea, mountains or Disneyland Paris around the corner. And my parents always chose the camp with five stars, ecstatic.
The preparations. Months in advance my mom collected Donald Duck books and other holiday books for the long journey by car. And settled in our cozy bungalow, we went to castles, the sea, pittoresk towns, mountain climbing with my father, a shopping trip with my mother, canoeing, looking for shells on the beach. I remember doing groceries at the Supermarchée , I could pick ten small cheeses for the picnic. Ordering a french baguette with my best French. And making a lot of foreign girlfriends on the site.
What terrible trend did you follow in clothing back then?
When I was a little girl I wanted to have patent leather shoes. That changed quickly. I used to be a tough girl. Climb trees, play football, build tree huts and play war games with boys and I walked around in my tough war clothes from the dump. Then the Spice Girls came into my life. I drew Mel C’s tattoo, wore the clothes they wore and walked on towering platform shoes. Later (maybe because of my big brother, or just because I loved the music I still love: different, indie , rock , even at that time a lot of punk) I started to dress alternative. With wide trousers, skate shoes with colored laces , chains, pink dreadlocks and lots of colored bracelets. I made fifty ‘selfies’ in one day in the bathroom. And I dyed my hair dark for years. Slowly this alternative style changed into just wearing what I would like to wear.
What do you think about feminism?
I actually do not think about it too much, although it is a very interesting topic. Because I constantly follow my heart, it’s weird to realize that women were given the right to vote in 1919 in the Netherlands. And that abortion became legal in 1981. It was only in 1996 that the law ‘equal treatment on the grounds of working’ was adopted. The biggest gain of feminism is that there is now a place in the world for all Dutch women. Feminism has given women the opportunity to develop their talents. Women are no longer judged solely on motherhood .
Yet inequality in our country is still there, such as in employment, politics, sexuality, marriage and family. Only 7 percent of the top positions in the largest Dutch companies are women. The average hourly wage of women is 78 % of the hourly wage of men. Women started to work more the past thirty years, but their home situation is little changed. Men occupy a smaller portion of the unpaid labor on their behalf. And the violence and abuse of women….still there. The shelters are overcrowded in the Netherlands. I have a good education and work hard, take care of my own finances. That feels good to me and I can not let go of that, so in that respect I am still a little feminist. Though it would be quite nice to be able to let that go sometimes .
Have you ever experienced that you were treated differently (positive/negative) because of your gender?
Not in the serious sense of the word no, fortunately. However, on trips where the culture is simply different, I adapt and wear for example covering clothes. The times that I just blinked my eyes and were allowed to travel without a ticket are there, but that is simply the benefit of being a woman. Treated negatively because of my gender, I don’t think so. Of course I sometimes feel like I’m being prejudged because I am a woman. I have a good general education, have studied and got a dose of (life) knowledge and experience. If people judge me at first sight that touches me sometimes. I ‘m afraid that people underestimate me, but instead I try just as hard to prove what I’m worth.
What would you like to say to your mother?
Mom, I really miss you.Terribly. Every day a little more bearable and with deeper realization that I just really can’t call you anymore, but every day a little more as well. They are right when they say that everything continues to go on. That time flies. Mom, do you see me? Do you see how I’ve become a bit older again? Do you see what I’ve done? Do you tell the people who you are dancing with on the clouds, “Look , that’s my girl”? Do you see where I traveled tp? Because I took you with me. Whom I have met, and how happy I am right now? Because I like to tell him all about you. Do you see our house, and I get the same comments on the stairs as you did about your basement door? But you also see that I miss you every day? Occasionally, just want to ask you something? Are you proud of me? You were and remain the most beautiful, strong, loving and inspiring mother that I could wish for.