"I hate this diary! It feels so childish. I am 15 now and I feel like shit. School sucks and at home, we have no money. It is not like we are pathetic or something, but we are not doing any fun stuff anymore. I even have to try and prevent mum or dad needing to take me to the cinema, for the gasoline is too expensive. Better get a lift with others. The paper is gone, magazines are gone and we probably cannot afford to go on a holiday. I just need to get out of this goddamn city, with its goddamn school and its goddamn children. I want OUT!"
When I was clearing out my appartment in The Netherlands days before starting my nomadic adventure in 2015, I stumbled upon a stack of old diaries. One of them read the paragraph above and it felt timely to read this paragraph on the cusp of leaving my life as I knew it behind in seach for more freedom and adventure. This young woman had felt so trapped. Trapped in her family, the school system, the city. I could feel her anger oozing from the pages. My anger. After that outburst I had stopped writing, afraid as I was of the power behind my own words. Reading them 15 years later made me wonder: Had I not gone on to feel trapped in my body and job, too? Trapped in the money-driven economy and a mortgage that forced me to sell my house? Trapped in the confines and restictions of a tax system that did not make sense to me? An educational system that felt too narrrow minded? A country that felt too flat?
In her book "The seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo" Taylor Jenkins Reid writes "People think intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realise you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them and their response is "you're safe with me" - that is intimacy."
Even though I have not read the book yet, this is quite possibly one of my favourite quotes of all time as it so beautifully captures everything that love is about for me. Not just love between partners, but also between friends, family, and, most importantly, between you and you. Do you feel safe with yourself and your own truth? Are you able to spend time alone and enjoy your own company? Are you able to look in the mirror and say "you're safe with me"? It has taken me years to feel safe with myself, but I can now honestly say that I love me. I can look in the mirror and say "You're safe with me", "I have got your back", "I trust you", "You are amazing", "I love you". I believe this is the greatest gift a woman can give to the world; her ability to love herself. When a woman loves herself, ALL of herself, her cup is always full and she is able to give and share from an endless souce of well being and unconditional love.
One of the things I noticed during my own return to self-love was my tendency to run away from it. Every time I was about to commit to an expansion I truly desired, I would begin feeling uncomfortable and restless and I would mistakenly interpret it as a signal that something was not right.
We were raised Catholic, my brother and I. Not very strict, but I was baptised with 6 months, did my communion when I was 7 and choose to do a confirmation when I was 12. I did not really like the church though. I never understood the strict rules and all the official mayhem around them. Also, if God was really this caring guy looking after you, then why in the world were we to sit on those painfully hard wooden church benches? I could sense something was off. All I could see were parents and children being seemingly certain about the word of God, and me feeling not so certain about it.
I remember one particular day where my mother sat to the left of me, my father to the right and a row of dark grey coats was blocking my view. I could not go anywhere. I could not see anything. All I could do was obey like everyone else around me, and sit and listen. I knew what was going to happen, and I dreaded it already. The pastor's voice echoed on the walls and the ceiling:
Hi, I am Nicole!
And I believe life is beautiful.
If you were to look at the world today, it would be easy to tell yourself otherwise. Some people will even try to convince you the world is a horrible place to be.
I have learned though, that no matter how hard life gets, there is always something beautiful to lay our eyes upon.
That beauty is love.
And that love is what has the power to transform the world.