a gentle woman

Issue n°3 of The Gentlewoman, Spring and Summer 2011 (from here)

In the last issue of The Gentlewoman I encountered an article —probably the most interesting read in the mag— about Dutch princess (through marriage) Mabel van Oranje who talks about her education, job and family. What struck me most is her seemingly inexhaustible internal source of power and this quote (regarding her UN internship): “I came out of those meetings and those votes just thinking, ‘No, I cannot become a management consultant. Before the UN, I thought that might feed my brain. But no. I can’t do that. I need to make my tiny contribution to some of these very big international questions.'”

Much like her I never visualized my wedding dress when I was a little girl, I never even visualized any wedding at all, but that’s beside the point. You see, when I was growing up my secret dream was to become a doctor, an oncologist to be exact. This ship seems to have sailed for me, partly because I haven’t made any effort to board it at all, but in the past couple of years I’ve realized that I want to make an impact of some kind on an international level regarding the well-being and empowerment of people and our planet in general. Volunteering at the International AIDS Conference held in Vienna in 2010 was one of the greatest experiences not only of my working life but of all my life, and I know now that this is something I want to pursue when I finish my master’s degree this winter.

The second thing I never wanted to let go completely was the notion of doing something “artistic” with my life. I frequently put the word artistic in quotation marks because it seems to be overused quite a lot, with about 90% of all people considering themselves artists of some kind, which may just be the case (we can all be artists, can’t we?), but I just didn’t want to be so crude. It’s actually really simple: I was still very young when I instinctively knew that the best way for me to express myself was through words and images. As I was getting older, it became obvious that my mind wasn’t made for analyzing numbers, I enjoyed imaginative writing in German and drawing in art class much more. I spent a majority of my time ploughing through the impressive amount of books on my parents’ bookshelves, most of them admittedly inappropriate for my age (I read Lolita when I was the same age or younger even than the main character of the book, let’s just say I didn’t understand everything that was going on) and drawing. I would sit on my bed or the floor just drawing drawing drawing for hours on end, completely immersed in the process of creating a story in my head. Drawing has been more or less replaced by photography, which has become something that I can’t imagine giving up anytime soon.

So here it is, I know what I want. I’ve known for quite a bit, but the idea was too foggy to articulate, and it isn’t anymore.


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