The wall flower girl.
Life happens outside of your comfort zone. Those of you who knew me when I was growing up, know that I was usually the observant girl in the background. Doing everything to avoid conflict, and I am still not a fan. I remember taking a big detour walking home from primary school, to avoid being beaten up by some boy.
Feeling out of place.
I was never the girl in the limelight, if I had to be somewhere I ended up being the wall flower, the student with good grades, but not very good at sports. I had never heard of the phrase life happens outside of your comfort zone. To be honest, I don’t think growing up I was ever in my comfort zone, I felt out of place in so many ways. And as we all know, children in general want to fit in not stand out. They want to feel they belong, not be the odd one out.
Don’t get me wrong, I did not have an unhappy childhood, I come from a loving family, and home was my comfort zone.
Over time things changed.
Going to high school changed me a lot. Feeling more confident, I started to appreciate who I was as a person. I made friends; some of them are still my friends today. From small, I was teased for not getting a suntan in the summer, especially my legs were regularly compared to milk bottles. And never did I have a witty answer ready.
Once I went to high school, I decided to change my perspective; if anyone found my legs unappealing, just don’t look at them. The moment I changed my thoughts on it; it stopped being an issue altogether.
The problem with not being good at sports sort of solved itself. I played field hockey, and that took a toll on my ankle. After a minor bicycle accident, my ankle was totally messed up. From that moment on, I was no longer able to play sports. As the orthopedic surgeon told me after surgery, you can only play chess and checkers from now on.
Life happens outside of your comfort zone.
I thought of going to university for a while, either to study English or law. As I was an average student, and many others applied for both studies, I did not get in. In an attempt to do something, I did a one-year tourism course. That’s the year I slowly started to blossom a little bit more, and never in my life did I skip more classes than in that year.
I still managed to get my diploma with only one low grade for etiquette. I simply refused to study from a book published in 1962 on things like how to properly end an engagement.
My parents were always supportive.
My parents always supported my brother and me in our choices, fully confident they raised us well. So, I decided to start working. And after almost 250 rejections, I was hired at one of the major banks in the Netherlands.
Not something I ever imagined doing, but here I was. In the end, I worked in various departments of 2 major Dutch banks for over 30 years. Looking back, it worked out well. I enjoyed learning so many things, not only about banking. I grew as a person. Yet, I was still the girl in the background, never looking to be in the spotlight.
Fast forward to moving to Dominica.
Of course, a lot happened between working at the bank and moving to Dominica. You will have to read my book for that. Or start with my chapter in the book Voices. For those in the Netherlands, you can order a paperback copy directly from me. Visit my website for more information on how to order, and while you are there, you can also read the back flap of my solo book.
Moving to Dominica
Back to me moving to Dominica in 2016. My life did not go as I had planned, far from it. By now, the phrase life happens outside of your comfort zone started to mean something to me. Finding myself on my own, in a new country, with no friends, forced me to ditch the wallflower girl and move forward.
Especially after 2017, the year in which both my parents passed away, and a category 5 hurricane destroyed my island, I could only step up. I have learned so much in the years following that disastrous year. For one, I founded my non-profit, Breadfruit House Dominica; visit our website to learn more about what we do. I met many people after the hurricane and made a lot of new friends. I found my home in Dominica, and with that, I found where I belong and thrive.
Stepping into the limelight.
As a person, I have grown, but I am still not someone to be front and center. That all changes when it comes to my Foundation and the children I work with. Whatever holds me back when it concerns me seems to fade when I see an opportunity for the children.
I grab every possibility I see to get the word out about the Breadfruit House. And if the subject of the interview, article, or podcast is not directly related to charity, I will make sure to steer the story so I get to mention what I do and why I am so passionate about it.
In the spotlight.
Recently I set up an ‘in the media’ page on my website and put all the links to the different podcasts, interviews, and articles on it.
I even surprised myself with how much I have done to put Breadfruit House in the spotlight. Currently, most of it is in Dutch, with only a few in English, but I am working on that. Are you curious? Simply click on this link to read or listen to how I stepped in the spotlight and out of my comfort zone. And guess what I now know that is where life happens.
My parents never really saw how my life took a turn for the best and how their little wallflower girl stepped into the spotlight to follow her heart and do what makes her happy.
And even though they did not fully understand why I moved to Dominica, they never stopped supporting me. I was always very close to my dad, and when he said, “if it makes you happy, you have to go,” I could not feel more loved and to this day that brings tears to my eyes. Most probably my mom was worried when I moved, but her strength and determination must have rubbed off on me because here I am doing really well.
In a way, this is a tribute to both of them. I imagine them sitting together in a beautiful garden, enjoying nature while looking down on me and feeling proud that this is their daughter. And I could not be more proud to be their little girl.
See you all at my next Blog,