What kind of career’s advice did you get as a young woman?
No real advice in that sense. My mother and aunts and grandmother just always made it very clear how important they thought it was to get a good education and work even after having children to stay independent and to keep all doors open even if the relationship ended up not working out as wished or planned.
What did you want to be when you left education?
I had no clue – I thought maybe a journalist.
Did your mother work?
Yes, full-time as a teacher & teaching inspector and later on as a University teacher in the education of future teachers.
Love & Relationships:
Do you think getting married is important?
Not necessarily. Sometimes the circumstances make it important, though. In the case of my husband and me, we got married because of visa issues that he was facing as he’s American and I have the right to live/work in the UK through my EEA citizenship. So it ended up being easier to get married rather than trying to find a company to sponsor his visa. Authorities shouldn’t be able to tell you if your partner is allowed to live in the same place as you do, but unfortunately a marriage certificate is still needed to bypass that problem. I do think, however, that you can have just as committed and stable and serious of a relationship without being married as married couples do. Also religion plays less and less of a role by now and the fact of getting married in a church does more so have a nostalgic or family-habit feeling to it rather than being convinced that you need this union to be blessed by some higher force.
Often, marriage doesn’t change our daily lives very much anymore as we already live together as couples before getting married and often people already have children together before getting married. However, what did make a mental difference for me was to know that in a case of emergency, my husband would now be asked to take difficult decisions on my behalf if I’m not able to do so for myself. It’s not a happy thought of course, but it’s a thought that did make me realize that we now were our own family and that I had detached from my parents and that I had placed my trust fully in the hands of a chosen person.
What did you dream your future partner would be like when you were a little girl?
That was to be honest not on my mind at all as a little girl.
Is your relationship with your partner the same as your parents’ relationship?
No, very different – which was important to me. My parents don’t seem to talk very much and feelings are conveyed through looks and snappy remarks and side-comments. My husband and I are – I think – talking more and trying to put our feelings into words rather than into veiled actions that the other person somehow has to decipher by telepathy.
How like your mother are you?
There are some similarities – we are both very organized people with very good time-planning and very structured in our daily lives. I do think I picked that up from her. We can both be relatively disciplined, although she takes it a bit further not allowing herself very many breaks. We are, I think, both rather rational people without huge emotional ups and downs or outbursts. She’s a very community-driven person active in all sorts of charitable groups and political community-clubs. I am running my own little theatre group and I think I picked up from her that it’s important to bring people together and create something together as a group – whatever the topic may be. I have a lot of respect for her and much admiration, she is a very strong, independent, hard-working person – I just think that the generation in which she grew up forced her to become rather hard around the edges to achieve everything she wanted to. I’m lucky in the sense that female independence is more normal in my generation and doesn’t require as hard of a struggle as it was for her.
What are your hopes for any daughters or young women you know?
I hope that she will be able to detach from expectations. Women are still faced with much more expectation and social observation than men – be it around their bodies and looks or around how they manage to combine family life / mother roles with work or how they behave in their sexuality (too frigid / too slutty). Everything seems to be chartered and marked for women, much more so than for men and I would wish for any young women to be able to detach from that. It’s easier said than done, of course.
Do you bring your son up the same way as your daughter? Do you think boys and girls should be brought up differently?
No, I don’t think they should. But I also don’t think you shouldn’t go against their incriminations just out of principle rigidly trying to interest a girl in cars even if she really couldn’t care less and just wants to play with dolls.
If you don’t have children, what have you been able to do that having children would have prevented you doing? What has your focus been?
I don’t have children yet and I am able to work a full-time job, which I enjoy a lot and my work gives me much fun and a feeling of achievement. I am able to travel at short notice and pursue my hobbies such as theatre and fitness and reading. I think what I enjoy most is to just follow my own schedule – my rhythm right now is not dictated by a child’s needs, but just by what I feel like doing. If I have children, I will probably miss that – even though I’m sure you gain a lot of joy in different ways.
Expectations and Dreams:
Who are your heroines and why?
My mother and my sister. They are such strong, independent women, achieving so much and spreading good things around themselves.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
I went for internships abroad when I was 20 / 21 years old. I worked in Madrid for 6 months and in the USA for 5 months. It was a great time, but looking back I realize how very young I was. My parents always encouraged independence though and I moved out from home at age 18 – so at the time moving abroad for 1 year at age 20/21 didn’t seem too crazy – it was in line with the overall development my parents had instilled in me and my sister.
What drives you?
Connections with people. I love bringing people together, be it in a work team or outside of work in a group of friends or around a shared hobby. It gives me great joy to bring people together that didn’t know each other well before and suddenly become close friends and support each other and spark off each other.
What are your values?
Kindness and respect towards others as well as towards yourself.
What is your biggest achievement?
I overcame eating disorders around the age of 23-25. It was a scary time, I was very much in my own head and very confused and had lost the inner kindness connection to myself. I often felt torn up in my insides, my head / mind hacking on my soul or body and it took a while to reconcile my insides with themselves. I was in therapy for about 2 years and it was the most empowering, self-reflecting experience. I would recommend anyone to go into therapy and not be afraid of it. You come out knowing yourself much better and I feel like I matured 11 years in the space of just 2 years.
How old are you?
What has been your favourite age to be and why?
I am pretty happy right now and wouldn’t want to go back to my younger self. I was much more confused when I was younger about my own feelings and about what I wanted and about my body and my appearance and about what my goals or hopes were.
Do you think it’s better to be young now than when you were young? (Or better now than when your parents were young?)
I think as a women, it’s better to be young now. My mother’s generation had – I think – much more battles to fight in the workplace, in the family, in the community etc. There are still battles to be had (pay gap, female leadership etc etc), but I think there is more groundwork we can now build upon.
What are the pros and cons of being a woman?
I don’t know if that question is particularly helpful. It’s not like there is much to choose from, there is no decision to be taken.
What have been the biggest challenges in your life?
Eating disorders, disconnecting from expectations perceived from society or family.
Self-image – Body or Looks:
Why do you dress the way that you do?
Because I’m comfortable in my clothes. I do like to dress nicely, particularly for work, but don’t like being uncomfortable or constricted.
What would be your musical soundtrack?
I don’t like musicals, I have to say. If I had to choose a music, I would go for a calm yet playful piano piece by Chopin.
Do you have a life’s motto?