“Yes, but you were lucky,” she said, putting her cup down on the saucer. It was a beautiful day in May, the birds were happy and the sun was out. I thought about the road I traveled so far and how hard I worked to stay on it. “Lucky?” I asked, “what do you mean lucky?”
She looked at me. “You’re lucky to do the things that you love.” I stared out of the window and listened to the clock strike twelve. It was noon, we were in London, my favourite city in the world and the place I now called home; a train passed by over our heads and none of it had anything to do with luck.
I thought about the mentality my parents had when I was a child and how it was a destructive one. They seemed convinced that they were victims. Their life was something that had happened to them, not a result of the choices they had made over and over again. It took me 26 years to realize it, and if my uncle hadn’t put his finger on it, I might have still believed that life wasn’t something you could create for yourself, but rather a set of circumstances that had to be endured.
I was 28 years old when I had that heart to heart with my uncle and I was probably the most miserable person I knew. I had always felt that the life I was living, was not the life I had wanted to live.
I learned the hard way that our hearts can only rebel against your heads for so long without things turning sour. My unhappiness came pouring out in every direction, causing a lot of collateral damage I will never be able to repair. I could no longer keep a lid on it in the end. I had to act in order to survive. It took me forever to get to where I am today, and a lot of hard work and determination, going against the feelings that trapped me in my comfort zone for so long. I am not where I want to be yet, but there is a reality to consider, and I had far to go. Migrating to the country I always loved more than the one I was born in while pretty much being penniless, meant that I needed a lot of time and creative problem solving to move in the direction of my dreams. I just figured that slowly building on something that makes you happy, is more effective than not building on it at all.
I never felt like I belonged anywhere and from a young age was always creating worlds where I did feel at home. I remember spending hours creating characters and places on my grandmother’s typewriter, overlooking the flat Dutch fields in front of her house and dreaming about the mountains. Writing was something that came natural to me but because I was afraid, I only started writing professionally when I was thirty-two years old. It is amazing how you can think you are a free spirit until you look back at the choices you made in your life and discover that most of them were taken out of fear. Sure I went to art school, which was a big deal for a small country girl going against the opinions of her surroundings, but I went and studied photography instead of creative writing, which was what I really wanted to do.
When I look back at my life I realise that I had a habit of taking the easy way out. Deep down I had always known who I really was and what I really wanted to do, but it takes courage to become who you are. This is why the word ‘luck’ always rubs me the wrong way. Living life the way you truly want to live it, had fuck all to do with luck. A situation might come across as lucky sometimes, but what might look like luck, usually is the consequence of some pretty tough choices made down the road. You only have one life and if you sit around waiting until you are ready or until the stars align, you will be waiting forever.