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The (non-conventional) path to happiness

New Year’s resolutions – we all make them and then we disappoint ourselves because we never stick to them. Journaling for therapy and writing down all the positive and good things that happened on a day basically goes like this. The first week you are invested and you do it every day – because let’s be honest, we want to please the therapist and show them we really do want to put the work in. But after a while, every day turns into once a week, which turns into once a month and before you know it your last entry was 5 months ago. So I came up with something else, and I have been doing it for the last three years; make a list of all the things I am doing for the first time. And a few weeks ago I got to put one on the list that I never thought would happen: “guest starring” in a podcast!

And one could think “Why? What would you talk about?” I’m not a specialist in any kind of field, I don’t have a fancy skill or the most interesting and eventful life story. But apparently not everyone (Marilou Coutty for example) agrees with that and here we are… guest star in a podcast. And to be honest, the reason why I never thought I would be co-creating a podcast, is because I don’t know what I’m doing. Getting your life together, being an (proper) adult and someone with their ducks in a row does not seem to apply to my existence. But not knowing what we’re doing in life, aren’t we all in that same situation? Everyone fakes it ‘till they make it (and more and more I start to realize that ‘making it’ seems like an illusion).

But what I do know is that I found my purpose in life, the reason I wake up every day and why I do what I do. And that’s what the podcast is about: my purpose in life and the enormous role Cape Town plays in that. Nothing makes me happier than walking into Sunshine and 30 kids want to show or tell me something at the same time. “Marileen look I’m sitting on my chair.”, “Look I’m wearing my mask!”, “Marileen come look what I built with LEGO.”, “Look I have my own hand sanitiser!” They are the light of my life and the reason I came to South Africa in the first place. And I realised I don’t want the conventional path to success in life. I’d rather be at Sunshine and see the kids and the community in Wolwerivier every day, than thinking about the next shoes and dress I’m going to buy and the bigger car and promotion that I appear to be needing.

And that brings me back to the list of firsts. Because in the beginning of April 2021, I can add another thing to my list. I’m starting a PhD! A research on child development and (dysfunctional) families in Wolwerivier. Another way, one might say next level, to try and improve the lives of those who live in Wolwerivier. The nerd in me – I’m not going to lie, I definitely am a nerd – is looking forward to the tons of scientific articles, the interviews and the writing. But the best of all: I can do it while spending time with my favourite kids and parents, on my non-conventional path to happiness!

For all you Dutchies out there: you can listen to the podcast via the following links

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1562834/7049134-lullen-met-marileen.mp3?blob_id=30127549&download=true

https://podcasts.apple.com/nl/podcast/l-n-met-lou/id1546355185

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