Flower spotting

One of my favorite pastimes lately is taking long walks. I used to be afraid of walking around on my own out of fear of getting harassed by crazy people and bullies, so I limited my world to the bare necessities: school, the library, and the occasional visits to the local supermarket (one of my favorite places as a kid, because of the nice scent of freshly baked bread and fresh fruit and vegetables) or going shopping in city centre (mostly during my free self study hours at school, when crazy people should be at work and most of my bullies were still having class at school, as they picked different classes than me). Although I was harassed so often that it was creepy just being alone on the street, I forced myself to go out and face the world. I couldn't just stay safe, hiding under my blanket at home all the time and be a coward. I actually had no place on the planet that was safe for me, so I had to go out there to find one. It wasn't easy, but I took small baby steps forward. I remember being at a friend's house once when I was little and although I was scared and it was a place I have never been before, I wanted to go play at the playground in the inner courtyard no matter what, so I walked two steps into their garden and ran back inside afterwards. Then, I walked four steps into the garden and returned as fast as I could. I kept doing that until I reached the fence between the garden and the inner courtyard. It felt like a big victory to me, although this was a very simple thing to do for any other kid.




I slowly made progress over the years, but it wasn't until I was in high school that I was able to walk around all by myself, without my heart beating like crazy. I eventually started to enjoy my time alone during school breaks. During class, I was somewhat safe from the bullies, but during the half an hour breaks at school, I was like a small calf away from the herd and an easy prey for the wolves. Although it was forbidden to leave the school vicinity during school hours, I was more likely to get hurt at school than outside the school. I was someone who followed the rules to the dot, as I thought bad things happened to me, because I was a bad girl, and I got bullied for being abnoxiously perfect and making others follow the rules like me too. However, I refused to be harmed at school and did all I could to protect myself.

First, I took walks on the sidewalk around the school, which was still considered school vicinity, as I pointed out to the teacher that teachers and students were standing outside the school smoking too without being punished. After that wasn't safe either, I took the bus to city center (there was a bus stop on the sidewalk, so I basically never stepped off the sidewalk). After male classmates started to harass me at the bus stops around school too, I took the metro (really thanking my mom for the unlimited public transport card that I had). I told them that I was going home, as going home was allowed. So, I was on my way home, while I grabbed something to eat in city center as I was starving, when I realised that break is over, so I returned back to school, without ever reaching home (I should have become a lawyer). The half an hour school break was just enough to go to city center to get something like a croissant for lunch and return back to school. It started to feel suffocating being in a classroom not accepted by the group, who rather wanted me gone, so being alone and taking a deep breath of fresh air (freedom!) was amazing.

My first and only expelsion (for one month! and I view it as a medal of honor, as I was a model student, getting good grades and never being late for or skipping class) during high school was because I ripped the paper sheet on the door of the media room, which stated that students from lower classes were not allowed in the media room. I used to hide in the media room at school making sketches by myself, until students from the same year and higher started to notice me and became annoying, and it was the students from the lower classes who protected me. To me, the media room belonged to every student in the school and as long as everyone is quiet and not bothering each other, everyone should be welcome. I told the students from the lower classes to keep going there and ignore that nonsense rule, since as long as they group together and refuse to obey, the teacher won't be able to do anything against that. In a small scale, I was the leader of a rebellion, and that was incredible for the little, shy and quiet girl that I was.

I also remember telling one of my classmates at high school that my dream was to earn a lot of money, so that I could buy freedom. They didn't understand it back then, as they probably had plenty of freedom or just didn't understand what freedom really meant. To me, it meant not having to blindly obey my parents, not having to deal with my annoying siblings, not having to be in a school where I don't want to be, not having to be forced to be friends with people in the class just because it would protect me from being bullied, not having to behave a certain way and just be myself, and so on. Basically, not forced to do anything and autonomously deciding things for myself.

After all that happened in my life, I am extremely happy to have been able to explore the world more in the last few years. I even went to Hong Kong for my internship and lived on my own for the first time. It is something that I didn't think I could ever do as a kid. I have also visited many places in the Netherlands lately, where I have never been before. I really enjoyed making my series of blog posts about being a tourist in my own country. Recently, I started to even appreciate the small flowers on the side of the road. Underneath, you can find some pictures of the beautiful flowers that I came across, during my long walks.

 Rotterdam Kralingen 

 Rotterdam Kralingen

Rotterdam Kralingen

 Rotterdam Blaak

 Rotterdam Blaak 


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