I knew this year was going to be different. On January 2nd I was strolling around Otrobanda and a shop, The Goods, grabbed my attention. I walked inside and felt a wave of emotions rolling through my body. I had just had a conversation with a fellow PhD student and we had talked about the many new creative, nature friendly initiatives that can be found in Curaçao.
As I entered The Goods, I could tell that a lot of these initiatives come together in that specific place. Experiencing that different local businesses are working together in their effort to produce and sell unique and beautiful products, was what had made me so emotional. What touched my heart was a sense of community in which people uplift each other for a greater goal. Later I realized that it was that that I had been missing in my life here in Curaçao.
Three years ago I arrived in Curaçao. I was full of energy as I embarked on this new adventure. I was following my dreams of working abroad and pursuing a PhD. But then life kicked in.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I haven’t been part of any community at all. I was and I am. For example, Angelino and his family received me with open arms. I became part of their family and their home was mine. They got to know me and I got to know them. So, because he knew that I like to eat fish, Angelino’s dad would always save a part of the catch after coming back from fishing. Angelino’s mum was able to tell from my most subtle body languages in what mood I was. She would hold mirrors in front of me to reflect upon. And Angelino himself, he would stand by me, always. But still, sometimes I would feel very lonely. For example, at work and in doing my research – the two things that originated by migration to Curaçao.
Writing a PhD research is in a lot of ways solitary work, but I missed a community around me who understood the processes I was going through and who – at least to some extent – spoke a similar scientific language. I had offered creating a PhD peer group, but I was told that they were going to create one, so I didn’t make any effort. As the years passed, and no such group was created, me and two other colleagues decided to wait no longer. We created our own academic peer community. What a delight it was, the first time we got our envisioned group of scholars together. While enjoying a snack and a drink, we talked about our overlapping scientific interests, we shared knowledge, and inspired and motivated each other.
A couple of weeks ago I discussed the meaning of being part of a community with Femi, one of the initiators of Boss + co, and later with Nepthalie, the founder of Curaçao Mamas. Both of them bring different groups of people together, namely young female entrepreneurs and mothers with young children. I have come to the conclusion that being part of a community is about being part of a group of people that inspire and uplift each other. It’s about sharing knowledge and experiences, speaking a similar – not the same! – language, and holding each other accountable.
Talking to Nepthalie and Femi also made me realize that I simply need multiple communities. I do so many different things in life and I play so many different roles, that only one tribe is not enough. So, whenever I do start feeling lonely again, I can remind myself that I have got several beautiful communities around me already, and that maybe I am only missing a specific type of tribe. That is why I am so glad that Rochelle, owner of Excellency B.V., invited me to be part of Oasean’s entrepeneurs-in-wellness-tribe. The timing was perfect, because I am already onto my next adventure. One connected to entrepreneurship and wellness.
Read about my first experience with Oasean’s ‘tribe’ in the 53th edition of Support, available end of May.