How I learned to give myself the space I deserve

My sister who is two years older than me performed very well in school – but I performed better. So I learned to suppress myself in order to let her shine. My sister never asked me to do that, neither was it a conscious decision that I made. It was lurking inside me for forty years before I became conscious about it during a session with my therapist.
I am a lecturer and I used to fall in a deep, black hole after each lecture – no matter if the lecture was excellent or terrible. I did not understand why, it hurt, but I continued to lecture: I simply loved … continue

My best worst case scenario

I arrived in Berlin in one of the coldest winters I ever experienced. One meter snow, no one in the streets. I decided to move to this city, where I knew no one but my friend Cami, because I had a job offer at the most exciting vegetarian gourmet restaurant in the world. But when I was about to start, the Chef told me the restaurant was not running good and he couldn’t give me the job for which I left everything behind.
Life has trained me to deal with worst case scenarios. From losing my father at the age of 11, losing my childhood, losing my house to losing … continue

Breaking the vicious circle

I was born in a slum area of Mumbai. I can’t remember having a best friend and till I was 12, I did not really know what a birthday celebration was. My dream was to finish school but the odds were not in my favor. In my slum area, there is no supportive environment for girls’ education. No one to inspire or guide us. So most of us drop out. I was no exception.
In 10th grade I failed my exams and had to quit school. My failure was taken as an evidence that girls should not be educated. I had no choice but so start working in order to … continue

Songs to save planet Earth

Hi. Guess what? I’m Bipolar. So far I’ve had two jaunts in the psych ward, the second more harrowing than the first. I hope I never have to go back again. I think I have the right combination of meds this second time around. Living with Bipolar means a constant nagging paranoia in conjunction with a bit of a messianic complex which I am to understand is “normal.” Other than that I’m peachy.

Like everyone else, sleep is vital to my well-being. I used to be a night owl party girl who lived to burn the midnight oil, but now I’m in bed by 9. Every night I wake up … continue

My eyes are the colour of the sea

My eyes are the colour of the sea. Since I was a girl, I’ve believed that the ocean is inside me.
That my irises are made of glass, windows to the aqua and grey. Water lapping or smashing against the clear barrier that separates the inside from the outside.
I was ten years old when I regularly felt irrational worry. Like waves crashing over my head, obstructing my lungs. At night, I’d dream of gigantic walls of water coming toward me, smashing my face, filling my ears, sucking me up and spitting me out. Disorientated, I’d reach out in front and feel the sand in my hands and be hit … continue

Trust and Solidarity

When I arrived in Barcelona in 1999, in search for opportunities I could not find in my native Senegal, I was lonely and poor. But also resourceful and creative. I started thinking about how I could remedy the situation. And I remembered a model my mother and aunts used to be involved in Senegal. It was an informal savings model called a “tontine”. A tontine is set up by a group of people who pool money that is then handed out, in turns, to its members. For example, a group of 8 people will, at the first meeting, all put in Euro 100. One member is then nominated to receive continue