TAKE OFF YOUR ARMOR AND THRIVE

301 words by Katarina Stoltz

As a teenager my strongest belief was “life is a struggle” and I was miserable. I hustled for worthiness by getting good looking guys to like me. I toughened up on the outside, grew weaker on the inside and exaggerated my alcohol consumption. By my late 20s I had armored up so badly that I lost touch with the happy girl I used to be.

Then, I got hired as a photographer by one of the world’s biggest news agencies. My ego was thrilled! A few years later, I was at the top of my career when I suddenly found myself on the bathroom floor in … continue

The Graduate

This month marks almost four years since I graduated from university. When I think back to those four years compared to the last four years… oh, a lot can happen. Since graduating, I’ve lived in two countries and had four different jobs. I have friendships and relationships that span generations and geographical areas.
I have stretched and adapted myself in ways I never could have predicted. I have questioned so much. Sometimes, I wonder where it all came from. I mean, I was always a cautious young girl who preferred safety and comfort over risk, but once I finished up university things shifted. The world became my stage; I could … continue

Almost does count

The moment my life changed was six years ago.
It changed in the armpit of an almost stranger.

I believed he would be the man I’d share life with.
Instead, he became an almost lover.

We were naked. He was lying on the bed and his arms were crossed under his head. We were looking at each other. I looked at his armpit and heard myself say: “I want to snuggle in there.” I heard this with a delay, while I was already doing so—laying my head down, snuggling in his armpit. There was a pause in his breathing, and then he wrapped his arms around me. We must have … continue

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

Sometimes you have to leave to be able to come back

Sometimes you just know that you really HAVE TO do something. „I need to travel by myself, I cannot say for how long, I just know that I have to do this!“
Nothing could have stopped me.
I left my hometown Hamburg not knowing when I would come back. I gave up my job, my apartment and my relationship to travel to Australia. No strings attached. Ready for adventure and ready to find happiness.
After the first excitements of making new experiences and meet a lot of people I just felt miserable. What was I doing?
I had imagined to feel free as a bee but I had never felt … continue

Life is all about making choices

Sometimes a pat on the back is all I need, especially when I was about to leave the company after everything that I have given. People may focus on the terms: 6+ months. But in those months, I exerted outside of my comfort zone to deliver, even beyond what was expected of me. So I thought at least a short message before I left would do it, until I learnt that I wouldn’t get any. Not from the person I worked closest with: my direct report.
He even blew up the chance to say something in person the last time I met him.
Brokenhearted, I was. Not only this was … continue

The Magic Journal

About 2 years ago, I received a gift from my brother who lives in Paris.
He never sends me anything, so that was a big deal.
It was an agenda. This one had dates on the left and on the right page it had a colouring section. You know, adult colouring was quite trendy back then.
To honour the precious gift, I started using the agenda to schedule my appointments and my crossfit classes. Pretty boring.
The colouring part frustrated me. I wanted to create, not to finish somebody else’s creation. But I didn’t want to give up the gift! I started covering the colouring page with collages and I … continue