Phoebe’s Letter to Self — Part 1: Metaphoric March

ErasmusX
4 min readApr 8, 2022
Story written by ErasmusX Intern Phoebe Dekkers

Halfway March the journey of my internship started, and my energy was at a ‘2000% let’s go for it’ level. I was determined to show everything I’ve got and be the absolute best version of myself. As a newbie pirate I stepped on board, ready to present myself in such way I would prove again I was worth it to be a part of ErasmusX, and very soon I noticed nobody expected me to have the hierarchal mindset I thought I needed to have. So, this is where the fun part begins (allowing myself to have a little self-mockery here), because I was completely clueless of what was expected from me then. It felt like one of those ‘guess an object to the touch’ boxes from childhood. You know, those with a couple of holes in it in which you could put your arm, hoping not to touch anything that scares the hell out of you. Well, that was me: groping in the dark, getting freaked out by not knowing what’s in these boxes and what’ll happen if I stick my arm in the wrong box. Is there even a wrong one? I couldn’t tell you; I was waiting and staring, clueless of how I felt. It made me realize I entered a safe space for the first time in my whole life. I was so used to pushing myself to the ultimate limits, that I can’t even tell you what my personal limits and boundaries are on itself, I always fully adjusted them to others’ wishes. It felt very confronting, standing in front of this imaginary mirror, and realizing I was quite a stranger to myself.

The first lesson for me at ErasmusX was the realization of how I always have been doing things the way others liked. As a kid I’ve been bullied for over nine years, and although I thought I survived that part of my life, I might never be able to explain how the scars it left behind still influence my day-to-day life. As I grew up, I adapted myself to my peers, hoping for the bullying to stop. I adapted myself to my teachers because I had the wish to be liked and seen. I adapted myself to all people around me, from family to friends, because I never got the chance to do it my way. So, there was not a single moment in my life at which I learned to be me. Time after time I asked for permission before I started doing anything, after which I asked for confirmation to check whether the way I acted was socially accepted. Sometimes I still catch myself doing this. The thought of ‘Oh gosh, what if I did it all wrong? What if I don’t fit in? Rewind: I went to school, who did I see… I can’t remember what I said, was it foolish? Maybe I should’ve done it differently…’ could keep me up all night. Often people told me it’s human to feel this way and the bad times at primary school are over now, so I could just get up and move on. No. No I cannot move on. I might not have open wounds by this day, but I still have these scars and I wish I didn’t feel the urge to hide them all the time.

So, I never stopped fighting for the day I could finally be me and now I’m actually there, 26 years later, there’s freedom for me to do whatever I want to do and I’m too scared to take it. What if I make the wrong choices? Who’s going to guide me? What do I have to do? They always tell me to take my time for things, how much time do I have to do what exactly? As I wrote this blog a tear rolled down my cheek, it’s confronting to answer your own question that never seemed to be a question before. I honestly never realized how my life has been guided by others, and how it deprived me from the self-confidence I need to have in order to belief I have a place in this world for a reason. In discovering this I need to give loads of admiration to ErasmusX, because they have been able to teach me something within only three weeks without someone actually teaching me. They just gave me room, time, and trust.

Dear reader, welcome to this blog series of my journey at ErasmusX. I’ll be sharing my steps and life lessons with you in monthly letters I wrote to myself from now on, and hopefully be a little support to those of you who feel related. Each month contains a same-lettered word that represents a part of my personality, to this word a story is connected in which I tell you how ErasmusX supported me developing that particular part of myself. So, to close of metaphoric march, I cited a nice quote below.

‘If you’re afraid for the unknown, then get to know it.’

Love,

Phoebe

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