I'm Andrea, a twenty-four-year-old French nurse who moved to Paris just over a year ago. I describe myself as a forever explorer, a food lover and an art lover, so those aspects of myself will obviously stand in my writing. I am also what society calls a plus-size woman.
I feel like it is time for women from everywhere, every shape, every state of mind, every stage of life to embrace their inner strength.
Through this post, I would like to discuss how I managed to find myself at this stage of my life and how I keep living this outstanding life adventure.
I was born in the south of France in a medium size town and I moved to Paris almost two years ago to allow myself to discover a new chapter in my life. As a kid and teenager, I was always seen as the very joyful, extrovert, quite stubborn member of my groups of friends and in my family. I was always smiling, trying to be present for others and sometimes even forgetting about myself. I am still a little bit like this, but I have found more complexity about myself through the years.
I believe that I found certain aspects of my personality and abilities thanks to the adversity and challenges that life has exposed me to. Some challenges were tough, and I didn’t know if I could come back stronger from it. But I did and I feel very proud of myself. I believe that I feel proud because I successfully helped others get through similar challenges.
The joy of helping others
I was around 19 years old when I began my nursing studies. Here, I found how sensitive and devoted I am. It is true that I’m always more nervous about my friends or family members' problems than myself. I don’t give up easily when I need to help others, support a person in my private group – and professional group too. The only difference is that when it concerns my patients, I don’t involve too much of my emotions or feelings so I can help them with neutrality and fairness. This state of mind allows me to work peacefully and not bring work issues home as much as possible.
Making others happy, feeling proud and fearless really brings me limitless joy. I believe that seeing this tiny hope sparkle in others’ eyes is my true motivation to be joyful always. Most of the time I feel more comfortable with open minded people, like myself.
Being able to find common ground with people can sometimes seem difficult, but with my job as psychiatric nurse I see myself as a real chameleon, adaptable in every situation. I have to admit that I always liked and even have the automatic thought to try to understand others’ way of thinking, and how they developed those thoughts and especially in the context of mental illness. So, working in psychiatry always seemed to be the perfect fit for me when I graduated nursing school.
A forever explorer
I would describe myself as a forever explorer, a foodie and an art lover. I love to travel, to discover new cultures and to search for similarities in different cultures. Travels are, for me, cathartic because traveling allows me to discover a new side of my personality. I have already travelled around nine countries in Europe, three cities in the US, a few Caribbean islands and I’m already planning on future trips to African countries such as Senegal and Tanzania.
Live life to the fullest - through food, art and fashion
Let’s face it: sometimes I feel like I’m living to eat and not the opposite. I like to always discover new cuisines. Italian, Japanese, Beninese, Caribbean, Lebanese or even multicultural mixings always look delicious to me! The diversity of our societies offers us the opportunity to find something new and tasty to discover all the time. Since I moved to Paris, I made a (never-ending!) list of restaurants that I would like to go to and every week a new person mentions a new restaurant. One lifetime will never be long enough to discover the entire list and that’s what I like so much about it.
Could we have a moment and talk about how art can allow you to achieve a true peaceful and breath-taking moment? Art is to me an expression of complex emotions where each of us can recognize ourselves because of our subjective perceptions. Art always has a special place in my life: drawing, painting, sculpting, watching movies, going to art galleries, listening to music which soundtracks everything in my life. I already said in my previous post how getting back into drawing helped me put all my thoughts and emotions on paper or canvas.
About music, I can say that it is important in my life. I actually listen to music in every moment of my day and every step of my life: in the morning, sometimes in a small break at work, at night, when I draw, when I write my posts, when I study, when I drive, when I feel good, when I feel anxious and of course; the louder the better ! I enjoy very different music movements and styles. My playlists have a mix of classical music, typical Caribbean music such as “Kompa” (google it!), soul music, reggae, electro and of course afro music (perhaps my favourite when I think about it). The hardest thing for me is to correctly choose music according to my mood, and if I can’t sing out loud and dance wildly.
One other thing that I truly appreciate is fashion. I always expressed myself through the way I dressed. I believe that my clothes and accessories speak for me. Since I was a teenager, I always took care of the way I look, what fits me and makes me feel bold and confident. It took quite some time for me to find clothes where I felt myself instead of copying what how I thought people wanted me to look - because I’m a tall and plus size woman.
I actually feel so much power to wear what’s not expected from me, or from my figure. So yes, I like to go shopping (maybe too) often. I always listen to my desires and moods when I choose my clothes (so I surely have a ton of them).
The power of standing out
The last thing that I would like to discuss would be how being and feeling different can result in great empowerment. Being always seen in a crowd as a kid for your height and weight can be quite traumatizing at first sight. But with time, experiences and courage, you can find a true power of being and feeling different. That is what happened for me, I’m 25 years old now and I know that my differences with others made me stronger.
Sometimes I feel that I overthink way more than the average, that I always have to think about every possibility for every situation, but this little personality trait allowed me to make clever and well-prepared decisions. Of course, sometimes it can be quite exhausting to have difficulties to turn off your brain but there are ways to manage that – for me it could be drawing.
The way I dress, it can be seen as bold, different, very colourful – and this difference brings a lot of power for me. I would describe myself as a tiny bit crazy too. I like to experience things wildly, to always have a good laugh, to sometimes do things that could appear childish. But I love it and so do the people around me (are they a little bit crazy too?!). I like the fact that I am, and that I’m seen as different in some ways.
So now you have a tiny piece of the curvy, bold, and a little bit quirky woman I proudly am - and how I managed to find myself. So, go find yourself, don’t turn your back to adversity, changes, challenges, or differences because those situations could make you meet yourself.