A PHD in chemistry. Belgian. A polyglot. The stories she loves feature people standing up for the truth. She loves people who are not afraid to be vulnerable, and her answers reflect that. She works for a pharmaceutical company, in the weekend she roots for her favorite soccer team, she takes care of goats in her backyard, at 34 she already owns her own house (quite a big one). She loves to go running, is ready to talk about any topic and thoroughly enjoys a fiery discussion about politics, history, culture and science. At the moment she’s single, because she’s recently discovered she wants to learn to stick up for her own needs. During the past couple of months she’s worked hard on increasing her self-awareness, and we feel she’ll agree when we say, she’s actually never been better than right now. She’s also funny, and charming, has excellent taste in clothing, and always looks for the positive side to any situation. Although she was raised in an environment that put ‘hard work’ above all things, she allows herself to also enjoy life. Oh, a couple weeks ago she was in Bratislava and she loved the place. We at Bratislava Live were mightly pleased with her positive observations. She especially liked the coffee culture in Slovakia’s blossoming capital. Here are her answers to the 21 #thrive questions.
What is the one thing you could do today that would make everything else easier?
I could consider living closer to my work or working closer to my home. Spending almost 2 to 3 hours a day in traffic to commute does not make my working week easy to organize. On the other hand I love my work, and I love where I live. So let’s keep it as it is for now. Also carpooling eases the pain….a lot!
How are you going to create more value for yourself and others than you did yesterday?
By putting myself first and I don’t mean this in an egotistical way at all. In the past I tended to forget myself in the whole process of living/connecting with others. I did this to such a degree that I eventually ended up losing myself. During a first aid course, I saw the light, the message was very clear, put yourself in a safe place first before you can start helping others.
What’s the most important project you’re working on right now?
The most important project I am working on today is ‘me, myself and I’. Due to a recent crisis, I need to understand what happened and I have got to know myself much better than I did before. It is very interesting to learn, why I react in a certain way in a certain situation.
What are you grateful for?
I am very grateful for my great family, and friends I feel so close to (even though some of them are further away). All of them are kind and warm. As cliché as it may sound, in times of crisis, you get to know your real friends.
What are the positive habits you are building right now?
I try to listen to my center better. In the past I was constantly in my head, not knowing my needs, overestimating other people’s good deeds and underestimating my own talents. And that made me feel very restless. I took criticism from other people very personal without even wondering if I agreed with them. This new habit of listening more to how I feel about things, really gives me confidence and peace.
What is a decision you are absolutely committed to?
I want to stay true to myself but also towards others. I want to be the what-you-see-is-what-you-get Elke. I want to also be able to show it when I feel vulnerable. Only then, I believe a real connection between people can be established.
What is something you absolutely want to accomplish?
I n the short term, I want to finish the 10 miles of Antwerp….alive. That’s 10 miles of running. Professionalyl, I want to become an inspiring team leader one day. In my spare time I want to learn to play the piano.
What have you learned recently?
I know I’m starting to sound repetitive, but I have learned a lot about myself recently and also about my interaction with others, what makes me (re)act a in certain way and also how to overcome (re)actions that are preferably avoided. Also I’ve learned that life is too short to spend it on something/someone I don’t like.
How do you want to feel today?
I want to live in the moment, doing things with full focus, not worrying about what comes next. So far so good.
How are you going to reward yourself today?
Today I have plenty of time and I decided to only do what I feel like doing. That’s pretty rewarding don’t you think?
What sort of people are you inviting into your life today?
Only those people who don’t fear to show their vulnerability. Those people who don’t claim to know better. People who are interested/eager to learn.
Name a question you’d really like to see answered.
Will I ever get married? (que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be)
What does your ideal day look like?
Like a Friday. On a Friday, people tend to be very cheerful, they look forward to the weekend, they are full of plans. I even prefer Fridays over Saturdays and Sundays. It is the idea of the weekend that makes people softer, more cheerful, nicer.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
I would go into politics. Share my views and ideas with the world, looking for a better place for EVERYONE and not just the happy few.
What’s your one word and why?
Vulnerability. Showing you are vulnerable means you have a lot of courage.
If your life was a movie, what would be the title?
‘Le fabuleux destin d’amelie poulain’ and sometimes also ‘lost in translation’.
What’s the best kind of business to get into right now?
The business I am currently in right now, is not bad at all.
Polgyamy or monogamy? And why?
Definitely, without the shadow of a doubt; monogamy. I am still convinced that you can stay faithful to one person for the rest of your life even though there are many examples that prove otherwise. On top of that I’d like to add we expect too much from our significant other. He/she has to be a passionate lover, good looking, an excellent mom or dad, a good cook, and of course he/she needs to have an interesting job and at least a few hobbies. There is only that much one person can be/do. Therefore, I like the definition that I heard from Rutger Bregman (actually it was his mom’s definition) of a happy relationship: your partner is the one person that doesn’t make you tired. Think about it.
What’s the shittiest thing you’ve ever done to someone?
I have been pretty shitty to myself the past couple of years by underestimating and ignoring myself.
What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done for someone?
I always try to only do nice things to other people; small things, like just smiling and saying hello to the people you meet on the street.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
My mom, standing up for me at the right moment. That wasn’t really a compliment, but still, it felt great that someone was having my back/going through all this trouble….for me.
What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?
Don’t think you are the only one who doesn’t know where to go, others have issues too. Don’t always believe them when they claim they have everything sorted out.