When I was a little kid, I grew up in what could’ve been a social housing estate. Well, not really – in the village where I grew up, there were some blocks of social housing spread through the village, and the first nine years of my life I lived in one of those blocks. It was not a problem at all; some of my classmates lived in blocks like that too, others did not, but we did not care. We had lovely neighbours – people warned my parents for them when we started to live there, but really, we could not have wished for better ones. When I was nine years old, my parents bought a house that was big enough for them and after a while five children to live in, in one of the more exclusive parts of the village. It was a logical step when my father started to earn more, and we needed a bigger house. They still live there, the population has changed for the better, but my mother still misses the old neighbours sometimes. After 15 years I saw one of them again, and even while I changed quite a bit (growing from 9 to 24 years old) she recognized me.
Now I live in social housing as well, in quite a nice apartment. There are two apartment blocks like this in the small city I live in, while the older apartment blocks from social housing are being replaced for new ones, ours will stick around for some time longer. They are built in the ’60’s and not perfect (we cannot have a dishwasher), but the half-a-million-costing houses around the corner do not have the marvellous sight we have when we roll out of our bed.
Here too, we have quite nice neighbours. Okay, I admit, the ones upstairs are a Somalian family, with three kinds who like to run around, so we hear them. The neighbours next door are not all Dutch either, and there are some Polish guest-workers somewhere in the block. We have been on visiting terms with the neighbours upstairs and downstairs, and they are all quite nice. Some people downstairs like to repair cars all day, and we can hear that all day. So what? I dare to bet that if my fiancé had his car-breakdown here instead of at his work, they’d have helped him right away.
I know social housing can be different than I am used to. Where my parents lived, and where I live now, it mostly are the neat people with just less money than average, who live here. The housing is cheap, but it is home, and we live between the rich, driving the same roads, shopping in the same supermarkets. I know it can be that way in the bigger cities too, although I know there are some more ghetto-like buroughs as well. My ex grew up in a social housing estate in Utrecht, one of our bigger cities. Where he is just a city boy, with a little bit too much experience with his bike being stolen when he was a kid, his area was not much unlike it is here. On the other hand, there is one burough in that city he does not want to live – ever – and when he heard my cousin lived there on her own, he told me that if he were my aunt and uncle, he would not sleep at night. But that is in the Netherlands, and it is not really as bad as I hear it to be in other countries.
How is social housing where you come from? Would you want to live there?
As I told in my former post, last year I was on the verge of a burnout. My biggest problem so far is, that I want to be normal. I want to be like everyone else, and I want to be able to do what everyone else can.
One of the things that helped me, was realising I do not have to be ‘normal’. Heck, if someone is not normal, I am that someone. I am the person who is clumsy all the time, and usually is able to laugh about it herself. No, I am not a nutcase (oh well, I might be), I am just different. Like everyone is different.
Somehow that was not enough though. I still wanted, and want, to be like everyone else. I still wanted to be good enough to fit in. Starting to become fine with being out of the box did not help me completely. It were the people around me who care for me that did, You know what? Even while my apprenticeship-coaches told me that if I did not quit, things might get even worse… Even while my SO told me to please, please take care of myself… I was afraid still. I was afraid my parents would think I gave up too easily. My mother had been going on about the importance of finishing something and getting a degree, and I did not want to disappoint her. Was she right? Oh yes she was, I still do not have a job after half a year of trying. Was she right? No… since a job is not nearly as important as my health. Apart from being jobless, I am doing much better now I take care of myself.
I do work, in some way. I do have a webshop that I am trying to grow into a selling webshop. I do also take care of myself though, I make sure I do things I like. And yes, about half a year ago, I slept, a lot. Still I would love to know how to make sure this does not happen again. I cannot be a quitter every time, I do not want to be. But I do know I have to keep taking care of my health.
How do you avoid burnout? How do you speak up if there is too much on your plate?
Four years old
I am in class, almost in tears, because I am stupid. I could not tell the teacher why I touched the Easter-thingies. I knew why I did it; they were nice, and everyone did it. Only I was the one seen doing it, and how could I tell the teacher why without betraying my friends? Well, I did not think it out like that; all I knew was that the teacher must think I am stupid, since I cannot even tell why I did something.
Six years old
I cannot fix the words out of my letter box fast enough. They are so small, and slip out of my fingers so easily. I love letters, and I started to read and write before the others in class, but still I must be dumb. All others can make words with the letterbox so much faster than I can.
Nine years old
Finally they know what is wrong with me, I have dyspraxia. I was not dumb for not not placing those tiny thingies fast enough, nor stupid because I wanted to feel what I saw.
17 years old
Why is it so hard for me to do my homework in time? Sleepless nights, because I have to hand in something important, and I have not finished yet. Always being just in time, always just good enough for practical things. But I am good enough, and even while I cannot plan, I get through high school pretty easily. Everything goes smooth, I can rule the world if I want to!