J A S M I J N

 Amsterdam | 2018

J A S M I J N  

City  Amsterdam
Age  37
Love life — Married, two daughters
Profession Fashion stylist for magazines
Years in Amsterdam 17 years
Location NDSM Wharf

T H E  A M S T E R D A M  S T O R I E S

‘BEING

MODEST

IS A

BEAUTIFUL THING’

  • What makes you really happy?
    “Last month when I was working as a stylist in Portugal, I felt so happy to just be me for a moment, and not a mother. I didn’t have to pick up the kids after the shoot, didn’t have to do groceries, prepare dinner, bring the children to bed and read them bedtime stories. But the beautiful thing was that when I returned from my trip and looked at my children, I thought, they’re so adorable! I fell completely in love with them again. Yesterday I also felt really happy when I was cycling on my own along the canals on my new bike without children’s seats. I just flew!”
  • What is your best personality trait?
    “That I don’t need a lot to be happy. I don’t care about luxury, I don’t need much. My parents taught me to enjoy the small things in life. When my child comes running out of school with a big smile on her face, I’m instantly happy. Even my wedding was low key. I was wearing a white lace dress from Topshop, we ate cake and drank champagne in a meadow, and only our closest friends and family were there. And it was all I needed.”
  • What makes you different than other people?
    “I don’t know if I’m all that different. Although when I compare myself with my old class mates, I might be. A lot of them have chosen a job with a permanent contract and they still live in the village we grew up in. I work as a freelancer; moved to Amsterdam and decided to stay here, even after I started a family. While a lot of people move out of the city at that point in their life. I have always followed my instincts, instead of doing what you’re supposed to do. But on the other hand, I am like most other young families that decide to stay in Amsterdam. We are mostly open-minded, left-wing, social people.”
  • What is your biggest struggle in life?
    “Maybe it will change again, but right now everything in my life is good as it is. I had a really busy time at work and now I have the time to focus on my family again and enjoy the small things. It feels like pure happiness when the cat comes for a walk along with me and my children to the playground, patiently waits for us and then returns home with us. Because of this behaviour he has become the attraction of the neighbourhood, haha.”
  • What is your biggest life lesson?
    “That it’s really ok to be who you are. In the past people kept telling me, especially at school, that I was too shy, as if that was something negative. Now I’m at a point in my life that I can say, I’m just a modest person, and that is a beautiful thing. Many people find it refreshing that I’m like this, especially in the fashion world. I once had to style the members of a big orchestra and they told me that they were relieved that I was a normal, modest person instead of a high-heeled big-mouthed fashion doll. So don’t just believe what other people tell you about yourself. It took me a while to realise this, because people had told me so many times that I should have been more like this or that. Well, thank you for telling me who I should be, but when someone’s not that person, they’re just not. Deal with it.”

  • What do you regret most in life?
    “I always love that line from Frank Sinatra’s song I did it my way: ‘Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention’. I feel the same.”
  • What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
    “It might sound a bit cliché, but my kids are definitely the best thing that ever happened to me. Even though they drive me crazy sometimes. I love to see them enjoying their youth, it makes me see things in perspective. When I’m stressed about work and I see them play without a worry in the world, enjoying the small things in life, it feels like a wake-up call: oh, wait a minute, work isn’t the most important thing there is. When my kids call me the sweetest mother in the world, I couldn’t be more proud.”
  • What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
    “When you smile, people smile back at you. It sounds logical, and it is. I think back about that advice a lot and it makes life so much easier. For example, when I was younger, I worked in fashion stores and customers would ask me the same questions over and over again. It made me cranky. There we go again, I often thought. But the real problem was that I wasn’t happy in that job, I desperately wanted to do something else, but I didn’t know what. I was turning thirty and felt that I really needed to accomplish something in life. And I took it out on the customers. But one day I told myself, come on, smile! And even though it started with a fake smile, the real smile came pretty soon after that and I felt so much better. The customers responded to my kindness, so the job became easier. I also remember one time when I was sprinting down the city centre to catch a bus, but the bus drove away anyway. Yet instead of getting angry, I just smiled at the driver. And then he stopped in the middle of the road. When I entered the bus, he told me that he wasn’t really allowed to stop there, but that a smile goes a long way.”
  • What is your biggest dream or goal?
    “At the moment I don’t really have any. I’m happy that everything is working out so well. Especially compared to my late twenties, when I was so restless and just didn’t know what to do with my life. I studied to become a stylist, but my internship made me very insecure. They gave me lots of compliments, but I didn’t feel them for some reason. That insecurity comes from somewhere deep inside of me. I experienced it as a child as well, and sometimes I recognise it in my oldest daughter. It doesn’t impact my life in a huge way, but it was definitely always there. Now I feel much more stable. Although there is still some work to do concerning my job as a magazine stylist. I’m always afraid the editors are going to criticise my work. Which shouldn’t really be so much of an a issue, because whenever they do have comments I always think, I’m still alive, this isn’t the end of the world. I have to remind myself all the time that criticism doesn’t mean that they won’t hire me anymore. They’re just trying to help me improve.”
  • What does Amsterdam mean to you?
    “Amsterdam has become my new home. What I love in particular is that Amsterdam is such a diverse city with so many cultures and aspects. In my opinion, we manage to live together quite well as a community. That’s what I love about the city district I live in as well, North. There is a lot of ugliness, but those ugly places become beautiful because it somehow blends in with the rest. When you look to the left, you’re walking along a fairy-tale river, but on the right you have these ugly apartment buildings. I like it that it isn’t perfect. You could say the same about the mix of people in this part of town. They’re all very different, but together it all works, for some reason. All those cultures blend in so easily over here. Amsterdam is such a beautiful mess. What I’ve learned from living in Amsterdam is to be more open-minded, just like my friends around here are. I don’t know if I would have had the same outlook, had I stayed in the countryside. The simplicity of country life does attract me, though. Lately I’ve been wondering why I didn’t take the leap and just moved to a village somewhere between the fields and meadows. Because sometimes it does drive me crazy how busy the city centre is. Then again, just as often I feel proud and happy to live here, to know this is my city. I am afraid I won’t experience that feeling any longer when I move out of here.”

Photos by Mabel van den Top

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