M A R I J A N A 

Zagreb | 2020


City  Zagreb
Age  46
Profession — Artist & Social Worker who gives drama, shadow & puppet lessons to minor offenders
Love life  Single, mother of a 11 year-old son
Years in Zagreb All her life
Location  Café Velvet


T H E  Z A G R E B  S T O R I E S






  • What makes you happy?
    “My son and my art, which is my means of expression. While I was going through a very difficult time, I put all that energy into creation. Six years ago something happened that totally changed my life. I was following a creative workshop in France and fell in love with the leader of that workshop. And he fell in love with me too. We couldn’t hide it from each other, and although nothing happened at that point, it was still something really big that left a deep mark on me. For years, I hadn’t been satisfied with my marriage, but at that moment I became sure I wanted a divorce. So when I came back to Zagreb, I told my husband and my mother how I felt. And then my mother really hurt me. She had always been a big support in my life, but this time she turned her back on me and chose the side of my now ex-husband. I was so surprised, I never knew that we had issues, but that day she just boiled over. It was an enormous shock to me. She punished me with silence and not letting me stay in one of the apartments that she owns. I had to go rent my own flat, which is really, really hard as a single mom. But I decided to put all my energy into something creative, so the dolls were created in a moment of my life when I was really down. My puppets are called My Manifest of Freedom.”
  • What is your greatest life lesson?
    “That I can choose what kind of person I want to be. With my dolls I want to remind people that even when we’re hurt, we need to stay human. We need to choose good energy over bad, and heaven over hell – even though it’s easier to stay in hate mode. I was trying to stay on the light side all the time, which is very difficult, but I’m proud of myself (starts to cry). I put a message inside the dolls, a note that says that we all need the freedom to be ourselves. It can cost a lot because of the decisions we make, but I always have to stay loyal to myself. Even when the others get angry because I don’t do what they want me to do.”
  • What is your best personality trait?
    “I dare to listen to my true feelings, be honest about them and follow my own path. A lot of people have certain realisations, but don’t act on them. I also know my limitations and have learned how to say no to others. Sometimes this surprises people, because a lot people say yes when they mean no. I like the truth a lot, even though it cost me the relationship with my mother. I also learned that it’s better to stay quiet if people don’t explicitly ask you what you think of a situation. Silence is very powerful. During the time of my divorce I spent a lot of time in solitude working on my dolls, and discovered that silence gives me a lot of answers. But it’s not easy, you need to learn how to be silent with yourself.”

  • What is your greatest sadness?
    “I haven’t spoken to my mother in five years and that’s really hard for me. That part of my life got sort of stuck. I’m looking for a way to speak with her again, because I have some questions and I like good energy. She used to be the most important person in my life. Now I have my son, and that’s it. I feel totally alone. I have to be a warrior, but I’m just tired of having to be strong all the time. Sometimes I want to be weak, but I don’t know how to do it. I’m not really good at asking friends for help. I have to handle my financial situation all by myself. And I handle it nicely, but sometimes it would be nice if someone would handle it for me. I give workshops to earn a bit more money, but it means I’ve less time for my kid. And that’s difficult for me, because he needs me at his age. I’m thinking about changing my job, but I’ll see what will happen.”
  • What is your greatest disappointment?
    “People. When I was younger, I had an idealistic idea of people. I was open, but due to experiences throughout my life I closed up. I utterly dislike the fact that communication between people is not so clear anymore. People say one thing, and think another. It’s manipulation within a conversation. Whenever I notice this, I take a step back. I never have difficulties with authentic people. Never. Because they are who they are and we understand each other very well. But people who aren’t real, have problems with me. Because I notice.”
  • What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
    “I think a lot about something a friend once said. When he couldn’t handle an exam, he’d say, ‘I know that this exam is not for me, because the things that are meant for me are easy.’ It really helps me, because whenever something is extremely difficult, I think: is this meant for me? Sometimes I intuitively realise it’s not. And I don’t spend energy on it anymore.”
  • What advice would you give other women in Europe?
    “Truly listen to what’s inside of you and be brave enough to act on what you find. When I will be old, I want to look back at my life and be proud of myself for doing the things that I wanted to do. I appreciate the saying, ‘Where do you find a lot of ideas that are good for humanity? At cemeteries!’ I see so many people who want to do a certain thing and never get around to it. It’s not easy, but just take the first steps.”
  • What is your greatest fear?
    “That I’ll not be strong enough to handle all my life. When I’m tired and I don’t have any help, sometimes I’m afraid that I’ll give up. I try to be a good person, but every now and then I ask myself if life sees this or not. I always believed that when you’re good, life gives you a gift. I’m afraid that I’ll end up alone without anyone to take care of me. But I can’t crash. Who will bring my kid to school? Who will pay the bills? I guess life begins like a Hollywood movie and ends like a Russian drama.”
  • What is your biggest dream?
    “That I have a well-paid job that I really like, which enables me to spend more time with my son. And that I have a partner who likes me for the right reasons. The dates I recently had stayed on the surface, but with the French man from the workshop it was very deep from the moment we laid eyes on each other. It left a deep mark on me (cries), I can no longer be with anyone who doesn’t give me that kind of feeling. He did come to Zagreb for me. He lived here for 1,5 years, but life wasn’t on our side. It was very, very difficult because we both have children. It would have been just as difficult for me if I went to France and left my child here, or took my son with me to France and he would miss his dad. We didn’t find a solution that would be nice for everyone involved. Now we’re not together anymore.
    But he showed me what I deserve. For the first time in my life I was treated like a real woman, and I had never experienced that before. He would listen when I was telling him something, he was interested in my way of thinking, and I was just as interested in him. He accepted me for who I am. He didn’t try to change me. He was gentle, I felt that we had the same poetry of the soul. It was really, really hard to say goodbye, but I was also really grateful that someone showed me that I deserve the best things for myself. I’m not sure that I can go back to less than that. He said to me (cries), ‘You should never beg for love. You deserve to be loved.’ And it’s true. And it’s a lesson for all women, because today it feels that women are begging for love. ”

Photos by Sanja Koblar


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