Return to site

The Way Forward

By: Hannah Lena

I came to the DSIL course in 2020 when the world was upside down due to a global pandemic. At times it felt like a lot of the things I took for granted were vanishing, simple things such as seeing my friends or going to the office was not happening any longer and there was nothing but uncertainty about how and when the situation was changing, both here and back home. After a while, it became obvious that one of the privileges that were most vital to me was suddenly not possible anymore: just taking the next flight home in case something happens. Traveling in any way, shape or form seemed to have disappeared as an option overnight. Seeing new places was always something that inspired me, a kind of coping mechanism in bad times. A change of place means making space for new things in my mind, and seeing other people, making new friends, or meeting old ones has almost like a healing power to me, especially since I lived abroad. 

So, during the lockdown, I started questioning my choice of living so far away from home, from good friends and family. What was I gaining from being where I am? Triggered by all these questions and probably also by the fact that I could no longer continue my journeys outside, I turned to explore where I am and why and who I want to be in this world. It was around that time that I remembered the DSIL course and eventually joined this year’s garden! 

I was excited about becoming part, but I was also afraid that being with a group of smart, experienced people will be super intimidating. I think this is why it took me a bit to open up and also to speak up. But by taking time to build the soil that made honest sharing possible, I felt connected soon. This helped me overcome my fears and made me feel very comfortable. It helped me to share honestly. The other gardeners helped me learn in many different ways and most importantly helped me to see myself more clearly. In many ways it was an encouraging time for me: I felt connected and heard, I took time to listen more closely, to myself and others and it felt like we were making sense of the world together. At this moment the questions that stayed with me are “What are the things that make you feel alive?” and “Do you trust yourself?”. I know that what are the most vibrant questions may change over time, but these are the ones that stuck with me. 

Therefore, the way forward for me is to do more of the things that make me feel alive and also to remember that I have power and agency  to trust myself. I know change takes time and for me, it’s the little things that will help bring it. I want to create spaces where people can come together and meet, feel safe, share, and have fun. For me, consciously listening and being fully listened to are experiences that I want to bring into other gardens around me. I started doing that by hosting dinner once a month where I try to bring people from different groups together. I will try to make this group more diverse over time. And by doing that I want to make what brings me life a habit. Another way to move forward for me is by starting to step more into power and being bolder. I can see that happen in two ways, taking more responsibility and being more vulnerable. During the course, I learned that growth is only possible by daring, even though – and therefore especially when – it feels uncomfortable. And I am sure it will feel that way for a while, but I hope that over time it becomes less of a struggle and I will be able to take what I learned and keepsharing it.