tell us a little about you. How has your journey from where you were born to where you are now affected or changed you?
I was born and raised in a tiny country in Europe called the Netherlands. I grew up in a very happy family with my parents and one younger brother. My parents met traveling as flight attendants, so traveling has always been a big part of my life. I also grew up in a very religious household, Christianity was (and still is) the most important part of my parents’ life. I think I see my struggle with religion as the biggest journey I have been on, since it has been so very present since the day I was born.
My parents only taught me wonderful things in that aspect and are the prime example on how to use your faith for good. But as I got older and was confronted more and more with the real world, I realized that there were some things about this religion I simply couldn’t get behind. And I saw people use it for anything but good and just for their own gain. I started questioning a lot of things, but at the same time I was terrified to let something go that was such a significant part of not only my life but of the life of everyone around me.
When I was 23, I moved to Vancouver, Canada for an internship. Suddenly I was confronted with all these wonderful people with all these very different beliefs. For the first time I completely stepped out of the environment I was raised in, and it changed me forever. I could no longer say I believed what I was raised to believe. Explaining that change to my family has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but I wouldn’t change it. I have never been happier than where I am right now.
What is your inspirational process with your writing?
When I was going through the change I described earlier, it was a very hard time. I didn’t know who I was anymore, or maybe I did know but I was terrified to show that person to the people I loved. Because it wasn’t the person they envisioned me to be. I would have to let go of a long-term relationship I had at the time. All these things were life-altering choices. During that time words just spilled out of my fingertips like water. I had to write. It didn’t feel like a choice; it was a must. This is when I started my Instagram to share my writings with the world anonymously. No one knew who I was, so there would be no harm in it. It would be a safe place to write and to share. Never did I imagine that over 50,000 people would relate to my words! I joked with a friend the other day that you almost want to redo the hard times just so you’ll have that inspiration flowing like that. Now I’m in a way more relaxed and happy place and words don’t necessarily pour out like that anymore. To me it now comes more in fragments. I have an idea for a line and I’ll write it down on my phone to maybe expand on that later. What always works best for me is going to a park with my notebook and another poetry book. I’ll first clear my mind by reading the words of others and then try to write for myself.
Are there other women in your life that have had a significant impact on you or inspired you?
Of course there are the women in my own life such as my mother and my girlfriends that had a big impact on me, but since we’re on the topic of writing I’ll share my favorite modern day women poets with you! Rupi Kaur, Nikita Gill, and Lauren Eden were big inspirations to me when it comes to writing poetry. First of all they showed me that poetry isn’t dead in this day and age, and second of all they showed me this bravery of putting yourself and all the struggles we have as women out there. Writing requires courage. You have no idea how many people can be angered by something you write. It’s because it serves as a mirror. And the way you interpret poetry says way more about you than the person who has written it. So for a lot of people it can sometimes be an unnerving experience. These women showed me to keep on going, no matter what others might have to say. They also showed me that being a woman is something that unites us all. Rupi is Indian-Canadian; Nikita is Jewish-English; Lauren is Australian-Dutch. They are such a diverse group of women and yet I relate to everything they write simply because we share the one experience of being a woman in this world that is not always kind to us.
What are your words of wisdom or words of inspiration for other women?
Be kind to other women. We live in a world that loves to pit women against each other. We see it in media, in movies, in magazines, and even in books. But we have so much in common and are so much stronger together if we just stop seeing each other as a threat! We also live in world that is making progress but because of that also reveals a lot of ugly sides in human beings. You were not meant to be a quiet voice. It’s ingrained in us that we always have a little less to say. It’s ingrained in us through the small things. It’s ingrained in us through religion, through the social-standards that find their fundament in that same religion, through the way we are represented in numbers in politics and other higher-ranking positions. But a change is coming, and you can be part of that change by raising your voice. You deserved to be heard. Remain honest, remain kind, remain compassionate and all other soft things we are taught as a woman. But also become loud and fierce and unapologetic!
What do you feel made you the woman you are today?
I think the core of every person are the persons they are raised by. It is what defines them in their early years. And I have been fortunate enough to have been raised by two incredible parents who set an example for me every single day when it comes to communicating, showing love and integrity. They raised me with an independence and a feeling that I was always enough and that I could do absolutely anything I set my mind to. I was also very fortunate that I had my father as a male role model to show me the love and respect all women deserve from the men in their lives. Because of that I would never settle for any man, friendship or romance, that would treat me any less than my father would. I realize that not everyone has the same privilege to be raised like that, but when it comes to the family I was born into I lucked out. Another thing that made me into the woman I am today is making mistakes. It might sound like a cliché, but it was in the moments I really, really messed up that I learned the most about myself. It’s not until you do it all wrong that you know how to do it different next time.
Danica is a poet from the Netherlands, where her first novel was published at the age of 17. Danica temporarily moved at the age of 23 to Vancouver, where she created an (at-that-time-anonymous) Instagram account and started sharing her poetry. In less than a year the account gained over 50,000 followers worldwide, making her poetry famous all over the internet. In February 2018, she published her poetry debut “Morningstar Musings” that has been praised for its raw and relatable lines as she writes about various topics many young people encounter in life.
Words: Danica Gim
This interview has been edited for clarity.