Let me tell you the tale of a lantern. I’m sure you’ve never heard a more exciting introduction but bear with me, this is one of those posts where I go deep, yo.

When I came back from Los Angeles in September last year I was still waiting to hear from a really big agency that I met with days before flying back. All I could think about was getting that agent, applying for my visa and moving back to LA again.

Shortly after my return in the Netherlands I celebrated my birthday with some friends and family, and one of my aunts had gotten me one of those flying sky wishing lanterns. When night fell we went outside to the garden at my parents’ place, and as we lit the fire I silently made a wish. Everyone knew what the wish was of course, but then something happened…

Or actually, nothing happened. We had apparently held the lantern down too long and it never took off. I also didn’t sign with the agency. Not that I believe in such things, but still. The nine months that followed were very tough. A quadruplets pregnancy is not easy. Wait, what? Just kidding. They were tough because I was living with my parents at 23, had no certainty of a visa, nothing to look forward to and was doing a very mind numbing job in a very depressing office. On top of that the winter in the Netherlands lasted forever. I so vividly remember being on my bike in the snow in the dark, on the way to work, trying to stay positive.

But I’m so grateful for those nine months, because they taught me so much that I needed to know before moving here. They taught me to keep myself sane by getting a jogging routine. They taught me to control my temper. They taught me to find happiness within myself, instead of in circumstances. They taught me how much writing means to me. Most of all, they taught me which things matter in life.

For years I had been so focused on my visa, my acting career. I thought that’s what I needed to be happy, and without it there would be no life for me. But staying with my parents for nine months, watching my friends’ lives evolve, something changed.

At my goodbye party for family my aunt got me a flying sky wishing lantern again, just like she said she would. Night fell, and once more we went outside and lit the lantern. I made a wish in silence again, and everyone thought they knew what it was, the acting career and the visa, just like it had always been. But it wasn’t.

As the lantern got lit and rose up into the night sky I wished for my loved ones to stay healthy and happy. For my mom and dad and sister and friends.

Somewhere in those nine months I realized that an acting career wouldn’t mean much if there would be nobody around to share my happiness with. I realized that The Beatles were onto something: all you need is love. Well, maybe it’s not all I need; the ambitious overachiever in me will always need a career for piece of mind, but you get the point.

Don’t lose your loved ones out of sight. An Oscar speech is empty without anyone to thank ;)

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