– The one who reflected on tolerance –
17: 35. I always loved studying and strived to get the best grades at my school; however, I felt that because of this choice I did not fit in very well, probably because the others put me in this ‘nerdy’ category and inversely I did not care about doing what seemed to be ‘cool’ for them. I was tolerant of their choice but they were intolerant of mine. Well, I reckon tolerance is something that develops later in life. Right?
Josephine works as a consultant at Euralia, a European public affairs firm based in Brussels.
– When I went to university and later on found my job, I met more like-minded people, but also people that were more respectful of my wishes and needs. People that were simply tolerant of the way I am. I would say this is especially true in Brussels because we are all so different here, we are away from our homes and comfort zones, so we make that extra effort to tolerate each other a little more, and it creates a sense of closeness. If you think about it, a lot of us left our networks of social belonging, we left behind the categories and labels that we had created for ourselves or that others had created for us. In this sense the European project takes an incredible human dimension, because it creates something in common between people who do not necessarily have things in common to begin with. Dare I say it fosters tolerance?
Honestly, I still have this impression of not fitting in sometimes, to have to create my own space when and where I need it – but that is fine, because at least now I get to choose the people I want around me. With hindsight, thinking about high school, I probably missed on some social interactions with others by my own doing, because I did not feel comfortable with them. But, some of them were just so… intolerant. I cannot tolerate intolerance.