Sisu [noun] extraordinary determination, bravery & resilience in the face of extreme adversity. Ability to see past one’s present mindset and take action against the odds to reach beyond observed capacities.
About 20% of the population is said to possess what is now called ‘the adventure gen’. These people are born to wander, destined to be restless, determined to get out and explore the big world around them. Without saying I am necessarily one of them, from being a kid on I felt a strong urge to travel. I remember telling my dad one night as he was putting me to bed that I wanted to go on an adventure. He gave me a bit of an odd look, replying that “in real life adventures don’t always end well”.
So while they were not bursting with enthusiasm, my parents luckily never hindered me in the path I would take. They did not raise me to be ‘a lady’ in the traditional sense of the word, they simply raised me to be me. I don’t think they anticipated that to lead to a daughter guiding in the cold Arctic winter and walking thousands of kilometers across countries. Yet, in spite of their slight confusion about it, they are still a supporting block behind my back.
Unfortunately not every girl on this planet has the same luxury to find her own path. Mud, sweat and femininity still don’t fit together in the eyes of many. Ambitious, talented young girls see their dreams fade away as they grow up and are told to conform to the norms. Ambition, adventure, competitiveness: they are character traits mainly associated with men. Even though we have seen some great female adventurers like Cecilie Skog or Sarah Marquis, the world of outdoors and expeditions could surely use a few more to the like of them to even out the balance.
Belgium is a fairly traditional country when it comes to how boys and girls are expected to behave. It is hard for anyone to grow up feeling that they don’t fit in. I often used to hear that “I wasn’t a real girl” because I didn’t conform to what my peers deemed ‘girly’. Only recently I started standing up to this. Why wouldn’t I be a real girl? I can happily clean dog cages, hang under snow mobiles, disappear into the mountains and come back mudded over while very much feeling like a woman.
A few weeks ago I found the organisation SisuGirls, helping girls and young women to keep their dreams and ambitions up there. I am very happy to stand up as an ambassador for them and be a part of this amazing project.
I hope that with my story and with what I do I can give other girls the self-confidence they need to put their bars high, to keep on doing what they do good even when others tell them it’s not a thing that girls should do. I know that my challenges are not remotely to the like of say, an Afghan women aspiring to become a mountaineer. But if I would have had someone in Belgium to look up to, refer to, it might just have made the whole process easier.
For more information check out SisuGirls on: