On Mondays we like to share a short format interview with one of our wider Gather community members. Just a handful of questions with a generous helping of everyday inspiration to tuck into over your morning cuppa. This week, meet Raksha.
"It wasn't about getting the piece of paper with my name on it, it was about achieving something that I knew I could do. I just needed a chance. My family has never gone to university because they have never been given the opportunity. So I decided to create my own..."
What part(s) of the world do you call home?
I was born in Suriname, a small country in South-America with a population of roughly 590,000 people. Ninety-five percent of the country is forested. I feel at home when I'm in the beautiful tropical rainforest of Suriname, surrounded by colourful flowers and jungle noises.
Whenever I have the opportunity to visit my birth country, I make sure that at least part of my trip is spent sleeping in a hammock in the rainforest, feeding the monkeys in the morning, learning about the medicinal power of the plants and trees. And of course, stuffing my face with the delicious and unique fruits and vegetables Suriname offers!
My second home is in The Netherlands where I grew up. Especially Amsterdam with its vibrant character makes me feel alive and loved. People are open-minded, innovative and invest a lot in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You can find vegetarian and vegan lunchrooms and restaurants in every part of the city, yoga and meditation centres have been popping up for years and last but not least: the air is cleaner than in most cities across the world, mostly due to the cycling mentality. I love cycling and the first thing I bought when I moved to London was a bicycle!
What is your industry, hustle, current project or passion?
I am a professional actor and I have recently set up a life coaching business. As an actor, I have a dynamic life which means that a 9 to 5 job can be tricky because I can be called in for an audition at any time.
I've been a scholar of self-development, leadership and communication for the past 10 years and really wanted to create my own flexible job, one that I love doing. Combined with the knowledge of human behaviour and psychology that acting has taught me, it totally made sense to become a life coach. It's funny how you connect the dots when you look back at everything you've done. Suddenly, it all makes sense.
At the moment, I'm training hard to get officially certified so I can expand my business.
What’s an important moment that signified a first step towards where you are today? Getting a degree in university. I never finished high school and watching my peers go to college and university made me feel very insecure. There aren't many career opportunities offered when you don't have your basic high school diploma.
It wasn't about getting the piece of paper with my name on it, it was about achieving something that I knew I could do. I just needed a chance. My family has never gone to university because they have never been given the opportunity. So I decided to create my own by making money while working three jobs, saving up for tuition, and passing a 21+-exam that got me into university. That changed the course of my life. It has taught me a lot about setting goals and going after something you want even though the odds are against you.
What is a moment you are proud of? When I arrived in Buenos Aires, my first solo travel adventure. I always wanted to know what it meant to be a traveler and what it would feel like. After a devastating break-up, I booked a flight, got myself a second-hand backpack and a Lonely Planet. I spent two months travelling through Argentina, Brazil and Suriname and fell in love with backpacking.
The connections I've made are with the most amazing people, the cultures I've experienced, the strange situations I've gotten myself into, the self-confidence and self-love it has brought me, and the freedom, oh the freedom!
What advice would you give your younger self today? Travel light through life. Pick carefully what you want to take with you. The more baggage you have, the more it keeps you from moving forward. Keep it light and you will travel far in life.
In one word, what is the most important thing to you in life?
Freedom. I am not a big fan of rules and constrictions that keep me in one place. I question everything in life, especially society's beliefs. I feel fortunate that I am part of Generation Y who is more focused on meaning and purpose than previous generations and tries to find new ways to be free.
I do wish sometimes that we would listen more often to one another. Freedom is not just about breaking down barriers and old, ineffective rules to create the life you want for yourself - it is about doing it as a collective so that everyone enjoys this newfound freedom. But that only works when we listen to what the needs of others are, instead of only focusing on our own.
Where can we find you?