COMING BACK HOME TO MY AUTHENTIC SELF
My Name is Anoushka Van Rijn.
I am the creative director of my namesake jewellery brand Anoushka Van Rijn and freelance/personal stylist. I am determined and passionate about making a difference for others with the talents that I have been gifted in this lifetime.
From a very young age I knew I wanted to work in fashion and design and I started designing early on. I was very inspired by my Dutch, French and English heritage and the beauty around me. My parents are both very creative, interested in culture and arts so I have been surrounded by european creativity my whole life.
At 8 years old I was diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia, I was put on Ritalin which in turn “told me” that I needed to take something outside of myself to make me “better” so i felt isolated from my peers as though I was different in a disconnected way and not academically “smart” enough, as at that time unfortunately I don't feel there was a lot of experience in the educational system about learning differences. Myself and other peers who experienced the same learning differences were treated “differently” in a way that felt like an "inconvenience" to others, who say, learnt the general way from the teachings at that time. This is when I started to feel like the way I learned and who I was, was an annoyance. This was my experience which I know won’t be everyones. Thankfully there is a lot more understanding around these learning differences today.
Then in my early teens I went on to experience depression and anorexia and was then put on anti depressants and sought professional help for these, which taught me self soothing practices and meditation but the root cause was never tapped into much. This was a very difficult time in my life, I was in and out of hospitals and the depression got worse and I fell deeper into anorexia. Anorexia is also a very misunderstood disease. For me it was about control and focusing on something outside of myself to numb the extreme pain I felt inside. If I felt in control of my eating and body then all the painful things I experienced internally would feel more “in control”. But anorexia is so cunning that we think we are in control, but we are actually very out of control. When I felt the starving pain, that relieved me from feeling my deep deep sadness and shame inside. In Fifth form I spent most of my school year in and out of classes, I was very sick, I was always at specialist appointments and in and out of hospitals. I felt like a goldfish in a glass bowel and everybody was just looking in. Everybody knew I was anorexic but it wasn't really talked about because how would 15 year old girls know how to emotionally support each other with something so difficult, we were still kids. So this also was very shaming for me, I felt like everybody knew what was going on with me and my personal struggles were the elephant in the room. Weather this was the case or not this was how i felt, as when you are mentally unwell your world becomes so small that your sickness is the main character in your life, so therefore being able to see past my own experience of my anorexic world was near impossible, it's what helped me cope at the time even though i was harming myself it helped me survive my deep pain that as a 15 year old could not understand let alone process. I also had respite care at one point, during this time, one of my respite nurses understood my still standing passion for fashion and design, so one day she turned up to my home with jewellery beads and tools, we made a bunch of necklaces together which kept my creativity alive. From there on I began making jewellery as a hobby. I started to get well from anorexia but more on a surface level, more my physical health not so much a healing my deeper trauma.
Then in my later teens I developed an active addiction to drugs and alcohol. It is very common for young women who have experienced an eating disorder to later develop addiction. Seeing as both are actually an addiction, the substance is just different. This was a whole other aspect of my life that was a downward spiral into deeper depression, anorexia and substance abuse. It was another outside way to feel disconnected from myself and the pain I was experiencing. At 21 I entered into a rehabilitation centre to recover from all these things. Getting clean and sober at such a young age was in one way such a miracle and in other ways extremely hard, stepping away from a lifestyle full of social partying which at that age revolved around drinking and nightlife, was really lonely and difficult. But I knew I had to change the way I was living my life otherwise I may not survive. This was the time in my life that I realised I had been unhappy for many many years and I needed to change the way I lived my life and learn how to overcome all that I had struggled with. It was at 21 that I decided to make a serious change to my life. It wasn’t my fault as a child that I had experienced trauma and developed unhealthy coping mechanisms but as a young adult it was now my responsibility to take action and become willing to get well. The unhealthy coping mechanisms I had developed were no longer serving me. They were harming not only me but the loved ones around me. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I have stayed clean and sober since I was 21 years old thanks to the program Narcotic Anonymous and actively working a 12 step program on a daily basis and becoming willing to commit to my life in recovery. I now have 10 year cleantime up, 11 years in October. I have also recovered from active anorexia and no longer need antidepressants. For me the way I was able to start recovering from anorexia was to learn how to love and accept myself one day at a time. From here I started eating 3 times a day, even if it wasn't much and continued to engage in positive, loving and gentle self love talk and working my NA program. It's very important to be extremely gentle with your self love talk when recovering from an eating disorder, as the anorexic voice is very very hard and punishing and we need to be very kind and nurturing towards ourselves. From here on I became willing to eat more as the love for myself grew. Love feeds and nurtures our energetic body and food is one of the tangible things that feeds and nurtures our physical body. May I also add, at this point I was underweight but I was not at a life threatening weight like I was when I was 15. If you or someone you love is at a life threatening weight i would suggest seeking medical help from Eating disorders service. Otherwise there are other 12 step programs that support eating disorders which I have also learned from during my recovery journey. Once I developed a stronger foundation in my recovery from anorexia and substance abuse I was then able to come off antidepressants at around 6 years clean and sober. This was another very difficult time as I had been on these for around 15 years. So this was a difficult process for me but as long as you surround yourself with the correct medical/spiritual support and family/friends this will help the process.
Today I am the happiest I have ever been with who I am. I understand myself on a deep deep level, I love and accept myself for who I am and still learning to love parts of myself that i didn't know where there, i wouldn’t want to be any different, my struggles have built resilience, tenacity and empathetic understanding, I wouldn’t change my experience for the world, as now I get to move forward and support other woman experiencing the same struggles. Giving back to the community is very important to me.
This is not to say life doesn’t give me curve balls and things get hard, because that's life of life terms. But today I am able to still show up as my authentic self and love and nurture myself in the best way I know how. Today I have the tools and self awareness through self reflective work, to understand what I need to do to support myself when I need help. One of the most important tools is to reach out for help, get vulnerable and to know that you are not alone. No one is perfect, there is no such thing. I am perfectly imperfect and I like it that way, it's important to stay open and teachable, I will never want to stop learning and growing. We are here on this earth to evolve into our highest most authentic selves and we can only do that with understanding humility and knowing that we are all equal, no one is better or worse than. To learn to love your whole self, the things you struggle with and the things you have been gifted and to celebrate you for your unique self, embrace who you are and share it with the world. There is enough space for all girls and women to shine. This is the ethos behind my brand.
I started my namesake brand at the end of 2017, the brand consists of jewellery collections, commercial/personal styling and shopping services, and hiring out of my vintage designer wardrobe for events and parties etc. I was styling for a bridal designer prior to starting the brand and I absolutely love styling brides. But I've always wanted to design as well as style so with a leap of faith I left that job and started up my jewellery brand. Since then I have had so many pinch me moments and dreams come true.
My first year in business I accessorised designer shows at NZ fashion week.
I have featured in British Vogue and Vanity Fair. When they first invited me to be a part of the magazines I read the email through 5 times and got someone else to check it wasn't a scam as I was so blown away they wanted to feature me, i wasn't sure if it was real haha and it was woho.
I often feature in NZ fashion magazines and have recently collaborated with top NZ designer Karen Walker and now stock internationally through Wolf and Badger. This last year I have expanded into hiring out designer vintage clothes through insta handle “A stylists wardrobe” and at the beginning of the year I was featured on the cover of Viva weekly mag for a creative shoot I collaborated on with an amazing team of women I often work with who are dear friends of mine.
It's really important for us women to celebrate our achievements and each other's achievements. To not dim ourselves down to be accepted by society or compete with one another like society has conditioned women to do. We are stronger together as a team and we are stronger in our individuality when we are supported and accepted by one another.
I love to celebrate women's beauty, intelligence and individual uniqueness through my creativity. My mission is to inspire women to embrace and celebrate their unique authentic selves through style and design. My hope is that people wear my designs and feel empowered, confident and connected to self. I am very passionate about this, as this has been a part of my journey. I want to make a difference with the gifts I have been given, not only grow into my most authentic self and share that with the world but to do it alongside like minded women as a collective. I am also passionate about doing my part for sustainability. I repurpose vintage jewellery and add gemstones, pearls etc into my designs. Most of my designs are one off designs, as to represent all unique women, no one is the same, we all have our unique differences and that's what makes us beautiful as a collective. My customer very much plays a strong part in my designs. Each piece has a story and that story is not complete until they are chosen by the individual who is drawn to that design through some personal connection of their own. Only then is the story/piece complete. We are all equal in our differences and we must not minimize ourselves to “fit in" to be accepted. Acceptance of others first comes from acceptance of self.
If anyone needs support or advice on any of the topics i have brought up today please don't hesitate to get in contact with me via,
My instagram https://www.instagram.com/anoushkavanrijn_/
Or my email email@example.com
Sending so much love,
Anoushka Van Rijn