I don’t just want to tell my story. I want to give people the space to tell their own stories. Stories in which people followed their own inner voice. Went in new directions. Broke rules. Grew. Because there are so many unbelievable stories that need to be told!
The story of Anja Schade
Who are you?
I am Ani. I’ll be 40 soon. I’ve always loved to paint and draw, even as a child, as far back as I can remember. I wanted to study something artistic, but you have to grow up, said the grown ups. I stopped painting for a long time, and it wasn’t until after the birth of my first son, that I slowly found my way back to creativity. I opened a Dawanda shop at that time, and now I paint a draw a lot again.
What do you see as your calling?
I just have to draw! I want my pictures to remind others, and myself, that we are valuable, and we matter just as we are. And I want to encourage them to go their own way, even if they’ve made a wrong turn at some point, and now think they’re too old to. I also want to show others that they can regain their playful side through creativity, they can find their inner voice again, a loving inner voice. Drawing also brings up a lot of things, how you talk to yourself, and I want others to accept and appreciate themselves as they are.
When did you start to follow your own inner voice?
Three years ago, my life was in absolute chaos in virtually every regard, and so I talked with friends about what I should do. Then a friend asked me: “What do you actually want? No one else can tell you what’s right for you.” At that moment, I was a bit uncertain, because I thought, I don’t know what I want. I can’t hear my inner voice, or maybe I don’t have one. After I spent some time looking within, I understood that I had never wanted anything else expect to be able to draw. I had clearly always sought confirmation from others, and only too late did I realize that only I could give myself permission to do that.
What stumbling blocks did you encounter on your journey?
It was especially difficult for me that people who were close to me in particular couldn’t and still cannot understand that I don’t have a career, that I’m just going my own way and painting. That was quite hard for me, having to disappoint those who close to me, and I also felt a bit selfish. At the same time, I also have to constantly rediscover my confidence in myself and my path, because it’s not one well-trodden. I always have to rebuild my courage, and to remind myself that this is my path and that I am doing what I want to.
Are there parallels between your path and the Stranger’s project?
Even as I child, I had this one thing, for me it was drawing. At 18, I lost sight of that, when I was told, grow up, drawing is for children. When I understood that I never wanted to do anything else and that I had once again found myself, it was incredibly liberating. Since then, each day I try to be myself a little bit more, and let out what wants to come out of me.
How would you encourage other people to follow their inner voice?
We have been taught that what makes us happy isn’t work and is useless. But I think that the exact opposite is true, that within that lies our greatest gift, both for us, and also for others. So, I think it’s important for us to grow calm, to journey within and see what makes us excited and happy, and to listen to our heart, and trust our inner voice. How could what the heart tells you be wrong? Why else would we have been given it? It is not selfish to follow one’s own path because it is the most beautiful and healthy thing we can do both for ourselves and for the world.
More about Ani: