2023: An Open Letter

And just like that, 2023 is about to end. To be honest, I’m not sure if I want it to end. Because after some very difficult years, 2023 has been surprisingly good to me. Not only have I achieved some amazing milestones, I’ve also achieved one of my biggest goals in life: to just feel happy, which I did for most of the time. And that’s what I am most thankful for this year, because it’s not an average to me.

“Thought I was born to endless night, until you shine”[1]

I still don’t know why, but suddenly, a year ago, I regained my love for life. I got more energy and felt more motivated. I set new goals and chased them. I reached some of them and I failed to reach others. But that’s fine. That means there are still some goals left for 2024, of course with some new ones.

“What’s my definition of success? Listening to what you heart says”[2]

I started acting as an extra on film sets, which resulted in my debut on Dutch television and in the Indonesian cinema. I got interviewed for my job to talk about mental health on television at EenVandaag. I played in two amazing theatre shows, with the main show selling out three times. For the first time I performed my self-written stories in front of an audience. I won two amazing writing workshops from two authors, got invited to book releases, and met a lot of amazing and creative people. I’ve written 14 short stories, 3 very short stories, 2 website posts, 2 columns and filmed some videos. I’ve written every day of the year, and it didn’t matter whether it’d be just an idea or a sentence or a whole story. It resulted in one of my short stories getting published in a book. It’s amazing to hold a book that contains one of your stories. My first publication, definitely a highlight of the year.

“Touch the sky and I kiss the sun / And when she fades I know I might fall / But I won’t care much ‘cause I’ve seen it all”[3]

But of course a year can’t have only great moments and amazing achievements. I’ve loved and felt loved by many amazing people and am at peace with my solitude yet I’ve felt lonely at times. I’ve written a lot yet my writings have received negative comments and criticism, and not just from my own critical mind. I know my talents yet I’ve doubted myself and the choices I’ve made, especially when I was applying for a new job. Once again I felt like my future was slipping out of my hands, as has happened so many times in recent years. Many times I’ve doubted my dreams and talents. Many times I’ve doubted the world and society. Many times I’ve doubted my worth. Many times I’ve doubted myself.

“I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a lonely soul / And the last to admit I need a hand to hold”[4]

A few weeks ago, when I finished a lesson series at a primary school, I received a thank you card from my pupils with personal messages written on it, and some of them were very touching. When I came home, sat on my couch, and re-read the card, it really got me. One of the kids wrote:  “The word ‘amazing’ doesn’t do justice to your character”. After reading that one I got tears in my eyes. I never look at myself that way, and although I know I can make a difference working in education, I often don’t realize I can make that much of a difference. A beautiful and very touching way to end 6.5 years in education.

Some of you might already know it, but as of the 1st of January I’m starting at my new job at the Library of Amsterdam. My new job will be an amazing combination of my passions for reading and education, even though I’ll no longer stand in the classroom. Hopefully I can continue creating positive societal change. Even though I’m a bit nervous, I’m also looking forward to this amazing new challenge. One of the hopefully many amazing challenges of 2024. Even though I’m kind of sad that 2023 comes to an end, I hope 2024 will be as good, or even at least half as good, as 2023. I want to write even more, I want to work on bigger and longer stories. I want continue acting, both on film sets and in theatre (my next theatre show is 10, 11, and 12 May, so save the date!). But above all, I want to feel happy and have a positive impact on other people’s lives.

“What’s my definition of success? Creating something no one else can | Being brave enough to dream big “[5]

If you’ve read it this far, thank you. My creativity, whether it’s writing or acting, needs an audience to be seen. So if you’ve read my writings or visited my theatre shows, if you’ve taken the time to look at my art, thank you so much. I see you and I’ll remember you. Your support means a lot to me. As always I’ll end the year with my (failed) picture of the fireworks that look like a freedom dove. To remember that, even though you often can’t decide what’s going to happen in your life, you do have a choice on how to react on whatever happens, to choose how you’ll use whatever comes on your path. But also to remember how much difference you can make for others, because the smallest gestures might mean a lot to someone else. You have the choice to create a better world, no matter how big or small the impact is.

“So shine on, just shine on / With your smile just as bright as the sun”[6]

But before 2024 starts, let’s enjoy the final hours of 2023 first. Make it an amazing end to this year. I wish you all the best for 2024 and hope it’ll be a beautiful year to you, with a lot of happiness, health, and amazing new memories. See you in the new year!

Happy New Year

Yours Truly,


[1] James Blunt – High (Back to Bedlam, 2005)

[2] NF – HOPE (HOPE, 2023)

[3] James Blunt – Beside You (Who We Used To Be, 2023)

[4] NF – HAPPY (HOPE, 2023)

[5] NF – HOPE (HOPE, 2023)

[6] James Blunt – Shine On (All the Lost Souls, 2007)

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