16+ women for #16DaysOfActivism – Cynthia Loris

I find it hard to put myself into words, because I don’t consider myself to be finite, static or constant. I am constantly on (self)searching or (self)discovery mission, and if I stop, I feel my life stops. I am the “bad” girl, the outsider, the curious, the rebel who, in the meantime, has become a woman, a mother and who is lucky to have countless good and hard experiences, inner worlds and learnt life lessons behind me to fill three lifetimes. Or nine. I know this scares or overwhelms those around me. But it’s okay, I understand that.

I come from a family persecuted by the communist regime, many were killed in security prisons, others managed to escape across the borders. I lived 10 years of atrocious communism, in fear, in silence. I survived the Revolution with my father at Modarom in Braşov learning to fight for freedom. This is also why I am part of We See You From Sibiu protest movement (Vă Vedem Din Sibiu) and I protested in the cold carrying my child for the values I believe in. I learned to denounce abuse and make it visible, unacceptable.

I graduated Letters and Arts, I write, make visual artist and work in creative fields. I am a feminist and an activist. In a few months I will be a UX Design graduate. I strive to be what, where and when I need to be it, even though I am terribly afraid every time I start something new. Deciding something. I doubt everything, make lots of mistakes, I’m shy and love being alone with my work. I see everything as changeable and non-linear. That’s the equation of my life.

1. What do you enjoy most in your work/professional life?

I love the freedom I have as an artist, as a creative person. No one can be the master of my mind or soul. My inner life is predominant, my mind is the place where I do what I want. I write, create visual art and am active in creative fields. I have taken the freedom to reinvent myself. Being free is a decision.

2. When did you feel the need for support from other women in your professional life?

I always feel this need, I look for female collaboration. Unfortunately us women still don’t know how to support each other. Being born into a masculine world, we consider each other as competitors, we put sticks in each other’s way and enjoy each other’s failures, either professional or personal. Sadly I have also suffered from personal attacks or hatred from other women. But I’ve learned never to do that, even if I’ve sometimes been jealous or frustrated. In recent years, leaving my home country alone with a child, I have had to do everything to support us. Including cleaning other people’s houses, even though I have a university degree. I have been helped by women here in Switzerland, where I now live with my son. I feel that sisterhood I have longed for. I have two wonderful girlfriends here and a few in Romania, who are my family. But these women have given me professional support by involving me in different projects. I am honored to have received the support of many wonderful women, including my current employer (I work in her marketing team now), the head of my son’s school, the school psychologist and therapist, mothers of my son’s colleagues, many women from all fields I have met here. It was terribly hard when I first came here, but gradually I felt a circle forming around me, giving me a certainty that everything is for the best. The road is now open in front of me, but I have gone through all hell’s gates to get here.

3. What is the most common stereotype you have faced along the way as a woman?

The a poor, victimized, powerless single mother who got that way because she’s an easy woman and and ended up with a baby. Or as a woman who profits with her story by appealing to strangers’ empathy.

4. What would/should change to see more women in your field?

I wouldn’t change anything in the course things have lately taken in the creative fields. Now is the best time to be a woman, to come out of the shadows and be seen. Leaving Romania I discovered a contemporary female revolution filling my heart with joy. There are so many wonderful women around the world to learn from, I feel lucky. Arts, literature, design, politics, activism are now pulsating with the strength and courage of women.

5. What message of encouragement do you pass on to other women?

Don’t be afraid to love yourself so that you can love others. Showing your vulnerabilities, adaptability and openness to change are superpowers. GO GOR THEM!

16+ women for #16DaysOfActivism is an initiative that I am starting to knowledge the efforts of the Romanian women who inspire me, who work every day to overcome the challenges they are facing and who support other women to succeed.