Hey my Loves 💜,
I hope you’re doing well 💜
So the comic that was superhard to make for me is the last one. I don’t think I openly talk about it so much unless the question about education pops up. And then I have a tendency to explain myself, because when people hear “drop out”, they immediately think that I didn’t care about my education enough to complete it, but in fact nothing has ever been less true. On the contrary..
I went to art school in Bruges, the only exclusively art related school there was and still is. I went into my senior year as a 16 year old thinking she’s be going off to college the next year with her friends. I was a good student and since I was born in November, I used to always brag about the fact that I was the youngest in the class. I really went for the good grades and with my best courses being Chemistry and History, I literally loved to learn.
For my senior project we were assigned a mentor who was supposed to guide us and make the most out of our project. I remember I didn’t look forward to him being my mentor because he already made comments about my tiny breasts and I felt really uncomfortable. But I went to our one-on-one talks without any prejudgement because I wanted my project to be perfect. He only made comments about sex and that I need to show nudity and he looked at me and said he wouldn’t mind seeing it from me. I was shocked and wanted to get out of that classroom as fast as I could. I wanted to forget it and never talked about it to anyone especially not my classmates. One classmate of mine did meet up with him after school and held hands, sat on the married man’s lap and so forth, even in the classroom for everyone to see. Student-teacher relationships weren’t weird in this school, sexual harassment wasn’t discussed openly at the time back in 2009 and I didn’t know what to do. I continued my project and started to take a voice recorder to my class. I remember I was “lucky enough” to capture the moment he told me that I should remember his proposal to take some clothes off if I still wanted my degree.
I thought he was bluffing, and went to my intermediate jury when he told me I wasn’t doing what he asked for and bashed me completely, laughing at my face. I knew I was lost and wouldn’t win this fight. I had never felt so humiliated in my life. First with the inappropriate proposal, second when I actually wasn’t going to get my degree. I collapsed and my parents came to pick me up because I’d never be able to take the walk to the bus station that day.
I cried the entire two week Spring vacation, and eventually also lost 10kg of weight because I couldn’t eat anymore. I was seeing a doctor and was diagnosed with depression and also developed an eating disorder. I was on sleeping pills, couldn’t sleep alone anymore and was held alive by day by sedatives and antidepressants.
It was my dream to become an artist, and it was all crushed to pieces because a filthy old man wanted to ruin a kid’s life when she didn’t agreed on his horrible proposal.
I was a victim of child sexual abuse already and school was sort of my safe space, even though I got bullied the majority of my school years, but my last years were actually pretty good, until this came along.
We did still have the tape, right? My parents went to the principal and made him listen to the recording. Guess what? The principal was an old teacher of the school and he said I was in the wrong for recording a class and it is in Belgian (at least at the time) against the law to record in a classroom! Even if there’s something illegal on it apparently.. my parents also wrote the minister of our educational system in Belgium but all came back with no result.
I was 17 years old at the time and on antidepressants, battling an eating disorder and developed agoraphobia, hyperventilation and OCD (the OCD is mostly gone since a year ago now!)
When I got slightly better I decided to search for a job, because I just didn’t know what to do. I worked everywhere and nowhere because to be completely fair, I never knew I was ever going to make 29 so everything I did was just “for now”, you know? I worked in factories, retail, catering, as a waitress, order entry, callcenter jobs. And during that callcenter job, 5 years after I dropped out of high school, I started to doodle again. It was Prudence (although I didn’t know that yet). I drew my first sketches in ballpoint pen on my lined notepads from work (the only things we got for free, even our peebreaks were monitored) and I decided to later purchase a sketchbook and drew the same girl with the bun constantly, and I developed a love for drawing again.
Years later I wasn’t drawing consistently anymore, because the job I had at that moment didn’t allow me to make a lot of time to draw anymore. So I decided to push myself to draw more, as I developed a passion for it again. I started putting them on Instagram to keep track of my process, not even really sure how Instagram even worked.
I guess you know the rest, right? ☺️
I hope you didn’t mind me sharing this story 💜
I love you all so much, thank you for supporting my work 💜