#WahineWednesday: Julia van Niekerk
Meet the Events and Communications Coordinator at the Hamilton Y
Where did you grow up and what’s your best memory of that place
I was born in South Africa and I moved to New Zealand when I was very young. My family and I moved to a small rural town in Taranaki. My favourite memory from my childhood is an overnight hiking trip we did as a family. My family from South Africa were visiting us and we wanted to show them the mountain. We hiked for 2 hours to a hut and spent the whole evening playing cards and telling stories. The next morning it was snowing. This was the first time my cousins and I had seen snow, so it was extra special.
If you could give your younger self some advice what would it be?
Life is full of seasons. You may be in a low season right now, but it is a season and it WILL pass. Knowing this and constantly reminding myself of this fact has increased my ability to persevere in the tough seasons in life. This mindset has also allowed me to be more present in the happy seasons allowing me to embrace the season fully. I would also remind my younger self to “not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” If I had understood this when I was younger I would have saved myself a lot of stress.
What would you like to see changed, for the better, for all women?
Ultimately, I would love for women to be able to feel comfortable and safe walking alone at night. There are so many ways that this could be changed. Many solutions are long term but I would love to see society take a step in making this a reality. As a group we are stronger. Therefore, working with organisations that give young people the platform to come together to work towards a common goal is so powerful.
Can you share a time or moment when you felt unstoppable/invincible/on fire (and why)?
The times I have felt invincible have been when I have not let fear stop me from doing something. Moments where I have decided to step out in faith have been the most rewarding. Being confident in my values and being able to step out of my comfort zone trusting that I will be able to handle anything that comes my way is truly empowering.
Most recently, a moment where I experienced this was going on an exchange to Canada in 2020. I remember skating on a frozen lake truly mesmerised by the beauty of the landscape. I remember thinking, “Is this even real?!” At that moment, everything was right in the world.
Can you tell us why you joined the Y?
When I look back on the last few years of my life, I can clearly see which moments had the biggest impacts. Some moments were major things such as going overseas for a semester of university. Other moments were more intrinsic. For example, I realised that there are so many different people that will cross my path in my lifetime that it would be impossible to please every single person. This realisation meant that I became more confident in myself. I can see the positive changes that have happened because of these moments.
I am passionate about empowering others to be confident in who they are.
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