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NICOLE


Nicole | Writer and translator | Poetry, photography and long walks | Dublin, Ireland


Instagram: @bynicolelouie



PLEASE TELL US A BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU DO / YOUR PROJECT / CAUSE / ACTIVISM OR SUBJECT CLOSE TO YOUR HEART.

I keep the lights on working as a professional English-to-Portuguese translator by day. By night and on weekends, I’m an unpaid content curator of portraits, quotes, books, movies, and podcasts about women writers and artists. I then draft mini-bios, create themed collections on various platforms, and share them publicly so others can learn more about brilliant women who have moved the needle in many ways and should be celebrated more. This is something I’ve been doing since 2011. It’s a passion that takes effort and energy but feeds my soul. So I keep at it.


THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO YOU IN THESE PAST 12 MONTHS?

While profiling hundreds of trailblazers, I paid particular attention to those without children. At first, my search was limited to literary and historical books, but later on, I sought them out in real life, hoping to ask them questions. It didn't matter to me why they were not mothers; I wanted to know how they lived and felt in a world that expects all women to become mothers. This search was motivated by my ambivalence about motherhood, and what started as curiosity turned into a decade-long project in which I interviewed dozens of women from all over the world. Once my burning questions had been answered, I wrote a book about this journey, these encounters and their impact on me. Others Like Me: The Lives of Women Without Children will be out in June. I’m still pinching myself.



THE WORST THING THAT HAPPENED TO YOU IN THESE PAST 12 MONTHS?

We don’t hear much about what happens behind the scenes in publishing, and I’m lucky to have eventually found an agent and publishers who care about books that spark meaningful conversations. However, for a while there, while submitting my manuscript to various parties, I could feel my determination and creativity wither away due to the realization that publishing too is but a giant money-making machine, and there’s little room for ideas that don’t prove significantly profitable from the get-go. In many ways, my long-standing passion for History, women’s lives and human connection disassociated from profit kept me going when the number of rejections in my mailbox was too big to be ignored. 



YOUR BIGGEST WISH FOR THE NEAR FUTURE?

More (non-conservative) women leaders in the highest positions of power across sectors and countries so we can focus on what matters, which is people, not warfare, not the stock market, not the untenable model of economic growth based solely on human replacement and women as baby machines no matter how they feel about becoming mothers. There’s so much we can do to adopt a long-term, improved and sustainable way of living: we can decide if, what and how much we consume; who and what we celebrate as being important; if and why we have children instead of only when and how many; and we can foster broader relationships and sense of duty and care beyond the nuclear family structure. 



YOUR BIGGEST WORRY FOR THE NEAR FUTURE?

My biggest concern is that women all over the world will continue to lose the right to education, contraception and abortion care, many of which were only conquered a few decades ago. I don’t see how more unwanted children, overwhelmed parents, and dysfunctional families can be the way forward. Why are we having to fight so hard to educate teenagers on sexual education? As Planned Parenthood keeps pointing out, sexual education is not about teaching underage people to have sex but about understanding human anatomy, the basic notion of consent, and how to protect ourselves from SDIs or unwanted pregnancy. Why aren’t condoms and contraception readily available to all? Why isn’t abortion care legal and provided in safe spaces to those who don’t wish to become parents? Why are we forcing women to have children based on religious ideology instead of enabling them to make conscious decisions about their bodies and lives? 



A CONTEMPORARY WOMAN YOU CURRENTLY ADMIRE?

Arundhati Roy: an Indian writer who comes out of her shell every couple of years with a good book and doesn’t get caught up in the “be visible, build a platform, collect likes and followers” trend. Instead, she stays under the radar and writes. She is also a political activist involved in human rights and environmental causes. 



A SHORT MESSAGE TO OTHER WOMEN?

One of the women without children who left a beautiful legacy behind is the French philosopher Simone Weil. She believed that “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” I learned a lot from her philosophy and believe we’d all be better off if we paid more attention to the world around us and if we lived less like autonomous households and more like interconnected villages. Human life can be more than getting married, having children, buying a house, getting a pet, and spending all your time and energy inside that bubble. Of course, we can do these things if we want, but we can also know our neighbor, work colleague, fellow student, fellow pensioner; look around, lend a hand, and share the space, resources, skills and vital energy with those outside our bloodlines.



THE WORLD KEEPS CHANGING DRAMATICALLY:


HOW ARE YOU COPING?

Before the pandemic, I was in auto-pilot. I was living for work and as if I was growing to be 300 hundred years old. For the past couple of years, I’ve been focusing more on building a sense of community both online and in real life around topics and causes I care about. I've also been spending more time with friends, traveling to see my family in South America and investing less in things that don’t add significant value to my life. 


WHICH RECENT CHANGE/ EVENT HAS AFFECTED YOU THE MOST / HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU PERSONALLY? 

The pandemic also taught me to stand still, rest, and not measure the value of my days based on productivity (words translated or tribute posts created—even if they are about topics I care about or women who inspire me). This is quite a shift from who I was just two years ago, and I feel better and calmer living my days in this new way and pace.


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