I'm the writer behind the articles on this website, author of fiction books, the creator of the Kate Hildenbrand podcast, and a student of marine ecology. At least, that's me on the surface.
I grew up in Germany, an alien in a world that wasn't mine until I sold almost everything and moved to California. Now, the world is my home.
I spent four years in California, my heart's home, where I started a long journey of finding myself, exploring my sexuality, finding my voice and my style, and letting myself be who I am. After having to leave California, I spent a year in New Zealand, then a year in the Netherlands. Now, I live in a village a little under an hour outside of the harbor city Hamburg in Northern Germany. Here, I'll finally finish my bachelor in Marine Ecosystems before moving on to the next place—wherever that may be. Northern Australia, maybe? Mexico? Through this journey, I have changed from a person I no longer recognize to the growing person I am today. My journey isn't over, literally and metaphorically. Germany won't be the last place I live, and I am growing to become a better person every day.
Through growth, I have learned that we appreciate the things we learn about. We can't fight for what we don't understand. I used to call fish ugly and disgusting because I knew nothing about them. I had only seen them dead. Swimming alongside marine life during our many scuba trips changed my life forever. I saw, first-hand, the effects of humans interacting with nature. I saw the plastic at the bottom of the ocean, the fishing line and weight hanging from the lip of a giant sea bass that was taller than I. I saw the sargassum seaweed displace the giant kelp forests around Catalina.
But, I also saw a species of sea stars return after they were believed to have vanished from the area. I've played with sea lions at one of their rookeries, searched for octopus in their clever dens, and floated speechless in front of anemone-covered reefs. I will never forget the day a fin whale swam past our boat on the way to a dive site.
How could I see that majestic beauty of such a large animal and not want to save it? How could I see fish spawn, hatch, grow, without loving them. Seeing nature, really seeing it, has changed my life. The more I learn about nature, the more I love nature, the more I want to defend it, fight for it.
Holding the course is easy. We just need to cling to the stirring wheel and keep pushing forward. But most of us aren't happy with where we are, who we are, or where we are going. Changing the course requires attention, awareness, focus, and small corrections along the way. If we focus on the now instead of worrying about the future or contemplating the past, if we look inward, spend time with ourselves, and focus on creating and growing instead of consuming and swallowing the proverbial pill society prescribes, we can reach a life worth living. Let's change the course—together.
Over the past few decades, humanity has been driven by growth—no, not individual growth, growing as a person. We have focused on accumulating stuff, spending more money than we make, growing the damn economy. More, more, more has been the mantra, chanted by everyone around us. Society imposes expectations (or so we think) as to what is normal, what our lives should look like. If someone doesn't comply with the stuffocated 9 to 5 job, with living to work, with following the norm, they are frowned up—unless they become rich, of course. We talk about this vacation or that new gadget without realizing that we are trying to escape the reality we have created for ourselves. Instead of striving for a life worth living, we fill the void with things. Our possessions don't make us happy. Only we can make ourselves happy.
As an autistic woman with dreadlocks, unconventional clothes, bare feet, and body hair, I know what it is like to be judged. As a queer woman married to a man, I know what it feels like to be mislabeled and misunderstood. As a Caucasian who grew up in a household that could afford a comfortable life, I know privilege. As a woman, I know what it is like to live in a patriarchy. As a member of the unfortunate #metoo movement, I know what it is like to stay silent for way too long. As an environmental activist, I know what it is like to lose hope, to find hope, and to inspire hope. As a chronically ill person who has struggled with medical systems and society in four countries, I know what it is like to be called dramatic, crazy, an attention-seeking pretender.
Despite all this, I love people. I love people of all shapes, sizes, colors, orientations, ages, and any other label we use to judge each other. I love learning about cultures, hearing the stories of individual. And most, I love having my prejudices and assumptions challenged. Every time I get surprised by someone who doesn't fit into the box my brain tried to squeeze them into, I grow a little more.
To live a life worth living, I believe that we need to learn to love each other and ourselves, to accept who we are, and to grow out of our boxes.
I don't fit into boxes easily. I am weird. I am queer. I am different. And after years of exploring who I am, I am proud to be who I am today.