Interview and photos by Kristina Horinková, editing by Daniela Morris
“My name is Anouck Lalauze, I am a second-year Social Science major from France. My parents are French, but I lived in the United States for three years. I actually learned to read and write English before French. I’m 19, turning 20 this year.”
Is there some experience in your life that you feel like has shaped you significantly?
I have asthma, a severe form of it. So technically I am constantly in an asthma attack mode, which is one of the reasons why I’m always very red. I’ve been living with that since I was born. Until I was 13, 14, I had inhalers. Then I became allergic to the meds. There was a period when I was just in and out of the emergency room (ER) every two weeks. That definitely shaped me because when I would get out of the ER, I wouldn’t go back to normal life. I would stay in bed. I would look at the ceiling and not be able to do anything – even holding a phone was too heavy. There is no scale to pain and some might think that having that ‘chronic illness’ label is a bit much, but it is a thing and it deeply haunts me. I don’t wanna go back to it. People are always like, how are you? I’m like, I’m here. If I’m here, it’s decent. It shaped me in the sense that I always wanna make the most of everything. I think the only philosophy I got out of it was to make sure to tell the people you love that you love them. Just in case.
What is the greatest struggle you have overcome?
My big brother is on the spectrum. It is a very, very large spectrum, he goes to university, and he has had jobs. But for the longest time when it comes to socialising, that wasn’t really a thing, and it’s still not really. So I took my brother with me everywhere until I moved out. For the longest time I supported my brother through everything and I think the biggest struggle was to see people mistreat him just because he was different. For most of my family there is not even the idea of a potential diagnosis because people have been so hard on him that he has built coping mechanisms. So people think that he is shy and that he is a bit different. And apparently that is enough to be mean. I have been in situations where I saw some of my extended family say, “Oh he’s just so stupid.” In front of him! The hardest thing is to try to have a voice for people who don’t and can’t, and you never know if you are out of line and you never know if they want that. It is a hard balance to find.
What are some misconceptions people have about you?
Probably that I am superficial. But at the end of the day, if you just put me in the mountains with a dog, I will be very happy. I like simple stuff. I’m just saying, go out, get some air, see the sun, appreciate all those things that nature has given us. You don’t need to go to the Bahamas to be happy. You can also just cook at home and make yourself a great meal – that’s also self care. People don’t know how little I need to be happy, I guess.
What is something you want to remind yourself of?
Who cares about a degree? You are just another living human and nobody gives a damn about you. And I don’t believe in metrics or whatever. It’s just humans who have created this concept of society and living together. And then they create this concept of labour, how you need to work to make a living for your own. So we went from collective to individual. And now we are running after money and degrees to sustain a whole system that is the fruit of human imagination. It doesn’t make much sense if you think about it so if I wanna go live with goats, I’ll go live with goats.
What is something that you would share as advice to others?
I don’t think I have anything to teach anybody. Maybe just take a step back, wherever you’re from. I think a lot of kids here have a very privileged life, whatever sexual orientation, whatever skin color, whatever religion, whatever nationality they have. And they don’t really know much about life, you know what I mean? I lived in the American countryside and I lived in french cities and countryside and one thing I realise is that most people are not like the stereotype that is put out there. If you take the time and have a conversation with them, they will listen and learn. Most of them at least. I know it is a big struggle for minorities to have to open up and take it upon themselves to teach everybody all the time. But in general, even a small conversation can go a long way. Take your time with people.
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