Danitsa Kostova, 17 years old, Varna
What matters to me and why?
The human mind is always restless. Each person has a unique approach in trying to define themselves in the things that matter to them – that often means finding a way to manage the inevitable anxiety that comes with growth and the need for acceptance. There are certain ideals that have proven universal to the human psyche, such as the desire to find authenticity; a person’s nature suggests a state of ceaseless evolution, yet one cannot help but yearn for constancy – a lasting identity they could consider their own. People might have the ability to envision the most flawless version of themselves, yet they are always influenced by their surroundings and hardships in some way. To live is to persevere. It is among the most human of experiences to seek the meaning of existence and push the boundaries of the world before them. However, it is inconceivable to encompass a world so limitless. A person could only go so far in the span of a single lifetime and, therefore ought to focus on what they deem valuable in their journey towards self-acceptance and happiness.
Having established that, I revel in the idea of viewing life as a story without a predetermined ending, a maze full of questions with no answer. I seek to find the pieces of myself along the way. Sometimes I feel too much or nothing at all and it is indescribable, the incessant need to achieve this goal that is always in sight but never quite close enough. Something that truly matters to me is going forward regardless of anything and everything. Maybe I will not ever reach my true potential, yet growing while enduring life’s hardships and thriving in spite of them is something beautiful, and knowing I am a better person than I was yesterday, becoming bigger, better, and brighter is a pride that I cherish deeply. I doubt it will ever cease to be a source of comfort for me. The identity I embody often appears as no more than another abstract concept for me to dwell on. Building confidence with it and finding more about the way my consciousness functions gives me a type of validation that nothing else does. It is important to me that while discovering the universe I discover myself and I consider that a process with no designated outcome.
Another thing that drives me is the desire to be of aid. It is a rather pompous statement, yet I simply cannot imagine myself not being in service. I often find myself terrified of appearing intrusive, terrified of becoming a source of hurt or discomfort, and would much rather experience it on myself. I strive to have so that I could give. In addition to that, I try to be as involved as possible in different social and political issues and tend to always vouch for justice and equality in a public manner. I love being able to raise awareness on issues I deem substantial to a certain audience and I am exhilarated by the idea that I could contribute towards a change for the better. Being able to support or encourage the development of a person or a community in any way possible provides me with a sense of purpose and empowerment that I have come to rely on; it is something vital to my personal sense of identity. I love to love and I could not imagine my life when it is not lived with passion. The moments that seem to make the most sense to me are those that fill one’s heart with fervor, the bitter-sweetness of raw emotion, with all the horrifying vulnerability it entails. I think that truly and selflessly loving, be it a person or an idea, is the easiest way to understand oneself, even if I myself do not always know how to do so. Knowing all there is to know is a goal unattainable to the limited human mind, yet anytime a person loves, it is as if they feel all there is to feel. The heart exists in mystery, outside the bounds of logic. It is a source of greatness.
I must admit I spend a great deal of time inside my mind, yet I cannot twist the truth and state that I am not highly dependent on my environment. I, as any person, have an instinctual need to form connections. While I have encountered many people who seem inclined towards introversion, I am the furthest from it. I have never shrunk from the attention of others – I bask in it. I cannot help but wish to be seen, wish to be remembered. Being forgotten terrifies me just as much as being ordinary, invisible, and insignificant. It is an idea that has fixed itself into my brain and refuses to abandon me. Thus I cannot help but love to create and I have loved to do so for as long as I can remember. Harnessing the essence of my very being, letting my innermost thoughts and prayers into the world through art and poetry and music and theatre and making people laugh, is a sort of a ritual that I have always cherished. It is a way to turn my existence into something tangible – only then can I really process its reality. How else would I know I have existed unless I were to leave something behind? Unless I make space for myself in the hearts of others? And when the last fragment of my existence is destroyed by the passage of time do I disappear right along with it into the void of matter? Or, is simply having been in the here and now, enough to confirm that I once was even if I never will be again?
In conclusion, speaking of the things I value is something that comes effortlessly to me. I have always enjoyed expressing myself through words, albeit my usual medium is a more poetic one. When asked what matters to me I cannot give a singular answer. The well-being of the people I love occupies an enormous space in my heart and holds great power over my course of action in any given situation; the same could be said of the social causes I have dedicated the better part of my life to supporting. Not only that, but I think I have found a certain corner of my mind that I have dedicated to loving myself. I hope that throughout the duration of my being on this Earth I succeed in leaving a mark to prove that chasing the person I wanted to become meant something to someone at one point in time. I sincerely hope to encourage other people to do the same as well, because at the end of the day life is lived by people, for people.
Describe yourself in 5 words?
Creative, passionate, hard-working, social, energetic.
What are your top 5 values (principles or standards of behavior)?
I will structure my answer as a list without a specific ranking.
1. I value honesty. I avoid being deceptive in my interactions and I always strive to be as genuine as possible in my intentions towards anyone, even if it doesn’t always win me favours.
2. I am an insufferable optimist and I think all people should attempt to see the best of any situation in order to do the most. I believe people are good until proven otherwise and that anything and everything can be done with the right mindset, motivation and a great amount of effort.
3. I value strong will. I believe a person needs to have a position on certain issues, whether it is to choose a side or not to, and be prepared to face the consequences for it. A person of honour would not allow themselves to be swayed by the opinions of others, except for when they allow them the opportunity for self-reflection, and I like to think of myself as someone who does just that and could be considered reliable for it.
4. I value kindness. Be it out of love, devotion or mere politeness, kindness must be spread. I always try to treat people with respect and I respect people who treat others with kindness. I find that actions of good intention help the world create better people.
5. I am determined. Whenever I do anything I always aim as high as possible and try to do it in the best way considering my abilities, because I refuse to live my life with any regrets. Regardless of the result I always give my best effort.
What are you most proud of and why?
The thing I am most proud of would have to be the activism that I partake in. I’ve always opted to be the most capable version of myself and to be able to protect or help those who need it and I’ve never hesitated to take part in different social or politically-oriented projects or speak out on any issues I find important. I was chosen as chairwoman of the Varna Youth Parliament, on top of being president of a humanitarian youth club which deals with charity & volunteering (Interact Varna-Euxinograd), and was recently chosen to speak with members of the Bulgarian Parliament directly, regarding the structure of municipal youth organisations.