Dream & Deed: "Caring for people gives me much more satisfaction than a night at the pub"

Published on: 6 October 2021

But he did not kill her, because in between dream and act 

there are hindering laws and practical issues, 

(from: Willem Elsschot, The Marriage) 


Pension may seem like something in the distant future to generations Y and Z, but they are the generation of the future. What do they dream of? What are they doing to accomplish that? And what stands in their way? In this series, we invite youth to talk to us about what now and the future look like to them. 

Marleen de Witte (21): "I don't always connect with peers who are busy with completely different things." 


Who Marleen de Witte (21). She describes herself as an enterprising young girl who is very busy with the future and has a positive outlook on life. 

Lives In Huijbergen in Brabant, near the Belgian border. She currently lives with her parents but soon, she'll be living at work. "I'm going to be a house parent, which means that I'm there day and night for the residents of the institution where I work." 

Works as a starting actress and as an educational counselor in an anthroposophical care institution for people with intellectual disabilities, autism and psychological problems.  

Loves: "Musicals, singing lessons, music at full volume, wandering around for hours in thrift stores and home improvement stores, developing myself, taking courses and having good conversations. Those are things that make me very happy." 


What are your dreams?  

"I secretly dream of getting a cool role in an exciting film or series. I'm working hard for it but it's hard to get into the acting world. Fortunately, I have another passion: I would never want to give up my work in health care. I would prefer to combine the two. A few months out of the year for filming and then back to my other job.  

I think about the future a lot. I want to have children and eventually want to become a foster parent. My parents still are. There are seven of us at home, but there was also room for others. I see that as an enrichment. We always took in various children at home. As a result, I realized early on that having a carefree childhood is not a given. It taught me to appreciate what I had and have. My parents taught me that behavior always comes from somewhere. At school, this helped me to understand bullies, for example, now it helps me in my work. It seems very special to me to be able to offer a safe environment to children who need it later on. No matter how heavy their bag, I can help lift it." 


How do you envision your future?  

"With a husband and a family. I also hope to see a lot of the world, and to be able to do what makes me happy. As long as I continue to listen to my gut feeling, I have every confidence that my future will be fine." 


What does your dream retirement look like? 

"I hope to be able to go where I want, without having to worry about money. I wonder at what age I can retire, if it won't be very different by then. Of course, I hope that my pension and state pension will be enough to live on, but just to be sure, I also want to invest some money myself, so that I have an extra kitty. I don't know if I would like to stop working. Maybe by then, I'll be teaching, telling others what I've learned. Or do volunteer work. Maybe I enjoy that a lot more than when I don't do anything anymore." 

Why don't we think in practical and theoretical terms, instead of high and low-skilled?

What is your dream for the Netherlands? 

"I have several! For example, I dream of a Netherlands in which there is health care for everyone, without deductibles. I'm afraid that people who can't afford that deductible will postpone a visit to the doctor. A lot of money is now also spent on treating disorders and diseases, while it would make much more sense to prevent them. Healthier food should be much cheaper than unhealthy food.  

In addition, in my ideal Netherlands there would be many more foster families. I want every child that can't live at home to have a foster family. The youth is the future. Children need to have a good start in order to be able to make something of it later.  

Lastly, I would like it if the Netherlands would realize that every level of education is equally important. Why don't we think in practical and theoretical terms, instead of high and low-skilled? Isn't it cool when you start working with your hands? It shouldn't be seen as inferior. I'm glad my parents encourage me to do what makes me happy. Getting by is important, but being happy comes first." 

What do you think is going well in society, what makes you proud? 

"I think it's great that education here is accessible to everyone. Health care is also very good, although it could be better and cheaper. The fact that we have freedom of expression in the Netherlands is also something that makes me proud; it's not a given." 


What could be better in the world? 

"It shouldn't be all about power and money. If people allow each other a little more instead of always striving for more, I think that a large part of the world problem would be solved." 


What worries you, with a view to the future? 

"Sometimes, I'm afraid of the consequences of digitization. In my youth I came home covered in mud, I hung in trees, I was really a child. These days, children are sitting at home with a tablet, watching movies. On the one hand, it's easy that the world is becoming more digital, but it comes at the expense of other things. I also find social media difficult every now and then: isn't it sad that people become insecure if they get few likes? I often notice that peers are worried about it. Such a waste of your time." 

You're kind of a pariah if you're not vaccinated

What makes you angry? 

"The division created by the government between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. People should do what they feel safe and good about. Now, a vaccination is slowly being enforced and you're a kind of pariah if you haven't got any shots. I've not been vaccinated, even though I work in health care. I think that too little is known about these vaccines and it doesn't feel safe to me. Also, I had corona and I came out well. I fully understand people who do get vaccinated, but I also understand people who don't. But it seems the latter is an opinion we're not allowed to have. That makes me a bit rebellious. For me, the corona pass is no reason to change my mind. I also enjoy myself without clubs and dinners in restaurants." 


What stands in the way of your dreams? 

"Myself, mainly. Sometimes, I want too much too soon. At times, I think: come on, you're only 21, enjoy a little more. I don't always connect with peers because I already live a much more mature life than they do. College friends go to parties every weekend and worry about whether or not to buy designer clothes. There's nothing wrong with that, but I think about completely different things. My job, taking care of people, gives me much more satisfaction than a night at the pub. I don't just do anything. I wouldn't do a little dating anytime soon either. If I get into a relationship, it has to be with the future father of my children, otherwise I think it's a waste of my time. Sometimes, I wish I could be more in the here and now. Sometimes, I am too hard on myself."  


What are you doing to realize your dreams?  

"Listen to my gut feeling. I've always done that, and it's gotten me far. I'm proud of where I am now. I do what makes me happy and I work hard for it." 


And what do you do for a better Netherlands and a better world? 

"I've been in a panel for people who want to become a foster parent since I was 12. I tell others about my own experiences as a foster sister. I hope to inspire them. I also think that what I do means a lot to others. I'm beside the residents of the institution and help them to live their best possible lives. Soon, I'll be a house parent there too, so I'll be there for them day and night. When I see what a rock the current house parent is for the residents, I think it's very special that I can take on that role."