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Hiding Behind A Mask

“I felt challenged in the way that I had to be in order to become connected with myself again.”

Inga Nikiforova

Speak to Inspire Graduate

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Tell us about you. Where are you from, what do you do?

I was born in Soviet Lithuania and I grew up on a Russian military base in Eastern Germany. Looking back, I realised that the place that I was growing was based on a concentration camp. I later moved to “free” Lithuania in the early 90’s, and, soon after, I moved to the Netherlands where I now work in the IT brokerage industry.

What was going on with you personally before you decided to join us for Speak To Inspire.

I had a difficult period – I had my own business for two years and took a lot of responsibility on myself. I had a feeling I couldn’t handle it, that I was overwhelmed and I couldn’t find fulfilment in my life, I tried different things, engaging myself in different activities, but I still couldn’t find that fulfilment. I wanted to do something more meaningful in life. I’m a hard working person and I like to put myself 100 percent into the work I do, but I was out of balance and felt like work was more an escape from myself.

Why Speak To Inspire?

I felt like I didn’t have a connection with myself and I couldn’t understand why, so I was really searching for myself. I pulled the trigger and joined the course because I really liked your videos on on YouTube. I was watching and I felt like you talk about things that matter and you have the courage to talk about topics that are of our time and that you can’t find on television. I also felt connected with many of your guests and with most of the topics you were talking about with people you was interviewing, because I could recognise myself there.  I couldn’t find confirmation from my peers, or from my environment which was making me feel lonely, but then I found confirmation for myself in every video of yours I was watching

What were the first two weeks like?

It was pretty awkward to see yourself on a video!, but I felt really engaged and the time flew. After that was really challenging, when you started asking me to be more vulnerable and to talk about the things that matter. That was the part when I really felt challenged.

I felt challenged in the way that I had to be in order to become connected with myself again. It was requiring really deep connection with oneself and I really never had that before. I felt that pretty much all my life I was escaping different kind of addictions. The biggest challenge to be vulnerable was because I realised the biggest part of my life was wearing a mask, a mask of a very powerful girl. I was hiding my emotions so deep inside of me, so the biggest challenge was for me to get those things out – I’m really amazed how you succeeded in doing this. I was trying many, many, many, many, many times to change my life but I was concentrated on changing the curation, instead of my inner self you know. Buying new clothes, getting a new boyfriend, new house, new country, anything but myself.

Your speech is very powerful and I can tell it was emotional for you to talk about it. But you seemed different today, you seem like a different woman today, you seem calmer.

Yes, exactly. I realised that too. I would like to advise others who went through similar experiences in life, who were victims, though I don’t like to use the word victim because we should never put ourselves in the position of victim, but those who went through similar experiences and were abused as a child in any way, whether it was sexual, emotional, or physical. I would like to tell to everyone that they should talk about the things that happened to them because its a huge relief when you do that and you realise there are more people like you. When I started talking about this I realised that I’m not the only one who went through this. Maybe I went through very extreme way of abuse but there are many, many, many children who went through similar experiences and they are ashamed to talk about what happened to them. Since I start talking about that I feel a huge amount of pressure came off of me. I get relief from that stress that I was holding for so many years, and that realisation that its good to talk about things. When I came back to my hotel I just broke down – I was just crying like a child, so I’m really thankful to you for that experience.

When you finished your speech last night you sat and you were holding hands with a bunch of your teammates. What’s the team like?

I met amazing people on this course with very different backgrounds, with different goals but kind of on the same mission. I realised that I found so many new friends, which became kind of family to me. They know more about me than people who were surrounding me for 38 years. Can you imagine? So I found a new family in this group and I’m really feeling blessed. Amazing people, amazing.

What do you want do with this speaking talent of yours?

I would like to help others, I would like to to inspire others to talk and I would like to make people aware about the fact that they have to go to the core of the problem and that many things that happen to them are the consequence of what happened to them in the first years of their life, and not to be ashamed to talk about the fact that they were abused. That’s a thing a very important part of what this course gave to me, self acceptance. I would like to make people aware that they have to accept themselves fully because we are good as we are and its not our fault for what happened, for others did to us.