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Stephanie Laggner experienced her youth as a state of emergency. After sexual abuse, the girl experimented with drugs and rebelled against those around her. It was only on a long journey that she found herself.
Grew up in what appears to be an idyll, a village of 80 people in Carinthia: "Everyone knows everyone here and you know everything about the others. Not always easy." Stephanie, 29, describes herself as very sensitive, which means that she perceives many things particularly intensely. Her youth was shaped by events that threatened to throw her off course. Parents divorced when she was nine a little later the boy next door died of meningitis. "That shook the whole village."
“There are so many young people who use intoxicants, but hardly anyone asks why. You should always get to the bottom of this."
And then her first boyfriend. She was 13, 5, he 16. "I was drugged and abused." From then on, Stephanie found it difficult to perceive herself as a woman. "This experience made me feel totally devalued. But over time I've learned that the only one who can really protect me is myself." She reacted for everyone to see: She only wore boyish clothes, dreadlocks, piercings and numbed her mental suffering with drugs: "The pain was at least suppressed. There are so many young people who use intoxicants, but hardly anyone asks," for the why. You should always get to the bottom of that."
In spite of everything, Mama gave her the necessary support
The Carinthian woman was lucky because her mother was there. She soon moved to Lake Wörthersee with the toddler educator, out of the village "idyll". "It was certainly the free, open love of my mom that helped me through everything. Despite her origins from a rather conservative environment, she is extremely open and has a broad perspective on life. She has always accompanied me without judgment. I feel her love, no matter what I do and I could confide in her at any time. That's how I told her every nonsense. The most important thing was that I didn't have to be afraid of negative consequences. She addressed the problems with me, asked why I was doing these drugs to my body? At some point I got it, I have to love myself, "says Stephanie, who realized that he still wanted to make so much of her life: "A far better alternative than throwing it away and remaining the victim." After graduating from high school, she began studying anthropology, which made her even more curious about the world: "I realized that everything is constantly in motion, changes, adapts, and moves off again. We ourselves, nature or life itself. So that's what I wanted to be."
"But we didn't want to be guided by fears, instead we wanted to sit in the middle."
In 2016 she went out into the world. Accompanied by a friend, she wanted to discover Australia and Central Asia. With little money, all the more heart and mind, as Stephanie says. They traveled through the country with hitchhiking and couch surfing: "That was often borderline. But we didn't want to be guided by fears, instead we wanted to sit in the middle."
Over time, the girls developed a good gut feeling and, as Stephanie says, recognized dangerous situations: "Before we got into a car, we took photos of the number plates and sent the pics to a friend in Australia. So someone always knew where and in which car we were traveling. And if we had a bad feeling, we were gone quickly. The first eye contact with a driver was enough to tell whether we were getting in or not. That's how it worked for us. "The Carinthian woman's savings were soon used up, the friend returned to Austria:" I then worked as a volunteer for board and lodging in various companies, but mainly as a street musician. That got me through the ends. "In general, music is the medicine of her life. Even during her school days she played in a band:" Even making music saved me from a crash and always gave me support."
The trip goes on
Ultimately, Corona forced her to return to Austria at the end of June 2020, and her visa was no longer extended. And there it was again, in the narrow-minded world, in the middle of Carinthia. "It's beautiful here, but when you've seen so much of the world, Austria has a less open character." Nevertheless, she found her great happiness at home: Shortly after her arrival, Stephanie met a soul mate. Marcus, a well-traveled kite instructor and a free spirit like her. She moved with him to the Lorenzhof communal courtyard. A kind of commune was formed with 15 people. The background was a social organization specializing in saving food. "Every day, everyone can pick up food that ends up in" Live together "in cooperation with supermarkets, as well as second-hand clothing," says Stephanie, explaining the concept. A great thing that she was happy to be involved in.
Nevertheless, the 29-year-old has not come to rest: "Marcus and I just missed the sea too much, now let's try to build a life in a more Mediterranean climate." During our zoom conversation, the two of them are stopping off in their van in Montenegro. Next stop: Greece. There the two want to try to settle down: "If it doesn't work, we have the great luxury of having a home to which we can return. Let's see where the journey takes us." She would like to give us one more thing: "Life is always up and down. But if you are courageous and venture through the deep valleys of life, the highs in between are pure life, which so many people no longer know how to recognize. And please: never judge your teenage daughters, just listen to them."