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“Personalities among us” : interview with journalist, project “What do people do?” initiator Rasa Janina Jusionyte

Personalities among us” is the latest kARTu project that you will be seeing through the upcoming months for a whole year. We’ll be sharing short, friendly, intellectual conversations with the strong, inspiring personalities that surround each and every of us every day. Each month we will meet people from very different backgrounds to talk about their lifestyle, career, piece of mind, interests and style choices. By developing this project we aim to reveal these very special, but close to us people through the perspective that they don’t really see themsleves through. Every one of us is a unique everyday hero – rushing, pursuing, creating. We just need to stop for a moment and notice how special we actually are.


Thanks to Rasa Janina Jusionyte as she is the reason why young generation in Lithuania is listening to the radio these days. I can bet, if you haven’t heard her name before, you must have heard radio show of hers called “Ką žmonės dirba visą dieną?” on “Žinių radijas” radio station. Rasa is the initiator of the whole social project called same as this radio show. In English it translates as “What are people working all day?”. The main aim of this project is to encourage young people to keep reaching for their future aims and dreams as well as to discover the career path they want to follow without society stereotypes influencing their decision. Rasa welcomes young, perspective and positive people from various professional fields who managed to turn their hobbies into well paid jobs. Rasa herself finished Journalism studies in London. After that she decided to come back to beloved home country Lithuania as she secretly had a dream to make this project come true and today it’s the main thing Rasa works on. But she also has other things going on. Rasa is also a marketing and communications manager at natural Lithuanian juice brand “SUN365”. Besides that she is also working on a new book, actively exercising and participating in various projects and initiatives. However, as Rasa says, she is trying to stop herself once I a while and not to overwork as, after all, what trully matters in life is to be a good person.


Your morning starts with…
With an early swim in the pool. Well, what my morning actually starts from is an alarm clock. After that, with my eyes still half open I go to the kitchen, make myself a cup of green tea and sit there in peace for two, three minutes till I realise – that’s it, I’ve woken up, now this and that is going to happen. And here it goes, then I grab my backpack, comfy shoes, jump on a bike and ride to the pool and it welcomes me with that real “good morning”. And after the pool there are plans, another day of work.


Would you call yourself a lark?
Nor a lark, nor the person that can work late. I am good at waking up early, but without few cups of coffee and such a good alarm clock as early swim in the pool nothing would really go right.


What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

My team, I think. When I started this project I was working from coffee shops, absolutely alone. And sometimes I would start crying there because it wasn’t going well all the time. It seemed that everything is on my shoulders only and if I want something to happen, I’ve got to make it happen and no one will do it for me. Little by little other people got involved, people that are working with me today. They just sent me emails saying “I would like to be a part of this”. I started feeling responsibility not fot myself only. I understood, that this is not only my project anymore, this is life of other people. Then I knew that those people are with me, they’re working, I can come to work and drink coffee, have a conversation with them, so they became my best friends. So what really motivates me to get up and work, continue doing what I’ve started is my team.


What is the favorite thing for you to do?
Work. I am a member of the generation that really loves work. My parents were and are well known activists of developing cultural life in Lithuania, especially in Klaipėda city. I grew up in a family that was honest in doing things, they were working on their own will, taking care of our city and its people. I don’t know if it’s good or bad but I see a big meaning in what I do. At the same time, I also see my job as a game, I am just really enjoying it. Nobody is hiring me, I work for myself and think of my own rules, my work hours. I am trying to create some kind of routine, but what matters the most is that it would all be fun – for me and the people I work with.


What helps you to run away from everyday routine? Maybe there is no such thing as routine in your life?
I am trying to run into, not from it. I’ve tried to have various jobs before. In places where you have to come at 9AM and leave at 6PM. It all seemed like a prison for grown ups to me. I was being very unhappy that someone tells me, that, for example, I have to go and have lunch at 12 at noon because everybody does so, So if I want to see my friend for a coffee during the day or even have a long chat with my mum I am not allowed to do that. So I felt very constrained. When I started to work for myself, I realised, as cheesy as it would sound, here I have that freedom and it’s the best thing a person can have. So I wake up earlier and start my job earlier than someone would tell me to start it. But as the time passes you understand, that you can’t have no routine at all, it’s still necessary. You realise, that it’s 9PM and you’re still in the studio brewing another cup of tea suddenly realising no, that’s not good, I have to wake up early tomorrow. So I want to create some rules that I would be comfortable with. So as I mentioned, I run into that routine, not from it.


During your everyday rituals, what handbag/backpack is your most trusted companion? Maybe you have a few different ones for work, weekend, travelling?
I am not one of those women that have loads of bags, shoes or clothes overall. I exercise a lot, well, at least I try to and I think it’s going quite well. I like to jog and go swimming so my backpack needs to be spacious, fitting both breakfast and lunch boxes because I wake up and leave, a towel, a swimsuit, my running shoes, my laptop, a notebook. My bag is my best friend and an overall companion. Sometimes I catch myself doing all of this and think that I could already be called “mummy type” of girl without even having children yet. For example, someone asks for a hand cream, I put my hand in a bag and bingo, here it is. I carry many various pens all the time. My backpack is the one I travel with and I do travel quite a lot, so it still has few sweets from India and some postcards that I didn’t manage to send. So that’s my “mummy” kind of backpack that lives with me each and every day.


Detail from your look that you don’t feel yourself without? Is there any? 
I used to have a ring that even when I take it off my finger I used to have it in my hand because it seemed impossible that it’s not there. But during the time I realised that I wear less and less jewelery. So now vaseline and mascara would be those neccessities I need everyday.


Which famous woman inspires you the most? Why you admire her?
Quite a common question that I find hard to find an answer to. About a year ago I was walking in Mexico, in the house of Frida Kahlo and thinking that she is a truly remarkable woman. Not only because of all those things that we know she’s done, but also because she, for example, let herself have little monkeys as pets. Everything she thinks of she just makes it happen. I really like her philosophy of living – if you want something, don’t start talking about it, just do it.  So from an early childhood she was the one that I admired, her colours, her freedom, that huge determination. At the same time I also think she is a bit like that real, well known Lithuanian grandma housewife, so loving and familial. So I want to point that not only famous, well known women but also that old generation of our grandparents really inspires me. Those people that dress up when going to the theater, those good honest people that had much more time to spend with their loved ones than we have now. I really do try not to overwork myself because the tendency is, people that inspire us are usually those who achieved something because of their hard work. But what all of us tend to forget is that, after all, what truly matters in life is to be a good person.


How do you understand the notion of “career”? How would you describe its part in your own life?

I would like to find balance in life. This must be the main aspiration for me. Sometime ago 100% of my time was work. I used to wake up and first thoughts that come to my head are “I need to do this and that and that, answer to that email, organise that thing” and it all repeats when I go to sleep, I think about tasks I still haven’t done, what else shall I remember etc. I noticed that people around me, group of friends that I have changes same time I change jobs. That all the people I call friends I’ve met at work and yes, they’re wonderful, but they’re not those childhood friends or the ones you could relax, chit chat and drink coffee with. It’s all about work, all the time. I was always so happy about my job, it’s like the best thing for me, well, it kind of really is, the thing I like doing the most. During the last two years we’ve said goodbye to quite a few family members that have passed away. And I was thinking, when I will be laying in bed, last hours being alive and my beloved people will come to say goodbye, I won’t be thinking “Oh I am so happy that I answered to all those emails” or “Oh it’s so good that I organised those things”. What I will really be thinking is “What a pity, that I didn’t travel to the seaside with my friends that time, what a real pity, that I didn’t go to that basketball match with my boyfriend and his friends because I was working late.” So, when I look into my career path, I need to tell myself “Calm down, you know where you’re going, you’re obsessed with your idea, you truly want it and everything will come, bet remember, career isn’t the most important thing” instead of “Go and achieve more and more and more”.


And what was the start of your own career?

I studied Journalism in London. I remember why I made that decision – I wanted each and every day to be a challenge, that something would constantly push me further and I wouldn’t get too comfortable, it wouldn’t get too easy, I wanted a competition, mostly with myself I guess. We had absolutely wonderful lectures with people that work in the industry, in popular magazines and me, nevertheless how embarrassed, used to get over my fears and ask them, maybe I could help on some project, come over to their office some time. And that was the very start of my career, when I told everybody “You know what, I know nothing yet, but I really really want it and I’ll do everything”. And after six years in London, after studies, after gaining work experience I came back to Lithuania and started my project “Ką žmonės dirba visą dieną?”. I knew no one in here at that time, had three friends, I didn’t even know Vilnius streets. So the start was like this: walking around and announcing that hey, I have an idea and I really want to make it happen, but I know that there is so much I don’t know and even sentences in Lithuanian are quite a challenge for me. What I hear a lot here is that people in Lithuania don’t help each other, usually envy something to others. That’s a nonsense, people helped me so much. I couldn’t understand why didn’t I come back earlier, because your ideas are actually welcome and wanted here. Sometimes I wonder, that without the help of those people I would be nowhere now, my ideas wouldn’t be fulfilled. So my start was like this, one little step at a time.


Do you believe in luck? Do you think it helped you or everything you achieved was because of hard work only?
I think there is no such thing as luck. We create that “luck” ourserves, you have to work and to know what you’re working towards, because it’s really easy to get involved in thousands of things when you want to say “yes” to everything suggested. But when you know why you do what you do, where you want to go, those doors just unlock.


Find out more about Rasa’s project:

Pictures by Ieva Rudzionyte
Handbags by kARTu