Ghislain. 6.4ft of loyalty and friendship. I rarely saw someone so full of life and so willing to share collected memories over the years, whether good or bad ones.
I met him at the wedding of friends we have in common, he called me out to have his portrait taken. Maybe he wasn’t entirely serious, but I surely took him at his word. Without a second thought, we were exchanging on what brought us where we are, with scars and lessons in the open.
Camera in hand, I listened to Ghislain revealing himself one answer after the other. He’s one of the rare men of this very feminine series, but you’ll understand quickly how he truly belongs in there.
"Trust is sacred to me"
What is trust?
Ghislain - There are different kinds. You’ve got trust among friends, in the sense that you can rely on them. You’ve got trust in love.... Trust is being able to rely on people close to you, whom you could need in the future if you are getting crushed or overwhelmed by life. Trust is a bond. It’s pretty funny you ask about trust because I really have a strict opinion about it. Trust is sacred to me. Once I give it, if you betray me, you are gone, dead to me. I have lost a few friends that way. Was I right to? I don’t know but it is what it is. Trust should go with forgiveness, unfortunately not to me…
What does it mean to be a man?
Ghislain - Society says it’s about taking responsibility for everything. I don’t agree with that version. I want to say that it’s being on the same level as the woman, because I’m what they call « a feminist ». Or rather I am not a jerk. I hate the fact that being for gender equality always echoes with feminism to people. To me you are either a sexist jerk or you are normal, there is no such thing as feminism. Anyway in our world the man is supposed to be that solid rock, the one you can rest upon when needed, but I don’t necessarily agree to say there’s a defined role. I think it’s interchangeable, depending on people. Some restrict themselves to the idea of the man and the woman, with very specific roles in mind. I don’t. My version is that there are no defined roles. Especially since we can sometimes fail at what we’re supposed to be an expert in. When you’re facing a crisis or something like this, you can’t always be the strong man, well in that case it would be your partner’s turn to.... and vice versa. I find there are no defined roles.
When everything falls apart, what’s left? What do you believe in?
Ghislain - At one point, it was work. Because I love to be a teacher. So when I was teaching in high school, the kids’ affection towards me would be a great pain killer, working on projects with them etc.... Like everyone, I went through serious tragedies, lost friends to whom I was close from, experienced some serious betrayals and work made me get through… I focused on that and the kids returned the sentiment. Then in the future, I guess it’s going to be children, my future spouse, or close friends. It’s also a collective spirit, thinking that everyone goes through that at some point, everyone experiences drama and gets over it. It can be tough because when it strikes, you tend to shut yourself away and forget that other people went through that before you. But I think it’s about the idea that everyone does get through, everyone gets tested and, the big majority gets over it. You just have to trust life and that’s probably the hardest part of it all. However when you do it, you truly start to experience real happiness. I know I did.
Is there anything you hide from yourself? Or from others?
Ghislain - I’d say my sensibility or my tendency to overthink everything. But nothing to be ashamed of! I may also be a bit worried about my life's progression sometimes... since I graduated and started my career I have been traveling more and more while more and more people around me have been settling down, creating families etc... I am just wondering when will I feel that call, that safety net and that excess of confidence to tell myself: "alright, let's do it". And I don't see this coming soon since I decided to use my CAPES to join the AEFE (foreign French teaching agency) last year to teach in embassies affiliated high schools all around the world.
Is there anything you’re particularly grateful for?
Ghislain - My origins. I could have said my friends but I’d say my origins. It’s always been something I’m proud of. My father is moroccan, my mother is french. And it’s true I managed to feel at home both in Morocco and in France. I’ve always been proud of this, to be able to speak arabic, to be able to write it… It’s one of the things I’m constantly proud of. It’s not something we should be embarrassed about, even if with the current climate in France when you’re moroccan… it’s more something politicians would have us hide. But I really don’t think we should. I always loved wandering around the Medina in Marrakech where my dad grew up and put a landscape on all his crazy childhood stories. I often meet with friends of his who tell me other exclusive stories with my dad when I am in town and that entire panorama always gives me a great element of response to the question we all ask ourselves at one point: where am I coming from? It’s something that makes me who I am and sometimes I stop and think to myself that half of my blood comes from Africa. It’s not something you see on me, it’s only there on my ID. But I’m proud of this. But now that I know where I am coming from I guess I just need to know where I am heading!