Olivia Plankenauer: “Not sure if I want to sign up for another Life”

Olivia Plankenauer finds herself in travelling.

Olivia Plankenauer is an Austrian artist and dancer. Although the 22-years-old is born in a small village her heart does belong to the whole world. Travelling helps her exploring wonderful places and herself. She explains how lying or self-inventing – how she calls it – helps with self-reflection and why she would not sign up for another life.

What is your favorite occupation?

I think I am blessed that I enjoy doing so many things, art is definitely number one tough. If I can dance, paint or create anything out of my imagination it’s the best feeling ever. Also if I wasn’t able to, my brain would probably explode! I am not sure if it’s my favorite thing to do because it’s rather a need than a choice. But it’s what I prefer to fill my days with. For me traveling and exploring the world is a big part of being an artist. So it’s also one of my favorite things to do. And of course surfing, which I only discovered recently but now counts to my other addictions next to dance and art.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I guess perfect happiness for me means being able to be completely in the moment.  Happiness are these moments where time stops existing. In these moments I feel so unbelievably blessed.

In times of constant distraction through the world, the information overload and so many events happening around us, it became increasingly harder to stay connected with the present. By not taking the time to do so, we disconnect from ourselves.

The activities which help to stay connected with the moment and ourselves will be different for everyone. I find myself being in this timeless state of complete happiness and peace when I am out there in the sea with my board. Surfing – more than anything else – gives me this infinite calmness and connection to life and nature, which fills my whole system with an energy boost that lasts long after I take off my wetsuit.

The dopamine rush my brain releases into my body when I catch a wave and ride it to the beach is like a massive kick from life itself yelling: “Hey! You are alive!” Feeling dead for a very long time of my life, these moments held me alive and pulled me back into life.

Dancing is one of her greatest occupations – Photography: Olivia Plankenauer

And I couldn’t be more grateful for being able to travel, surf, do art and on top of this all share this unforgettable moments with a loving and supporting community! Having the opportunity to go after the things that make you feel alive, is what I would call perfect happiness, because it’s not always that easy to choose what is good for you, nor does everyone have the possibiltiy to act on them.

When and where were you happiest?

I gave that away in the previous question: When I am surfing. Or anytime I am in or close to water. I grew up next to a lake, my childhood memories consist of me being in and under the water until my hands and feet became all crinkly and my lips became blue.

When I wasn’t in the water I was happiest with playing loud music and having paints I could make a terrible mess with. Since then dancing and doing art have been my escape into “happyland” whenever I was occupied and couldn’t travel.

Traveling definitely brings out my happy me. You never know what happens at the next moment and you will find yourself taking every moment so incredibly intense that every cell in your body feels alive.

How would you like to die?

Peaceful and happy. I dream about dying in the water a lot, it’s so peaceful and calm there and everything seems to dance.

Oh my god! I am glad if I survive this life not sure if I want to sign up for another one, this one is challenging enough.

If  you could choose what to come back as, what would it be ?

Oh my god! I am glad if I survive this life not sure if I want to sign up for another one, this one is challenging enough. And it is a calming feeling to know once it’s over it is actually over, no coming back or something like that. It is just what it is, so enjoy it.

What is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear… That’s a though one. I am not a very anxious person, nor do I get scared very easily. If there is something I am afraid of though I tend to go and do the shit that scares me so it can’t scare me anymore in the future.

For example I always wanted to travel the world, but I was afraid that as a single woman it might not be that easy, so I went and booked my 15-year-old-me a flight to South Amerika, where I traveled around by myself for half a month. Since then I have been travelling to all sorts of places by myself. Or once I was too scared to bungee jump, so I asked the instructor to push me off the bridge.

Also I rarely tell anyone what I am scared of, it feels like as long only I know I can still trick myself into telling me that I am not. But it isn’t that easy with all fears we have, is it? I guess the scariest ones go way deeper. And my biggest fear was developed as a very young kid. Since then I am terrified to lose the people I love. And in a weird way I taught myself to think if I only tried hard enough, if only I would be good enough, they would stay. But nature doesn’t know that, nature has its own cycle.

Man, how many moments could have been amazing if I wouldn’t have been so fucking depressed.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

My sadness. Man, how many moments could have been amazing if I wouldn’t have been so fucking depressed. I am better now. But it still gets in my way sometimes. I learned to cope, I learned how to express my sadness in a self-healing way. How to get myself out of it and what to do if I find myself low again, but sometimes I wish I just wouldn’t have to put so much energy in not being sad all the time.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

It’s not really my position to point out others, telling them what to do better, but I guess it would be nice to see people allowing themselves to be themselves more often. I do appreciate authentic people!  

What is your greatest extravagance?

Definitely my talking (she laughs). I can go on for hours sometimes. My head just wanders and my tongue follows. It’s like going on a journey in my head. One thought carries me to the next and I end up in places I have never explored before. It’s terribly exciting, so exciting that I lose myself quite often and then I am surprised that people are still listening.

On what occasion do you lie ?

Oh wow, well – if you call it lying – probably all the time. I like to call it self-inventing. It’s like putting on invisible costumes. I love picking a character and play that role, especially when I am travelling where I am meeting new people all the time. It’s fun to be anyone you want to be for a while. But every good lie has a truth, so it always is a characteristics of myself that I choose. It’s fun! It works amazing for self-reflection, you should try it out one day!

Who is you favorite hero of fiction?

Pippilotta Viktualia Rollgardina Pfefferminz Efraimstochter Langstrumpf

Who are your heroes in real life ?

All the woman that created the path I am walking on now and I am willing to walk further for all the women yet to come.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse ?

Oh, words. I have to admit I am obsessed with words. I have always found it interesting how language seems to be the most common way of communication even if there are so many more ways we rarely seem to acknowledge.

“Do you know what I mean?” – A phrase I definitely use way too often, but I feel like even though we are perfectly capable of using a language, understanding each other sometimes can be quite difficult. Especially if it comes to emotions.

Olivia Plankenauer is obsessed with words – Photography: Olivia Plankenauer

I feel like we are in urgent need for new words to describe situations, like for instant: getting distracted while studying and taking frequent walks into the kitchen to find little snacks. I found “nibbling” a very useful vocabular for this occasion, my friends still think it’s  more suitable to describe: the erotic biting on someone’s nipples. Well there you go, you can’t always count on language.

Which living person do you most admire?

As an artist there are loads of inspiring personalities I look up to. Neri Oxman is an incredible visionary, Rebecca Horn inspires me a lot. Dancers like Franky J, Musician like Loyal Carner, Kojey Radical and a lot more I truly admire.

But these are all people I admire for what they do, not for who they are. I am sure they are amazing people but I do not know any of them really. That makes it easier for a lot of people to admire them, because they seem flawless. Once you get to know someone you will get to know his flaws and most valuable characteristics, you will see them as the person they really are. Which is what makes a person admirable to me in the first place. We all have struggles, nobody is perfect. But how one copes with the complications in life, that is what I admire most in a person. And I know so many brave fighters out there that it wouldn’t be fair to just name one.

What is your favorite color?


What is your motto?

Be kind to yourself and others and you only regret things you didn’t do.

If you could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I wished I wasn’t so inpatient and self-critical. I wished I could trust more in myself sometimes, which is funny because when I travel I always do, that’s why traveling is so important to me. It connects me with this part of me I sometime have difficulties with.  

I am especially inpatient when it comes to self-development. I always want to go highspeed because I am so scared of standing still, because standing still means death. That is why I sometimes rush, stumble and fall or miss precious moments just because I was scared they were not enough. I hope I will learn to accept myself more, to love myself enough to give me the time I need to get there.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I have no idea how one is supposed to answer this question about oneself but I would go with this here: my need to be active. I can’t bare sitting around doing nothing, my head will drive me crazy.

What do you most value in your friends ?

It’s hard to answer this question so generally, I value every and each one of them for their individuality but what I value about all of them is what I am learning from each one of them. I am also grateful for the honesty and the level of communication we share which allows us unbelievable deep connections.

What is your present state of mind?

I know there is a hell lot of things waiting to be explored and I can’t wait to do so!

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