Nikolina Vrankić Veljović: I’d like us to take off our masks, all...

Nikolina Vrankić Veljović: I’d like us to take off our masks, all kinds of marks, in 2021

“I’d just like next year to be better than 2020. I’d like us to stay healthy and take off our masks, all kinds of masks, and to finally breathe freely and healthily.”

Nikolina Vrankić Veljović

Written by: Elma Zećo

She has been a TV journalist for the past 20 years. That is who she is, her day-to-day life, her job, a part of her life, a habit, something she loves to do, and as long as she is happy, she will stay on the road she has been on for more than twenty years.

Ordinary people on a great mission

You’ve had a chance to meet people from different walks of life. What kind of people impress you the most? 

– People who make the best and most positive impression on me are those who are humble and unpretentious, very often unaware of how great they are and how great their deeds are. Ordinary people on a great mission to change their micro-world for the better by setting a good example to others. I’m afraid of pretentious people who strive to achieve the one and only ambition they’ve got without stopping for a minute to appreciate anything or anyone but themselves. I avoid people who idealise themselves and think they can get away with anything, people who have no compassion or empathy, people who are driven by ambition alone.

Nikolina Vrankić Veljović

How does one build their professional image in your opinion?

– With patience, consistently, slowly, step by step. By improving one’s knowledge and brushing up one’s skills along with respecting other people, people who are different. It takes years to build a good and professional image. One could lose it in a split second just like an athlete who spent years training really hard, kept having good results and then, because of a single bad performance or match, becomes infamous and is put on a pedestal of shame and anger. It’s not fair, but that’s the world and the time we live in. One’s got to deal with it.

What kind of relationship do you have with younger co-workers, and what has helped you most to mature as a journalist?

– To be brief and specific, I haven’t been presumptuous in my own professional growth, and I don’t impose on my co-workers either, but if I see that they need help or if they seek help, advice or support, I’m always happy to help. I’ve never liked being ‘bossed around’ and ‘preached at’. I kept a low profile and watched from the side, learned from the best, and knowing they had good intentions, I always sought advice from people who’d actually help me and not laugh at me. In each new generation there are those who are driven, but lack knowledge, and the best thing they can do for themselves is to become better at what they do by learning from their more experienced co-workers and taking their advice. Then there are those who lack talent, but are driven and have the knowledge. They need to work a lot to compensate for the lack of talent. And finally, there are those who lack knowledge, but abound in talent and self-confidence. Be wary of those, because they’re the most dangerous of them all!

Unconditional support, love and protection

Nikolina with familly on vacation

You’re Leon’s mother, and he’s turned your life around. What parenting techniques do you use and what’s the most important thing for you as a parent?

– The most important thing for me as a parent, but for any parent really, is for my son Leon to be a healthy and happy child who will grow to become a decent and kind-hearted man who appreciates both himself and other people. Any parent knows all too well just how challenging it is to raise a child in this day and age when there are dangers hidden around every corner. At times when I get excited in an idealised world, I turn to the much-vaunted Scandinavian parenting model, but when I realise that all hell is breaking loose around me and that the boundaries between child and parent aren’t there any more, I go back to the model with clearly defined boundaries, rules, responsibilities, rights and obligations, and appropriate punishments. I respect Leon’s character traits; he’s a very energetic and active child, but giving too much freedom to a child who then calls too many shots can escalate into anarchy fairly quickly, and I wouldn’t want that as a parent.

You lost both of your parents at a young age. Have you got any fond memories of them that you’d like to share?

– My mum passed away in my early twenties, and a few years later I lost my dad too. Upon realising that they were gone, I felt completely alone in this world. It’s difficult to describe what it feels like to know that they’ll never give you a hug or kiss you again. When parents are gone, the only unconditional support, love and protection is also gone. You come to see that your mum won’t be there to make the best birthday cake for you, take your temperature to check for a fever a hundred times when you are sick, or bring you the best soup there is to make you feel better ever again. Your father won’t be there to say: “You can do it, lass!” or “They better not try to bother you.” Christmas doesn’t smell the same any more, and it’ll never smell the same again. There’s a huge emotional void in your life, but you learn to live with it. Over the years, I’ve been filling this void inside of me with feelings and with pride because I had them and because they were who they were—the world’s best mum and dad. I feel better because I know I didn’t disappoint them, and I strongly believe that they’d be proud of who I’ve become.

Nikolina Vrankić Veljović

What kind of feelings and experiences have helped you define your life philosophy?

– Philosophy is directly linked to my upbringing and the things my parents taught me. Being a good person is the most important achievement of all. If you’re a good person, good things will come to you—good deeds, joy, happiness and laughter. It’s not always easy to follow this philosophy, particularly not when you live in a world of injustice and hypocrisy. In the face of injustice or a challenging situation, we all sometimes ask ourselves: “Why am I a goody two shoes and not a bad person instead?” I’m a goody two shoes, because I like laughing and dislike trampling on people.

I do play a lot

Whose literary work sings to your soul?

– In the past few years, mostly the good and the bad work of Leon Mak Veljović [laughs]. Unfortunately, I really don’t have much time to read, but I do play a lot. I wouldn’t mind some light reading. I believe I made myself a promise, or, to be frank, I expressed a hope to finally bring a book after my own heart when I go to the beach next summer.

Nikolina na odmoru

What helps you to stay slim?

– Genes mostly, because I’m not much of a fan of exercise and fitness, but I am a big fan of gourmet food. I’ve been trying lately to compensate it by walking briskly. I make it a point to walk for at least 5 to 10 kilometres daily. It feels so good and I feel much better. I think I’ll keep at it and keep a proper diet that’s not too extreme or overly stringent.

What do you wish for in 2021?

– It’s really been a difficult year, so my wishes are simple and quite humble. I’d just like next year to be better than 2020. I’d like us to stay healthy and take off our masks, all kinds of masks, and to finally breathe freely and healthily.”