We all have stories. What matters is how you present them; to make them really count.
A week ago, I was at an event where I met a very interesting and successful woman. She reached out to me because of the way I presented myself in the 2 or 3 minutes I had spoken about my passion for opera, politics and business and the way I explained they were all intermingled. She then invited me for a cup of coffee at her office the day after. Funny enough, right now here I am, writing you about my ‘successful story.’
Everything started when my mother put me in the French schooling system. The only memory I have is being a two-and-a-half-year-old kid coming back from school saying ‘escargot’ to everyone. It is only many years later that I understood my mum had been clairvoyant. She foresaw 20 years ago that languages would have been the thing of the future. She thus decided she wanted me to become perfectly trilingual, as ‘I would have learned English anyways, so it was useless for you to go to the British School.’
I started in Rome. I was in class with children coming from all over the world. But what distinguished the French school of Rome had always been its very ‘champagne socialism,’ very ‘gauche caviar’ side, as my godmother used to say. Audrey Hepburn’s son, the grandchildren of Peggy Guggenheim and famous Italian directors: they all seemed to go there. I grew up being surrounded by this beautiful and cosmopolitan world. I always cheerily remember some anecdotes from that time.
I used to be very close to a Spanish girl in my class. She had a brother and we used to hang out together very often in the streets of Parioli, a neighbourhood in Rome. Her brother’s best friend was the son of Portugal’s ambassador, not for Italy, but for the Vatican. I remember they had the most beautiful mansion I have ever seen, as they had a maze as a garden. Only a few years later, when I had reached the age of the reason, my dad told me that the house where they lived at that time was actually a gift made by the Pope to the King of Portugal during the 1600’s, when Brazil became catholic. When you are little and a free spirit, you do not care about these things and it was just so enjoyable to be careless and play in such a magnificent environment.
I moved to Milan at the age of 11, where I always attended the French School. Milan was different, it was colder and did not particularly enjoy my high school years. I was not the popular girl, I did not have a boyfriend and was perceived by the others as being the geek fashionista, passionate about culture and art. In other words: a boring tall and thin figure. I thought I did not care much, however I also had tough moments during my teenage years. I went to the psychologist and tried to build up my personality as much as possible; and after a few months I started seeing the results. I made other friends outside school, did dancing classes and volunteered a lot with the Italian Art Heritage Trust. I had always been a good student, but I was even more focused on my studies at that time because I was very keen in to attending university in the UK. I remember my high school graduation as being a sort of freedom, the end of long and enduring pain. People normally think high school years are the best years of your life; it was not the case for me.
I rejuvenated from my boring late teenage years once I went to university. I quickly enrolled University College London at 18, coming with two enormous suitcases full of shoes and clothes and the help of my dad, who quickly had to go back straight to the court to Milan. I was terrified. The last weeks at home at been a long enduring pain. I am someone who overthinks a lot. When I say a lot, you actually have to picture me pondering about every single life time situation. I re-think my dinner choices, so imagine my university decision. The more I was awaiting my departure, the more I was beginning to realise that the choice of moving to the UK was the big step, and it would have been harder for me to go back to Italy. My overthinking slightly changed during the years. I learned that time is something we cannot control. I realised it is better to let time go instead of being nostalgic about it. I overcame my fear of time by just realising that some moments in life can be felt just once and will never go back. However, you do not have to feel sad about it, cause at least you lived them once.
Years passed by and in a heartbeat I found myself at the end of my degree. As I am writing to you I am almost done with my internship and ready to start my Master’s Degree at LSE. During my summer internship at AI for Good ltd, where I focused on the juncture of artificial intelligence and ethics, I learned how to leverage chatbots and technology, to allow all kind of customers (as we were focusing on low literacy level and disabled customers) to access information, manage data and to then signposting them to the best possible service.
What can I say? I learned many things. I learned that sometimes you can’t measure success. Sometimes you can only feel it. I learned that time passes too quickly, but memory stays forever. Reading Primo Levi, who saved himself from concentration camps by recalling Dante, I learned that culture will always save you in all life situations. I learned how to be bold and tell a guy you like him. I learned to be to be fast, as I run my half marathons. I learned that you should always surround yourself with many friends, as they will always be there. I learned to be happier, as there are people who have had much more terrible experiences. I learned to thank more, to thank everyone and every day for what I have achieved. I learned to be humble, but also to sell myself. I learned that long distance is hard, but family will always be there. I learned to be supportive with friends dealing with breakups. I learned to be stronger, dealing with my own ones. I learned to open up, thanks to my best friend’s support. I learned to open my eyes and see the world from a different perspective every day. I learned that I should never stop trying, if I fail, I’ll try again and fail better. But most importantly I learned that I should never stop learning.
This is my success story: learning something new every, single, day.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”