I grew up with a pretty good life. Absolutely nothing to complain about. My parents gave me everything I needed and much more. In fact, I could have easily turned out a spoiled little brat like most kids from my school, but there was something about the way they gave me all those things… always teaching me something. All they wanted back from me was my hard work and respect. There were no high expectations or demands, but they always showed me the importance of earning through my own work, being responsible and helping others. I remember my dad always telling me that I had to be independent and build my own life that I was proud of, like he did, before I even thought about getting married (I guess that sticked to me more than it should, as I still have a hard time getting in a serious relationship, but more on that in another post… And I promise it won’t be your typical “I am afraid of commitment” post!).
I guess it was because they gave me selflessly everything that I started to have my own standards and expectations. I mean, how could I get it all and not give anything back? As a little kid, there was nothing I could give them (my artwork absolutely sucks, so giving them crafts I did in school was really not an option.. Add to that the fact that my mother is an amazing artist…), so what I decided to do was be the best I could in everything I did. And I literally mean everything. I made sure I was always the top student in the class, the top athlete in the school and who everyone wanted to be. Oh, and I won a few chess championships in between. I wanted to prove to everyone that I could be good at everything I did, and still stay humble. Seeing my parents happy, and even more importantly, seeing how proud they were of each of my accomplishments, showed me that succeeding was the way for me to give back. Of course I was not perfect and being a perfectionist 24/7 came with a lot of stress at home. Looking back now I know how awful I was to my parents in that aspect… All they always heard from teachers and coaches was that I was this picture perfect kid, but all they saw at home was my stress and frustrations when I was not able to accomplish something. I cannot tell you how many times my mother told me to just relax and not be so hard on myself.
Maybe I should have taken that advice earlier and not taken perfection a whole new level, but for the longest time I really did see results from all the handwork. My dad always taught me that If I gave my all and pushed myself hard enough, I would see the results. He was right for the most part. Up until my senior year in high school, all I did was “win win win… no matter what…” And let me tell you something, it NEVER gets old. The feeling of getting straight As and having professors say in front of the class how good you are, or hearing everyone screaming your name when you score a goal, are such great feelings. My parents never let it get to my head though, and I think that is why I kept wanting more.
I still remember my first loss “in life.” It was my sophomore year of high school and there was this Harvard Summer School scholarship (side note: my dream was to study abroad in the U.S.A.) to be awarded to the best student in the school. They had the final four up on the stage, and it is all a blur from the moment they announced the winner. It is true that I would have been upset if anyone else but me won, but the girl who won did not deserve it. This was the first time I realized things are not always fair. I was a sore and bitter looser for the whole summer break. I felt like a failure and I was so happy I did not have to see any of those people that saw me lose on stage for 2 months.
There was a part of me that knew that I was not going to get it. The man who awarded the scholarship had, of course in his polite and formal way, shown me during our meetings that I was not what he was looking for. “What do you mean? I am not enough?”, I remember asking myself. In his own way, he showed me that I was not mature or strong enough to take that challenge. Looking back now I think he was right. He was the only person able to see right through me, and I cannot thank him enough for that. All the bitterness I turned into willingness to prove to him and to myself that I was good enough and I could accomplish all I wanted on my own.
Positive reinforcement played with me again though, and a year and a half later, I had the opportunity to go to the U.S. on a soccer scholarship to finish high school and then start college. I was half way done with my senior year and was already partially accepted into a medical school (in countries outside the U.S., you started medical school since your first year of undergrad). I decided to leave something that was so certain and easy behind, and jump on this adventure. I had amazing grades and was a great soccer player, so many many schools and universities wanted me. I was so ready for this great life I thought I had worked hard enough to deserve. I did in fact have the best year my life at this school I transferred to. It was fun, challenging, different… An adventure (and a very entertaining post).
Things started to change by the beginning of my soccer season in late October. I could feel there was something wrong with my body. I was playing well, but I could no longer perform at the level that I as expected to. Doctors could not find out what was wrong, and I saw my coach and college scholarships slowly slipping from my fingers. I tried not to freak out too much. I finished my season for the first time not as a top player, and decided to red shirt my freshman year. I actually decided to go to a small liberal arts school that was willing to give me a lot of scholarship until I was able to figure out what was wrong, recover and go back to the D1 school I always dreamed of. To my surprise, when I saw my orthopedist back home, he ordered an emergency MRI and in a few days I heard the words “you are never going to play again.” I was shocked. I could not believe what he was saying.
After rough 3 months of summer, I resumed my studies in that small liberal arts school. This was my second “loss” in life. As much as I loved soccer, I never dreamed about going pro; it was always a way for me to go through school for free. Everyday I woke up bitter, frustrated and counting the days to transfer to a big school that I truly liked. Due to many things that were happening economically back home, that never happened. Loosing such a big part of my identity reflected on my grades and in my life in general. Took me about two years to accept the fact that this was my life now. Once I did things definitely got easier and I was able to pull myself up, but It was never the same.
In my 2016, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a concentration in pre-medicine. I was not able to start medical school right away again due to economic reasons, so I started working in psychiatric hospital. The job was way below what I was capable of. I earned way less than I should considering how much money I put into my education, but there is not much you can get when a you need a sponsor/visa and you work in a field that requires at least a masters to be worth it any of those (I will have a post dedicated to this situation as well, don’t worry!) That was a third “loss,” but this time I decide to take it with my head high. It did not take long for the psychiatrists that I worked with that I was capable of much more. They saw right through that humble and quiet persona I created and started to teach me as much as they could. As my coworkers said, “I owed the position.” It was upsetting when I took my fourth “loss” and had to leave the U.S. because visa ran out and I was still not able to apply to medical school. I left my dreams there, but I am not ready to give up on them yet.
A new chapter in my life is starting now, as I move to Europe to claim my Italian citizenship. I cannot keep waiting for things out of my control to settle down, that is not who I am. I am trying this new positive approach to my losses, or as I now call them my “learning experiences.”
This was a long introductory post, but somewhat necessary to understand where my other posts come from. My next posts will not be nearly as long as this one. I have written a lot of thoughts these past few years as I went through my journey, and I plan on sharing them here as I tell my story.
I called this blog my “Nomadic Life” because I have been moving around since I was 17, never certain of where I am going to end up. I let my dreams guide me and my hard work to pave the way. I plan on showing here how life is truly not fair, but nonetheless has its beauty… Plus, why would you want a boring and non eventful life anyways? The last thing I know now is where I will be in a few months (and that scares me A LOT), but I can still have my priorities straight. This is an positivity exercise for me, as I try to evaluate my options and decide the best way to accomplish my dreams. I still believe good things happen to good people, even if not how they expect to.
Thanks for reading!