The founder of Apple Inc. Mr Jobs, famously said that we can’t connect the dots in the present or in the future, we can only do it looking back at our past. I accept the premise of this philosophical idea, but I reject his conclusions. Unless one has complete inability to see clearly in a present moment with a difficulty distinguishing between facts and fiction, I can’t see why some dots shouldn’t be connected in the present and mapped out for a few moves in the future.
I see this kind of mentality as a great appeasement tool. For times when we are facing unmitigated misery, humiliating, soul-crushing rejections or when we are confronted with the hard truth of the current situation. Personally, I always preferred V van Gogh’s spin on this perspective: ‘Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me’.
In my life, I got two great pieces of advice. One was from my dad, who in his authentic, lovingly blunt manner told me ‘Kid, remember life is one crushing defeat after another’.
I must have been around 19 years of age at the time, and already no stranger to failures. Now that I think about it, I guess pretty much everything I did was somewhat viewed as another one in a long series of regrettable life choices. I must admit, for a while I thought that chances of me achieving any kind of heights were slimmer than the Italian parliamentary majority. Mixed with my mum’s temper, tenacious nature, strong proclivity towards my way or the highway attitude and maverick spirit, I never knew where I will end up, but I knew for sure I was not destined to sink into oblivion. The advice was duly noted.
A lot of people try to teach us how to get it right in life and get the most out of it. I am most certainly not one of them. If someone was to ask me to give some solid direction on life, all I could say is that it’s an unanswerable question. I have no frame of reference. I may not always have known exactly what I wanted, but sure as hell, I knew what didn’t want. To me, it’s been a perpetual method of elimination, with the most important lessons learned in failure, brought to my bony knees.
Yes, failure can undoubtedly hollow anyone out like a cheap chocolate bunny. Whilst we are laid in the metaphorical grave of defeat, the important thing to remember- it’s inevitable. Some things just are this way. Within the boundaries of good taste, I always felt that mourning the inevitable is a complete waste of time and nonsense, and if I wanted to waste my time on nonsense, I would follow Angela Rayner or Perez Hilton on Instagram.
I grew up in several different countries, different cultures, languages even alphabets. The first year at nursery and the first year of school were very difficult. Both were in two different languages. My first school year teacher Mrs Regina strongly advised my parents to keep me behind, as I was clearly struggling due to the language barrier and the fact that I went to school a year early. I wanted to be in the same class with my older sister Julia. Despite the fact, they let me off the hook and I wasn’t left behind, I was infamously known as the dum-dum of my family and class. In less than a year not only did I cough up, but also academically surpassed pretty much all of them. But I was last to learn to ride a bike or climb trees, painfully shy, not the most aesthetically refined with my usual paranoid disposition, which didn’t help.
Fast forward 11 years, as I was deciding on my university in the summer of 2006. My godmother said ‘Look, are you sure this is right for you? It is something for Julia, but think in case the university doesn’t work out? You sweetheart better marry well otherwise you will be working in a factory 12-hour shifts until you retire’. I remember this like it was yesterday. I laughed then and I laugh now. I always found the element that people didn’t expect much from me as the most liberating aspect of my life. This could have been interpreted as lowballing, lack of faith or belittling, but from my perspective, it was always the feeling of no pressure, no expectations. I loved it.
I got to university and dropped out after 3 months, I loathed it. The institution, the structure, the methods. This came as a surprise, considering I came from a strict Catholic school. I always said if you can survive 12 years of Catholic school, you can survive anything. Maybe not.
In a bit of a pickle and desperate to escape my parents’ disappointment, my friend Laurent suggested a break in Marseille. My eyes lit up like Dallas in high noon. Yes, that was my next move. And just like that a new challenge, conquest and adventure waltzed back into my life. There was no stopping me. I couldn’t speak French, so Marseille got swapped for a one-way ticket to Liverpool in January 2007.
I landed in the UK at age 18. People said that this kind of courage at such a young age was unusual. ‘Unusual? More like Biblical’ I liked to think for a while. Now looking back there was no courage, just sheer stupidity and limitless vision, and for that I am grateful.
I enrolled in college, dropped out. Tried again. Got to university, it took me just a whisker short of 6 years to graduate. Partly because I got a great job in BMW and MINI (which I originally got rejected), but mostly due to association with some flamboyant characters, flying around the world and having a really good time. I mean, if you’re not having a good time in everything you do, what’s the point?
Took me two years and two fails to pass my driving test, numerous professional progression fails and many more beatings that now have faded into a mellow mist of memory. I never dwelled on any of my misfortunes and losses, even though there were so many. I learn a lesson and moved on. Immediately, if not sooner.
Not for one day in my entire life, I felt less of a person due to occasions I have failed or the time that took me to complete something. I’m a prime loser. There is no growth, progression or success without failure. It is an integral part of any success. Sure, the vast majority of people are that scared of failing they will never actually go out of their comfort zone and try, knowing all we get is one chance at this life, we live it once, can’t live it twice.
I write this post for two reasons. Today, the 27th of November and I am finished for the year. Ahead of me is a month of rest, reflection and planning. I need to wrap up the first year of this new decade and tick off things on my vision board. Second reason: recently I got complimented on my Bio, on this very website, and congratulated on all my accolades.
It got me thinking, about the unrealistic lifestyles and relationships promoted on social media, which make fake look better than real. By nature, humans compare their everyday life to someone’s highlight of the year. This is what I thought of my Bio, which ultimately is a rosy highlight of a decade, whilst the reality is that it’s been ‘one crushing defeat after another’. My life is my magnum opus, but it came at the price, which I will pay again and again. It is easy to be blinded by self-inflicted ignorance and think that someone got it easy or got lucky.
I dedicate this post to everyone who failed again, and again and again. And everyone who will fail time and time again. To every person who had the courage and perseverance. To all you Thomas Edisons, JK Rowlings, Walt Disneys, Albert Einsteins and Oprah Winfreys out there. To people who refuse in defiance to give up and try again.
As life goes on, the years tend to strip all the complexity out of it. The horizons expand to those who reach for the stars, who don’t settle, to people who aren’t afraid to try, fail and learn. People who are not destined to sink into oblivion or ordinary life with a single claim that they never failed at anything, because they never even tried.
To people who won’t live an ordinary life. I mean, who wants ordinary anyway?