Dear “The Man” and “The Best of Us All”,

image from Red Bubble, quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 

I know you guys don’t read this blog (it might have to do with the fact that I haven’t given you its address), but this is what I think and feel every time a “one beer and then we’re off” moment turns into bonding conversations that could last the whole night.

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2014

My laptop has finally been fixed and I am back from my annual short trip home for Christmas, so I’d say there is no better moment to write one of those “year in review” posts that seems to be a mandatory thing on the last day of the year.

I am not an optimist. It is not in my nature. I always tend to see the glass half-empty, to hope for the best but always expect the worst (it’s sort of a defense mechanism so that, if things go wrong, I don’t get too crushed). And despite all this – and, probably, in spite of all this – that I can safely and truthfully say that 2014 was one of the best years of my life.

Between academic/professional and personal accomplishments, I have achieved and grown so much that it is impossible not to feel amazed and proud of myself (believe me, it doesn’t happen that often). I took all the priceless opportunities and advantages that were given to me and ran with them. I challenged myself, forced myself to defeat my usual Great Wall of Self-Doubt and saw amazing results and feedback coming out of that persistence and effort.

I finished my Master Degree cum laude (it means “with honours” in Latin). I had one of the best thesis grades of my year. I had a freaking 19 out of 20 in Political Philosophy and Ethics of Globalisation – a course that had me shaking my knees in the beginning, for I hadn’t had Philosophy since secondary school and this class would be taught together with Philosophy students. I was 3% short of a magna cum laude distinction due to a lower but still positive grade in Global Environmental Politics – my only regret this year is probably the fact that I chose not to repeat that exam (not sure that I would be allowed to, anyway, because this University is a bit weird when it comes to re-sits).

I got a traineeship in one of the European institutions. I can’t even begin to describe how blessed and lucky I feel regarding this point! I have learnt so much it is ridiculous – fool are the ones who get out of University thinking they already know it all – and I only wish it was a) longer and b) a permanent job. I am no stranger to hard work, atypical schedules that demand all of your flexibility and stressful deadlines – having worked for 3 years in order to save up for my Master degree in jobs that were the definition of these last three points – and, maybe because of that, I was able to cope so well with the rhythm at the EU institutions that I ended up making an impression. The moment that got me teary-eyed was when I realised that, even though I couldn’t stay, my Unit had been telling The Powers That Be, individually and as a group, that it was ridiculous to let people like me go when they were so overworked and in such dire need of good, committed professionals. Their words, not mine.
I was also invited by my former professors to be a guest speaker on a panel regarding internships. The experience was priceless.

I moved in with my boyfriend, and so far so good. I took him home for Christmas and my family welcomed him in such a warm manner it was impossible not to feel blessed and grateful. We went on holidays to the United Kingdom in August and his friends couldn’t have been kinder to me. I feel grateful to have him by my side every single day.

I met lots of new people – some of them became friends, good friends, best friends. I got to see old friends and realise that it’s as if time didn’t pass since the last time we’ve met. I now can’t keep a straight face when I hear “yes of course” said in a somehow posh way, and I stifle the laugh when someone mentions 20 euros (private joke between the person mentioned in the post “The Man and The Ugly Last Resort” and I).

I’ve met George R. R. Martin – I could start and end my year review post with this sentence only. I was introduced to the brilliance that are the books of Connie Willis and Jo Nesbø, and finally felt again how it is to discover something new that inspires your utmost devotion with London Grammar. I confirmed the brilliance of Wes Anderson with The Grand Budapest Hotel and almost won my informal bet with my best friend when we watched The Fault in Our Stars. I surrendered to the awesomeness of House of Cards and finally finished Breaking Bad – and my heart remains Jesse’s. Masterchef became my new guilty pleasure (currently binge-watching) and both my boyfriend and I still can’t understand how David Martinez made it to S3’s top 6.

2014 brought me hope for a personal problem I used to (because almost all the TPTB would tell me so) find unmanageable and out of anyone’s control. It is not. It won’t go away, but it is manageable in several cases. There is a way and it is working. All I can hope is that it becomes widespread soon so that more people have access to it. Of this I will speak no more, just know that I am grateful for being on the right place at the right time.

The best part of it all, however, was the gigantic step I took, personality-wise. I finally learned how to say no, enough and to take no bullshit at all. I haven’t stopped being afraid to speak in public, but I will do it nonetheless and I will seem confident doing so. I will speak for myself and stand up for myself. I am done with parasite-type of people and I am not afraid to call them out on it. I will give my input, in a polite but assertive way, because – T., you were right – I do have something to say and it matters.

2015 might prove itself difficult – it will start with two words that are painful and dreaded by almost everyone: job hunting. But I won’t give up, because I rarely do. It might be hard, but I need and will get there. But for every cloud there is a silver lining, and 2015 will bring me one right at the start – the crossing of the item at the top of my Bucket List (more on that in a following post).

Happy New Year, everyone. May 2015 be even better than 2014! Speaking for myself, that will be a tough act to follow, but not trying is worse than failing.

It’s difficult to update a blog with a broken laptop

And also with a traineeship which has as its informal motto (just decided this now) “no rest for the wicked”.

But I thought I’d update you guys with bits and bobs of yesterday:

– Attended a session promoted by ALDE MEPs about EU citizenship on the European Parliament;
– Realised I was the only guest attendant there… meaning the burden of Q&A would fall on my shy, terrified-of-speaking-in-public person;
-Asked a bunch of questions with no fear or shyness whatsoever. The speakers came to me at the end of the session to congratulate me on said questions;
– The main MEP organiser and his assistant invited me for lunch at the EP restaurant with them and the other speakers. The assistant wants to keep in touch;
– Realised I have more fun at the office than on Plenary Session days;
– Got beaten with a passion on our boardgame night by two of my fellow trainees, who are way more than trainees – they are true FRIENDS. Victory shall be mine next time… when we actually play games that involve a board!
– Really woke up at 5am (I checked the time) with my friend’s flatmate doing the dishes, thus sorta witnessing a self-fulfilling prophecy…

The Man and The Ugly Last Resort

During a conversation with a male friend, about the level of idiocy and shallowness that currently goes around us:

“It is vexing and I am so gutted to say this out loud, but for those guys, you girls count way less than the Prom Queen of this group. And that’s… that’s so incredibly stupid, because the five of you are the ones that are worth it”.

“These kind of guys are about quantity, not quality. To their eyes, as much as girls like us are ugly, unworthy and a measure of last resort, you still hang out with five of us, and that makes you The Man. (…) No matter what, at the end of the day, for them we’re still walking vaginas. In their mind, girls like us will still be good for a fuck if they fail to go home with the Prom Queens of this world”.

I am in a very happy relationship with my boyfriend, whom I love and who loves me back. I am old enough to have had my share of jackasses and know which kind of guys – and people in general – are worth it and which ones aren’t. I certainly don’t need the approval or anything whatsoever of people with twisted, childish worldviews. The idea of people who see others as a piece of meat disgusts me. I keep the people that are worth keeping, the true friends – and ignore the rest. I like the way I look right now (minus that couple of kgs I’m always trying to lose), and I believe I have grown into a woman who has her own particular beauty.

My friend was gutted when he said that sentence out loud, because it couldn’t be further from what he believes and thinks and values. I told him it was fine because I didn’t care about those people and their opinions. But for a moment, all those horrible memories from my teenage years flashed before my eyes.

“Have you seen how tacky she looks?” – first day of high school, in this public yet astonishingly elitist and preppy school. I was wearing jeans, a Hard Rock t-shirt and red and white Adidas sneakers. Normal as normal could be.

“Your voice sounds like a man’s voice.”

“Your taste is so horrible. What a nerdy loser”.

“Look at your teeth, you monster!”.

“Your hairstyle is so not posh and stylish. Let us fix it. Why are you crying? Such a stupid loser…ahahahahah”.

“Shut up, you bitch. Go hide with your homo friend who wears mascara and shows his pubes online! I’ll break your fucking face!” – in the middle of an 11h grade Maths class, while the teacher was still inside the room, because I was friends with the only openly gay guy in the whole school.

“Why aren’t you more like your friends? They’re beautiful and nicer to us”.

“Geez, that one would still be horrible if you’d put a bag on her head…”

“You only have good grades because your cousin’s class has tests before us and she tells you all the questions!” – half of my class, after a test in which I got a 19/20 and half of them failed. I never needed to ask a single thing to my cousin. Ever.

“Looking like this you will never get any boys. Look at your hair, your body, your face with no make-up at all!”

There we were, with deadlocked eyes during a serious, meaningful and earnest conversation. Two promising and hopefully successful grown-ups who, despite their maturity, are still regarded in the eyes of other (idiot, shallow and childish) people as The Man and The Ugly Last Resort. Never mind friendship, like-mindedness and trust, the ultimate reasons for my friend to hang out with me and the other 4 girls we were talking about. Never mind personality, humour, respect, kindness and intelligence, the reason why human beings should be attracted to and value in one another.

I’m 25 and it’s still sad to realise you never really leave high school.