CONTEXT: MY BACKGROUND
Let’s quickly start from the beginning: I was born in Paris and moved to Milano at the age of 5. Because I went to pre-school in France and because I knew the language, my parents decided that it would be a great idea to put me in the French school in Milan.
For my career and future it was a great move. However being in the French school in Milan meant also that I needed to stick with that school until my diploma at 18 years old.
That means that I was going to grow up with the same kids, and never have a chance to recreate myself.
This was good news for those who had a good reputation and all the right labels, like my brother.
But for me, this was pure torture.
I matured very slowly, physically and mentally, which meant that the other kids would view me a bit like a freaky person. Quickly that freaky label became the outcast label and I very quickly found myself not being invited anywhere, being bullied online and eating alone in the toilets. This was my daily life until I reconnected with an old friend, who then became my partner in crime and my best friend to this day.
Why am I saying all of this?
Because this will determine a lot of my behaviors for the next chapter of my life.
Although I finally made a friend at the age of 16 making the whole day to day life a bit more bearable, I still longed for that classic young and reckless teen life, full of parties, crushes and butterflies in the tummy. My high school made that fantasy impossible to live, as it demanded me to be there from 8am until 6pm every day, loading my evenings with homework and exam preparation and making it nearly impossible for me to even try and socialize outside of my school: Italian schools finished at 3pm at worst…
The only times I was free from all this was the summer holidays and my parents tried their best to make me feel a bit more included by taking me to villages where there was a club for teens. However, due to my lack of socializing, I would most of the time end up being that weirdo on aside, embarrassed of her every move and praying that the most eloquent and confident girl of the group would take me under her wing.
Slowly but surely, the latter happened and my confidence grew thanks to these 2 weeks holiday a year in a young and new environment, where the labels of high school wouldn’t touch me.
It came to a point when I knew my worth: at around 17/18, I understood how much of a different social life I would have if I only had the opportunity to recreate myself by moving schools or places. Although moving schools was not possible (I won’t get into the details), University was my escape door.
Sick of french teenagers and traumatized by Italy (as I unfortunately associated beautiful Milan with my horrible high school experience), I decided to reconnect with my roots and move to the UK for my University experience.
Contrary to Italian and French universities, I heard that, in the UK, the social life was way advanced as it provided societies for every kind of activity and thousands of new students to meet and connect with. It sounded like paradise and it was without any hesitation that I applied for the top unis in the UK.
After a very hard exam period in July, I finally got the results and the confirmation that I would be moving to Exeter University in September.
My mind went wild as I was thinking of all of my wishes and fantasizing about the social life I have always dreamed of: new friends, getting invited to house parties, having a group of people who would include me, a possible boyfriend (or even just a guy that would look at me)… My mind went wild.
Excited, terrified and hopeful, I arrive in Exeter and it goes without saying that September 2013 until December 2013 were by far the best months of my life.
Everything I dreamed of became a reality!
Although I had a very rough first couple of days, I was so determined to create for myself the fantasy I have longed for so much that no one could take my eyes of my focus.
The next two years were filled with everything I have ever dreamed of: 10/10 guys flirting with me, my first love, my first heartbreaks, loads of friends, loads of parties… and more: managing my own event, being one of the only students to be backstage with well known DJs, being on stage with them, having guys waiting outside for me to finish conversations with venue managers to then cook for me at 3am in the night… My life was a dream! A real roller coaster of emotions. And just like that, I have made up for those 5 years of absence of social life.
However, reality came knocking on my door: all of this time, I did not study properly. I had mediocre marks, failed an exam, and had no idea where my head was at when it came to my future and career.
For the past 2 years, I have been spending the money of my parents to fulfill a void inside me that was finally complete, but I was not investing any time in my future success.
One day, I went into the Career Zone, a space for students to look up job applications and what not. There was a guy who was always sitting there. His name was Femi.
During my 2 years at University, I noticed him many times working hard, not on lectures as the rest of the people, but on “career stuff”, that “stuff” that didn’t even cross my mind to organize at the time.
This time, instead of the usual small talk, I decided to sit right next to him and ask him what he was up to. He started explaining to me that he was applying for summer internships and hackathons. I didn’t understand half of the things he said but when I saw his CV I was in awe. Google internships, awards, certifications, high marks… his CV was golden.
As competitive as I naturally am, I started thinking of my own CV and realized I had nothing. It was soul breaking. I started to think about how doomed I was and about how I would never get into anywhere when I graduated. But that stress turned into motivation very quickly and I started applying as well to summer internships. I asked advice to my parents in order to know what to put in my CV and Cover letter. I also explained my motivation of wanting to build my career and start to work in a company early on, instead of waiting for me to graduate.
My parents were so thrilled and relieved that I was actually considering to work instead of wasting my evenings in clubs that they proactively went through their contact list and after a few messages, I got a last minute internship in PricewaterhouseCoopers.
It took me a lot to admit this. Actually this is the first time that I admit that my first experience was handed over from my parent’s hard work.
Both of my parents came from households that did not have the resources to give them much. From my father’s side, he didn’t even have the money to go to university as he was from a little village up in the Italian alps. It was his hard work that got him a fully funded scholarship to one of the top Business courses in the world, at Bocconi University, in Milan and he ended up being the best of his promotion with his 100 cum laudeum. This proposed him into INSEAD, another top Business School in the world where he met my mother, whom herself graduated in Engineering in Oxford after a very VERY hard working college.
These were my parents, two brilliant individuals. And then there was me.
Spoilt, a real princess, mediocre at school, no friends and full of demands.
Fully “sponsored” by my parents to go to an English University, away from home, I didn’t even propose to take on a part time job to contribute to the cost.
For me, taking their money was absolutely normal, and the word “student loan” was unknown to me until a friend kindly explained it to me in a non judgmental way.
The worst part was that, at that precise point in time, I did not realize how lucky and spoilt I was to have such incredible, loving and brilliant parents, granting my every wish. That realization will come later on in my life, with a burning sense of guilt and Imposture Syndrome.
But for now, at that point in time, I was happy to finally start puffing up my CV with big company names. I was a bit more relaxed and finally ready for my new adventure and my first professional journey.