Paolo Coelho once said: “there’s only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” And that’s how it feels, right? You have a dream, but have no idea where to start from. You feel trapped in everyday life, so buried under a thousand things such as work, family and home that your big dream has now spiderwebs and dust. And you leave it there, because it’s too painful to smell happiness and not being able to reach it. And then there are bad experiences: the ones that made you feel like you fell into that failure spiral, both as a person and as a worker. So you wonder if you’ll ever make you dream come true. You already know that the subconscious answer to that question is “no”, so why bother trying? Why should you waste your time?
Let me tell you my story… Show you that it’s possible to dream and it’s also possible make those lifelong dreams become true. Allow me to illustrate you in details my worst failure (because it’s certainly not the only one!) and the wonderful things that came with it.
Because deep inside you know that failing doesn’t matter. What matters is to get back up and keep trying. So there I was, many years ago…
Since I was about 18 years old I’ve always dreamed to move over the US. That’s when I went on vacation to see some relatives and I immediately fell in love with this gorgeous Country, so full of contradictions, infinite space and sense of freedom.
Now, let’s press the FFWD button, shall we? Let’s go straight to 11 years later to the day when I lost my sanity (literally) for a top quality moron and brought him home to live with me. Not happy of the unfortunate choice, I also gave up a lot of things for him: a job I loved, volleyball (my sport since I was a little kid and my biggest passion) and also some friends who were not very happy about the whole situation. All to make him happy.
I looked for other jobs that would please his majesty, but the recession in Italy was unforgiving. I found some temporary jobs, some others so ridiculous that the pay wouldn’t even cover the commute expenses. All while he was pretending to find a job, when in reality he was sitting comfortably in my house doing nothing but talking on the phone with his mom and watching tv. And all this just because his so-called-dream was to build a family with me.
For some still unknown reason, I thought that he was making me happy but I didn’t realize that in reality, It was the exact opposite! I was super stressed, always pissed off and, on top of all, I was hiding (to myself in first place) that our relationship was a total failure. I just refused to believe it.
So I fell even deeper into the spiral
Frustrated by the financial and work related situation we had, I made the huge mistake to listen to him once more. He asserted that the best thing would be to have your own business, work for yourself and not having to respond to anyone. If, on one side, this was probably the smartest thing that his poor overwhelmed brain could ever produce, on the other, we had absolutely no idea of what to do or where to start from to put this desire of him into practice.
Well, are you ready to have a big fat laugh? Here’s how we did: we bought a physical business. A beauty salon to be precise. I came from the Fitness field and he was obsessed with all things beauty and appearance (I leave the stereotype to your own comments) so it felt like the most logical thing to do. Plus, it was 5 minutes from home, which meant no traffic, being able to come home for lunch, etc.
What we didn’t consider were the initial expenses and the horrifying taxes that, right in that time of recession, were at their historical highest. Very naively and definitely listening to the wrong people, we decided to jump in. It couldn’t go worse than that, right? Wroooong!! He already had a loan on his shoulders so I had to put everything on my name, asking my brother to guarantee for me, not only co-signing the loan but also by putting down a first payment. Hence, I was digging my own grave and I didn’t even realize it. And the worst part was that I was having my beloved brother involved in all that.
You might be wondering: “what the heck does all this have to do with your dream of living in the US?” Absolutely everything! The story doesn’t end here and I assure you that the failure I mentioned before is not just about our (so-called) love… I’m getting there, I promise!
What brought me to failure
By what said so far, you probably already know that there came the day, more precisely Christmas Eve (and a Crappy New Yeaaar), in which I finally opened my eyes on his lies, cheating, parasitic life and so on, and kicked him out. Aaaah, what a relief! If on one side I felt immediately better, on the other, I collapsed into the end-of-a-story-grief (I’m not calling it depression in respect of those who really suffer because of it) during the Christmas holidays. All this happened only 4 months since I opened the shop that he was supposed to help supporting.
I found myself in debt, at the end of a story, with a shop that only an idiot would have bought (and that I already hated) and, worst part, I felt alone, isolated. Because I focused so much on this project that I pushed everyone away. But my brother and my sister in law were expecting their first child and this was the only news that kept me from going crazy and saved me from my night panic attacks. The joy was immense. I was afraid of not being good enough, but I didn’t have the courage to admit that with anyone.
On top of all…
My (by then) ex decided to start a stalking phase which consisted of nearly 2000 texts and 1000 emails a day, showing up in from of my house at any time of the day and night, standing still in front of my shop or in the parking lot for hours in a freezing weather, and so on. Some texts were declaration of infinite love and remorse, others were threats so sneaky that could mean anything. But I knew… I started being afraid of leaving the house. At night every noise would keep me awake, I started to eat less and find any excuse to not going to work. Or at least to go at unpredictable hours so that he wouldn’t find me when he thought I’d be there. A NIGHTMARE! I was so stressed that I had hormonal issues and, even though I was eating less, I bloated like a hot air balloon. And then the real panic attacks started!
Besides that, the shop was obviously going bad. The horrible financial situation, plus the fact that it was an absolute shack.. The disaster was at this point inevitable. Without the financial support promised by my ex, the expenses were adding up at super speed. In conclusion, I failed. Failed, failed, failed!
If it’s not clear enough:
- love story: total failure;
- shop: on the failure path;
- social life..HA… failure as well;
- Satisfy my family’s expectations… Guess what? An EF-5 failure (equal to a nuclear bomb destruction)
But something was about to change…..
The turning point
On February we had to close the shop for 15 days due to low season and my saint brother borrowed me the money to come here in the US to visit my cousin. He (my cousin) was also going through some bad time and I knew I had to come both to run away from the stalker and to help him.
It was like breathing pure oxygen after almost drowning. I finally re-embraced that dream that I’d pushing aside for so long in order to continue on what I thought it was my path. I decided to surprise my cousin and I promise that, seeing the joy it procured him, was a real treat. Clearly, I told him my story and he very simply said: “Well, why on earth don’t you just give it all up and come to stay here?” If on one side the idea terrified me, on the other it obviously reopened my heart to the possibility to be finally free and happy.
…I had to go back to Italy to deal with my demons. Not to mention my debt! So I tried to sell the shop before it was too late. I tried in every way and after months and months of useless attempts, I didn’t have any choice but to talk to my family which, unexpectedly, supported me instead of judging. They helped in every possible way: from emotional support to financial aid (for what they could do).
To add up, may I introduce you to the sneaky and slimy work inspector. I’m not even going into details about the crap that this guy made me go through because it’s not relevant to the story. Let’s just say that he flipped the pancake well enough to put me in trouble and, when he had the chance, he hit on me for the slimy slug he was (did I mention he was slimy?). When he finally realized that there was no way with me, he found the way to give me a 500 euros ticket that I didn’t deserve. Enough! That was that last drop!
And so I closed the shop
Thanks to my family and to the projects that I started building up with my cousin, I was able to come out of the nightmare. I found a decent job and also restarted playing some volleyball. The past was in the past, now there was only the future. I got back up from the feeling that failure was keeping me stuck and reacted with all I had in my power and with my family and some rediscovered friends’ support.
From dream to reality
So I applied for the Visa to go to the US. Here, during my run-away-trip, I met Scott. He was a nice guy, slightly goofy, but very smart and, most importantly, encouraging in every way. We started a beautiful friendship and we promised to keep in touch. He had a girlfriend at the time and, as you know, I was coming out of the worst and most useless relationship of my life. So we could never imagine that, one day, we would get married and build a family. Especially considering that I never really desired to get married at all… Life, huh?!
The project after moving should have included starting a business with my cousin, but that one failed too before it even started. There were some major bureaucratic issues that slowed down the process until another buyer came out of nowhere and bought the land we had our eyes on. But, despite this, I didn’t give up. At that point I was out of the “failure phase”. I learned the lesson that life presented me. It was clear that failure was only a limit that I was imposing on myself and not a real thing or a specific event. It was a mindset.
Once I regained control of my emotions, it was gone. There were only attempts more or less successful and the sense of freedom that comes with it. There was only the ability to choose between being happy or blaming everyone else for my miserable life. Ironically, it’s a philosophy that I had put into practice millions of times in my 24 years of volleyball, but I wasn’t able to recognize it in my daily life. So I found a good job and restarted all over again. And let me say, it was a real dream!
Never look back
I don’t regret any of that. Not the moron, nor the shop, or the consequences (financially speaking) that I’m still paying. The only big shame is having my brother involved (but he knows I’ll pay him back with interests even if he doesn’t want me to).
I have no regrets because it made me stronger, it pushed me to make my dream come true and, thanks to all those mistakes, I finally realized who I am and what I want. Because I found THE one and only person that supports me in everything I put my mind into and who is first and foremost my best friend. But most of all because he gave me the most beautiful gift I could ever desire: our son Ethan.
I found the dream in the dream. And so can you! Whatever your greatest desire is, do not lock it up. Whichever kind of failure you went through, wipe the dust away and try again. Choose another path. Sooner or later you’ll find the way out of the labyrinth. I’d suggest to not wait until you touch the bottom before taking your first step, but if that’s what you need… Then why not? After all, failure doesn’t exist, it’s only in your head!
P.S.= If you liked this article, don’t forget to share it 🙂