Just Be Yourself. Always.

I didn’t write for a while because I had a lot going on recently. Honestly, I forgot about my personal problems and identity crisis because I was too busy preparing myself for job interviews. The thing is, I didn’t have time to think about anything, which is, according to my experience, the best cure for any kind of mental problem, trust me. If you feel depressed, just don’t have time to think about it, do something that will trigger either your creativity or your adrenaline, engage in any kind of challenging activity and get out of your bedroom and daily routine in order to get out of your head. I am not going to talk about my depression here, I just wanted to share my state of mind and tell you a story about not giving up and being yourself, always.

Months ago, I posted my CV on every possible job listing web site on earth and I sent around sixty job applications. Then, I waited in a good faith. Rejections started to hit like bullets, every morning a new one. I was invited to several job interviews in person, some of them were over the phone or via Skype. Then, I received more rejections or even worse, I waited for the answers that never came. I started walking and jogging around the block, I was intensively blogging, eating big ice-creams and taking long bubble baths. I started reading “Eat Pray Love” because I needed some kind of strong mentoring, something to hold on to. Wine and chocolate became my best buddies. I researched about moving to Bali, about the power of Yoga and meditation and I considered the option of opening my Yoga fitness centre. Even a job as a receptionist in a Bali wellness resort never seemed more attractive. In the meanwhile, I became the world’s best house keeper, my laundry was always clean and I cooked every day. I was doing body-peeling 3 times a week (as prescribed) and I polished my nails daily. My state of mind was another story. It was collapsing and my patience was waiting for an explosion. I almost packed my bags and left to nowhere.

One day I got a call from a job agent. She was searching for someone with experience in office administration and invited me for a pre-interview. I got there without any expectations, tired of false hopes, tired of everything, with literally, nothing to lose.  I was like a washed cloth, feeling hundred years old. My mind was like: “You wanna hurt me? Go ahead, I can take it.” The interview was not bad at all, I actually liked the agent because she seemed to understand me, she did not look me with a suspicious eye (like many people do when I speak German). After the interview, I was feeling restless and couldn’t bear waiting for another answer in Vienna, so I went home to Zagreb, just to switch my mindset to another program.

After a few days I got a positive answer from the agent. She told me that the company I am supposed to work for is interested in meeting me personally. I caught the first bus to Vienna and prepared myself for the “real” interview.

The company is big and powerful, which instantly made my palms sweat and my belly nervous. I sucked my feelings in, put my lucky shirt on and dragged myself there. The company is in the centre of the city, where everybody are so nicely dressed up, looking wealthy and happy. I arrived earlier and sat on a bench across the street looking directly into the company building. Lots of tourists were passing by which reminded me of my first arrival to Vienna. At the beginning of my journey here, I often felt unsure in everything, mostly in my decision of leaving my hometown. I was alone and simply lost, in every possible way. I grew up with time (still not completely), learned to deal with fear and loneliness in the way I could, and I crossed a lot of my personal boundaries along the way. I was preparing exams in German, bartending on weekends and maintaining my turbulent Skype-relationship at the same time. I moved four times in five years. I experienced two relationships, hundred love dramas (of all kinds) and million breakdowns and break-ups. I was financially broke for a few months in a row, living on a few bucks per week. I realized in that moment on the bench: I succeeding in everything that crossed my path so far. I felt something I rarely ever felt before: I was PRIDE of myself. I was so aware of my accomplishments, they became so real and so amazing. I said BRAVO to myself for not giving up and for being here today. I stood up, took a deep breath and crossed the street.

I felt like I was on some kind of crossroad. I thought it was going to be either a total disaster or a total success. I decided I was going to give them all I have in this interview, all I really am. I was going to put everything I had on the table, like my last gambling stake. I was aware of my weaknesses, I was scared of failure due to my limited German skills and my limited knowledge about the business they are dealing with (or any kind of business actually) and I was aware of the fact that I don’t have an amazing experience nor self-confidence. Still, giving-up was not an option anymore.

The office manager and her assistant welcomed me politely in a meeting room and offered me coffee and water while we had a small talk about the weather. Million thoughts were crossing my mind. The usual questions about career experience and goals followed soon, together with my “favorite” question: “Why did you study journalism and now are applying for a job in office administration?” The true answer would be: “Because I am not interested in most of the real journalism at all, except maybe Cosmopolitan-kind of journalism, and when I was choosing a college, I search an academic field according to “No Math included”– criteria. Plus, even if I wanted to do journalism, there is no way I could do it here in Vienna in this horrible language”. But instead, I said: “I chose it because it is interesting as an academic field and, back then, I was not thinking about working (exclusively) in journalism” (which is also true). Then I talked about things I am good at, about things I am familiar with. I was completely aware of every moment of that interview and I was answering calmly. I was smiling a lot, like I usually do. I honestly said I was aware of my imperfections, but I strongly emphasized my strengths, looking them in the eyes, using strong adjectives, like goal-oriented and organized. They even tested my computer skills and, after an hour, the manager switched the conversation in English. I was tired and overwhelmed, but English was my comfort zone, so that was my final plus, I guess. Then, the unexpected came…

The manager asked me whether I would like to consider a career in her team (!!), but not as an administration assistant, but as a Junior Account Manager working with international partners (!!??). It means I didn’t get the job I applied for, but I got a better one, a higher position that was not even close to my professional knowledge and experience (!!). The company would actually need to invest in my traineeship in order to prepare me for the “real job”. The manager made that decision according to my character and probably some of my skills, but I couldn’t believe I got her convinced I was good enough for the job, and more importantly, that I succeeded to do that in German (!!). That’s really something to be proud of, trust me. I felt like the luckiest person in the world, like Will Smith at the end of the “Pursuit of Happiness”, like I won the lottery. I wanted to cry, but I waited until I was outside of the building. I called my mom immediately and said: “I did it, mom. I did it, finally.”

There are million tips about the appropriate answers and behavior at a job interview. I prepared my answers according to those tips every time, but after all, the thing that helped me the most was my inner voice and my natural behavior. It is hard to “sell yourself” today and be completely open, but it is important that you stay true to yourself and don’t lie, don’t promise things you cannot keep or pretend you are something you are not. Somebody will recognize that truth, somebody will see that potential, somebody will see the best version of you (even if you don’t), and then, when you got that chance, everything will seem to fall in the right place and simply – it will all work out in the end. Just don’t give up on yourself, ever.

The week after I got the job, another company called me and invited me for an interview. I went just to see the outcome. I got that job as well.

Trapped in a romantic movie

When I was a teenager I imagined my future romantic life as a complete fulfillment of my happiness. I thought that girls with boyfriends were so lucky. I wanted love so badly. I used to dream about my imaginary boyfriend when I fell asleep hugging my pillow. Romantic movies were (and still are) my favorite guilty pleasure (plus “Ben & Jerry”). The only difference is I stopped hoping that romantic scenes are actually going to happen to me and I am hugging my real boyfriend now instead of my pillow. But still, I love my fictional characters, just like “Star Wars” fans worship theirs.

The characters take me to my little world of big romantic dreams. The world where things like rationality, time and money are irrelevant. The world where only romance is important and it seems so crazy, pure and honest, without other interests involved. The world where only love matters and it is so strong that it conquers all the obstacles and triumphantly wins over everything and everyone standing in its way. It doesn’t matter how often characters fight or how badly they hurt each other. It doesn’t matter if they are separated by distance or death or time. They just cannot live without each other and they have to find a way to be together in the end. I love that intense game of passion and sacrifice, that fight for happiness, that rules-breaking and breath-taking.

But what would happen if I lived in one of those movie stories? Not in the movies, but in the stories. In other words:

How would I play those roles in my life?

What would I do if I found myself in those situations?

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“Watch out for that signal, when life as you know it ends. P.S. I will always love you” (P.S. I Love You)

What if I was Holy from “P.S. I Love You”? Could I be brave enough to continue my life after Gerry’s death in a way he prescribed in his letters? Would I bear such a loss and would I be able to love again? Could I take a year off to find myself again just like Elizabeth from “Eat, Pray, Love” did? She took a self-searching journey after her divorce and she found her path in the end. Could I afford myself a whole year of “escape” just for finding myself? Could anyone do that today? Why is it such a luxury to put your own life on a pause? And why is it so hard to let go and move on in real life, but looks so cool and life-changing in movies?

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“So, miss me. Send me love and light every time you think of me… Then drop it. It won’t last forever. Nothing does.”

Movies are so simple and they end exactly when things become too complicated or too real. For example, in “The Holiday”, Amanda and Graham get together during Christmas holidays in London and they know their relationship cannot go any further because she needed to go back to L.A. in a few days. In the end, she canceled her flight and decided she’ll stay for the New Year’s Eve. But what would happen after the New Year’s? It seems it doesn’t matter. What matter is they are happy in that very moment of the big ending. And of course, a romantic song starts to play in the background saying: “Life is great”.

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“I finally know what I want and that, in itself, is a miracle. And what I want is YOU.” (The Holiday)

What if, after a while, Allie and Noah from “The Notebook” realized their relationship cannot work any more because they fight too much and it is just getting worse with time as their emotions fade and they realize their love isn’t so strong any more as it was when they were young?

What if Gerry from “P.S. I Love You” stayed alive and his relationship with Holly collapsed after few years because he couldn’t stand her demanding character anymore or she realized she couldn’t take Gerry’s false promises and just wanted a stable relationship with a reliable grown-up guy for a change?

Well, when we watch movies, we always pray that the main characters end up together. Everybody would get so sad if they don’t, right? But could you support the same version of the screenplay in your own life? How brave are you really when it comes to love? How far would you go for it? Would you run away? Would you change your life forever? Go against all odds and risk it all? Would you follow your heart?

If I were Elizabeth from “Eat, Pray, Love”, would I really took that journey or just stayed with David, vanishing in a daily routine?

If I were Allie from “The Notebook”, would I be brave enough to choose Noah in the end? Or would I choose an easier option instead?

If my life was a movie I watched as I teenager, would I love it? And if I didn’t, would I played it differently later? Would I make the same choices if I got the second chance?

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“Stop thinking about what everyone wants, stop thinking about what I want, what your parents want! What do you fucking want Allie?” (The Notebook)