[Warning, this is completely personal but seeing the times we live in, who the hell cares anymore?! Also, because I am strangely aware that people tend to misread everything, please understand that the title is minimally ironic. I don’t know that I am successful in anything other than I have a good life, great friends, a wonderful boyfriend, a job I love and some modicum of health.]
My friend Thom writes the best newsletter. I mean, seriously, the best one. And his last one was entitled “The Secrets to My Success”. You can read it here, tear up like I did and then, maybe, have the same idea as me: “why not write my own version of “The Secret to My Success” to get some perspective and positivity in my life?”.
Thom writes about his mom and dad and about his birth country, Canada. Now, obviously I could have picked something else to write about but, truly, I miss my mom and dad so desperately these days, and feel Romania could use a boost in national self-confidence, I’ll stick with exactly the same categories. As you can see this is not a reinterpretation. Short of copying Thom’s whole thing and changing some names, I’m doing the same as he did. Because his newsletter is great. Have I said that before?
So here they are, the two secrets to my success:
a. Being born to Silvia and Nicu, my parents
b. Being born in Romania
I think you can take my word for point a) but I’ll explain none the less. I am the only child in a family of bookworms. My mom and dad are both teachers and they both graduated with BAs in literature and foreign languages. My mom’s speciality is Italian/French, and my dad’s is French with a minor in Romanian poetry and specifically, an interest in a lesser Romanian poet, Macedonski, founder of the Romanian symbolist movement (oh yeah, we had one of those out there too). So I grew up with books. Fiction, poetry, history, mythology, everything. That gave me permission to travel far and wide in my mind and gave me what I later found to be fundamental advantages: a mind prone to creative thinking, an ability to express myself persuasively and write well. Oh, also Silvia and Nicu somehow passed onto me an uncanny ability to learn foreign languages. That helped too.
Second is my country of origin. Romania. Being born in Romania might not sound like the best of things, I understand. But post-communist Romania did come with some advantages I could only appreciate once I left for my one year study exchange program in the US. We had free healthcare and free education for a start. We also had a library and a cinema house in almost every little town. And, most importantly, we, collectively, had a backstory which meant we, like Avis, tried harder.
You have to understand that being born just before the fall of the Iron Curtain meant that by the time you hit 14 you realised there was a huge world out there and you did not have a head start. So you had to do better. We learnt mental endurance and discipline and enough useless / interesting stuff in school to make me look particularly interesting and cultured to my colleagues in Lynchburg Virginia by the time I went there.
Romania also had a great seaside, some awesome mountains to climb and enough well intentioned people who still believed the historical lie of “Romanias are the world’s most welcoming people”.
So there you have it.
Now, why did I write this post? Truth be told, because Thom’s own post sparked something, a small intention in my head and then I somehow got stuck. I kept thinking, was it possible to come up with a list of positive things, looking all the way back and tie them to the present situation, also in a positive manner?
We have a tendency to critique. It’s more interesting in the modern world. We also have a tendency to moan (I am particularly inclined to that) and to deconstruct. And these days, there is a clear tendency to get overwhelmed with fear and frustration. This post, right here is a great exercise in gratitude and positive thinking. For the past, for the now, for the future.
Try it. Write your own “The secrets to my success”. It’ll make you feel better.