WRITE THAT FUNKY ENTRY TOMBOY

When I started this blog in July, I was in deep, deep shit.
My life was a negative, disastrous mess, everywhere I looked I could only see problems after problems: my heart was badly broken, my very much loved “we’ll be together for years” babysitter dumped me out of the blue “to pursue new adventures in Wales”, work was under a massive crisis (one of those “we are all going to be fired and this company will implode soon afterwards”), I was in the eye of the storm and I literally did not know what to do with my life. I had more than one moment where I even regretted the fact that I didn’t kill myself during my post-natal depression: I would have so spared myself another round of “all is bad, and everything hurts”.

I was lost, marinating in my own sorrow and misery. I was like a tiny boat in the middle of a very angry ocean, beaten and shaken by massive waves, trying not to break for good under the latest, horrendous storm I was facing. Writing came as a sort of lifeline: the fact that I had a way to get all the pain clouding my head out, in the light, and that I could make sense of it all by way of seeing it, black on white, on a word file, became a very helpful personal therapy session.

Over the months, with therapy, the gym, the good work I put in and yes, with writing, I managed to not only survived that storm in one piece, but I also discovered that I am better, new-and-improved self. More so, I discovered that writing was not just “a therapeutic moment”, but a medium that comes incredibly natural to me, a way to express myself that I absolutely love and yes, I dare to say it, a talent that I can be very proud of. The more my confidence grew, the more I started to be (very) outspoken about the fact that I am good “at this shit” and that I would love to do it more and more. Heck, I would write all day, every day if left to it. I would love, LOVE to be paid to write. Anything! You name it!

I was already “famous” at work for writing what my friend Marge and I called “anger management emails”: basically, all those communications where you need to complain, and you would really, really, REALLY like to just send a massive “FUCK YOU!” (and potentially another billion of insults too) but instead of doing that, I write my “fuck off” in a way that gets my point of view across firmly but very, very politely. I even managed to succeed at managing a complaint email chain for a friend of Marge, pretending I was her friend’s customer service manager. Writing essary during my Law degree helped me develop my writing skills, the importance of words, their meaning, the attention and carefulness at “what you want to say” and, most important “how you want to say it” to exactly convey you message without any doubds or misunderstanding. I do it with my ex all the time: whenever he writes and asks me “does this (instert sentence) work?” I begin a lenghty “why did you use this word? what would you like to say? Did you mean this or that? How about you use this one instead? What is this all about? This means another thing if you say it this way” etc….

Well, least did I expect that I became so confident, so passionate about writing that I began to proactively find chances to show how good I am, not just sit there and wat for someone to yell “Silviaaaaa could you please write this email / letter / statement / complaint?”.

A big, special chance waved its hands at me a week or so ago: every year, our company’s President sends to the employees his “end of the year” message. It’s generally drafted by the Head of Communications before it lands on his desk for his additions and approval. Well, the clock was ticking, nobody was really doing anything about this message, even if Marge and I have been pretty vocal in requesting it way back beginning of November (we have to stick it into lovely Christmas cards, and since we have a lot of employees, we are talking about quite a lot of Christmas cards that needs to be ready….). I got fed up of waiting for a miracle to happen, so I said to her “you know what, I am going to write it this year”. Stuck on a train on my way home, I opened my laptop and started to furiously type it. I was so excited that words just magically appeared on my screen: I swear, I was so in the zone that there was zero delay between the“thinking of what to say” to the “writing it down”. By the end of the day I had the message done, proofread and ready to go. Before I could regret it, Marge made sure it landed on the President’s inbox for his consideration. I admit it, I had to run to my manager’s office trying not to look hysterical (not more than my usual standards at least) to calm down and get some encouraging words.

I told myself that, whatever happened, I would have been happy anyway: I had the guts to do such thing, which it is something that I would have never, ever, over my dead body done just six month ago, let alone before that; I actually did it, which again, it is something remarkable, and then I send it to the receiver (and what a receiver!!!) for review: zero self-esteem me would have rather jump out of the window than putting her message under the president’s nose and being like “I did this myself mate, check this out!”. I was happy, I was proud of myself, I was ready to settle with these very nice feelings….

…till the feedback from the president arrived.

And he said he really liked it.

He added his bits and he forwarded it straight to the Head of Communications for her final approval. At this point, I became extremely excited. Still, I tried to keep it calm and not dream too much: you know, in the corporate world, you can be amazing at writing and everyone may like what you say, but there are ways to say things, there are things you can address and things that you can’t, plus a lot of other bits and pieces and basically yes, I was braced for a “WHO WROTE THIS SHIT? OMG THIS IS ATROCIOUS!” moment. I would have been fine anyway, since I’m not a Communication Manager and I just wrote what I, as an employee, I would have loved to hear.

I’m here, trying not to scream my house down, because not only the president liked it as I said, but the Head ofCommunications liked it so much that my message won’t be used just for my London team, but for my department as a whole (and we are based all over the world). I am beyond happy. I am… wow, words are failing me right now, I don’t even know how to describe these feelings I have inside. It is such an honour,such an achievement: me, depressed, mental unit crazy me, the one with no self-esteem, the one who hated herself, who thought she was shit, dumb, stupid, you name, me, I managed to do something so special and I’m so thrilled about it. I’m dying to print my message out, stick it on those Christmas cards and just send it out for all my colleagues to read.

Needless to say, I’m now on fire: I am writing anything that comes my way. I managed to write a vision and mission statement for a friend’s company, a supporting statement for a job application for another friend, whoever needs anything I’m like “YEAH I’LL WRITE THAT GIVE IT TO MEEEEEE” (I know I look like I’m a crazy, writing maniac, and maybe I am, but I’m loving it). I’m not sure what this writing stuff will bring, but whatever that will be, I’m sure it will be amazing.

(I should also probably start to charge for my writing services too!!!)

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WORKIN’ 9 TO 5 DOLLY PARTON STYLE

It sounds a bit weird to say that, but without my job, I would probably be dead by now. My work has been my life saviour when my mental illness reached its worst bit, and if I’m here typing this blog with my sanity (almost) fully intact, it is only because I had an office to go to 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

work-e1534063287773.jpgI am an Executive Assistant, which is like a Personal Assistant on a higher level, or as I like to say it, I’m either a “glorified secretary” or a “babysitter for adults in the corporate world”. Jokes aside, my job is only one thing about me that I have always loved desperately, fiercely, and immensely.

I have always been a person full of hate for everything regarding myself: I hated my body, I hated my life, I hated my brain and all the mental stuff going on in there, I hated the way I look, the way I talk, the way I dress, I hated everything and anything and some more, but never, ever, EVER my job and the person I am once I close the office’s door behind my back.
Outside work I was a mental mess, weak, ugly, shy, insecure, with barely any self-esteem; at work, I transformed myself in a highly confident, strong, efficient, tireless, unstoppable Silvia, who can do whatever it’s requested and some more on the side.

My work has been instrumental in moulding the person I am today, and the reason is because I met amazing people who have coached me and helped me grow, both inside and outside the office.

I remember my first ever job as a guest assistant in Milan’s main business exhibition centre. For a shy person like me, who could barely look at people in the eye, let alone speak, it turned out to be a baptism of fire. Having said that, the buzz of wearing a uniform and be helpful made me feel on top of the world. When I stepped in my first office as a junior secretary aged 20, I was both terrified and fascinated at the same time. I got hired by this family-run company who traded in the production and supply of concrete materials for the building industry.
I knew absolutely shit nothing about it, and I was only supposed to be the pretty lady who opens the door of the show room to our customers, the one who brings the coffee to the boss and does very basic secretarial stuff (answering calls and emails, buying stationery and keeping everything tidy). My manager didn’t take long to see the potential I had and not only he gave me more and more responsibilities, but he also encouraged me to come up with my own ideas to improve things in the office: from re-arranging the showroom, to re-organising the way he kept track of all sales, together we revolutionised that small office and made it in a highly efficient one. My manager soon became my best friend and we had the greatest time ever. I loved working for that company to bits. Unfortunately, mismanagement and a though economic situation in Italy meant that the company had to cut costs, my office got sacrificed in the name of savings and I got made redundant.

I cried all my tears.

Thankfully I got hired pretty quickly by another company, this time a worldwide Certification Body (ever heard of 9001, 14001 and 18001 certifications? Me neither before that job). The best way to describe those two years is: hell on Earth. My manager was the most hideous, horrid and nasty piece of work I have ever encountered in my life. He hated me from day one, because I got hired by someone he hated (like it was my fault, right?) so in his eyes I was “the enemy”. Like I could have cared less to go at war with someone who pays my salary! He insulted and humiliated me very single day for whatever reason he could have thought of, whether work or non-work related. Anyway, this two years taught me a lot more than I’m happy to admit, and all for the wrong reasons: I became an ace at covering my back, at protecting myself against anything and everything thrown at me. I learned to mask my true feelings, to watch my back like a CIA spy, to solve any issue as soon as I became aware of them and before they landed on my manager’s desk, and to keep a straight, imperturbable face anytime I got yelled at (only to run and cry in the bathroom, or in my car). Gosh, I don’t wish that experience on my worst enemy. Two years of pure bullying. I prayed every day, whilst driving my car, to have an accident and end up in hospital for months. Thankfully it never happened.

My saving grace came when I decided that I had enough, and I wanted to change so badly that I was ready to go and work anywhere, for anyone, as long as I could get out of that shithole.
Every day, driving to my workplace, I could see the headquarters of this very famous American company. One day I told myself “why not checking their website. They must be hiring someone. Maybe I could send my CV there and then who knows, my commute would be parking there instead of here”

Me being me, I got all fired up, I started browsing their website and applying to every job I could without not even remotely caring about the actual location of it. Two days later I get an email back from the HR leader saying she was very interested in my profile and to give her a call to discuss the role and get to know each other. Her phone number started with 02, which is the same as Milan. AWESOME!
I call, and the number is not working.
Weird.
I check the email back. No, I typed the number correc… hold on a minute. I scroll the email to the bottom. I read her signature. I check her phone number. It is actually +4420something something.
Shit, it’s London.
Oh well, I’m sure that’s because this is a worldwide company, with offices all over the world, I bet they want to test my English level.
No. It didn’t take long before the HR leader asked me where in London am I living because the office was going to move from Mayfair to Hammersmith and she wanted to make sure my commute was not an issue…. And I had to tell her that actually, commute-wise, I had quite a journey since I lived in Italy! We liked each other though, and she told me she was coming to Italy for her holiday in the next couple of weeks and she would have loved to meet me.
We did, and it was love at first sight. However, I didn’t hear a single thing till a month after that meeting (and my hopes were already dead by then). She apologies profusely, asked me if I was still available and if so, if I was interested in relocating to London and join the company.
I think my heart stopped for what it felt like a lifetime.
I ran in my living room screaming like I was on fire. When I broke the news to my parents, my mum started crying and screaming “my baaaaaaabyyyyyyy going so far awaaaaay” (…..), whereas my dad tried to keep his cool and calm me down. I cried, I didn’t know what to do, but my dad talked me into accepting the offer and give it a go: a month, maybe six, at least a year…

8 years (and counting) later, I’m so grateful for having grabbed that awesome chance.

I moved to London as a young, fragile, ultra-shy girl, still traumatised from two years of bullying. I have been welcomed by a team of wonderful people, who took me under their wings and worked non-stop to re-build my self-esteem, to inspire me into trying new work1things to improve myself and, most importantly, they became my new family and they moulded me into this crazy, confident, no-shit taker and no fool suffering fierce woman. I remember the very first time my manager called me on stage after a two-days long convention I organised for him to praise me in front of a 100+ colleagues. As soon as everyone gave me a standing ovation, I burst into tears (and I’ve been inconsolable for a good half an hour afterwards!). I still cry whenever I get any gesture of appreciation. I’m a softie, what can I say!
When my mental health took a turn for the worse, it was my workplace who stepped in and saved me. I never told anyone what I was going through at the time, but the fact that I had things to do and people who trusted me to do them well turned out to be a massive help. Even though I felt more like wanting to (seriously) die than face my day, knowing that I was going somewhere safe and caring gave me that strength to get out of bed and keep going on.

I still work for that awesome American company, even though I had a three years stint at

xmas.jpg
Merry Xmas! Needles to say, my desk was the best

the BBC at some point. My office is made of crazy, funny, awesome people. We work really hard and we party even harder. I became famous for my acts of craziness. Everyone knows that when I go “I have an idea: how about….”, something totally bonkers is about to happen, like when I decided to not sleep one night to chat with my Chinese colleagues in order to get some documents one of colleagues desperately needed, or when at Christmas I started a “decorate your desk” challenge, and since very few decided to participate, I took the matter in my own hands and I wrapped every single desk like a Christmas present……
My boss is awesome. He is at the receiving end of my rants every Monday mornings. Seriously, he is a legend, and the team I work with is just fantastic, we love each other to bits and there is no better cure for my sadness than hanging out with them. The day I got dumped and I was unusually quiet, everyone rallied around me to cheer me up. Well, every time I’m too quiet they check on me, because it means that I’m either very sad or scheming something….

And when I’m plotting something, it is generally one thing: a proper prank.

nicholas
half-way through my prank

It started one day that a colleague pissed me off by not complying to my instructions, meaning that I ended up sorting a massive mess. I wanted to make him pay for what he did.
I made a mistake ordering stationery few days earlier and I found a way to sort that problem and avenge myself: I covered his desk in post-it.
I patiently peeled them one by one and covered the whole thing. Not a soul that day dared to stop me. I was mad! His face when he saw it the next day… PRICELESS!

Oh, the day the same colleague stole my spot at Wimbledon by convincing one of the managers to take him and not me!!! I was FURIOUS. I was hysterical. I slammed my fists at my desk and yelled “SHIT IS GOING DOWN TODAY!”.
I stormed to my colleague Marge’s desk, told her to get ready cause Wimbledon was coming to the office. She looked puzzled but let me get on with my madness.
It took me a good hour to get everything I needed whilst cursing and hissing, but in the need I turned his desk into a Wimbledon court. A work of art.

wimbly

wimbly1I’m still proud as fuck about it. It was so good that Marge and I went to Tesco, bought champagne, strawberries and cream (traditional of Wimbledon’s tournament) and had an office party there and then. We even sent the pictures to our colleague saying, “when we can’t come to Wimbledon, we make Wimbledon come to us”.

danielFor another colleague/friend who always had a massive breakfast at his desk every morning, I turned his desk into a breakfast heaven for his birthday. The look on his face when he saw it: his jaw dropped to the floor.

The very best? One of my managers resigned and I cried all my tears when he did. He is a Liverpool FC fan to the core, which I hated since my ex is a scouser and anything Liverpudlian makes me sick because of him. However, I loved my manager too much to let him go without a special present.
On the Monday of his last week, I printed everything I needed. Then, on the Tuesday, I woke up at 4am, got to the office at 5am, locked myself inside his office room and turned it into Anfield stadium, completed with football pitch with Chelsea FC (my team!) against Liverpool FC.

 


It was just magnificent.
He worked his remaining days without even moving a single picture because he loved it to bits.

To this day, I haven’t managed to make anything that special (yet), but something tells me I should start coming up with something soon….