I’m writing an article about my father for a prestigious historical publication, and I have to check many facts about WWII and what happened during the Cold War to quote them accurately. This is how it looks my desk this morning: Full of books and papers.
Many years ago, in the early nineties, my boss sent me to Eastern Germany for a week to visit an engine factory which was producing pieces for a car manufacturer of my community.
The reunification of Germany was very recent. And the big western firms had just landed there occupying the old factories they had lost when the country was divided after the WWII. The firm I was going to visit had just installed the new state-of-the-art chain of production inside the old building and had trained the workers to start the production immediately. Finally, little by little they were repairing the building.
It was really interesting to see How they were doing the transition from the communist way of working to the Western way. Very efficient. The main problem, they explain us, was that the big communist factories that had given jobs for thousands and thousands of workers with obsolete systems, now could improve the production with only the 30% of the workers, so the unemployment was high those years.
Our hosts booked for us rooms at a hotel near Trier, the home town of Karl Marx. It’s an area were there are almost no catholics. But we were going to be there in Sunday and I wanted to go to Mass. A young man who was our driver, promised me he would do everything possible to find me a church.
On Sunday, very early in the morning he came to pick me up, and drove me for half an hour to a place were there was a regular one-story house, very old in appearance, all outside covered by dark grey concrete, that seemed a family house instead of a church.
I had no inkling on what was going to find inside. The door was open, so I went in and the first thing I saw was an enormous organ with a man playing Bach beautifully and a space with the walls covered with child’s drawings, and like ten or twelve pews full of people in front of an altar.
I know no German, but I was deeply moved by the celebration because of the faith and the sense of community I could feel in those people. When we finished I had to wait for my driver . And I could see that the mass goers were looking at me quizzically. A woman left the group and approached me. She could speak a little English, and she asked me if I was going to stay with them, because the community wanted to welcome me. I explained to her that I was a Journalist and I was going to left next day and she seemed disappointed.
She explained me that they were a little community but very active, with a little Sunday school. That they were there for me in whatever I could need. I certainly felt welcomed and part of a community in which I only partook one Sunday, thanks to my kind driver.
When I was a student, long time ago, I worked for a year in the reception desk of my dorm and had to handle the incoming phone calls. There were no such things as cell phones, so my job was to search and find the student who had got a call and pass her the right line. Once, my dad phoned me. I automatically put him on hold and I began to look for me in the building! I only realized what I was doing when someone answered to the line of the floor where I had my room, and I began to ask: have you seen Olga…? That was me asking for myself! I had totally misplaced myself. When I finally answered to the call of my dad, he asked me what had happened. Why had he been on hold for so long. I told him the story of my incredible distraction and we had a good laugh
Fill in the blank: “Life is too short to _____.” Now, write a post telling us how you’ve come to that conclusion.
Life is too short to live it too fast.
Our society pushes us to do many things in a short time and live in a constant rush, so we can lost sight of the important things in life.
I have worked for thirty years intensely, without schedules, with a lot of stress, thinking I was doing the right thing, untill I suddenly found myself in my fifties, sick and exhausted having lost important moments with my family. It was like awakening from a long dream.
I don’t regret of my entire professional life, but I certainly would like it would’ve been less intense, with more time to dedicate to my family and the things that are important to me. Now there is no way back. I lived too fast. And life is too short. Those years of youth with my family are gone. I have to take advantage of the present moment and the years to come to enjoy life with my loved ones at a slower pace.
Are you full of confidence or have you ever suffered from Imposter Syndrome? Tell us all about it.
I know I’m not an impostor, because I’ve never tried to deceive a single person with my actions or with my work. But I’m not full of confidence in myself. I’m full of doubts about the worth of what I’m doing while I’m working. But when I finish I usually think it was worth it.
I have never heard before about the Imposter Syndrome. But I don’t think it is what happened to me. Simply I had people around me who contributed to erode my confidence. I don’t know if they did it in purpose. I would like to think not. But I know they succeeded.
Because of the nature of my job I had to act confident and I did, but I felt insecure in the inside. Which was bad for me, because I suffered, but no so bad for my job, because I became almost paranoid to check and recheck countless times the facts until I was completely sure before publishing my reports, so I ended being known as an accurate journalist in my community, despite those negative voices around me.
Insecurity pursued me all my life after those difficult years.
Tell us about the time you threw down the gauntlet and drew the proverbial line in the sand by giving someone an ultimatum. If you’ve never handed out an ultimatum but secretly wanted to, describe the scene and what you would say to put an end (one way or another) to an untenable situation.
I’d been investigating a political corruption scandal. An exhausting job. I had to endure a lot of pressures and spend endless hours looking for information and evidences. But my bosses at the newsroom didn’t allow me to devote myself full-time to that, and kept asking me to do reports about other topics on top of it. I was really tired. One day when all the political scandal was public, two of the politicians involved already in jail, and I was still investigating about other possible culprits, my boss asked me to do for the next day a report and an interview not related with the matter. I told him clearly: “I can’t do all at the same time. I’m exhausted. If I do all that you’re asking to me I don’t know If I’ll resist any more.” He thought I was exaggerating and refused to negotiate. I obeyed. I didn’t want to lose my job.
But the facts proved that I was right. And that it was too late. I collapsed that day. I finished writing and I couldn’t move a muscle any more. I was unable to speak, to think, to decide the next step to take. I was dizzy, short of breath, crying, paralysed. Next day I was in a hospital diagnosed with a deep depression. I should have said “no” long time before that awful day, but I didn’t realise how serious my situation was. I was too focused in my work, in my investigation, in publishing my exclusive news. And everybody kept telling me I was exaggerating, that everybody get tired in a job like mine. I was a little tired, that was all. Now I know that when I get aware of my extremely tiredness I waited too much to speak clearly with my boss. It was a terrible mistake. I did draw a line in the sand. But it was useless. And it was too late.