It wasn’t an attempt to be listed on the Guinness World Records.
It didn’t involve any sort of competition or social media challenge, like – you know – these usually French individuals who live one year without palm oil and then tell Americans what it was like.
Neither am I talking about the people running marathons to support UK children’s hospitals like the one that killed terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard in 2017, or about those who make millions with an ebook about ebooks and then say that now that they’ve got a new Mac, they would never go back to a regular PC.
At the time, I didn’t even run this website.
I had no blog, no followers, no idea what domain authority meant.
I was living in Rome, and then in Brussels, and then in Paris, and then in London and in Madrid and in London again and then in Seville, and in Bromley with the rats, Rome, London, Rome, London with horror, Rome, London and then I lost count.
The idea behind this madness was that I would have moved around until I could find my dream job: I would have gone to the far end of the world to do what I wanted to do.
I had spent all of my life training and trying to be a journalist in a country that wouldn’t allow me, nor any of my peers, to do anything at all.
I come from a place where journalists are manifestly fed by politicians, industrialists and upper-class socialite families, a country where everyone considers working in the public sector a big deal.
In Southern Italy, this is often the only legal deal available.
I had spent my life becoming skilled at writing in a language that is spoken solely in my country – a country where you start a business only if your parents and grandparents already run one, where the best life perspective for a woman with writing skills, and even for a woman with no skills whatsoever but with the right piece of paper, is becoming a teacher for state-funded schools.
And this wasn’t only the case with journalism: my friends were architects, engineers, nurses, lawyers, museum workers, designers, researchers, doctors – and some even chose indeed to become teachers, but no one was welcome to stay in our own land.
They would all jump from unpaid internships to unpaid traineeships to work under the table for prestigious firms that would give them €500 per month off the books for 50-hour working weeks – under big promises to maybe, finally, possibly, eventually get a regular permanent contract someday – whose salary would be, in any case – subject to the employer’s opinion and mood since Italian labour law doesn’t even set a national minimum wage.
But no one would believe us outside the border.
No foreigner wants us to screw their dreamy Roman Holiday by telling them what life is really like in Italy, and they cannot be blamed.
Italians wear the finest clothes, drive the best cars, eat the most delicious food, play world-class football, have the Pope and the most beautiful places and monuments on the planet, and foreigners would hardly believe that the latest state education reform actually suppressed the Art History, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage option from all Arts High Schools in the country.
When I first landed in London I was aware of my level of English, and writing for UK papers was out of my league back then.
But my other intentions were way too vague, and you should never be vague when speaking to the British.
Within two months, I’d found a multilingual translation job in a blue-carpeted office with windows sealed with cement and Indians shouting at each other in Gujarati all the time.
For a year and a half, I’d spend my lunch breaks, evenings and weekends trying to find a way to get out of there.
Eventually, I quit and, at the same time, I thought that counting all the job interviews I’d had until then was going to be fun, so I worked out the figures.
I’d had one-hundred-twenty job interviews – most of them totally ridiculous – in ninety-nine companies in four countries in five years, competing for hundreds of jobs I didn’t give a darn about; this is why this website is called The Shortlisted.
American novelist E. W. Howe once said that a man will do more for his stubbornness than for his religion or his country, but Italians will move the mountains just to show their stupid compatriots who was right.
★ If you enjoyed this, you may also like our interviews with Giorgio Armani, Zucchero, Andrea Bocelli, Lina Wertmüller, Redi Hasa, Stefano Fasce, Federico Palmaroli, Nicolas Vaporidis and Vincenzo Salemme