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Copenhagen Business School

You know how you always hear about those success stories?

Valeria Laura Rigo. (Photo: Natalia Rigo)

The people who had to go through a hard struggle to get something they really desired, but even if it was super hard, they ended up getting it anyway?

Or those Instagram posts encouraging you to chase your dreams because you’ll definitely achieve them? I even have a painting in my room that reads: “If you can dream it, you can do it”. Well… I’m not so sure that’s true anymore.

Let me tell you my story: the story of a very anxious, overachieving wannabe, with too many dreams and too little time (I’m 21, but I feel old).

My therapists say I try to compensate the crappy childhood I had in high school, where bullying was as normal to me as books, with the wish to become ‘someone important’ in the future. What’s meant by ‘someone important’? I, too, have no idea. But in my mind, the person I’m trying to become is one of those people who you see and think, “Wow, I wish I was like that”.

Let me tell you my story: the story of a very anxious, overachieving wannabe, with too many dreams and too little time

So, I give it my all in every situation. I’m the workaholic that responds to work emails at 2am. The student who cringes at the thought of not graduating with honors. I even give my all in my relationships and my hobbies. I recently broke my shoulder in a sports competition and I continued competing as if nothing had happened.

So now, when looking for a job after spending a semester abroad, I’m not just looking for any job, I want the best one I can find.

Last week, I had a job interview at a very important consulting firm. I passed the extremely difficult exam, which they use as the first filter (where you have to do maths without a calculator like it’s the 15th century, and the questions are so tricky that you want to burn the paper), and my whole attention had been centered on that interview, every single day for the past two months. I’d done all the work that I could: studied, attended the courses the company provided, done extensive research, and even stalked the interviewers on social media.

That interview, to me, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was the chance to get the job of my dreams, the prestigious job I’d always longed for, to show myself and everyone else that I was good enough. It was the ending to the story that made sense, the “I made all the effort… and I made it happen”.

God, if you give me this job, I’ll cut all my hair off

The stress of those two months was unbearable: I stopped eating, cried at every single thing, tried to be the nicest person on earth to ‘get good karma’, and even made one of those promises desperate people make to religious symbols, “God, if you give me this job, I’ll cut all my hair off”. I often woke up in the middle of the night thinking that I could not ruin this. There was only one way it could go, and it had to be successful. Everyone was rooting for me, and I imagined how happy I would be when I got it.

The day of the interview came. And despite everything… I ruined it. I was nervous and sloppy. I completely forgot how to do math. I tried my best, but my best wasn’t enough. I keep replaying the whole thing in my head every night when I go to sleep, like a sort of horror movie that I can’t stop watching.

This is actually the first time I’ve talked about the subject with anyone, because my family and friends (who, if I have to be honest, I feel like I’ve completely let down) have decided to act as if nothing has happened.

I also have to be honest here: I still haven’t received the feedback from the interview. So if miracles are real, there could be a chance I get the job anyway. But if I’m being realistic, I know that it’s not likely to happen.

And I know you must be thinking, “Hey, it’s just one job. You’ll get something else”. But the idea of seeing this situation happen over and over again terrifies me, as if I will ruin every opportunity I get. There’s also a reason why they’re called ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunities. What if I never get close to achieving my dreams again?

“What if you just don’t make it?” We never hear the stories of those who ‘ruined’ their opportunities

I try to feel better by thinking that maybe this wasn’t for me. Maybe wanting to be ‘an important person’ is not necessarily the best thing that can happen to me. But I also hate the thought of settling for something other than what I want. I know I’m talking like a stubborn toddler who only wants the most expensive toy and nothing else, and maybe that’s what I am right now. But having put in all the effort and getting nothing back just breaks my heart.

Being young, full of dreams and desires, and having no idea of how you’ll make them all happen is one hell of a nightmare. There’s always a background voice in my head saying, “What if you just don’t make it?” We never hear the stories of those who ‘ruined’ their opportunities.

I have no idea what my future looks like, and regardless of what happens, I know I’ll keep on giving my all. But I truly hope the efforts are enough: Maybe I won’t be an ‘important person’, but I definitely want to be a happy one. And let’s hope one day, when I’m older, this is just another funny anecdote that I can tell my children.


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