by Sofia S. 09 Aug, 2017

Today, 9th of August 2017, marks ten years since the beginning of the financial crisis which had devastating effects in the life of thousands and thousands of people around the world and filled the pockets (even more) of a few privileged people.

Back in 2007 I was about to become a freshman at University as classes were about to start in a few weeks’ time. I was 23 years old, determined to give my absolute best, focused and motivated.

I went to University a bit later than most people do but life happened that way for me and that’s fine. What matters is that despite all the adversity, I went and I graduated.

In July 2007 I was partying hard in Ibiza with three of my friends and we had the best time together. Memories I will cherish forever. 

However, I don’t recall having heard anything about a financial crisis, all I knew was something about a Wall Street crash back in 1920-something and obviously, that subject was completely outside of my radar. Investments? Banks? Nah. Not a subject for me. It wasn't until Lehman Brothers collapsed that I remember the general panic and that things really started to look bad. Or maybe I was just not paying attention before.

I completed High School with a Diploma in Pottery and Ceramics. At University, studied Marketing, Advertising and PR because at 23 years old I finally decided I wanted to be a copywriter.

I wanted to be the person that writes ads and creates content; I wanted to surrender myself to my artistic vein, to allow for my creativity to fully blossom and develop. I had come to the conclusion that my path was an artistic one and it was time to embrace my future. I had it all figured out. Even when I got pregnant with my daughter during the second semester at Uni, I carried on.

I took a gap year (school year of 2008/2009) because birth was scheduled for December so I couldn’t attend the January exams relating to courses beginning in September. It was the wise thing to do.

When I returned to Uni for my second year (2009/2010) my motivation was stronger than ever. I now had the cutest tiny little human who would be looking up to me and to everything I’d do, she depended on me and it was my duty to ensure all her needs were taken care of. I started to do everything with her in mind and solely having her best interests at heart. And that’s when things changed.

Things were not good at home and that’s as far as I will go in relation to exposing that part of my life. The only thing I’ll say is this: the worst things got, the stronger my motivation to succeed would get.

As part of my course, I needed to attend a Business class. It was only one semester but that Professor gave us two separate classes so in some ways they were linked. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say I had two business classes the same semester.

A few lessons into the class and I felt like I had seen God. What on Earth had I been doing studying arts all my life because that was so not the right path for me.

I landed a job at a Bank shortly after that and from there on, I became determined to learn as much as I could on my own because switching courses to Business or Economics was not an option. I didn’t had the funds and didn’t want to feel like I’ve wasted two years of my life. Especially when I had to take into consideration that I went to Uni later than usual.

I did countless online courses on platforms like Coursera and some of them were so daunting and full of jargon – not to mention the fact they were all in English – so I actually had to repeat a few of them until I could grasp what they were on about.

I started reading the Financial Times so I could understand what was happening in the financial world. I took advantage of a few colleagues that were much more knowledgeable than me to ask questions and learn from them. I became an avid reader of a Portuguese Business newspaper and slowly things started to fall into place and words I had no idea what they meant before, I now recognized and understand them.

I did all of this while looking after a new born, whilst working and whilst attending University. Talk about will power. Looking back, I have no idea where I got the strength from but I did it nonetheless.

I have been working in this industry for nearly 10 years now. I have seen people come and people go. I am blessed to be able to work in an industry that I genuinely love. There is not a single day that goes like the previous one. Everything changes at an incredible pace and if you stop, you become obsolete.

Ten years on since the beginning of the financial crisis, have we learned anything?

I hope so. I see firms committed to give the example from the top; there is more regulation; there is more awareness.

Do I believe that it will happen again? Unfortunately yes but maybe not as the ones we’ve seen before. The financial services industry business is the money business and the goal is to make even more money using someone else’s money. It’s called an “investment” and it can go right or wrong. You risk what you can afford to lose.

The problem with that statement is that the majority of people that cannot afford to lose are usually the ones that end up losing everything even though they have never placed a penny in an investment.

It starts with a family member losing its job. Then, one bill gets left behind, then another and by the time you realise you’re receiving a letter from the Bank saying you’re facing your home is being repossessed.

It’s scary to witness how the financial crisis has long been forgotten by the industry and yet it’s the complete opposite for consumers. People  that ten years on, on a daily basis still worry about a new potential crash and what effect will it have – again – on their families and how will they cope.

It’s a cruel business the money business so I guess it’s totally legitimate for people to ask me why am I in it? How can I associate myself with such practices? The answer is simple. I genuinely believe I can make a difference. No matter how small. I believe in fairness and in righteousness. I believe in doing the right thing so I don’t mind being associated with such industry because if more of us believe in the same thing as me, maybe one day, thinking about a financial crisis where people are left to starve and homeless for no fault of their own will sound surreal and impossible.  

Thankfully, I know I'm not alone in this. I have met so many great people, so many professionals that are a tribute to this industry and profession.

I act in a way I know I will never have to bow my head in shame and in a way that it won’t disappoint my family and have their values judged by others due to my actions. I will never act in a way that will make Diana ashamed of being my daughter. I will always do what my heart tells me is the right thing to do. 

One can dream and, so far, all my dreams have come true.

Like I said. Motivation.

 

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Completely (un)logical brain and Gilmore Girls - Part 2

  • by Sofia S.
  • 19 Dec, 2016
Part II – The attempt to continue what I wanted to do in the first place.

A few months ago – even before I knew that a new season of GG was on the making – I started re-watching each and every single of the episodes since Season 1 all the way until the end of season 7. Non-stop.

I re-lived Rory’s life with Lorelai, re-lived how she had her breath taken away when she first saw Dean, how she fell in love with Jess but most importantly, I re-lived her life from her teenage years until she was in a young adult relationship with Logan at 21 or 22 years-old.  I re-lived all her story in the space of a few months. How things ended with Logan because she wasn’t ready to marry him after he proposed on the day of her graduation – guess you’re regretting it now, hey Rory?
 
I’ll do my best not to talk about that subject (the marriage subject) on the new season as it was the worst season ever but considering my best is pretty shit when it comes to this, I guess I will have to talk about it.
Seriously, Lorelai’s wedding with Luke? What the actual fuck was that all about? All that dancing – or whatever that was – looked like something out of Moulin Rouge. If I want to see a musical, I will see a musical. GG is not a musical. Have a word with yourself Amy Sherman-Palladino. You can’t just turn us all into huge fans of the show and after nearly 10 years later, give us this “A Year in the Life” and completely break us. It’s unacceptable!
 
There. I had my little rant. Now I can continue.
 
Whilst re-watching GG I couldn’t help of think about a real life situation and if Jess was a real person. I couldn’t help of think that Jess would be the type of kid I would be friends with. A troubled kid, smart but unfortunately with not a lot going for him, unlike Rory who had the “safety net” of her wealthy grandparents for when things would go wrong.

I grew up in a deprived area. Let’s face it. I loved growing up there but it was and still is a deprived area. A ghetto in the suburbs of Lisbon.
 
I won’t be talking about my childhood friends much. Simply because they are still my friends, I respect them, I carry them in my heart, I cherish them and the mistakes they made and choices they made although different from mine (sometimes) I have made some bad choices myself. I would never write anything that could even in the slightest be translated into me being ashamed of my origins or that I am better than anyone. I’m not. Where I grew up made me who I am. I wasn’t wealthy but I knew I wanted out and I wanted more. I hold on to that and here I am.
 
However, watching Jess with his baggy jeans like the ones my friends used to wear made me miss those days. The Summer days and nights spent with my friends in a small ciment park with a single tree was our safe area. In a time where there were no mobile phones but we all knew that after dinner at 9pm we’d all be out again and we knew exactly where to meet. And we wouldn’t make a move until the last one of us was there so we could all make a move together.

I can’t help of think about my friends who had so much potential but not many chances because of where they were. Teachers wouldn’t put the extra effort on someone they knew would be a school dropout at the age of 15 because they had to work and help their parents put food on the table. The educational system wasn’t designed to deal with cases like that and the political establishment wouldn’t care. In all fairness, I don’t believe much has changed.
 
I decided to leave the ghetto middle school and head to Lisbon for secondary school when I was 15. My Mum was supportive of my decision to go an Art school where my Dad had been a student himself. She was supportive of my decision of having to wake up at 5:30am every day and leave the house at 6:30am so I could be on time for the 8:00am classes.
She used to say she was preparing me for the world and therefore she wasn’t always on top of me trying to find out what I was doing because she would trust me and my judgment to do the right thing and stay out of trouble. She said she was preparing me for the event if ever found myself alone in the world and having no one to count on. And if that was ever to happen, I would be ok on my own. A mother’s heart knows. And she somehow knew that 15 years later I would be on my own entering a plane on my way to a new country only with a suitcase. She raised me to be an independent and fearless woman. And I am. Thanks Mum.
 
I graduated high school after failing on year 11 (too much partying, too much booze, too much of everything really but hey, fun times) when I was 19 years old but I didn’t go to Uni until I was 23.
 
Every day I try to count my blessings but I can’t help of feel certain nostalgia when I remember those days.
 
Where we could all just be kids.
 
All the problems in the world, all the shit our parents gave us and our circumstances faded away when we were together. How we all supported each other. How not having a pair of Levi’s jeans didn’t matter because we all knew our parents couldn’t afford it. On the occasion of some of us having something that was trendy, cool and with a recognised brand in it, we weren’t looked with jealousy. We knew it was a treat. I personally remember asking my Mum for Levi’s jeans and Airwalk boots. My Mum would always say “I can’t afford it this month. Let me save money for a while and we’ll buy them when we can.” And she always did. My Mum would stop buying something for herself or for the house and do whatever financial gymnastics she did with her budget to give me what I wanted but not necessarily needed; Useless things that could be easily replaced for something equally good and cheaper but with a different logo.
 
I think that maybe I’m bored because I feel nostalgic. Or maybe bored is the wrong word, maybe is just the routine. When you’re younger you have the world at your feet and you are told you can do whatever you want. I’ve always believed in that despite knowing it’s not necessarily true. Not where I come from anyway; but that feeling of being young and having a whole life ahead of you and having a million different options is pretty cool. When you’re an adult, you’ve made your choice already and society expects for you to fulfil your duties as a citizen. You need to do your part. What do you mean being happy and accomplished is not important? What do you mean I can’t change my career path because I’m 35, 36, 40 or even 50? “You need to do your part”, you’re told. Be an exemplary citizen so you can be respected.
 
Maybe that’s why I signed up for classical piano lessons.

It wasn’t random. I had piano lessons when I was little girl as my Mum believed that musical education is an important part of a child’s development. After a while I wanted a violin but that was too expensive so I decided to do sports instead. Ballet, swimming, karate, aerobics… You name it and I’ve probably done them. I was kept busy and given the chance to experiment what I wanted to try and find my way.
 
I’m trying to go back to that place of having a million options ahead of me. Not because I’m unhappy at work, I genuinely do love my job, but it’s the option factor. Having options available is good.
 
I think when you have options you are happier. Because you know that you are where you are out of free will and nothing else.
When you have options closing down on you, you feel pushed against a wall and what was initially your choice becomes a burden.
I wonder if that’s how married people feel. There I go deviating again. Nope. Ain’t happening! I’m not talking about marriage. Oh no sir!
 
I have my piano lessons now and in February I’m going back training. I have a new website for the blog which kept me busy and entertained for a while and I’m flying back home in less than a week.
 
I have options. I’m just stuck in my routine and nostalgic. And I don’t want to end up owing an Inn with my best friend, who I absolutely love and find out I’m close to being bankrupt.
 
Or maybe I'm feeling like this because my period is approaching. I’d probably bet on that, I’m feeling a bit emotional. Man, being a woman suck! Oh ok. Definitely emotional.
 
Doesn’t mean is not true.

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