Life is that thing that starts with the “B”, followed by an “I”, which stands before the “T”, ending with an annoying sound that we like to communicate with the letters “C” and “H”.

Life is that thing that can tear your soul apart without mercy, leaving you to walk hundred miles with bare feet on rough paths.

See, life is beautiful, but without the struggle we go and grow through, we can’t appreciate it.

I could tell you about how amazing University is and how I’m getting to know great people I never thought I could even get close to. Or maybe I could let you know about how extraordinary it is to have jobs that pay me to do exactly what I love: mentoring young ones like me and being around people. Again, I could tell you about how liberating it is to be able to think and have fun, without constantly thinking about my balance in my bank account.

But I won’t.

I won’t tell you how many blessings I have, how lucky I am to have a father that provides when I’m in need so the well is never dry. I won’t tell you how it feels to be loved my someone I think I don’t even deserve to be loved by, and how immense is the project I’ve been sent to fulfill; I won’t, because you won’t cherish it. You won’t understand where I’m coming from, because without the struggle, the victory is meaningless; or as someone likes to put it, no pain no gain. I’ve not won yet, I do not have the trophy, but I am walking towards it and I will tell you, this is the victory: the ability to see, understand, receive, give, forgive, forget and walk in the light!

So I’m going to tell you about my struggle, about when I didn’t have a job, about when I failed my exams and lost five University places and how I found out that life is beautiful, even with all its flaws.

A year and half ago, I graduated from Secondary school and, as a kid who had a vision for the future, I decided to apply for university. Unexpectedly I failed to achieve the grades I needed to get into university, losing five places. I had plans, flawless plans to study abroad, away from family and friends, away in order to start the “adult life” my own way. [This was not the original plan, but when I actually realised I could do it, I got excited!]. It seemed so real but then it all disappeared.

I spent days and months applying for other universities, but no one wanted to give me the chance to show what I had.

With hard work and restless effort, during the first week of September, three weeks before start of term, I got a place.

God willing, my parents were on board and so the new life started.

My first year of university was not how I expected it to be. It was hard, a struggle. It was hard not because of the course I was reading, but because of the social and cultural environment I was living in. It was my very first time living away from home, in a different country, speaking a different language… even the driving side of the road was different!

What was I expecting?

I come from a working class family, a family where we have to work hard to get bread and milk for breakfast; a family where my father is the only worker, not because mum wants to be “the housewife”, but because there wasn’t any job that she could do, there weren’t jobs!

By deciding to come abroad to study, I took the implicit decision to earn the coins to buy my bread and milk!

I spent a year working a month or two, two or maybe three time a week, with a weekly wage that couldn’t buy even one book for my course.

When the end of the month was approaching, it was a constant battle to stay strong within and carry my worries to the finance office of my university to tell them that I needed more time to pay my rent. When friends were going out to have a good night, I would stay in my room to count how many coins I have left in my account and how much I can spend to do my laundry.

I fell into depression and sadness overcame my soul.

What was I expecting?

The words of my mother saved me whenever I was about to fall down and to give up.

Life was not going the way I wanted it to go, how I planned it!

So I remembered the words of Bishop TD Jakes:

Now, understand that delayed does not mean denied, and just because you have to wait for it doesn’t mean that it isn’t coming.[1]

I stopped stressing and being overwhelmed by what I couldn’t change and, instead, I decided to change what I had the power to change. I was determined not to quit but to get my life back and, to do so, I had to make some adjustments. I wasn’t adjusting my goal or the vision I had for my life; I was changing the steps to reach that goal, because it was possible and I am not the kind of person that quit without trying or take a no for answer.

Life is a weird one and sometimes it’s more useful and productive to accept what seems that cannot be changed, and work on what it can be changed, and from there figure out the steps to make the impossible possible, rather than to fight oneself!

I decided to change city, therefore university, so I could find what I was longing for [and this is another story].

I applied to my current University, and God willing, after months of waiting to get my grades right, I got the place confirmed. [It is one of the five.]

After the summer I moved to this new city and, as ever, I started to apply for jobs. I had two weeks to make it happen, two weeks to decide what to do with myself. I applied for about 75 jobs and I got shortlisted for two; I went around with my CV, full of all the jobs I had done since I was legally allowed to work, begging managers to interview me, telling them how amazing, impeccable and hardworking I am, but they did not care.

Something was wrong, I had to adjust the steps!

I took my CV and, with the help of my precious housemate, we edited it, reducing three pages of CV into one. We made it essential, straightforward!

I started applying again with the new CV, I went into a shop where I had been the previous week and I gave them the CV once again. The day after I got a call for an interview and two days later I was working for them.

Thirteen days after moving to my new city, I was working; I was working in a place I have always wanted to be.

Life was being good to me again and I got time to think about how beautiful it is to be here, living it the way it is meant to be, with all its flaws and drama.

What was I expecting?

I was waiting for the life I wanted to happen to me, ignoring the fact that I was the one that had to create it. It was about struggling, realising, changing and living.

[1] Jakes T.D.,  Reposition Yourself: Living Life Without Limits (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008)