Stop following your dreams and start setting goals

Solicited by AthensLive

Following a facebook post I wrote the other day, Tassos (co-founder of AthensLive) asked me to write an “inspirational” article and this is what I’m trying to do now. My biggest concern was that I may have nothing new to say or that some people may wonder who the fuck am I to give advice to the younger generation. Well, fuck them. Even if there is a kid out there who can see some hope after this piece, I’ll be happy.

So, I’m no different to the other thousands of Greek people who left their home country in the recent years. We were unemployed and we made the obvious choice, to get a job, anywhere we could. There was and there is no heroism in this. It was our choice, so complaining about it is just moronic. Whoever doesn’t enjoy the expat life should return to their home country. Otherwise, they should shut up and move on with their life.

I’m saying this because I used to be one of those who complain. My reason was that, as a Jack of all trades and master of none, I couldn’t get a well-paid job that I would enjoy. Well, I couldn’t even get a well-paid job that I wouldn’t enjoy. I was somewhat surprised by that. I don’t know whether it has anything to do with my Greek upbringing or me being a millennial, but I always thought that since I have a master’s degree, I should have a decent job. I had earned that privilege, right? Well, no. No one owes us anything. NO ONE OWES US ANYTHING. I learned this the hard way, by struggling to afford an enjoyable life in London on an NHS salary.

My biggest problem was that I had changed careers a few times. No one was ready to trust a 32-year-old guy who didn’t seem to know what he was doing, although I was very good at whatever I had chosen to do; and I’m not saying this in an arrogant way. When you don’t have a safety net, and you want food on the table and a roof above your head, you realise that you have to work hard. You have no other choice, so this is all I did.

Over the period of three years, I had sent over 200 job applications, I had attended 15-20 interviews, but I kept failing. The more I failed, the more depressed I became. All my friends were progressing with their careers and I was stuck. Well, maybe the UK is not for me, I thought after the Brexit vote. I started applying abroad, ready to relocate once more away from home, my second home now.

After a few months, I got a new job with Amazon. They were the only people who could appreciate my inquisitive nature. After all, Learn and Be Curious is one of Amazon’s leadership principles.

I had to leave London and although I thought I was ready, I wasn’t. I had to leave behind something very, very precious. That decision changed me. I wasn’t 26 years old anymore. Such decisions were and still are much more painful. But I felt I had to do it. So I did it.

In less than four months in Amazon, I have grown more than I had grown in the last 6 years. I love my job, I love that I learn something new everyday, I love that people treat me as a highly competent professional, even when I am skeptical about my own abilities. I love that I’m busy all the time because, when I’m not, I can’t but miss what I had to give up. 

Another leadership principle in Amazon is Bias for Action. If you want to do something and you’re hesitating, do it anyway. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Even if you fail, you can try again, in a different way. Without knowing, I abode by these principles all my life. I wanted to change my career path, I did it anyway. This is what I wanted, how could I not do it? Did I ever stop to consider whether I was taking the right decision? No. You can never know what the best decision is. Never. You follow a path and you go wherever it takes you. And then you either stay on it or follow a new one.

The decision I took at eighteen to study Psychology had a great impact on my life. Until a year ago, I thought it had defined me, as if it was a curse I couldn’t get rid of. In hindsight now, I know that it did not define me, but it did help me get where I am now. I could be in a totally different place, but I’m here, many random decision later, one of them being to study Psychology. It’s as simple as that. Or as complicated.

I am no believer in positivity crap like “follow your dreams”, “you can succeed in whatever you want” etc. Hell, no. Are you kidding me? Have your never seen talent shows? Wanting something doesn’t mean you are entitled to it. Neither that you can succeed in it. What you can do though is to work hard and be patient. You can be nice to people. You can stop complaining about things you can’t change. And you can remember that no one owes you anything. You want something? Fight for it, but be ready to live without it, even when you think you deserve it. Life is not fair. But you can be.

Why are we still bothering with motherland?

I’m under the impression that there are two attitudes towards Greeks living abroad: the outward looking one that considers Greeks living elsewhere can and have something to offer to Greece, and the inward looking one that believes that Greece does not need anymore those who left, the “quitters”. Read more

Meet Princess Saltwater and her Instagram novel

To be completely honest, I was unaware that Instagram novels were a thing. When I found out, I was intrigued, maybe because the first one I came across was Sophia Gatzionis’s “Princess Saltwater”. When you see her Instagram posts, you’ll know why.

I decided to approach her for a mini interview and here we are. Enjoy. Read more

The most british story I’ve ever heard

This is where the Ceremony ends. Our Yeoman Warder answers our questions in a stern, yet funny, manner.

Yesterday, I attended with some friends the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. It is the oldest ongoing ceremony in the world, carried out, without fail, for nearly 750 years.

The Ceremony lasts only for seven minutes, commencing at exactly 9.53 pm. Escorted by Foot Guards, the Chief Yeoman Warder (who must have served in the armed forces for more than 20 years) locks first the Middle Tower Gate (39) and then the Byward Tower Gate (38). Once locked, none of the gates can be opened from the outside, even if someone had acquired a set of the Keys. Read more

A literary stroll in Saint-Germain-des-Prés [Photos + map]

Somehow, I had never been to Paris; despite living in London for the past five years and being just two hours away by train. I finally made it two weeks ago, but only for a weekend.

I spent my Saturday sight-seeing, just to cross the main spots off my list, and decided to treat my Sunday as a free day. I already knew what I wanted to do: walk around Saint-Germain-des-Prés. For those who don’t know, it is the neighbourhood where many major writers used to live. Read more

Fahrenheit 451 is not the temperature at which books burn; but still…

According to author Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 is “the temperature at which book-paper catches fire, and burns”, but this is not quite right. “Several Internet contrarians claim that Bradbury confused Celsius and Fahrenheit, putting his estimate off by 391 Fahrenheit degrees. They cite as evidence the Handbook of Physical Testing of Paper, which lists paper’s ignition temperature as 450 degrees Celsius.” [1] Read more

The best Game of Thrones memes on Instagram

April is always a tough month for all of us who love Game of Thrones. We have been waiting already for 10 months and we’ve seen and read everything that is out there about the show.

However, there is always something that we haven’t seen before. For me, it was an Instagram account with 225 GoT memes that kept me up and laughing for about half an hour. Read more

Meet typewriter artist Robert Doerfler

I met Robert Doerfler on Instagram a few days ago when I posted a photo of my old typewriter.He “liked” it and, as I didn’t know him, I checked out his account only to find out that he is a typewriter artist, based in Germany. To be honest, I had never heard of this art before, but I spent a good amount of time meticulously looking at his pictures. Then, I decided to interview him. Read more

Brexit and Grexit: the tragicomedy of being Greek in the UK

I chose the word “tragicomedy” because it outlines pretty clearly the emotional, yet entertaining (in a perverted way), landslide for the 50,000 Greece-born professionals and workers residing in the UK.

This number is actually drawn from the 2011 Census. The real number must be even higher now, since Greeks have been emigrating by the tens of thousands in the last five years. Read more

Meet Garip Ay and the ancient art of ebru

Garip Ay and the ancient art of ebru [© Garip Ay]

For creative people with Mon-Fri day jobs, weekends are their only opportunity to unlock their mind and let inspiration in. In this weekend’s quest to find something exciting to drag my creativity away from the norms, I came across Garip Ay’s ebru art.  Read more

One of the most ancient tribes in the world is in great danger [Video]

The Jarawa are one of the indigenous people of the Andaman Islands in India and their population is estimated in between 250 and 400. They are considered the purest genetic stock of the earliest humans known to have inhabited these islands, as they migrated from Africa over 60,000 years ago. This makes them one of our few remaining living links to the ancestors of the human race. Read more

10 useful things for those who did not attend the London Book Fair 2016 – part 2

Big as it may look, this was only one of the halls at London Book Fair 2016.

When the whole of an amazing industry is coming together under the roof of Olympia London, it can be nothing but a pure inspirational pleasure to be around these exciting and creative people.

If you were not lucky enough to be in London for the Fair to attend the seminars and the talks, here are 10 things you may find useful: Read more

10 useful things for those who did not attend the London Book Fair 2016 – part 1

The bag I am using when I go book shopping

When the whole of an amazing industry is coming together under the roof of Olympia London, it can be nothing but a pure inspirational pleasure to be around these exciting and creative people.

If you were not lucky enough to be in London for the Fair to attend the seminars and the talks, here are 10 things you may find useful:

 

1) Characters and research

Read more

Bukowski’s “Girl on an escalator” turned into a short film

Bukowski is probably one the most abused poets on the internet. His verses are taken out of context and are quoted by people who can barely understand his capability to decompose the world. You should read Bukowski only after you have dropped your judgemental ignorance and embraced the beauty of raw talent. Read more

Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “I realized I wanted to be a writer and that nobody could stop me and that the only thing left for me to do was to try to be the best writer in the world.”

I still remember the moment I finished reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. It was an easy summer afternoon and I was feeling blown away. I could not move. I could not do anything apart from looking at the wall mesmerized. It was the best thing I had ever read.

When he died, on 17th April 2014, I felt like I had lost my grand master. At least I was lucky enough to have been born while he was still alive.

This is an interview he gave to Peter H. Stone in the late 70s. From time to time, I like to read it to draw some inspiration. I’ve only included some of my favourite parts, but you can read it in whole on The Paris Review.

Before the interview begins, Stone sets the scene:

García Márquez was sitting at his desk at the far end of the studio. He came to greet me, walking briskly with a light step. He is a solidly built man, only about five feet eight or nine in height, who looks like a good middleweight fighter—broad-chested, but perhaps a bit thin in the legs. He was dressed casually in corduroy slacks with a light turtleneck sweater and black leather boots. His hair is dark and curly brown and he wears a full mustache.

INTERVIEWER

How did you start writing? Read more

News is like porn

News is like porn: people don’t want to pay for it on the internet. This is a phrase from John Oliver’s piece on Native Advertising, which, according to Wikipedia, is a type of advertising, usually online but feasibly elsewhere, that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears.

In simple words, we are talking about ads camouflaged as regular content. This trend is probably fine for websites like Buzzfeed, the king of native advertising, but when it comes to free news outlets, we are talking about the final blow to editorial independence. Read more

How easy it is to vote in the UK

Translated by New Diaspora

Contrary to Greece, where you enter electoral rolls automatically when you become an adult, in the UK you have to register after you submit an application yourself. When I say application, I don’t mean an official statement, forms and constricting boxes, fees, protocols, etc.

All it takes is an online form, asking the basics (name, address, date of birth, email, etc), together with your National Insurance number and passport; if you are a British national. Otherwise, your citizenship.

Nothing else. Neither photos, nor signatures. Read more

Is Peace Nobel Prize Winner EU really deporting people who flee war?

Refugees being deported to Turkey. Photo: Anadolu Agency

Implementing the EU-Turkey deal, the greek government, in close collaboration with Frontex, have started deporting refugees back to Turkey, despite UN’s concerns.

It is a big and sad irony to see images like the one above. The European Union has failed to provide these people with the shelter they need and sends them back to Turkey, betraying its own words out of their Peace Nobel Prize acceptance speech back in 2012. Let’s remember a characteristic excerpt: Read more

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