Valentina Ambrogio — professional English to Italian Translator, Localiser and Subtitler

4 Lessons I Have Learnt from Bad Experiences

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4 Lessons I Have Learnt from Bad Experiences

Posted by Valentina Ambrogio in Rockstar Translations 07 Apr 2016

After a brief hiatus, The Translation Cauldron is slowly waking up again. I decided to write this post last night. Just as I was crawling into my bed, I received an email notification informing me that “my results have not qualified to join [this company’s] team.” This got me thinking about how my reactions to this sort of bad (?) news – and to life and work in general – have changed completely over the years.

So these are the 4 life lessons I have learnt from bad experiences:

1. It’s OK to hit rock bottom

After my grandpa passed away last August, I finally turned my life around. Silly matters didn’t deserve my attention at that point. Everything gained a different perspective. It’s when you feel like all is lost that you can actually find the strength to get back on your feet and fight. If you have nothing to lose, then you have everything to gain. And when you do get your life back, you realise that annoying bosses, bitchy neighbours, awful family members, you name it, are no longer worth your time and effort.

You lose: toxic people.
You gain: peace of mind. You worry less about meaningless stuff.

2. It’s OK to be stuck in a job you hate (for a while)

Scenario: you are offered a job that seems perfect for you. You are excited and feel blessed. You go to work every day. But things slowly start to change. What seemed the best opportunity for you turned into a crappy job which makes you feel miserable. But months of bad moods and gastritis can actually lead to something good. Being trapped in a job you hate is not healthy but, and I speak from experience here, sometimes doing something you hate can actually help you define what you want to do with your life. In that moment you are ready to take that terrifying leap of faith and never look back.

You lose: a job you hate.
You gain: the confidence to pursue your dreams.

3. It’s OK to fail

Failing doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not good at what you do. Think about translation tests. Regardless of your personal opinion, many translators do take them – me included – and the results may affect how they see themselves as professionals. Over the years I have learned not to think less of myself when I do not qualify to join certain language teams. Maybe the day I took the test my mind was elsewhere. Maybe the evaluator’s mind was elsewhere. Maybe the evaluator prefers a word-for-word translation, instead your approach is more creative and values meaning over single words. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Reasons may vary. Just don’t let one person’s opinion bring you down.

You lose: possibly time.
You gain: a different point of view.

4. It’s OK to be the weird one in the room

Too many times people have tried to make me feel uncomfortable because they thought I didn’t fit in and I didn’t even try. We’ve all been there. Be quirky and silly. Be original. Be boring.  Just be yourself. Love yourself. Be the professional YOU want to be. Think outside the box or inside the box. Don’t let other people’s expectations or fears influence your choices. You know best. You choose. Be extraordinary. Love the ordinary.

You lose: again, toxic people.
You gain: a happy life.

Sometimes it takes a bad fall to find your own resilience. Bad experiences can shift your focus on what really matters for you.

Is there any life lesson you would like to share? Leave a comment in the box below. I would love to hear from you!

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  • Laurie Jude April 8, 2016 at 1:48 pm / Reply

    That’s a touching post… I totally agree with everything you say in it. As we can’t all be 100% productive and have the upper-hand the 365 days of the year, you definitely have to make the most of bad experiences… That’s a good human approach and what can seem like a failure at first can be converted in your momentum once you hit the bottom and want to keep going and get better as a person. Your posts are always so inspiring, thank you for being so real and honest!

    • Valentina Ambrogio April 8, 2016 at 1:52 pm / Reply

      Thank you very much for reading my blog in the first place :) I think that being honest and not giving the false impression that we are supposed to be always happy and smiling is very important. If that was the case, I would have serious problems! I am a moody person and it’s ok :) Sometimes we just need a shift of perspective, and if that happens after rough times, it’s ok.

  • Caroline Alberoni April 12, 2016 at 1:03 pm / Reply

    Loved your post, Vale!
    On your point #1, that’s it: when you have real problems to deal with you start acknowledging what is worth our attention and time and what is not.
    I have always believed bad experiences teach us a lot. I’ve had a few myself and I’m grateful for them. People ask if I regret doing this or that, and I say I don’t, because if I hadn’t gone through it, I wouldn’t have learned and wouldn’t be the person I am today.
    I was talking to a dear friend this weekend, about relationships. You know, I had a boyfriend for about 4 years a while ago. It was an intensive and unhealthy relationship. So this friend told me: “If you hadn’t had this experience, you probably wouldn’t be this successful determined woman you are today.”
    Thanks for sharing your life learnings with us, Vale!

    • Valentina Ambrogio April 12, 2016 at 1:13 pm / Reply

      Thank you so much for your comment, Carol!

      Yes, when we’re actually going through rough times, we tend to wonder why that is happening to us. But yes, once all is over you realise that hadn’t you endured those times, you wouldn’t be the person you are today.

      I happened to have an unhealthy relationship as well. I have regrets of course, but the happy ending is that now I am in an 8-year healthy relationship, because I have learnt a lot about people back then and about myself.

      The death of a close relative/friend changes the way you weigh the importance of situations. In fact I say that my grandpa actually “saved” me and got me back on track :) I see it as my last gift from him!

      Thank you a lot for sharing a bit of your story with me, C. <3

  • Katarina Andersson April 27, 2016 at 5:09 pm / Reply

    A good article, and exactly one should not care about the result of translation tests. They all also depend on the opinion of the revisor or proofreader who often is another translator already working for the company. And why would this translator be so much better than you? Of course, he/she could be. But he/she could also have another style and simply ot agree with your way of doing the job.;-) And, as you say, if you never try and fail, you never learn new things and move on.:-)

    • Valentina Ambrogio April 27, 2016 at 5:15 pm / Reply

      Thank you, Katarina :)

      We grew up in school where our ultimate goal was achieving top scores in our tests, so it’s hard to leave that behind now that we’re not students. Mind you, I have learnt it the hard way that I shouldn’t care too much about failed tests, but I am happy I’ve come to realise that they should not influence the way I see myself.

  • Elisabetta May 4, 2016 at 2:13 pm / Reply

    A very intesting and useful article. It is definitely the that we can learn so much from negative experiences. We all had negatives experiences, also professionally, and this may be due to inexperience, fair or many other reason. Sharing such experiences and turn them into a lesson learned in crucial.

    • Valentina Ambrogio May 4, 2016 at 2:16 pm / Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Elisabetta!

      I just think that nobody is always successful in their life and that what we see on social media is not the real representation of it. We are human beings and we may fall sometimes :) and there’s nothing wrong with that! We just need to get up and learn and be stronger than ever before.

  • Chiara May 4, 2016 at 2:38 pm / Reply

    Life is not easy but this post teaches how to shift focus and accept bad experiences, thanks Valentina for sharing yours with us!!

    • Valentina Ambrogio May 4, 2016 at 2:42 pm / Reply

      As I was saying to Elisabetta, sometimes we’re pushed to think that we always have to be perfect and happy and all that. But it’s just unthinkable, IMO. Social media play a huge role in that and being true to others may actually lower some pressure :) Thanks for your comment!

  • Tuiran June 30, 2016 at 10:20 pm / Reply

    It is always good to understand ourselves (and the world) better. I had many difficult situations in my live, like being hate by nazis in Germany (I am from Brazil and was living there). I learned a lot with my mistakes and will keep learning (nice post by the way).

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