DISCLAIMER: I am really grateful and consider myself to be privileged enough to have a house, food and anything I needed and more. What you will find below is my story on my struggles. I don’t consider myself better or worse than anyone for my experiences.
As with anything in life… Take what helps you and leave the rest 🙂
In case you don’t know me, my name is Marta RV, I’m 28 years old and this is my story.
I was born in Almería, at the south of Spain, but was raised in the Canary Islands. From a very young age, I’ve had to adapt to change, constantly. At 2 or 3, I moved from Almería to Zaragoza (north of Spain), where my brother was born. Then, at 6 or so to the Canary Islands. The reason for this is that my father is a pilot, so initially he was in the army, and then started working for a commercial airplane company, landing all of us in the Canary Islands.
Even though the people from the Canary Islands have a very distinct accent and some different words to where I was from, school was alright… They included me and felt at “home”. That was until I was about 12, when I was bullied. The girls in my school had started to wear make up and skirts while I was just not that into it. I was called “nerd”, “ugly”, “boring”, a “freak”… I think I’ve blocked quite a few things that happened that year… I just remember constantly feeling like people were talking shit about me behind my back. It got so bad that my parents asked me if I wanted to move schools.
I said yes, and there was a religious, only girls school really close to my house. My mum was a kindergarten English teacher there. I went to a summer camp with a religious group where I met some of my classmates. I had fun and got to understand just how religious these people were (and are). I was so nervous on my first day I threw up before my breakfast and sweated the whole three minutes that took me to get to class.
At first it was alright… I was the new girl, as expected. Academically it was a lot harder, so I became focused on my studies. In my free time, I would read books and listen to music. A way of escapism, I suppose. Because I did not talk much, was shy and did not open up, some of the girls thought that I was the one leaking “secrets” to the teachers. So the bullying started again. I’ve also blocked some of this period of my life. It was actually another girl whose mum was the Math’s teacher the one telling the teachers what we were up to. I was very close friends with this girl until I decided to chill on the religious part. She turned my back on me, as did as some of the teachers and lowered my grades.
After I graduated, I moved to Madrid to study at university. I have family in Madrid, but I stayed in a student residence and met amazing people. Maybe, because I did not have anyone who knew me, I started to be more comfortable with showing up as who I really wanted to be. At uni, we were told that if we wanted to do the Erasmus programme, we would have to go the next year. So I went to France for 4 months and then back to Madrid.
At uni, I had a small group of friends, but in the last years, it expanded. I became depressed and did not want to get up of bed. I missed as many classes as I possibly could without failing the subject, I did not leave the house unless necessary… I’m not proud to write this, but I even thought of suicide. At that point, I decided to ask for help and went to a psychologist. I had not process all the bullying experiences, so it had all built up.
After graduation, I moved to London to do a Masters in what I had studied. Now, in a city where nobody knows you and you are speaking a different language… It may have felt overwhelming, but initially I just felt so free. I felt I could be and do whatever I wanted. However, when I finished the masters I only found unpaid internships (modern slavery, if you ask me…) I.e. office jobs. Which turned out I hated. I normally don’t use this word, but I was literally crying from my house to the internship and back. I was playing with the idea of suicide again, but just then, my family was going through a lot (story for another course), so I couldn’t do that to them.
I went back to therapy and it definitely helped… for the practical stuff anyway. At that time, I felt stuck, because I wanted to stay in London, but did not want to get a job in what I studied. If I did not get a job in what I studied… why did I study all those years for? And if I wanted to stay in London I had to be paid, couldn’t live off my parents forever, could I?!
So… I got a random job in a restaurant and to my surprise I fell in love with hospitality. I felt like I was finally in control of my life. I was lucky enough that I worked with amazing humans that I consider today family. Everyday I worked with them I felt I was in a summer camp where you get along with everyone and you joked around constantly and just have fun. I was getting paid (enough for my needs at that time) and I was still in London.
Most importantly: I was happy and I was free to be myself.
You would think that after such a positive change in my life people would be supportive. Spoiler alert: No, they were not. My family thought that it was “such a waste” that I did not work in what I had studied. Some friends were like “well… that’s good for now…”. Others were comparing their office job to mine.