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You did your best. So what?

Piero Fassino, Italian left-wing politician, doing his best

When you deal with kids the most common thing you’re likely to tell them after ‘you’re beautiful’ is ‘well done’. Whether they actually have done something well doesn’t really matter, it’s just automatic. This is the kind of school I’ve attended. Teachers often trying to understand, levelling lessons to our mediocrity, appreciating our efforts. It’s all about this in western countries: the efforts. We’re all special, we all have limits, problems, flaws, we always do our best, every effort must be praised. We keep saying ‘I did my best’, but is it really true? And even if it is, what if it isn’t still enough?

When I was a student in Italy, English was among my favourite subjects and my marks were astounding. One month before leaving for the UK, I committed to watching two hours of English movies/TV series without any subtitles every day and I kept doing this once in the UK. I gradually added a pronunciation book, a grammar book and flashcards for vocabulary. But I couldn’t even manage to understand Vodafone canned spiel to top up my phone. After months living and working in the UK I was still struggling to understand a whole sentence pronounced by a British person. Everybody praised my “exaggerate dedication”, but my incredible efforts didn’t correspond to any tangible outcome for a long time. This is a lesson I’ve learned through the years: in real world, nobody cares if you did your best still achieving nothing. Nobody can prevent you from failing even if you did your best. And if you never fail you’ll be always convinced that the best you did equals the best possible version of yourself.

{note: this blog post was originally published in 2015}

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