by Sofia S. 09 Aug, 2017

Today, 9th of August 2017, marks ten years since the beginning of the financial crisis which had devastating effects in the life of thousands and thousands of people around the world and filled the pockets (even more) of a few privileged people.

Back in 2007 I was about to become a freshman at University as classes were about to start in a few weeks’ time. I was 23 years old, determined to give my absolute best, focused and motivated.

I went to University a bit later than most people do but life happened that way for me and that’s fine. What matters is that despite all the adversity, I went and I graduated.

In July 2007 I was partying hard in Ibiza with three of my friends and we had the best time together. Memories I will cherish forever. 

However, I don’t recall having heard anything about a financial crisis, all I knew was something about a Wall Street crash back in 1920-something and obviously, that subject was completely outside of my radar. Investments? Banks? Nah. Not a subject for me. It wasn't until Lehman Brothers collapsed that I remember the general panic and that things really started to look bad. Or maybe I was just not paying attention before.

I completed High School with a Diploma in Pottery and Ceramics. At University, studied Marketing, Advertising and PR because at 23 years old I finally decided I wanted to be a copywriter.

I wanted to be the person that writes ads and creates content; I wanted to surrender myself to my artistic vein, to allow for my creativity to fully blossom and develop. I had come to the conclusion that my path was an artistic one and it was time to embrace my future. I had it all figured out. Even when I got pregnant with my daughter during the second semester at Uni, I carried on.

I took a gap year (school year of 2008/2009) because birth was scheduled for December so I couldn’t attend the January exams relating to courses beginning in September. It was the wise thing to do.

When I returned to Uni for my second year (2009/2010) my motivation was stronger than ever. I now had the cutest tiny little human who would be looking up to me and to everything I’d do, she depended on me and it was my duty to ensure all her needs were taken care of. I started to do everything with her in mind and solely having her best interests at heart. And that’s when things changed.

Things were not good at home and that’s as far as I will go in relation to exposing that part of my life. The only thing I’ll say is this: the worst things got, the stronger my motivation to succeed would get.

As part of my course, I needed to attend a Business class. It was only one semester but that Professor gave us two separate classes so in some ways they were linked. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say I had two business classes the same semester.

A few lessons into the class and I felt like I had seen God. What on Earth had I been doing studying arts all my life because that was so not the right path for me.

I landed a job at a Bank shortly after that and from there on, I became determined to learn as much as I could on my own because switching courses to Business or Economics was not an option. I didn’t had the funds and didn’t want to feel like I’ve wasted two years of my life. Especially when I had to take into consideration that I went to Uni later than usual.

I did countless online courses on platforms like Coursera and some of them were so daunting and full of jargon – not to mention the fact they were all in English – so I actually had to repeat a few of them until I could grasp what they were on about.

I started reading the Financial Times so I could understand what was happening in the financial world. I took advantage of a few colleagues that were much more knowledgeable than me to ask questions and learn from them. I became an avid reader of a Portuguese Business newspaper and slowly things started to fall into place and words I had no idea what they meant before, I now recognized and understand them.

I did all of this while looking after a new born, whilst working and whilst attending University. Talk about will power. Looking back, I have no idea where I got the strength from but I did it nonetheless.

I have been working in this industry for nearly 10 years now. I have seen people come and people go. I am blessed to be able to work in an industry that I genuinely love. There is not a single day that goes like the previous one. Everything changes at an incredible pace and if you stop, you become obsolete.

Ten years on since the beginning of the financial crisis, have we learned anything?

I hope so. I see firms committed to give the example from the top; there is more regulation; there is more awareness.

Do I believe that it will happen again? Unfortunately yes but maybe not as the ones we’ve seen before. The financial services industry business is the money business and the goal is to make even more money using someone else’s money. It’s called an “investment” and it can go right or wrong. You risk what you can afford to lose.

The problem with that statement is that the majority of people that cannot afford to lose are usually the ones that end up losing everything even though they have never placed a penny in an investment.

It starts with a family member losing its job. Then, one bill gets left behind, then another and by the time you realise you’re receiving a letter from the Bank saying you’re facing your home is being repossessed.

It’s scary to witness how the financial crisis has long been forgotten by the industry and yet it’s the complete opposite for consumers. People  that ten years on, on a daily basis still worry about a new potential crash and what effect will it have – again – on their families and how will they cope.

It’s a cruel business the money business so I guess it’s totally legitimate for people to ask me why am I in it? How can I associate myself with such practices? The answer is simple. I genuinely believe I can make a difference. No matter how small. I believe in fairness and in righteousness. I believe in doing the right thing so I don’t mind being associated with such industry because if more of us believe in the same thing as me, maybe one day, thinking about a financial crisis where people are left to starve and homeless for no fault of their own will sound surreal and impossible.  

Thankfully, I know I'm not alone in this. I have met so many great people, so many professionals that are a tribute to this industry and profession.

I act in a way I know I will never have to bow my head in shame and in a way that it won’t disappoint my family and have their values judged by others due to my actions. I will never act in a way that will make Diana ashamed of being my daughter. I will always do what my heart tells me is the right thing to do. 

One can dream and, so far, all my dreams have come true.

Like I said. Motivation.

 

More posts

13 Reasons Why ►

  • by Sofia S.
  • 14 Jun, 2017

The first time I heard the expression “Teenage Angst” was in the lyrics of a song entitled exactly that by a band I used to love called Placebo.

I was a huge fan not just the band but also Brian Molko, the lead singer. Saw them perform live three times and every time was absolutely brilliant. After a few more albums got released, I slowly started to lose interest as all the musicality sounded exactly the same and therefore they failed to captivate my attention towards their new work. I still listen to their music every now and again but definitely not on repeat as I did back then.

I was a very depressive teenager now that I look back on life. Everything around me pushed me down into a depressive spiral and the music I listened was a reflection of how I felt.

Music actually helped me to get rid of some ghosts that haunted me. I would listen to the most self-destructive lyrics, to the most depressing song so I could cry and cry and cry. I would on purpose try to hit rock bottom as fast as I could because all I could think was “if I hit rock bottom, then there’s only one other route and that’s up. It won’t get any worse.”

Not everyone is the same. We all have different coping mechanisms, we all feel things differently, what might affect me emotionally may not affect you. I am a little flower on the inside, I have to admit. I may appear tough but I do cry easily and, psychologically, things affect me very easily.

When I was growing up my Mum wouldn’t allow me to watch certain things on TV because I was visually easily impressionable. Even now, I remain the same. I can’t watch certain things on TV or watch certain movies because I know they will mess me up; I will have nightmares and become depressed over things I have no power or control over. Even though I know it’s just fiction.

I was a depressed teenager even though I had a million friends around me. I felt really sad and I didn’t knew how not to feel that way and was jealous of the other kids who were always happy with life, with their perfect families and without a care in the world.

I don’t think being a teenager is ever easy and being a teenager these days is probably even harder than what it was for me back then.
Your whole life can be recorded on a mobile phone and all it takes is one bad photo, one wrong quote or one stupid decision to absolutely break you. It is a lot of pressure. 

I could get away with doing stupid shit because my parents wouldn’t find out unless I got arrested. Me and my friends were close and tight with one another so we’d always have each other’s backs. We didn’t had computers and mobile phones didn’t even existed. We knew that at 9pm we’d met at the park and by 9:20 who wasn’t there would probably not be showing up that night so we’d make a move.

Despite doing stupid shit, I would almost all the time tell my Mum what I was doing and who was I with. I was nice like that but I also depressed and angry. And that last part I would always keep to myself. My escape was music and writing. It has always been so much easier for me to put feelings into words, explain my thoughts by writing them rather than speaking. Maybe that’s why today I prefer to text rather than call. Not a lot of people would knew how I feel because I didn't (and still don’t) like to talk about feelings and I’ve always been good at hiding what I feel. Until it reached a point where I couldn’t hide it anymore.

Anyway, 13 reasons why. I had no idea what to expect from this show. People were talking about it and to me just seemed another kids series and my boyfriend refused to watch that with me saying it was too juvenile. Let me tell you it was not what I was expecting at all.

I am no longer Hannah Baker. I am now Mrs Baker, Hannah’s Mum (but way younger). I grew up. 

I learned that my teenage years were of angst, yes; of depression; of loneliness; of confusion; of making stupid decisions; of uncertainty. It was also the time of my life when I made friends for life; that I feel in love for the first time; that I experienced young, crazy, reckless, love and passion. When I experienced a lot of things for the first time which helped me decide not what I wanted for my life but most certainly what I did not want. It was a learning curve and we all need to go through that to be able to transition to the next bit.

I don’t usually talk to the TV but that last episode, I was on my sofa in my living room and I was crying and saying to her “No Hannah, don’t do it! It’s not worth it! It will get better, I promise! Hannah, don’t!”

I felt so connected to her that for a period of time it was like I was in that bathroom with her. In that tub and felt like the water was cold. I closed my eyes when she cut herself and I reached out my hands to the TV and screamed “DON’T!”
I know that's stupid, after all it is a TV show and I knew she was dead already but still… I couldn’t help it. I just wanted to reach out to her, give her a cuddle and tell her everything would be alright.

When her Mum walked in on her, my heart sunk. I was sobbing. My heart went out to that Mother as if it was my own child there. She couldn’t change the outcome of her little girl’s decision. I can imagine the amount of questions going through her mind. Why would she do that? And she was left with so many questions left unanswered for so long.

I grew up and I am a now a happy adult. Teenage years are hard because a lot is happening with us and we don’t fully understand it. The fact that when a teenager becomes an adult and forgets about how it felt doesn’t help to the cause. It creates division and misunderstanding between two generations. Between parents and their children.

Let me tell you a secret: the same way as you don’t know how to teenage, we don’t know how to adult. Fact.

Life doesn’t come with an instruction book and just because we’re older doesn’t mean we know everything. Unless you’re a grandparent. Grandparents always know everything and always have the best advice.

If you are feeling depressed, sad and thinking about hurting yourself, don’t. I PROMISE it will get better! It may not feel like it now but it will.

Reach out to a friend; a family member; a teacher; a priest/vicar or any other type of faith leader. A stranger! I once spoke with a stranger in a park in Lisbon. Best conversation I ever had and told him things I never told anyone. Never saw him again and was great. That chat helped me to take some things off my chest. A GP can offer you treatment and no you are not crazy for having treatment but some people can explain to you why you are feeling the way you are feeling because they understand people and the human brain. Sometimes, talk to someone helps.

You can reach out to me if you want to. I will do my best to help you. Sometimes all you need is to take things off your chest, have a little cry, lick your wounds and get yourself back up again. If you can’t run, walk and if you can’t walk crawl. But don’t give up.

Hannah may have had 13 reasons to do what she did but I can promise you I can come up with 1300 reasons of why life is worth living.  

 

  Helplines and support groups

I know it can be difficult to pick up the phone, but reach out to somebody and let them know how you are feeling.

  • Samaritans  (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you're feeling, or if you're worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org .
  • Childline  (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won't show up on your phone bill.
  • PAPYRUS  (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
  • Depression Alliance  is a charity for people with depression. It doesn't have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.
  • Students Against Depression  is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
  • Bullying UK  is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.


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