A M É L I E

                                                               Paris | 2017

A M É L I E

City  Paris
Age  31
Love life  Boyfriend
Profession  Account Manager
Years in Paris  
Location  Place de Vosges

 

T H E  P A R I S  S T O R I E S

‘IN FRANCE

WE ARE

NOT

RAISED TO FAIL’

  • What makes you really happy?
    “Many things. At the moment I am really happy when I have time to dance. I’ve been dancing modern jazz for twenty years now. I really need it in my life to relax, although it can be super intense and tiring. I try to go every week. My current job makes me really happy as well. I knew that would be the case even before they hired me. I believe that you will be successful when you do something that you like.”
  • What is your best personality trait?
    “My determination. It took me several attempts to get hired by the company I work for. It was really hard to get in. I lived in Dublin for a year and I applied there twice, then I applied in Paris twice. Even though I got rejected four times, it didn’t stop me from trying again. I really wanted to work there. I just knew it. It was the first time in my life that I knew that a job was just perfect for me. When I know something, I know something.”
  • What do you think makes you different than other people?
    “I don’t think that I am that different. I have many, many friends, and in a way they are all just like me. Small parts of them are like small parts of me. I think no one is really different from someone else anymore, because my generation can do whatever we want. Having kids, not having kids… everything is possible and everyone can choose their own path.”
  • What is your biggest struggle in life?
    “To find time to do all the things I want to do. Being successful at work, having a good love life, spending time with my friends, dancing… it’s even difficult to find the time to answer all the messages from my friends. I try to do a little of everything. Sometimes I don’t go to my dance class, and sometimes I try to finish earlier at work to have some more time. I am trying to be more organized to create more time, so that I don’t have to stop seeing certain friends or won’t be able to go to a place because it’s too far from my home. I already organized things at work a bit better. My colleagues know now that on Monday evening after six I am at the dance studio.”

  • What is the biggest lesson life has taught you so far?
    “At work we have a phrase: ‘fail harder.’ I like it. I learn from it. In France we are not raised to fail. You have to be perfect the first time you do something. When you raise your hand in class you have to come up with the right answer. A teacher will never praise you for trying. So you don’t dare to do the things you like, because you don’t dare to fail. But it’s ok when you do. Of course I failed a lot of times myself. They weren’t big failures, but I do consider my former job a failure because I wasn’t happy there.”
  • What is your biggest disappointment in life?
    “That there are still big differences at the work place between men and women.  My current company employs as many men as they do women. But in my former company there were more men and it felt a bit like… it was easier for them. There was a masculine culture. I am disappointed that in France they don’t take care of those issues more efficiently. Most of the big companies in France are old ones, and the CEOs are from a different generation. I am sure that my generation is going to solve this problem.”
  • What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
    “I think the advice my boyfriend gave me. He told me that it’s ok to ask my friends for help. It is very good advice. I liked to succeed on my own, but sometimes you really need help, for example, when you are moving. I never dared to ask my friends for help because I didn’t want to bother other people. Maybe because I used to be much shyer or because I was afraid that they would say no.”
  • What advice would you give other women in Europe?
    “Do whatever feels good to you. One of my colleagues asked where she should go after her internship. There were two possibilities and it was so obvious where she should go, but the other option was more in line with what she thought society wanted her to do. But you need to do whatever you want to do. You get where you want to be, if you do something you love.”
  • What is your biggest dream or ultimate goal in life?
    “I feel happier when I don’t have too many goals but only one accessible one. I don’t want to be disappointed. So I only make short term plans, or a plan I can make for my life as it is now. From there I can say that maybe in two or three years I want to live in another foreign city again. I don’t want to travel too far, because I want to be close to my family. I think it’s a doable but not too ambitious plan.”
  • What does Paris mean to you?
    “Paris is the most beautiful city in the world. I just love the old buildings, the history, and the fact that there is so much to do. What I especially like are the terraces that really set Paris apart from other cities. They are everywhere, in plain sight and super available. You don’t have to knock on a door like in New York to find a hidden place. Further on, Paris feels like the city of opportunities to me. I didn’t grow up here, so I know that here you have a much bigger chance of finding the job you want. Here you can really be yourself and feel free. What I don’t really like about Paris is the density. Paris has the biggest density in the world, and that can feel a bit stressful. You can’t really walk on the sidewalks because they are so small! What makes me a real Parisienne? Maybe that I was not born in Paris, like so many women here. I think the super stylish, je ne sais quoi Parisienne you read about in books is a myth.”

Photos by Hélène Koch

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