N A D I A

                                                                                           Paris | 2017

N A D I A 

City  Paris
Age  36
Love life Single
Profession  Inhouse legal counsel for a public entity
Years in Paris  13 in total
Location  Le Pavillon des Canaux

 

T H E  P A R I S  S T O R I E S

‘WHAT REALLY ANNOYS

ME ABOUT PARIS:

IT’S NOT COOL TO

BE HAPPY’

  • What makes you really happy?
    “The sunshine. I am a sun kid. I grew up in Argentina where we had really cold but sunny winters and I know the sun makes a lot of difference. When I have to travel to Latin American countries for work, it doesn’t matter if I am struggling, when the sun shines, I am happy. I try to escape the Parisian winters as much as I can.”

  • What is your best personality trait?
    “The ability to always be mesmerized. After my first scuba dive in Martinique, I was as happy as a kid. I could literally jump with joy. Maybe because I come from a developing country and I get to do things that I know a lot of people are not able to. But I also enjoy the small things, like a beautiful butterfly in the park. And after all those years in Paris, I am still mesmerized by the city. I hope it never wears off. But to keep loving Paris, I have to go away sometimes and breathe, because it can feel claustrophobic in the city.”

  • What makes you different than other people?
    “I am still a little bit of an outsider in Paris because I am originally from Argentina. There was a time in my life when that was really hard to accept, because I wanted to fit in so badly. I felt bad when people told me that I have a cute accent. I wanted to change everything that made me different. But now I realize that I will never totally fit in and I might as well amplify it. I think this realization came with the change of job. Being different is now one of my biggest assets because I am able to work in Latin America. But normally differences are considered a liability in Paris. If you didn’t go to the right law school, they are not going to recruit you even if you have the right qualities. So everybody tries to be the same, but then you end up denying who you are and that can really hurt.”
  • What is your biggest struggle in life?
    “Self-confidence. Which I have zero. It also comes with the whole Parisienne thing. Internationally there is this whole collective fantasy about super skinny French women, so if you live here you try to reach as close as you can to this idea. I know it’s more of a myth than reality – there are thousands of women in all different shapes and sizes – but it’s pushing me to want to be that way. Where you would be considered normal in another country, here you are considered full-figured. The standards are so high in the city. But the French society has evolved a lot, so it isn’t all about those skinny, tall women anymore. But my friends are still considering all the time if something makes them fat.”
  • What is the biggest lesson life has taught you so far?
    “To let go. Life keeps teaching me this lesson until I actually learn it. I am not much of a mystic, but I came to understand that there is an order in the universe. If something has to happen, it will. And if it doesn’t have to, it won’t. But I keep pushing for situations because I want them to happen. I graduated summa cum laude, so I am used to working hard to get what I want. But now I know that even if you work as hard as you can, it might still not happen. When I didn’t get a certain job, I cried for days and days and days and days. But now I realize that I would have hated the structure of that company. At that time I was telling myself that I was such a failure, while I just needed to let go.”

  • What is your biggest disappointment in life?
    “That I didn’t get into one of the top universities in Argentina. I applied for that university when I was in high school, but I applied quite late. So I had only one month instead of one year to prepare for the exam. I needed a 7 for the second test, but I got a 6.95. I was so close! But that failure, together with a movie I watched as a kid with my mother about Paris, led me to the trip to Paris when I was nineteen. Coming to Paris is one of the best things that ever happened to me, but still… would I have been happier if I’ve gotten into that university? It still haunts me…”
  • What advice would you give other women in Europe?
    “Trust yourself because you are doing a good job. I think that women tend to believe that we are under-achievers, while we are actually over-achievers. Even in modern societies like in Europe we still have the traditional role of housewife. We take care of the house and the kids while we are working our butts off and trying to break that glass ceiling. That’s not easy. In France there are a lot of women who are really good at their profession, but they don’t get a chance because the board of directors in big French companies is still very male dominated. But there comes a point where the companies just can’t deny all those talented ladies anymore and have to promote them. It’s already happening in the company I work for. But I can’t believe that in 2017 in France the fight is still on. There is this huge income gap that there is just no justification for.”

 

 

  • What do you regret in life?
    “I had a relationship that totally broke me. He destroyed me. He was a narcissistic pervert. There was a before and after in my life. I was never again the same person. It ended in 2010, and I haven’t been able to maintain a relationship that was as intense and engaged as that one. Because I am afraid of being hurt. I became totally mesmerized by him. And because I am such an enthusiastic person, I just threw myself in the relationship. But everyone would have fallen for him. When he was done playing, he started pushing me to end the relationship. It didn’t end well. I literally left Luxemburg because of this. Every now and then he finds a way to send me a message, because he wants me to still be dependent on him. Every time that happens the back of my spine hurts. It’s one of those people I wish no one would meet.”

  • What is your biggest fear?
    “That I would find myself living on the streets someday. That can really haunt me at night. It’s a weird fear because there is a social system in France, so there are a lot of gatekeepers before you end up like that. It’s more like an animal fear, a gut fear. Maybe because I see so many young homeless people on the streets.”
  • What does Paris mean to you?
    “It is very snobbish to say, but it’s the most beautiful city in the world. This morning I was cycling around the Place de la Concorde, and I was still mesmerized by the beauty of it. But it’s not an easy city. Paris is like a high maintenance lover, you always have to be there and put everything you have into it to enjoy the city and to know how to get into the cool places. The people in Paris can be very aggressive. When I ride my bike, they shout at me that I put my life at risk. But the one thing that really annoys me about Paris: it is not cool to be happy. You have to be very detached and pretend that everything is boring you. I don’t understand why you would like to be moody just for the pleasure of being moody. It doesn’t make any sense. If you are happy about something, just freaking show it, it’s not going to kill you!”

Photos by Hélène Koch

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