When I was in secondary school, must have been one or two years before my friends and I graduated, one of our teachers was sick and we had someone else doing the replacement. He was a young guy, not too unsympathetic, and just to make time pass, he asked us what we wanted to do after secondary school.

Obviously, we all knew we would go to university, but as to what we wanted to spend the rest of our lives on doing, few of us really had a clue. 

Many of us though – all from a section specializing in languages – had in mind to go into translation. It sounded sensible enough. There were lots of European and international institutions that would always need translators around us, safe jobs and all. We loved languages for the most part, so what better choice than playing around with them and getting paid for it?

Only that was when the substitute teacher told us -cruelly, if I reflect on it today – how naive and stupid an idea that was. After all, we didn’t have a mother tongue among any of the basic languages, so we stokd no chance of ever making it in that field. 

I was crushed. I had never realized until then that that was something I really wanted to do for a living, when that guy came in and burnt up all our beliefs. 

And of course we believed him. After all, he was a teacher. He had to know best what was right or wrong and if you couldn’t trust a teacher, then whom could you trust? 

Many many years later, I look back on that one hour in my life that changed everything. And I just think:”What an asshole.”

Of course it turned out that what he had said was bullshit. But I got so mad realizing 10 years after I’ve finished all my studies that this guy ruined it for me. I still get mad sometimes today. 

My advice to you: Never believe anyone who tells you you can’t do something. 

You always can and will, if only you try and go for it one babystep at a time.

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