Failure: My Adventure in Italy

An Ode to Failure!

I came across an old postcard I sent to my mom right after University when I was living in Italy.

Peggy Guggenheim Portrait
Peggy Guggenheim, photographed by Man Ray, Paris 1925

I like to joke that I spent my 20s living like an artist and now, that I’m actually an artist, I live like a mild mannered accountant. I save all my wild energy for the studio.

Ticket to Italy

So after graduation and a year working in a restaurant, I concocted a crazy plan with a good friend to move to Italy. It all started with a shared dream to intern at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. I spent at least a month putting together the perfect application. I poured my heart and soul into it….and I didn’t get it.

I kept applying for different jobs from Canada as I saved up for the trip. I felt like I needed a job to be able to really commit to this adventure. For 6 months I got nothing but rejections. Finally we decided we would go even without jobs. I had enough savings to get me through the first couple months and the courage (ignorance?) you can only have at 22. So we applied for our visas and booked our tickets.

Learning to Fail

The day of my flight I got an email inviting me to interview for a position with a small newspaper in Milan. They needed an English speaker to write for a European focused blog they ran. Somehow I got that job and spent about a year as blogger in Milan. Writing wasn’t my calling. I have a mild learning disability so I make what looks like a lot of typos when I write. Not great when you have lots of tight deadlines. I tried to pursue journalism for a while but eventually moved on.

Now I’m doing something I love even more! And that the experience as a blogger gave me enough confidence in my writing that I’ve made blogging part of my art practice. At the time not getting the Guggenheim internship and not becoming a journalist felt like a real failure. Now it all feels fortuitous.