When In Doubt

I currently live in a house on Via Toffano. I have yet to research its namesake but someone felt strongly enough to scrawl this beneath it:

I focused on it on my recent walk to school, not even a kilometer away, because it currently feeds one of the biggest barriers anyone faces when trying to bring hard-earned and meaningful change to their lives: self-doubt. I experience this on a daily basis as I look around and see classmates easily navigating the subjects and material in classes in which I am truly a novice. At times, it feels as though I am trying to build a bike while riding it. I keep telling myself things will eventually click; that I’ll wake up one morning with all of the major pieces having fallen in to place while I wasn’t looking. I look forward to that day. And I can tell you today is not it. I feel at this point I’m just smart enough to be dangerous as I try to master floating exchange rates, foreign policy strategies, currency controls, realpolitik, climate change, and energy policy. As I said, some days it feels I’ve put a major piece of the puzzle in place. (Did very well on my Theories of International Relations final exam.) Other times, not so much (Did not know there were three Napoleons!).


One of the only ways to deal with self-doubt is to trust; trust it will all work out. Trust that decisions made in an effort to improve one's life were just that: decisions. They were never meant to be right or wrong and you've always been able to deal with the aftermath. But that kind of trust is difficult to build. Normally, trust between two people builds over time and shared experiences. One gets to know the measure of the other. With enough time, trust is automatic.


Not so when it comes to something as nebulous as finding more meaning in life. One might trust themselves implicitly, but trusting that life will meet them half-way and reward their efforts with a beneficial outcome is something else entirely. And it's easy for that trust to erode or fade when the struggle seems perpetual. That's when it becomes necessary to lean on support systems, that is the time to admit to others that you can't do it alone. Keep that in mind if the change you seek in your life seems like a Sisyphean task. I shared the above photo (and corresponding thoughts) with some friends back home. A single line response, one that was much needed, came back from one of them: Idiota you are not. I can't tell you how much that helped.


As for my actual experience here in school, it is, without question, the right time to be here.

With the global economy tanking, there is no better time to duck the workforce for a bit until things shake out. In that regard, I clearly chose the right program, not to mention the right place. Given the chaos unfolding in real time, our professors and industry professionals are hosting talks and events almost every other night of the week, dishing out responsibility for this tragic mess across the board:

---Americans rely too much on credit cards and debt!

---Germans need to spend more and save less!

---Neo-liberalism and globalization have become a global cult and economists everywhere are drinking the Kool Aid!

---Forget cooperation and go back to pure self-motivated interests!

It’s quite a show to behold.

And there is no doubt I’ve chosen a great place to be. Bologna is kind of like a tucked away wonderland in Italy that few know about. For tourists, it’s a train station between Florence and Venice. What remains of the city's defending wall sometimes feels as though it still keeps the outside world at bay. The city fans out from a central square and two iconic towers towards main gates, some of which have towers of their own. That they’ve lasted this long seems like a miracle. Sometimes I feel it will be a similar miracle if I last the length of the school year.


At least my steps, be they forward or backward, have some nice scenery to them.

Via Farini portico, Bologna, Italy.

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#SAIS #Risk

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© 2020 by Mark Konold