My name is Chiara, and I was born in Italy. I grew up in a medieval hamlet in the country of Umbria region. Three hundred people is the population. It’s surrounded by small and green hills, vineyards and the Tuscan necropolis under the feet, which remind me who my ancestor were.
I arrived in Montebello when I was nine years old, and I left it when I was nineteen years old. In between, I was an interested teenager who wasn’t able to properly appreciate her value, and she tried to figure it out through the eyes of others. I never been a girl who said, “One day, I will be a doctor, or a ballerina, or a vet.” This is the reason why after the high school I struggled with the choice of university.
In Italy a lot of people, especially my father, think that with a law degree, you can get any jobs. So, after a whole summer of thinking about it, I accepted to study law. Even though I didn’t want to become a lawyer. And, in ten years in the city of Perugia, what did I do? I finished university, completed a law Master’s degree and I became a lawyer. Funny, isn’t it? I was just starting an interesting job in the university when I had the chance to get a good job as a legal advisor in a prestigious association. I remember I spent all my Christmas holidays thinking about this job. Should I accept it or not? My brain said yes, but something in my heart suggested another thing. A little voice, a whisper, was saying, “don’t go”.
It was the 6th of January, the day of the moving, in the middle of the winter—it was a Sunday, and I just had my last lunch with my family. I packed the car with all my stuff, say goodbye to my family, to the city where I lived for almost ten years. I went on the twenty-kilometre drive to the mountains and tunnels, and then, my life could begin. During the journey, I continued to hear that whisper, and I continued to ignore it. Then I punctured a tyre in a tunnel in the middle of the mountains, just halfway into my journey. I was able to reach the emergency stop area and here I was, alone, the car fully packed, freezing temperature outside. It was getting dark, and a thick fog was descending. Everything all around me was saying, “go back, go back.” But nothing could change my mind. I was too determined to show the world my strength and my ability. The day after, the first day of my new job, I understood immediately how gigantic the mistake was. Twelve hours non-stop at work. My first meeting was a trade union negotiation. Imagine a young blonde woman sitting in front of sixty angry and screaming men. This was my first day at work. After that I clearly understood that to survive in that environment, I should’ve been different. Public relations, ambitions, formal dresses. For many years I worked hard on my heels, carrying heavy leather bags full of books and documents to look more ‘influential’.
But all this stuff weren’t me. After some disappointments at work, something changed. As a symbol, I stopped using heels at work and I put away expensive leather bags. I start to use flat shoes and comfortable back packs. Escaping from a prison is difficult. Some time you have to be patient and wait for the right time. Ten years I waited for an Australian husband and two beautiful children who could give me the necessary strength. When I was ready, I found the courage to say goodbye.
Australia for me is an opportunity to be the person I’ve always been. And that for a long time I hid. Now, I’m here. And I don’t want to hide myself anymore. I don’t want to feel ashamed because I’m a sensitive person, a little bit shy and private. I want to find a job where I can be appreciated professionally and humanly, where I can use my legal skills and my soul in an environment that I trust. I want to get good results and to build a satisfactory career, but not if I had to be someone else. Now I trust the value I have, and maybe for the first time, I don’t feel ashamed to show it to the world.