By Pamela Drake
Our Stories: An Intimate Connections Series
Photograph by Samantha Pezzolanti
No matter what you’re going through in life, know that you are not alone. There are other people just like you. Samantha Pezzolanti, for example, a student and a passionate writer in the Professional & Technical Writing program at City Tech. Her life hasn’t exactly been easy.
For a person who went through some hardships—once a single teen mom herself—Samantha has endured quite a lot in her life. Yet it’s those very hardships that allow her to speak from a place of experience. Inspired by her 7-year-old daughter, she inspires other parents with her own blog, Virtues From Motherhood.
1. Describe yourself in one word? How does this word represent you?
Resilient. I chose this word because, in a nutshell, it means being able to bounce back and overcome odds and in my life I’ve had every reason not to succeed. Albeit a result of my own choices, I found myself in some rough patches in life. But, I’ve managed to navigate them to get to this point in my life.
2. Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
My biggest influence would be my mom. She’s been my cheerleader, bad cop, and more. Through my whole life, no matter what it is I’m dealing with, she reminds me I can just do it. I admire my mom for being out of the workforce for a decade to raise kids, then jumping right back in and building a career. I also admire every young mom like myself who has taken the somewhat impossible lifestyle and silenced all naysayers. My daughter has influenced me to do what I’m doing now because I don’t ever want her to doubt her abilities like I’ve doubted mine. I want to show her the sky really is the limit.
3. What tools or personality traits do you think is indispensable for accomplishing your goals?
Firstly, confidence. You can’t get others to see your worth and abilities if you yourself don’t see and advocate for them. Secondly, perseverance because you will strike out sometimes but if you don’t lick your wounds and keep going you’ll never rise above it. Lastly, be personable. You have to know how to talk to people and more importantly, listen to them.
4. What is still your biggest challenge or stumbling block(s) and what are the best ways you’ve found to overcome them?
My biggest challenge would probably be becoming a mother as a teenager. I love my daughter and I love being a mom but having to grow up, learn to be a mom, navigate college and make enough money to live on is a huge challenge. In fact, I’ve had professors and advisors tell me to give up and get into a trade and for a while, I listened. However, the best way I’ve found to overcome them is to ask for help, use my resources, and trust the people that love me. I’ve also learned to manage my time and trust in my abilities, and when I need to, work a little harder.
5. What’s the best advice you ever received?
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible.” This quote is what the speaker at my graduation said and it’s always stuck with me.
6. What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?
I wouldn’t have dropped out of college. If I had recognized my own potential, I would have been able to recognize and reach my goals a lot sooner.
7. What’s your best advice for handling criticism?
Realize early on that not everyone will like you or want to be your friend, even more so when you become more successful or have a position or skill they want. So sometimes people who secretly envy you will be harsh and a little mean but try and sift through that and find some valid points. If you can’t, don’t let them get under your skin. When getting criticism from superiors or professors, however, remember again not to take it personally. Remember they have deadlines and people to answer to as well. Take what they’ve said and make a bulleted list on what you need to work on. Then look back through your work and see what you can feasibly do on your own and don’t feel shy about asking for help.
8. What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
That it is possible! I had let go of the image of myself walking across the stage for a degree for years but as I get closer and closer to my second college degree, I realize it isn’t out of reach. I’ve also learned that nobody is perfect, in fact, most people are just as messy as I am and the trick is to making messy look easy.
9. What’s next for you?
Well, first on the list is get my bachelor’s degree. After that, I want to dive into a career in technical communication or content management. After that, I might consider a graduate degree. Who knows?
10. What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered for being human. This sounds peculiar but I want to be remembered for making a difference with my words, helping other people and blazing a path I was told I would never walk.
As you can see, it’s Samantha’s positive attitude that has taken her this far. She could have given up but she believed that there were more opportunities for success ahead of her. This interview was important because too many people feel that they are alone and that no one knows what the’re going through. Like Samantha, maybe you’ve had a similar challenge. Was there ever a time that you wanted to give up but didn’t? What was it that kept you going? Or maybe you’re out of school and want to return. Just believe in yourself and know that success awaits you.