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Andreea Sandu - Lord over the sky | People of Justice 2023 Bucharest

"How many times do you have to fall down to taste good dirt?". Andreea Sandu spoke to us at People of Justice '23 about how success is not measured in how long we manage to achieve it, but rather in how much meaning we manage to put into our trials.

And the tunnel, well, the tunnel we may feel we are in today, turns into the light of tomorrow if we have the strength to believe in ourselves, beyond any obstacle.

Author: Andreea Sandu

I'm surrounded by people who don't know failure and... who don't seem to have been too hard to get around it. And I'm beginning to wonder, for the first time, if I should have to agree with them to those who said: “Give it up, why do you insist?”. We have a natural tendency to reject everything that does not mean success and to be quick to label it as the antonym of this word: “failure”.

“Who believes in flight is the master of the sky”, said Lucian Blaga. But how many times do you have to fall before you say that even dust tastes good?

It is September 2, 2017 and I'm about to take again the multiple choice test, part of the admission exam to the National Institute of Magistracy. My head is bouncing around in my head I hear the words that followed the last failures: “You're thinking that you're failing every time because God is giving you a sign”, “That you don't belong there?”, “Maybe it's time to give up?”, “And... why aren't you getting a job?”, “How much more studying?”, “I admire you for trying, but I could not”, “I don't understand”. Two weeks ago I heard my mother's husband saying that this goal is too high for me and... I should find a better one. For the first time, my mother who is the most fierce supporter I have, didn't contradict him out loud.

I'm thinking if this time too, one of the people supervising in the exam room will ask me if I want to call an ambulance when I succeed to stop from splashing myself with cold water and sit down in the bathroom on the floor... during the exam and... how many multiple choice questions I'm gonna leave this time blank just to get out of that room where I feel I'm suffocating and where I might disturb them the people who... have a real chance of taking the exam and have no guilt for being in the room with me.

I remember that when I was little, I refused to play Super Mario on TV. I'd wait for my dad to come from work and... I wanted to watch how someone who wasn't afraid to start over when he was wrong, manages to capitalize every life or every mushroom he had.

Who doesn't try can't fail, right?

On a wall in the exam room there is this Latin motto: “Let there be justice, even if the world perishes.” And I think this time I'll pass the test. And I did.

At the interview I extract a quote from Lucian Blaga, a quote about trying. And I'm thinking that nothing is by accident.

And it's like pushing it Sisyphus, who was pushing a boulder, I get through the first round.

But what's a Sisyphus who conquered the mountain, if not Atlas who isn't tired yet? Because this victory still smells of dust. I'm surrounded by people who don't know failure and... who don't seem to have been too hard to get around it. I'm ashamed.

This time, there is only one voice asking me if I'm there where I should be or if I'm an imposter who fooled everyone, to get in. And this voice was louder than anything before. Because it's my voice.

And I'm beginning to wonder, for the first time, if I should agree with those who said: {\i1}Give it up, why do you keep trying?{\i1}

But I always find myself thinking of Iona, the fisherman in the story of Marin Sorescu, caught in the belly of the fish he was hunting, who found himself in an even bigger fish while he succeeded to overcome the one before it. And I remember his desire to put... a fence at the entrance to the soul, so that no one could enter with a knife. And I think that knife was the only thing that was threatening Iona's hope.

I realized that everything is depending on the craftsmanship with which you choose the light at the end of the tunnel and the power to believe in it, even when it doesn't flicker as a firefly. Although it seems hard to accept, every single thing has just the power that we give it.

For me, at the end of the tunnel is my own need for justice and how I see conflict: as something to be dealt with, with great skill, by some caring hands, not to give precedence nor the needle, nor scissors, nor the ball of thread. There is also the need to be in the service of people, or perhaps better put, to serve the people. At the beginning of the speech I listed a few words of the people around me and each of you felt something. Maybe anger? Was it pity? Did it awaken in you a sense of ambition? Did you give them justice? From the words of those around me I took exactly what I needed to make more one more step through the tunnel. I still do.

I think some people's desire was to protect me from disappointment. I know that other people's intention was to make me ambitious. Others told me what they would have done. And I am certain that some of them were describing out loud their attempt to empathize with my situation, words that I hear, in various forms, even now. We have a natural tendency to reject everything that does not mean success and to quickly label it as the antonym of that word: “failure”. Without seeing it as a step towards becoming, even if the experience would lead us to another exit from the tunnel.

“Failure”, I named it as well in the first part of this speech, without premeditation. And it came so naturally, it slipped in there almost without noticing, because we don't take the time to realize that not all tunnels that we go through are the same length, however they may seem on the outside. Maybe this should be the real failure. I think the fact that I didn't get accepted into the National Institute of Magistrates at the first attempt was a lesson that I should have learned about trying. You see, the scared child of every mistake realized that the princess must be rescued and when the parents are at work and became an adult who doesn't know what it's like to give up until the dragon has been vanquished. If you know where you want to get to, it doesn't really matter how long it takes and why you're in the dark, step by step, you'll make it to the light.

But only if you choose to believe you can, from the dust you launch me into flight.

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