A young woman about the faith and strength to pursue your goals
Interview with Anna Pelova
In this issue I will meet you with a young, ambitious, artistic and an adventurous person that within the next minutes will share with us a little bit more about herself and her world view. Success stories magazine presents to you Anna Pelova.
Plamena Petkova for Success Stories Mag:
Hello Anna! Let’s start with a little bit of prehistory – from the moment the direction of your future career path started to take shape – the decision to continue your education in England, where you studied Creative Advertising Strategy. How did this country and your life there influence you?
My decision to go to London was absolutely spontaneous and hasty. I didn`t know much about London and I didn`t even open Google to check how it looks on pictures. I thought it would be fun to imagine about it and just go and see if the city meets my imagination. I was 18 years old, alone, with a suitcase without knowing until the last minute what dreams I want to stuff in. London was different from what I expected – a sleek, trim, stylish and ideal city. Nothing like that, it turned out that my dorm is at one of the most visually unpleasant neighborhoods at that time, Elephant & Castle. I put my suitcase on the ground in my room and spread my arms wide. I was almost touching the walls. Claustrophobia, severe culture shock and counting of the days until I was going to return to Bulgaria. That was what was expecting me in the next 2-3 years. But I didn`t quit. I finished my education, I got used to different cultures and I found a room with a little more normal size and price.
Although it was quite painful, I think of this experience as extremely valuable because it reprogrammed my limited worldview, imposed to me by my national pride and turned me into an open-minded person. London pushed me to fall in love with the differences between people, made me independent and gave me courage. It showed me that I can handle any situation. I think I needed that and I certainly don`t regret that back then I trusted the fate blindly and left.
Roughly at that time, you start your first website – portfolio, where you present your successful projects in the field of graphic design. How did you attract your first customer and how did things actually turned out for you back then?
I actually work since I was 16 years old. I met good people who had a design company and decided that I have a potential. They hired me to administer their dating site. During that time I was learning by myself how to work with Photoshop. They wanted me to move to Plovdiv and to work for them as a designer after my graduation. But I still chose London.
It happened so, that friends of mine started to ask me if I could draw them something, to make them business cards or a logo. This gave me the confidence to try establishing my own business. I made me a website, a logo, business cards, a business plan. I met with potential customers in London and even found one or two, which paid my rent. But it somehow wasn`t working out good enough. I was in London only from a short period of time, I didn`t have enough social contacts or a clear concept of how to advertise myself. I gave up this idea. At least I found out how not to do business, which is also valuable. Meanwhile, I studied advertising, which was a good start.
Why did you decide to return to Bulgaria after all and start building your future here?
cannot say that I have returned. I love freedom and I believe in the global citizenship and in a world, in which we shouldn`t divide ourselves by nationality. At the moment my life is arranged so, that I can work from almost every country.
Bulgaria is a wonderful place for digital nomads, freelancers and entrepreneurs, who are starting to build their careers because prices here are lower and our Internet is one of the fastest. Each such startup takes at least a year or two to build contacts and a name, and if I had stayed in London maybe I wouldn`t be able to afford the freedom that I have now. And moreover here are my parents and friends.
What made you join the political life of the country and how does someone at your age become a leader of a party? Why did you actually withdraw?
For many people in Bulgaria “politics” is a dirty word – I have heard that countless times. But I see politics as follows: there is something I do not like and I do everything in my power to change it for the better and to inspire enough people to follow me. I’m a politician even before I became an adult. It all started when I was 11th grade, I was the main face of the protests against matriculation before graduating. There wasn`t a significant media that hadn`t taken me an interview and the director of my high-school has summoned me to an intimidating meeting in order to explain to me how he didn`t like what I was doing and how he will sign my diploma, but unwillingly.
After the matriculation was accepted, some of the people with who we worked most for the cause, turned against me and blamed me for the loss. There were quite offensive words and aggression pouring over me.
Then I realized the meaning of the word “leader”: RESPONSIBILITY. People may not thank you when you succeed, but will surely tear you apart when you fail. And you must take responsibility for this. Then you also realize who your true friends are – those who take away your phone in order not to be able to read hateful messages and help you calm down.
I have never been someone who is just standing and watching – I love to drive, not to be a passenger in the car of my life.
During my last year in London I was helping in the organization of protests against the exploration and extraction of shale gas in Bulgaria. This way I met with the “Greens” and at that time I also came back to Bulgaria. I was active and soon they voted and accepted me as a member of the National Council. I participated in national elections in 2013, I was giving ideas for the development of the party and I was helping with some organizational issues.
Year after that one of my colleagues asked me if I wanted to run for a co-chair. In the Greens there is an unwritten rule that within the co-chairpersons there must be a gender equality. The woman who was a co-chair at that time was withdrawing. I declined the nomination, but such proposals started coming from more members and I decided that since so many people want to trust me and nominate me it would be right at least to accept. I was sure the majority wouldn`t choose me. That is how I became the youngest representative of a political party in Bulgaria, and perhaps in Europe. This can only happen in a truly democratic and open-minded party.
I spent almost an entire mandate, during which I worked mainly on the internal organization of the party. There were proposals to run again, but I refused. This does not mean that I have given up. I just think that a leader must be able not only to come, but to leave on time. I wanted to give a chance to another candidate and also to take a break from public life. Politics is a tough game, especially for someone in the mid-20s.
You are among the people who love to travel and use every opportunity to visit a new place. Which countries did you manage to visit so far and what did impress you there?
I have lived in four countries on three continents, but I have visited a lot more until now. I don`t intend to stop. Obstacles like “I have no money right now” are just excuses – one can always find a way to travel, even if it is hitchhiking.
My favorite country is Japan, my passion for this culture is from a quite long time and I’m very happy that I managed to get there. I felt as if I was fallen into another, cleaner planet. I liked the fact that everything is done with attention to detail and respect for others. The blossom of the sour cherry trees is an extremely important event. Their beauty just must be appreciated.
I took my participation in this book as a cause and a way for me to also contribute with something to the development of tourism. Unfortunately in our country the travel journalism is still not very popular, but it is of great importance. It is easy to focus on the negative statistics that the villages are depopulated. But at the same time there is a little talk about the huge potential for development of rural tourism in Bulgaria.
The book was very well accepted and we are now working on its second version. I believe that trough my participation in it I succeeded in giving hope to at least one person in Bulgaria among the many with whom we met during the presentations around the country.
Next is “Tea Leaves” – a novel in Bulgarian and the participation in a TV reality for writers, where you have also achieved significant success. Tell us more about the book, about what inspired you to write it, about the emotions and the steps around its creation.
“Tea Leaves” is my first novel. I was motivated to write it because of the CIELA`s anonymous competition for New Bulgarian novel in 2014. I wrote it, not because I wanted to win and to be published, but because I felt the need to write. After so many inspiring trips and meetings, I couldn`t shake off the stories until I gave them life on the pages. Of course, there are many travels in the novel, I tell stories about different cultures, but it is also about getting to know yourself and rebirths. I was surprised when the book was ranked in the top 10 at the competition – this was a great achievement for me, since it has competed with over 400 other novels.
Later on I also took part in the TV reality “The Manuscript” where I made many new and interesting friendships. I should do a lot of editing before I send the book to a publisher, but I believe that “Tea Leaves” will soon see the light of day. I even have plans to translate it into English.
One of your last major projects is the website Great Nomad. Would you present its idea and purpose in more detail??
Great Nomad has as goal to put the social status quo into question and to promote the idea of a different way of life that is not tied up to working in office or working from 9 to 5. True nomads do not go on holidays – they live this way. Each one young person is under a lot of pressure from relatives and even friends to follow the generally accepted norms – to get a good education, get married, create children, work his/her whole life, to live for the weekends, to retire and then, perchance, to travel.
I believe that happiness lies in realizing what YOU need and finding a way to achieve it without having to follow certain steps only because someone else says that you must.
There are many people like me and Great Nomad helps me also to connect with them. They often write to me asking me for advices about life.
Actually the website isn`t really new, but it took me several years until I found its exact purpose. I restart it in January and for just one month I somehow managed to get 30,000 people to visit it. Now I know what works and I want to continue to do it, maybe at a later stage I will even try to find funding for the project.
What other ideas of yours do you actualize at the moment?
I write for American and European magazines and websites – travelogues, serious articles, personal opinions, but mostly emails. I love working with people from diverse nationalities, this makes me happy.
Were there any moments when something demotivated you and what brings back your faith and your desire to move on?
I have felt demotivated many times. I think this is a quite normal human condition. I’ve had moments when I begin to think that I am not good enough for anything and that I cannot succeed. This happens especially often when I start something new. At such times I seek the moral support of my closest people.
The demotivation is actually motivating me. When I don`t see a way out, I know I just have to look for it harder.
What do you dream of? What do you want to achieve and what do you wish to yourself and to our readers?
I do not dream, I just decide what I want and I do it without thinking too much over it. To the readers of Success Stories Magazine I wish faith and strength. I want the people in Bulgaria to believe in themselves and to pursue their goals without stopping because of difficulties, which are a little bit more here.We are born here for a reason and the tough moments are not always a bad thing. They are our teachers in life and thanks to them we grow up.