What happens after ‘happily ever after’ ?

(Lee la historia en Español aquí)

A bit more than 8 years ago, I packed my bags to start one of the greatest adventures of my life. I had dreamed of living in Israel since I was 16 years old and my desire to be independent was taking over me. But the truth is that the excitement of fulfilling my dream managed to deafen a reality that I wasn’t taking seriously. Israel is about 11895.18 kilometers away from Panama. My new home had a  language completely different from the one I was used to, where there are no vowels and it is read on from right to left. Until today, I still have cultural clashes with the members of the new society I belonged to, and I did not count on the fact that in 'the country of my dreams', the cost of living was very high and disproportionate to my earnings.

When I moved to the Netherlands, I found different challenges but no less difficult. I managed to move (after struggling a lot) with a lot of illusion but finding new obstacles to conquer.

The problem with fairy tales and fulfilled dreams 

In fairy tales, stories always end after the princesses get married and live happily ever after, but they never explain what happens after that. It is likely that the reason for not doing so is due to the fact that stories speaking of responsibility, depression, fear, loneliness, and new obstacles, may change the genre of the story to a drama or comedy with a dark sense of humor. 

In my story, I found myself without a single penny, no resources to buy medicines when I was sick, no plates to eat the shabby instant meals I had in my cupboard, afraid to have my phone cut off, or get kicked out of the apartment where I lived due to a bounced check.

On one occasion after a failed job interview, I was in the middle of Tel Aviv (a city I didn’t know well by then), without cash, a blocked credit card, and with my phone battery dead. In the middle of the night, lost, desperate and not knowing what to do, I almost had to sleep on the streets. Fortunately, I met very hospitable strangers who helped me return home safely.

Why didn't I give up?

I could have returned to a comfortable life back in Panama, after having felt that my dreams were completely shattered. But one day in the middle of the chaos I received a message from an unexpected person. A friend of my sister; who told me about a book that she read regarding courage and how I have been a great example for her. It seems that she always admired the fact that I gave little importance to what others had to say about me; I  would continue to live my life in spite of my fear and would pursue my dreams regardless of their location. 'Courage' is the word she associated me with.

After reading her message, I knew I had to keep trying and that I couldn’t let myself be defeated by the obstacles. This was just the beginning of a new story and I had to hang in there with my head above the water.

Why shouldn’t you give up? 

Think about it ... You are the owner of your own destiny, and you are what you decide to be. Just like you cry, fall, and get afraid, you will laugh and you will have learned a hundred lessons. Little by little these will help you to move forward, with a strong stand towards your new victory. In my case, I perceived my challenges, as a source of inspiration to write great stories. Giving up wasn’t a good story to tell. 

Today, I am happily married to someone who also had the courage to pursue his dreams. I am healthy, with a job that I am passionate about, and that allows me to help other people. I am eager to start a new chapter.

What kind of story do you want to tell?

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