Karima, my story for Nina
“After all, seasons change. So do cities. People come into your life and people go. But it’s comforting to know the ones you love are always in your heart and if you’re very lucky, a plane flight away.”
A quote from my favourite series 10 years ago always reminded me of where I am and how blessed I am in this journey called life. It doesn’t matter how far you travel or where you go, you will always take your heritage with you. Some people know exactly what they want to become in life, while others may not even know where to begin. Still no matter what route you choose, with perseverance, strength and a good education or even autodidact, you can improve the lives of all.
I was born in a marriage in the mid seventies of an Arab father and a Dutch mother. Growing up with 4 sisters, I can tell you that my life was all but boring. My father always taught us that we have to be independent, smart, get educated and achieve something in life. That was the most important lesson I learned from someone who left his country to have a better life in the western continent. He was my role model.
As an adolescent sometimes I had some hard times, didn’t know where I belonged, in the western or eastern world. After I graduated High School I went to Monaco to discover life, I had my first job there, met new people and experienced another culture. It was wonderful, I met greet people, experienced life abroad without family and what was just a break turned out to be 3 years. After 3 years I realized that I needed to go back to Holland to pick up my study, because I wanted to achieve more in life as my father thaught me.
In the meantime I was blessed with the birth of my fantastic daughter and a good, but hard working life in Holland and studying late nights for my degree in Management and Communication. After some years of living life in Holland the adventurous girl in me came back and I decided to start my next challenge, starting a new life, in Spain! I always wanted to live in Spain, and I felt this was the right moment.
My daughter went to an International school, in case it all didn’t work out and I would find myself forced to go back to Holland. But I found a job at a Multi National Oil and Gas company. I was living in a country where I didn’t know anybody and didn’t speak the language but I was determined to achieve. It was survival in the beginning but I counted my blessing years later.
I met people who saw my potential and they invested in me. Four of my dearest friends I met in Spain. All with different backgrounds but all strong, positive and intelligent. These women inspired me. My manager turned out to be a great mentor. He listened to my ideas to implement new systems of improvement and work on high management level. I complied and achieved, in the beginning I was making sacrifices but hard working paid off, it made me a credible and reliable person.
The company relocated me to London after 8 years and later on I started a new position in the one of the biggest media companies in the world. I had a new challenge, in a new position and built a new network. My daughter was doing great, a beautiful sixteen year old that speaks 5 languages fluently, won championships volleyball and has friends and family around the globe. What can stop us?
This summer I started to feel sick and after several tests and scans, I was operated and a tumour was removed from my belly. It was bad, I was diagnosed cancer and my world collapsed. I thought that I was living life at his max potential but now something was knocking on my door to haunt me. I felt deceived, angry and sad. I had just started a new challenge and now faced with illness and difficulty for the first time in my life. My new manager was supportive and I could work. I was committed and appreciate the flexibility from my company. I would plan the hospital appointments around my daily job. Currently the cancer is under control, every 3 months I must have a scan to determine if there are metastases and evaluate if I need therapy. I still work hard and try to be a role model for my daughter.
I am blessed that I got an education, lived in several countries, met people who inspired and helped me. Nowadays I am proud of my heritage and citizenship. After all,….everyone does things a little differently or maybe a lot differently. And I can’t think of anything more wonderful! Enjoy!