The Happiness Connection  

Survivor isn't just a TV show

I am in a whirlwind of change. I’m also dealing with new challenges.

My week started with a clogged sewer pipe. Who do I call? Thank you, Living Water Plumbing. Mr. Maple Tree, I’ll be dealing with you and your roots soon.

I’ve also been working through computer hacking and scamming issues.

These challenges are not something I would choose to have happen, but they aren’t all bad. Challenges provide the opportunity to learn, grow, and change.

I experienced a situation in my 20s that left me forever changed. I wasn’t physically different, but I was mentally and emotionally stronger.

When I was on my teaching exchange year in England, I decided that one place I had to visit was Egypt. I couldn’t find anyone to come with me, so I decided to take a 10-day tour.

I thought I’d be on a bus with dozens of other people. That alone would be a challenging new experience. I hadn’t travelled much on my own and I hadn’t visited many foreign countries.

I flew from London to Cairo and was greeted at the airport and transported to the hotel. I had a few hours before the orientation meeting, so I wandered the luxurious lobby with its glittering shops.

That is when I first realized I was going to be in for some unwanted attention. I looked younger than I was, and my blond hair stood out.

I assured myself that everything would be fine as soon as I met up with the other people I’d be travelling with.

You can imagine my horror when I went to the orientation and discovered I was the only one on my tour. There was another tour with two couples on it. We spent the first two days together before they started their Nile River cruise, and I took a train to Luxor.

This was a time before the internet and cellphones, so I couldn’t even share my problem with anyone. I wanted to go home but couldn’t afford to buy another ticket.

In truth, I also didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to see the pyramids, the valley of the kings and all the other places I was so fascinated by.

My only option was to make the best of a bad situation.

I was scared to leave my room, but I got hungry and food was included in my package. I wanted to sit in a corner by myself, but instead was surrounded by the all-male wait staff.

Any time I stepped out of my room, I was the centre of attention. I dreaded it, but not enough to stay there and hide.

The tours I had signed up for while I was in England were solo affairs. I’d be picked up by taxi, dropped at the appropriate venue, and then retrieved and transported back to the hotel.

I would have been nervous taking a taxi by myself in Canada or England, much less in Egypt. I’m not sure I had ever been in a taxi before.

One horse drawn buggy driver in Luxor was determined we would go to an undisclosed place to smoke hashish. I wanted to go to the market. I had to threaten to jump from the moving vehicle for him to take my choice of destination seriously.

Every night, when I arrived safely back in my room, I congratulated myself and counted how many more sleeps until I went home.

I was in a relationship back in Canada, and I desperately wanted him to be there with me. For the first six or seven nights, I mourned that he wasn’t. I still remember the realization I had on about the seventh night.

I didn’t need him to be there to save me. I was doing just fine on my own. Having company would have been a bonus, but I didn’t need it. I also realized that if I could survive this experience, I could survive anything.

This challenge gave me evidence that I am a resilient survivor. I went from knowing that in my head, to believing it in my soul.

I’ve spoken and written about this experience many times because it forever changed me. It presented me with evidence of my resilience. It taught me that I can do anything – if I need to.

I don’t need to be in a relationship or to have help from another person to survive. Those things are good, but not vital. I can survive all on my own.

Survival is your No. 1 drive. You might be amazed to see just what challenges you can meet head on and come out the other side stronger and more confident.

It takes a special person to enter the scary world of challenge, especially if it is a place you haven’t spent much time. Often, the challenges that lead you to big changes, are the ones you wouldn’t choose for yourself. Instead you are forced into them.

I would never have chosen my Egypt experience, but I’m glad it chose me.

The next time a big challenge enters your word, smile to yourself, roll up your sleeves, and show yourself just what a survivor you are.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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