On today’s blog, I will share the hardships I have been through as an expat. During these past few months, I faced a lot of challenges since I moved to a foreign country. I was unemployed, broke, and I got no friends.
At the age of 23 years old, I saw myself as a failure and unfulfilled with life. It’s hard to believe that this was once my life before. I know I have been through a lot, but this was one of the hardest season for me. It was so difficult because I don’t know what God’s purpose for me, but I have to cast my fears aside and believe in his works.
How did I come to this?
I was born in a family where my Dad works abroad for 9 months and I only get to see him for only 3 months. There are a lot of family gatherings which my Dad missed because he wanted for us to have a brighter future. Working abroad means that the number of days you get to spend time with your family are limited.
Ever since when I was a child, I have never dreamt of working abroad because I knew the amount of sacrifice my dad did and I don’t want to suffer the same thing. Despite all that, my mom encouraged me to work abroad. My mom requested for me to assist and help my brother because of my nephew’s medical case. Being a good daughter, i followed my mom’s advice and took up the remaining small amount of strength and courage I have, then flew 4354 miles away from home. I didn’t want to work abroad, but most of all, I need to do this for myself. I have to step outside of my comfort zone and explore all the possibilities even though it is hard to leave my family and friends.
The Flight, Fear and Failure
I remember the time when I was waiting to get interviewed by the immigration officer. I was scared and nervous. I told myself “If I get offload then it is not meant for me” and so here I am a couple months later a certified Overseas Filipino Worker living in the UAE. I am a beginner blogger, college graduate, interior designer dropout, ex-wellness coach and ex-entrepreneur. You may have wondered why “ex” because it didn’t turn out well. I tried a lot of things in which I successfully failed at. I wish I could say everything is good and everything in my life is working perfectly fine, but I would be lying if I say so.
I thought that life would get easier after I got my college degree and once I live abroad. I was wrong. I felt that I was a total failure because I was broke and unemployed. There are a lot of times where I questioned myself if I am even worth to anything. I was holding on to my last money which was 100 dirhams. Unfortunately, it was torn apart and I had to google how to put it back together. I found myself just laughing on how ridiculous I look like trying to salvage my last money, just so I could buy things that I want.
I know money can’t buy us happiness, but I was unfulfilled and desperate to get validation from tangible things. I don’t want to ask money from my brother because I know they have a lot of bills to pay and they already paid for my visa and other expenses.
The reality hits me that I need to find a job as soon as possible.
My nephew was in the NICU (extensive care unit for babies). We were in and out of the hospital for several months. I lost count of the number of days we visited my nephew and during those months I didn't have a lot of success in job hunting.
If you think looking for work abroad is an easy thing to do, then think again. The economy was down when I got here in the UAE. There weren’t a lot of job opportunities that I find suitable for me and my time was limited.
Desperate to find a job, I was willing to accept the advice of my auntie. She told me that “Being a cashier at a supermarket is not that bad.” I have nothing against it. I think we all need to start somewhere in life, but I have studied in an exclusive all-girls college not to end up as a cashier. My heart (ego) couldn’t take it, so I set aside my auntie’s advice and continued on to find a suitable job.
The picture below was when I had my first interview ever. I was full of hope and dreams, but it turns out the job wasn't meant for me. After that I went on to another interview for internship only. I received an email. They informed me that I passed the interview and I will start right away. The internship period went along without having my nephew hospitalised. I thank GOD for it. It was really a blessing.
My internship lasted for only two months because they can’t issue me a visa which I needed to be legalised working here in the UAE, so I didn't renew the internship contract and went on to find another job. It took me about three months to find a job. It was that long. Imagine my frustration and desperation. I couldn't look in the mirror because all I see is a woman who failed in life.
God’s Perfect Timing
During these three months, Pope Francis visited the UAE and my nephew had another successful surgery. Blessings after blessings came pouring in. I was so blessed to witness the holy presence of Pope Francis and grateful for my nephew’s fast recovery. I didn't think that it was coincidence that Pope Francis came here. It was our destiny to have him blessed us with his holiness. My nephew had a close encounter with him. Pope Francis kissed my nephew and it was the most beautiful thing in the world.
I was happy and blessed although I still didn’t have a job and money. I felt this light hearted feeling inside me that everything will be okay. I felt God’s presence in the eyes of my nephew and his holiness Pope Francis.
I looked at my nephew. He was smiling at me with those beautiful eyes. I couldn't help myself, but to confessed all of my worries and problems. Tears began pouring out of my eyes. I told him that “I will no longer be worried which job I should take or how I will earn money. I will let it go and offer it all to God Almighty. I believe in God’s work. He loves me. He has a greater plans for me” then all of a sudden I completely broke down in front of my nephew. I was ugly crying, but I felt that I was free and loved.
My heart was once filled with doubts and fear, but now it is filled with love and hope. When I start to let go and offer what troubles my heart to God, things begin to change. My perspective on life has changed. I have learned to mature in the midst of hard times. I have learned how to be grateful and content with nothing. I have learned how to be grateful when nothing is working out. I have learned how to be patient and kind. I have learned how important it is to depend on the holy spirit.
I have learned that God is all I need. I don’t need a job, relationship and money to be satisfied. All these challenges were a training ground for me. God told me to leave everything that is comfortable and by faith he will show me what’s my purpose. These were all a test for me. He let me suffer, so I can grow and develop.
Everyday is a constant battle of overcoming my fears and worries. Life abroad is hard. I live far away from my family and friends. I feel homesick sometimes. This is not my comfort zone. There is no job security. There is no telling when you will lose your job. A natural disaster could happen at any moment.
If I keep thinking of the bad things that could happen, I will always be fearful and stuck inside my little bubble. In life we need to grow, flourish and become the better version of ourselves. There will be times that you will have to choose between stepping out of your comfort zone or staying inside your bubble, I hope you choose to walk with faith and not by sight.
I hope you don’t let your fears stop you from achieving your goals. I pray that you don’t settle for a job that God didn’t want you to take. Remember everything is according to God’s plan even the problems you are facing. Learn to let it go and offer it all to God. I promise he will take care of it.
If you are looking for a job, talk to God. If you are facing a dilemma, pray to God. If you are discontent with life, talk to God. If you are depressed and lonely, talk to God. He will lift up all your problems if you just open up your heart to him.
I hope that you get enlightened with this post. If you did, it would be amazing if you share this to your friend.
P.S I have a job now and I’m grateful for it. Before I used to wear the same shirt when I go to church and malls, but now I could afford to buy the things that I want without asking anyone to lend me money. I am truly grateful for God’s love and plan.
Look at my baby nephew, he is so adorable. Thank God he is recovering well from the surgery. The other photos are from my work and internship. I met a lot of amazing people at work. Some of them became my friends and I love them. When Pope Francis visited the UAE, everyone wanted to go, but not everyone can go. The tickets were only limited. Luckily, my sister-in-law talked to a priest and gave us tickets. It was the biggest event of the year and I’m thankful that I get to experience it.