Are you career-driven or are you relationship-driven? Do you focus more on your career or do you focus more on your relationship? You don’t need to choose because you can be successful at both of them. All you have to do is find balance.
Discover how you can do so by reading Maribel’s story.
Personal and Family Backgrounds
I am Maribel G. Villalon, 26 years old, and I’m from Bilar, Bohol, Philippines. By profession, I am a Registered Nurse. We are all seven in the family: my parents and five children. I am the eldest among five siblings. I came from an average family and I grew up in a close-knit family. My family is not rich and my parents just earned enough for us. My father had been an OFW in Saudi for more than 10 years now. I remembered that he went abroad only because I asked him to buy me a gold necklace. My father loves us so much and he would do everything to give in our demands.
And try as I may now, I’m working very hard to help him and to provide the needs of my other younger siblings. My father had to work very hard to provide us our needs and wants, especially to give us a good education. My parents dreamt of having professional children with good lives someday because neither of them had an opportunity to attend high school and even college. And because of that, I have understood the value of education at a very young age. As a child, I was taught by my parents to be industrious, caring, obedient, reverent, hardworking and most of all, responsible. I have a lot of dreams and goals in life. I want to become stable in all areas of my life and have enough savings for my family and my own future family.
During my college years, I learned how to be independent and fend myself. I also learned how to budget and manage money well because my parents gave me just enough allowance to get by. I rented the cheapest bed space that I could find, ate the cheapest food that I could eat, and wore the cheapest clothes that I could wear. I seldom ate in fast foods and restaurants. I learned to wash my clothes and buy own things with the budget given by my parents. I know how hard life is, so I was thrifty as possible.
I spent my time doing paper works, studying and reviewing for exams. On weekends, I just stayed at home and went to church every Sunday with my family. I never had a night life and I never tried cigarettes and even alcohol. I studied very hard because I wanted to finish college with flying colors.
I graduated Bachelor of Science in Nursing in March 2011 with flying colors and I took the Philippine Nurse Licensure Exam once in July 2011. Results came in August. I passed it and became a registered professional nurse. Right after passing the board exam, it was time for me to work. It wasn’t easy to find a good job, something that would be suitable for me, and something that would make me happy and stable. While waiting for my license, I worked as a cashier at Watsons in SM mall-Fairview for 5 months. Right after my contract ended, I went home and worked as a staff nurse in a secondary hospital in Valencia, Bohol for 1 year. And after a year, I got a chance to work in a tertiary, government-owned hospital in Tagbilaran City for another 1 year.
The Path I Chose
Having the courage to step out of my comfort zone and in accordance with my plan to work overseas, I tried to apply to Saudi Arabia. I took and passed the Prometrics exam. Passing it will allow me to work in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, I was also given a chance to go to Norway through au pair (a domestic assistant from a foreign country working for, and living as part of, a host family. Typically au pair takes on a share of the family’s responsibility for childcare and receives a monetary allowance for personal use [Source: Wikipedia]).
I chose to be an au pair instead of working as a nurse in Saudi because I believe it will open doors for me. It will help me have a head start with my career. It will also lead me to meet people with different cultures and from that I will learn how to become more adaptable. This will then serve as my stepping stone to work as a nurse in Norway someday.
When I arrived in Norway, I fought the feeling of homesickness every single day. It took me a lot of adjustments, sacrifices, and efforts to survive in a place away from home. At first, I am so lonely since I didn’t have any friend. But my heart was telling me to continue fighting for my future. In order to overcome the feeling of homesickness, I constantly communicated with my family in the Philippines and my boyfriend in Malaysia via Skype and Facebook.
I studied the Norwegian language at the University of Oslo for a year and passed all three levels. This is the only way I could work as nurse and study here. I wrote down all my goals and plans annually. I crossed-out every goal that has been fulfilled and I’m proud to declare that with the grace and help of the Lord, I was able to fulfill all of my goals in 2014 and 2015. The biggest were: I was able to pass the Level 3 of Norwegian Language course (B2-C1), got a job, got a study place at one of the universities here in Norway and was able to renew my visa. It’s like; I was hitting four birds with one stone. I hit those because of my one goal: to live and work in Norway.
I was supposed to study again Bachelor of Science in Nursing here and at the same time, work as a part-time nursing assistant in a nursing home. But God has another plan for me and I have faith in His plans. I got a permanent job and I need to set aside for the mean time my nursing studies. Honestly, at first, I was confused. My heart is telling me to follow my dream to be a nurse here in Norway, and my mind is telling me to grab the job and work full-time as a nursing assistant.
But now, I made a decision. I need to grab the job. I need to work and focus on that first. I know whatever path I take, God is always with me and He will never leave me. On the other hand, I thank God for this opportunity because all the hardships and heartaches of my life were slowly being paid off. But, it’s not over yet. I still have so many dreams & plans. I believe that things will fall in their proper places in God’s perfect time. It may be hard now, but nobody said that life is easy. Life can be very that hard. But if I want to succeed, I have to keep going despite the hardships & challenges that I will face.
The Love Story
I am in a relationship with my boyfriend for 10 years now. We became official when I was still 4th-year high school though I already met him a year earlier. We studied at the same school. At first, I gave him a chance just so I would have a boyfriend. It is because I envied some of my classmates that they have their boyfriends to fetch them and brought their bags. I didn’t consider it as love back then. Call me crazy but that’s the way how it started. My mother that time didn’t allow me to have a boyfriend yet. I endured all harsh words, humiliations, hair pulling and beatings just because I have a boyfriend. I intended to follow my mother so I broke up with him as I understood my mother’s plan and being into a relationship was not my priority at that time. But he politely declined. He didn’t want us to break up. So our relationship went on.
Many said that being into a serious relationship will affect one’s studies and goals in life. It’s not true. I beg to disagree. It would still depend on how you both handle your relationship. I just made it as an inspiration while working on my goals. Until I finished college, still he didn’t leave me. I convinced him to apply abroad because it was his promise to me before. That was the first time; we’re into long distance relationship. We almost ended up our relationship because of no constant communication. All because we’re both busy at work and I seldom went to an internet shop to have a skype with him.
But still, we’ve managed to work our relationship out. He went home from Malaysia to fix our shaky and challenged relationship. When he went back abroad, things went back to normal like before. And it even made us stronger. Maybe because our commitment to each other is already matured and we can handle temptations well at this time.
Until now, we’re still in a long-distance relationship. I’m here in Norway, and he’s in Malaysia. We have different time zones and that is why we scheduled our date. Date time for us is skyped time. Though we see each other through skype, still it would never be enough. It’s been two years since the last time I saw and hugged him. Hopefully, I can be with him soon.
Patience, compassion, hard work, discipline, modesty, respect, empathy, honesty, accepting mistakes and integrity were the values I’ve learned. It’s always important to treat others with honesty and respect. Being honest is a quality all people need to have to go far in life. Empathy is feeling how one feels even if I’m not on his/her situation. Empathy should always be present when dealing with people. Respect means different things for different people. Respect is something that I should have so that I will also gain respect from others.
Modesty and discipline allow me to realize what my limits are. Helping me to stay focus and keeps me from becoming overconfident and reckless with my decisions. Patience, hard work, and accepting mistakes were the values that taught me to never stop even if I am in a difficult situation. Those values motivate me to stand up and keep moving forward. Mistakes provide me with opportunities to learn and to be strong amidst the downfalls and pitfalls of life. This is what’s life is all about – never giving up and to fight with all your heart.
The Secrets of Having a Strong, Long and Lasting relationship
For all those who are in a serious relationship now, all I can say is that both of you should make a decision to work for your relationship. You need to spend quality time together. And if there are any misunderstandings, fix it right away and don’t let the day end with hatred inside. If at times the problem is just so big and you can’t fix it the same day, just give each other enough time and space to cool down and realize own mistakes. Don’t worry, all will be well again.
For women, you should minimize being clingy and attention-seeker. It’s not good I can say. Most men don’t like that kind of attitude. They rather want an independent, practical and strong woman.
For men, don’t miss any opportunity to show care and attention to your woman. You should think of some ways that she would feel important. You should always find a way to preserve the spark you both feel the moment you see each other the first time. It will lead to a lot of arguments and problems if the spark fades in a relationship. The woman will also think that you’re having an affair and you don’t love her anymore.
The other secret of a long-lasting relationship based on my experience is the virtue of respect. Man, you should respect your woman and woman you should respect your man. Learn to appreciate each other may it be small or big things. You should also be honest at all times, not just sometimes. When you have a fight, saying you’re okay even if it’s not, won’t help in any way. Be true to what you feel and be courageous enough to say it to your partner. If there are issues to solve, resolve it right away and don’t recycle the same issue next time. Learn to forgive and forget.
I think the most important key to a long-lasting relationship is “communication”. Lack of communication can lead to a failed relationship. You should listen to your partner and not be the one; your partner would listen to. A one-sided relationship is not good. In other words, it should be “give and take”.
Finally, don’t try to change your partner and don’t even try to stop him/her in achieving his/her goals. Through that, you will know and love him/her even more. If you’re really in love, you only want the best for your partner.
You can be successful in your career without sacrificing your relationship. You can also be successful in your relationship without sacrificing your career. It’s just a matter of focus and balance.
Chase your dream and be in love. God bless you!
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