It is not a rare thing that I am often seen as some kind of super woman, that men are intimidated by me (I’ve been single for seven years!), that I’m seen as ‘hard’, super strong, straight to the point, driven, focused, missing a sensitivity button and maybe not all that compassionate at times. None of this is in a negative way, but sometimes it is just the perception that people who don’t really know me have of me. We are all the way we are because we have been conditioned through life experiences. And I was not spared this experience either.

You see, at the ripe old age of 18 years old, I was stuck in a civil war in my home country of Croatia. I was going through every day during a three-month period wondering if it would be my last, if my brother on the battlefield defending his city would make it, would my mother make it back to us after leaving shelter to get us water from a dirty well, all the while not knowing where the rest of my family were and if they were all alive.

Spending three months in a cellar breathing the same stagnant air with another 60 people who – like myself – hadn’t bathed properly for three months (and don’t start me with snoring sounds, I cannot stand snoring, unless it’s my beloved dog Jack!), went without clean water, showers, fresh food and most importantly freedom. There would be 24 hours of deafening noise and earth shattering from the constant bombing, my city was reduced to piles of rubble and dust, and we were witnessing dead and badly injured bodies. There are no words to explain what that felt like, so you may understand why I can be so ‘hard’ at times and why I do not have patience for bullshit and petty things.

Guys, nothing is as bad as bombs falling outside. I do not wish you to ever experience that – just trust me on this one. But I chose never to be a victim of my experience. When life gave me the chance to get out of the war alive, in one piece, not raped and with all my family members having survived, I didn’t have another choice than to express my gratitude to the universe and take aggressive actions in making something out of my life. I wanted to create something that would inspire others, I wanted to make money that would allow me to go places I never thought I would have the chance to see or buy myself beautiful dresses that I thought I would never have had a chance to wear.

So this is my story, but you do not have to go through drastic events in your life to realise just how precious life really is, how little dramas are not worthy losing sleep over and regardless of how low and desperate you may feel, that there is always a way to pick yourself up and start up all over again.

At 18 years old I lost my home, my country fell into pieces, I lost almost all my material possessions apart from a few little things, I lost friends and neighbours. I lost my childhood, I lost the carelessness of teenage years and found myself in another country far away starting all over again with just 50 German Marks in my pocket. So when you ask why I am fearless, why I know I could start all over again if all of it was taken away from me again (God forbid)? When you survive something like that, everything that comes after, it doesn’t matter how hard it seems, is never as bad.

My life experiences have given me focus. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter how crazy it sounds, war made me who I am, losing my father at the age of five when he was only 26 years old made me who I am, losing my beloved brother through the most tragic circumstance five years ago also made me who I am. I’m not that hard, I’m not uncompassionate, I just always wish that people could see how blessed they are and not thrive on unnecessary dramas.

When life gives you lemons, squirt them in peoples’ eyes. I’m joking! Ha ha ha… Drink tequila instead!