Gabriela Alves

Portrait Photographer Auckland

Gabriela Alves

How much power or control do you have over your life? It’s crazy that it doesn’t matter how organized you are, no matter how many plans you make, how ready you feel, things still can go completely out of our hands. My name is Gabriela and my story is about “Resilience” I’m from Brazil and I came to New Zealand in 2017 to study English. I fell in love with the country, for the challenges and for the life over here. I came here without knowing anyone, my first job was as a waitress in a catering company. I was living in a flat sharing the bed with my friend to save money. After 3 years, I was still in New Zealand and so proud of everything that I have achieved. I graduated from a Business course. I was living in my own room, I was working with something that I loved and I had found the love of my life, my  partner.

Everything was going really well and I decided to go to Brazil to visit my family for the first time after 3 years in New Zealand. Oliver went with me, as I wanted him to meet my family. I was planning the trip for ages, I was really emotional about going to Brazil, really anxious. The year was 2020, everything was going as planned, I was thrilled to be around my family and friends, and one of the best moments of my life happened, when my partner proposed to me. We were living the dream, so happy, so in love! My partner came back to New Zealand before me, I was going to stay 2 weeks more in Brazil to enjoy my family, and it is from that where my plans got out of my control, the rumours of a Pandemic it wasn’t a rumour anymore, suddenly it became something really serious and the whole world panic. A week before my departure from Brazil, I started getting worried about not being able to get on the Airplane to New Zealand, I changed my flight, but it was too late, New Zealand closed the borders for the whole world.

I remember till now when I received the news, I didn’t panic, I didn’t have any reaction, I just accepted. In my mind the borders were going to be closed only for a few weeks or months, so I was ok about it, especially because I could spend some more time with my family. During the lockdown in Brazil I have spent some really good time with my Mom and sister, but it was hard to have to deal with the distance with my partner because we had no idea when we were able to see each other again. After a few months in the same situation I started panic, I  lost my job in New Zealand, I had to put my room, I was far away from the love of my life and things started getting really bad in Brazil.

My life went from a free soul to a bird in a cage, I was feeling that I was losing my life, everything that I had achieved in New Zealand was gone. I have never felt so weak in my whole life, I was stuck in the past or in the future but never in my present. Me and my partner were supporting each other but after so long we were both devastated. We used to video call every single day, but after a while it was getting harder and harder. Life came back to normal in New Zealand. I was happy for my partner, so then we could at least have a life but on the other hand our realities became completely the opposite, I could feel that I was losing him in tiny bits. I had to learn how to be happy again, how to enjoy the little moments inside that apartment, my mom and my sister helped me a lot, we created a beautiful connection. After 1 year apart from each other, me and Oliver started to get so depressed, so hopeless, I will never forget the call we had where we couldn’t stop crying because we didn’t know what to do anymore. We couldn’t believe what was happening with us, it was so sad and we had no idea when the borders were going to be open, it could take years.

Because of this sadness we decided to break-up for a while, such a hard decision but necessary for us to be able to find ourselves again, fully our own love to be able to give love again. After a while, I decided to apply to get into the Country one last time, I was so not motivated
after so many NO. This last time I decided to put all my emotions in the letter for immigration, and somehow they listened to me and accepted me back, and after nearly 2 years apart from my love, I was finally able to come back. I felt like a dream coming true, I will never forget the magic moment of our first hug. It felt as if I had never left, our connection shined up, we couldn’t believe it, it was one of the best emotions I have ever felt, at that moment, I knew we were made for each other. Today, after that thunderstorm we felt that it was meant to be. It makes us stronger as individuals and stronger as a couple, we have never been so happy and sure about our love.

This whole history taught me so much, it taught me that we need to accept that things are out of our hands, we can’t control everything in our life. It gave me such a strong mindset, hard times look like they are going to be forever, but they’re not, we just need to keep going, living, accepting and embracing all our feelings, understanding our emotions, asking for help and to be able to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Being resilient does not mean a person doesn’t experience stress, emotional upheaval, and suffering. Resilience involves the ability to work through emotional pain and suffering. We cannot control everything around us, but I believe we can choose how we will deal with everything around us. Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

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