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  • Writer's pictureIsabel

Use every situation as an opportunity | Almost dying and losing my leg to strutting upon catwalks

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

No matter what happens to you in life, the only thing you can control is your reaction and what you make out of the situation. Sometimes, in the most inconvenient times in our lives unfortunate things happen, which can make your life flip upside down. However if you decide to find an opportunity in the situation, then you can turn it around and use it to make something out of it and turn it into a positive experience.

Here is the story of how I wanted to help change the world, became an entrepreneur with a changemaker company after intense business years, had an accident followed by blood poisoning - staphylococcus, almost died and nearly lost my leg 1 year into the company. How I then used this situation and started modeling, age 26, with a huge scar in order to continue my vision to help bring change into the world, notably break discrimination barriers within the beauty industry in Switzerland all whilst still running my company which went on for 3 years. How to use any unfortunate situation, when you are taken out of your comfort zone and use it as an opportunity regardless of what is going on in your life. It’s a story of how to learn to adapt to any situation and to make the best out of it, to use the power of the mind, to motivate yourself, to be true to yourself and continue your idea. All of which might lead you to the next unfortunate situation, also to be used as another opportunity, which for me was the venture of learning to heal myself alone, allowing me to express my initial vision in a truly beautiful way, an incredible one which can serve others much more.

There is an opportunity in every situation

Mission: Wanting to integrate international concepts to Switzerland

As a quick back story, there are a few reasons why I started my first company in Switzerland, and one of them was to help bring more international concepts into this country. When I moved to Switzerland at age 13, I was startled at the lack of internationalism in the country despite all the international schools and multinationals around, it felt like Switzerland was 10 years behind the rest of the world. Spending my teen years in this country, despite being in an international school, I felt cut off from the international world which I had gotten to know previously in my life. I came to really love Switzerland’s nature, history and mystery, yet found it such a shame that due to official administrational constraints this country did not adapt much international ways of living. By the time I was 18 I couldn’t wait to leave this country which I loved and hated simultaneously.

After spending 5 years studying, traveling and working in various different countries, I decided to come back to Switzerland to bring an international concept into the country, so I opened a smoothie company, as back in 2015 there only very few smoothie companies located in Geneva and Zurich. I joined the hype of the food truck organizations which happened in 2016, created a well-liked marketing concept “the 5 element smoothies” and developed one of the different missions I made for myself, which was to help bring international concepts into Switzerland.

Entrepreneur the 5 element smoothie company
Brining international business concepts to Switzerland
Be Experience smoothie truck at the Montreux Jazz Festival

Almost dying with blood poisoning (Staphylococcus) and nearly losing my leg

I ran this company for 3 years, however, 1 year into it, life had other plans for me and I had a shock accident where I almost died with blood poisoning - staphylococcus (that one in a million bacteria) and almost lost my left leg. Things were quite critical, but following 2 operations, I survived and kept my leg, yet was marked with a huge scar.

I decided to use this situation to continue my mission to helping make Switzerland more intentional. I adapted. I was now left with this huge scar (flesh still open) and I thought, this would be a great time to start modeling to bring a change to the perspective of beauty in the country, which had in 2017 still been quite old fashioned and not really integrated much diversity, which you could see internationally. On top of that, who starts modeling at age 26 with a Frankenstein scar? I thought it would also be a great time to test "the power of the mind".

The path there wasn’t easy, from lying in hospital for two weeks, having to retrain myself to walk again, regain my confidence to pursue this mission, ending up doing a local miss competition to strutting catwalks for international designers in Switzerland. To add the cherry on top of it all, my private life was shattering into pieces and I had no emotional support, but myself.

The modeling journey

January 2017 I was lying in hospital. Since I could not move, I applied to as many agencies in the country as I could find through research. Mid February 2017, I was released. At the time, I was going through a break-up, the situation with my family was not great, I was in the first year of running my company, working diverse side jobs and was partially living in my car, ex boyfriend’s place and parents. I was supposed to be on bed rest for 3 months to allow my leg to heal and to relearn how to walk, however I started getting some replies, and circumstances considering, a few weeks later, I was driving to Zurich (a 3 hour drive and I don't legal it was to drive with only 1 functioning leg) for auditions. I started off with doing different jobs heading into that direction, such as event moderations of VIP-hostessing. That following month I was allowed to do a moderation for Volvo at the Geneva International Motor Show or a few months later one for la Mobiliere (a swiss insurance company) at the Paleo Music Festival, whatever I could lay my hands on to get me to the right direction to start modeling.

As another little side note, by end of March, I was lucky to find a little studio near Montreux, which I was very grateful for as it gave me a safe space during this time in my life. The Universe has always got your back, when you stay determined ;)

Moderation Volvo Geneva international Motor Show
Moderation Music Festival

The months went by and in August 2017 I decided to audition for a local miss competition called Miss Yokohama to create bigger buzz about modeling with a huge scar. I participated and in September, I came 3rd and I will never forget the expressions of disgust on the faces of the Jury when they saw my scar. This simply gave me a feeling of triumph, as it was those facial expressions why I was doing what I was doing.

Miss with blood poisoning - staphylococcus

That same month another agency contacted me and I started doing some local photoshoots and low scale national catwalks. I continued my mission to break discrimination barriers in Switzerland, and different people in the audience of some catwalks came up to me telling how I inspired them by being able to catwalk with such a huge scar, and that felt like such success to me, I realized I could help others with scars feel confident about themselves.

Model with blood poisoning - staphylococcus
Model with blood poisoning - staphylococcus

By the time it was May 2018, I was allowed to do some catwalks for international brands such as Agatha Ruiz de la Prada or even gained Piaget as my own client for a Model job at the SIHH in Switzerland in January. With the power of the mind, I felt that I had achieved everything I wanted with this experience and it was now time to share this story and to move onto the next chapter in my life. Little did I know, before being able to share this experience as a source of motivation for others, I would first undergo the next opportunity in another unfortunate situation.

Model with blood poisoning - staphylococcus
Model with blood poisoning - staphylococcus
Model with blood poisoning - staphylococcus

Next opportunity to learn to heal alone

At the time to pursue my mission to help break the discrimination barriers I wanted to create some buzz about what I was doing, however I did not anticipate that I would develop sever anxiety, depression, vast amounts of fear, and lose all my self-confidence. The year 2017 and was 2018 were so heavy and lonely, it simply took such a toll on my own wellbeing.

At that time in my life, I was so broken, most of the time I couldn’t even speak anymore without my voice shaking or me breaking out into tears. I would spend weeks alone in my studio too scared to leave, it was hell, all whilst I was still running my company and putting on a "strong independent woman" image to the outside world. So how was I supposed to share a motivating and inspiring story, when all my confidence was gone and I simply wanted to hide from the world.

Therefore, at that time, I couldn’t pursue putting forward the story of what I was actually doing. However, I also felt there was an opportunity in that situation, an opportunity which would allow me to learn something even more valuable to others, learning how to heal yourself completely alone, in order to eventually help others help themselves. I knew my focus then had to be on healing myself, no matter how long this took.

A few months later, end of the year 2018 I also stopped my smoothie company, to fully focus on rebuilding myself - alone. I spent the following 4 years healing. I took a lot of time in nature, started exploring as much as I could as this really fueled and energized me. It was my go-to thing and what I really loved to do as a little child, which indirectly allowed me to strengthen my relationship with my inner child. I even started a blog called “Swissundercover” which you can still read on my website, putting forward all the places I was exploring which helped me tremendously on my path of healing alone in solitude. This also started my venture as a blogger where I successfully worked with numerous brands during in 2019 and 2020, but that is also another story.

I took the "being broken" situation now as an opportunity to learn how to heal myself, how to rebuild myself, how to be my own guide, which could in effect not only help me help myself but hopefully also inspire one or two others to help heal themselves. That experience, I translated over the years into my first poetry book A Human Metamorphosis and that story, well that is also another whole experience to share.

Author - Book about healing

I’m only writing this story now in 2023, because it took me 6 years to heal and rebuild myself and can now use my experiences to motivate and inspire others. It is also only a brief version of the story, covering the tip of the ice berg as I primarily want to share a story of motivation with this article.

It took me 6 years to start talking about this story, as everything during that time was extremely heavy. Having gone through hell alone, with absolutely no external help, I learnt how to become my own savior, healer, guide and hero. I went through wanting to help change the world, becoming an entrepreneur, letting go of my company after 3 years which became my whole identity for a time in my life, having my life flipped upside down, going through incredible experiences (good and bad), becoming a model to break discrimination barriers, being a blogger, healing in complete solitude and much more. All of these experiences allowed me to learn the most valuable and rich lesson of all, to change the world, its about changing ourselves individually.

Individually we can change the world collectively.

Model with a scar

Having said all of this, I really want to put forward that no matter what happens to you, no matter how unfortunate and bad the situation is you might find yourself in, you always have a choice to do something about it and use it as an opportunity!

The glass is half empty or half full, it's up to you, how you decide to see things.

One aim or experience in life, can quickly lead you to the next, in very unexpected and maybe even uncomfortable ways. But there is always an opportunity in every situation occurring in life. It's merely about our own perspective, how we see and decide to looks at things and what we individually decide to make out of every situation. What more is life, than a bunch of experiences? So no matter how messy things can be, there is always a valuable lesson or opportunity in a given situation.

After sharing this story, I have touched upon many other experiences which I will be sharing in upcoming "experience articles", the experience of my company, the experience of a being a blogger, even an experience of becoming a yoga teacher, the full experience of healing alone and much more! For me, life really is a bunch of experiences, which allow us, as human beings to grow (or not) and that's it. We are so fortunate to be alive and to get to experience this world through the "human vessel" we have each been given, with different strengths, weaknesses, talents and qualities, so don't take things too seriously, and enjoy the beautiful life you have been given.

We are generation change!

Enjoy, yours truly

© Isabel


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