What’s Standing In The Way Of Your Happy Ever After?

Sam’s Driver’s Licence Expired, so Did Her Longtime Relationship, and Now Her Job Had Too

Photo by Tobias Keller on Unsplash

It dawned on Sam that everything has an expiration date, as she closed the door for the last time to the apartment she had shared with her boyfriend Karl. The lease had also expired. It was time for Sam to move on, or actually to move back home.

But let’s back up to Sam’s story.

A What’s Standing in the Way of Your Happy Ever After: Case Study.

Sam had grown up in the country in Ireland, where her family owned a riding stables. She had an idyllic upbringing, and although an only child, she had never felt lonely. Her parents were loving and supportive of everything she had ever wanted to do, and she had a good group of school friends, all of whom mucked out at the stables at weekends and during the holidays.

Although idyllic, life at the stables was also remote. As a child and into her early teens this gave Sam a great sense of freedom, but as she grew older it gave her a sense of feeling confined. What had once been an open world was now closing in on her, and she felt a need to escape. This coincided with Sam finishing college, ready to go out into the world of work. Her parents had secretly hoped she would join the family business at the stables, but recognised it was important for Sam to choose her own path, and as always they were supportive in whatever that meant for Sam.

Sam had studied business at college, and without even applying, she was offered a job at her local bank. The manager, Orla, was a lifelong friend of her parents, and knew Sam all her life. She admired the young woman she had grown into, and she also admired and respected her work ethic, from a young girl helping out at the stables, to the work she had done at the bank, during her summer internship. Sam had a curious and creative mind, and this together with her ability to get things done, had really impressed Orla. The bank needed a business makeover. It needed to move from its staid, old-time, traditional approach to the next generation of banking to meet evolving customer needs. Orla felt that Sam’s skills and work ethic together with her vibrant approach to her work and life, was just what was needed to help make this transition happen.

Then on her twenty-first birthday, her boyfriend Brian proposed to her. That on top of Orla’s job offer, together with knowing that there was an expectation that she would take over the running of the stables (most likely at a time to coincide with her starting a family), was the tipping point for Sam. She felt if she accepted all of this, she’d be trapped forever. This wasn’t the happy-ever-after Sam wanted.

Sam asked herself: What do I need to do that will make me happy?

Reflecting through self-feedback brought her the answer.

And so, on an early hazy summer morning, Sam boarded the boat-train from her local station, caught the ferry to Wales, then boarded the night-train to London Paddington. She was ready to begin her new life, a life of freedom and adventure, in search of her happy ever after.

Immediately she began a business-development job with a travel company, which took her all over the world. She was living her dream in her quest for freedom and adventure. She met interesting people and had lots of amazing experiences.

Seven years later, Sam began to feel weary from living out of a suitcase, and the thought of another flight and another hotel room brought back the sense of feeling confined, she had lost her sense of freedom again.

Sam asked herself: What do I need to do that will make me happy?

Reflecting through self-feedback brought her the answer.

So, she left her job and began working for a startup that catered for adventure and activity holidays in the UK, with a focus on bringing communities and businesses together through tourism and hospitality. Her first day on the job she met Karl, and they began dating. She finally felt she had found her happy-ever-after in both her life and her work.

Seven years later, it all began to fall apart. Sam and Karl knew it was time to end their relationship. There was no big explosive moment, they had simply grown apart. Then Covid-19 happened, which completely destroyed Sam’s industry of tourism and hospitality. Sam’s company didn’t survive the economic fallout from the pandemic, and Sam was out of a job. This was compounded by the fact that all travel to and from the UK was banned — with the exception of free movement between the UK and Ireland.

That recurring sense of feeling confined, and that she had lost her sense of freedom, yet again had returned.

Book Wisdom

Sam was reminded of the chapter: ‘Dedication to Reality’, from the book The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck.

Peck writes: “Truth is reality. The more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world. The less clearly we see the reality of the world — the more our minds are befuddled by falsehood, misperceptions and illusions — the less able we will be to determine correct courses of action and make wise decisions. Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there.”

And so once again, Sam asked herself: What do I need to do that will make me happy?

Reflecting through self-feedback brought her the answer.

There was nothing to keep Sam in London, and there was nowhere for her to go but back to Ireland. The time had come for Sam to move back home. She needed to vacate the apartment before the lease was due to be renewed. She packed her bags, got her driver’s licence out of the drawer, ready to book a car to drive to the port, only to discover that too had expired.

So, fourteen years later Sam found herself retracing her journey from London to Ireland — well in reverse that is. She caught the night train from London Paddington to Wales, picked up the ferry to Ireland, and then the boat-train home to her local station.

But it was different this time, or actually it was Sam who was different. As she rode across the fields on her first day home, breathing in the wide-open space, that sense of feeling confined was gone. It was replaced with a strong sense of freedom.


The stables were coming out of a three-month lockdown. Sam’s help was needed to not only re-build her family business, but also the businesses of her local community. Her skills, experience and expertise were exactly what was needed to get things moving again.

Orla was the bank representative on the team coming together to get the community and businesses started again. And yes … Brian was on the team too.

For Sam, being back where it had all began, for the first time she felt that her whole life made sense. Up until then she always felt on the outside looking in at her life; now she felt she was in her own life, looking out and for the first time seeing clearly everyone and everything around her.

Her life felt simple for the first time in a long time, maybe as far back to when she was growing up. She wasn’t sure if it was because of Covid-19, but every day she was appreciative of all the simple things in her life. Oftentimes that would be as simple as being just a good feeling.

Has Sam arrived at her happy-ever-after? Well for now, that remains to be seen. Maybe we need to come back in seven years, and pick up on Sam’s story then.

I leave you with the questions:

What do I need to do to make me happy?

What’s standing in the way of my happy-ever-after?

Words of Wisdom

It’s true many things in life have an expiration date. The trick is knowing when that is, and being prepared for it. Because all these things can sneak up on you, and in the end you’ve got to know when something is over, and be willing to let it go.

Sage Wisdom

Every problem has an expiration date too. But your dreams, your happy-ever-after, don’t have an expiration date, so take a deep breath, and try again.

We only know one thing for sure in life, where we’ve been and the journey we took. Our paths come together and then break apart. We can only hope that they lead us back to the people we love.

Today’s Featured Book is: The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck

Sam’s story was featured in my book: How To Pursue The Superpower of Happiness, from The School Of WorkLife book series.

Click on the above title for an inside view of the book, where you will see the stories and assignments. Tap the link below to see the other books in the series. 

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of www.schoolofworklife.com My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.