I was previously a war correspondent and media analyst in my home country, a mesmerizingly Eastern European political creation that used to be known as Yugoslavia before it fell apart in a bloody civil war. The career reasonably fulfilled my deep-seated passion for challenge. Reporting on the destruction and devastation of the war was an incredibly demanding profession that required you, at all times, to think on your feet and come up with out-of-the-box solutions.

After a number of years, I found myself struggling emotionally with the realities of the war. I realized that on the outside, I was this hands-on, dedicated, crusted-over and experienced war reporter, but inside, there was an inalienable longing for peace and an alternate reality. I was becoming a casualty of my own zeal.

I left Bosnia and moved to the United States. I landed in New York City, with a burning need to rebuild, both mentally and professionally. Struggling with the horrific experiences I encountered, I decided I needed to create and design, and I attended the interior design program at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I fell in love with the idea of the recreation of interiors. Eventually, I received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from FIT, graduating Summa Cum Laude from the program. That led to my current career – the dazzling and captivating world of real estate in the Big Apple.

Reporting on the war taught me to embrace fluidity and welcome challenges and change with open arms. At the same time, I learned to stay positive no matter the circumstances. Having a positive outlook on life helped me get through the destruction of my home country, and gave me the strength to start over and move to the United States. The war also contributed to my lasting desire to build and create.

It was here that my dreams were brought to life, and it was a humbling experience. Jumping into the real estate industry not only improved my personal skills but also taught me that truly, you can do anything you set your mind to.

I credit my success to my ability to take lessons from the past, while all the while looking ahead. I tend to try to put the pieces of a puzzle into context in order to identify what the next challenge may be and how best to approach it. Along the way, I welcome mistakes, one and all the life’s biggest learning opportunities.

Aleksandra Scepanovic is Managing Director of Ideal Properties Group, one of the largest, privately owned, independent real estate firms specializing in premier Brooklyn neighborhoods.