In the 11 years that I have been in Israel, I have experienced quite a bit.

I was in Gush Katif a month before the Disengagement. I saw the end of the Second Intifada, and watched the release of Gilad Schalit. I heard sirens during two Operations and saw many friends and colleagues leave for (and thankfully come back from) miluim during both.

I remember one day, already at work, when I heard that a bus had blown up. Unfortunately, because that is a part of my life here, I thought nothing of it – until I realized that it was a bus that I take to work everyday. Had my shift started a few hours later, I could have been on it myself.

Terror is a funny thing; it acts on a sliding scale – it doesn’t affect you, until it does. And then it hits you like a ton of bricks.

But terror can affect you in other ways.

The terror I feel when I hear about an attack in Jerusalem is very different than the terror I feel when I receive Whatsapp messages about Arab women potentially coming to daycare centers to harm children.

I’ve heard first-hand accounts of how everything would stop during the Second Intifada; there were memorials for those who were killed and somber music on the radio to reflect the mood. But after a while it became too disruptive, too despondent, too depressing; and so it stopped. People would hear the news and sigh, but then go on with their day.

And that has become the status quo: sigh and continue.

It was how we coped with Operation Protective Edge. It was how we coped with Operation Pillar of Defense. It is how we cope with mostly everything that goes on over here. Because there isn’t much else we can do. To give in to terror would mean that they are winning. And that’s just not gonna fly.

So we crack jokes about the need for a Gaza Strip summer camp (complete with swimming pool!), and awkwardly smile at our neighbors who have shampoo in their hair as we huddle in the safe room. We make Iron Dome Bingo Scorecards and take #shelterselfies. We create a new IDF tag with umbrellas, nunchucks, and selfie sticks – our current weapons of defense. We carry pepper spray; lacking that, Windex.

But our skin is only so hard; our minds only so tough. There’s only so much humor and sarcasm before we snap. And I see it, now more than ever – people reporting the slightest suspicious item or person, Jews attacking Jews because of mistaken identity. Police, security and the government all call on us to be calm and not panic, but it’s hard.

That’s really the only way to describe the situation, the matzav. Hard. Difficult. Terrible. Each one before this one was also hard, and difficult and terrible in their own unique way.

Each time it is so easy to break down completely and give in to the terror and the fear.

I remember the look of panic on my daughter’s face when she heard her first siren. Even more distinctly, I remember saying to myself the following Yom HaZikaron that she would hear the siren and think we were being attacked again. Because even though there are two words in Hebrew for siren – az’akah and tzfirah – they both sound the same coming from the loudspeakers throughout the country…

In the 11 years that I have been in Israel, I have experienced quite a bit.

I’ve seen fireworks at 11 Yom Ha’Atzmaut ceremonies. I’ve been part of the start-up nation. I keep shmita. I debated and defended and discussed my religion with non-Jews, secular Jews and former Jews – sometimes all at once.

I’ve been to Eilat and Rosh HaNikrah–and everywhere in between. I’ve been over the Green Line. I spent Shabbat in Nitzanim, part of Gush Katif, now the Gaza Strip. I know people in almost every city from Be’er Sheva to the Golan Heights, just like everyone else in this country.

I met my husband. I birthed a child. I celebrated countless birthdays, and engagements and marriages. I saw my brother and sister follow my footsteps.

I discovered my passion, my purpose in life. I learned how far I’m willing to go for what I want and for the people I care most about. I furthered my education in ways I never thought possible. I’ve met good people, from all over the world. I have laughed, and loved, and lost, and lived. Above all else, I have lived.

Terror is a funny thing. I often ask myself how different my life would be if there was no terror at all. But I know that isn’t possible. Because terror is a part of life – both the good and the bad. So I take the bad terror, and I push it aside. Because there really is too much worth living for over here…

As Israeli’s struggle to cope with the recent reality of Arab attacks, we are seeking out our alumni living there to hear firsthand what their lives are like–how they are coping, continuing to live their lives and remaining strong. If you would like to submit a post to our Academy Stories blog, email icjanews@icja.org.