During these trying times, it’s really easy to fall into hopelessness. When will this all end and when will our lives get back to normal? It’s a constant question that I and those around me keep asking ourselves, but no one, except Allah (God), has the answer to.
With all the bad news being so all-consuming, I decided to watch an inspirational video from the HijabiBenjaliSisters. It’s a YouTube channel with two sisters, Monica and Nashiha, who talk about their lives and give advice. I have been watching these women ever since I was young and they motivated me to wear hijab and be authentically Muslim. Nashiha has a blog, nashihapervin.com, in which she posts amazing things and both sisters post videos from time to time.
This particular video, however, touched me and I realized I needed it to hear it. Please if you have 20 minutes to spare, watch the video! I do not want to spoil it for everyone, but the overall message is about having hope through difficult times and just knowing that Allah does everything, EVERYTHING, for a reason. When you pray to Him, He truly answers.
I actually have a personal story that relates to this topic of being hopeful. It’s my medical school journey. Around this time last year, I opened up my MCAT score and was filled with horror and dread from head to toe. It was lower than any of my practice exams and if I went to any advisor, they would have told me that with stats, I should wait until next year to apply. However, I never wanted to take a gap year. I was the type of person who wanted to go straight into medical school. Gaps year are great, but they are not for everyone, and I knew that was not apart of my plan. That is why I submitted my application and waited for my MCAT results afterwards, not knowing that what I carefully planned out, would actually be different than reality.
The following weeks, I was depressed and filled with hopelessness. I could barely get out of bed because I felt like such a failure. I worked so hard, spending 8-10 hours in the library every day for the past two months, doing that because I thought my hard work would pay off, that I would get the amazing score that I wanted. So, when that did not happen, I kind of gave up. My parents were worried because they never seen me so low before. My mentors tried to motivate me but every time I got on the phone with them, I cried. When I finally got the chance to do so, I placed my head on the floor and cried out to Allah. “Please help me, please guide me”, I would say. “If becoming a doctor is not for me, then give me a better career. But Allah, if it is for me, then please make my path easy”.
Right when I thought about withdrawing my application, I thought hmm, let me just submit this and see what happens. If I get rejected, at least I can get some insight on how to be a better applicant for the next cycle. But, maybe, just maybe, there was a chance I could get in somewhere. If a medical school gave me an opportunity, I would show them I am not only capable of being a great medical student but will become an even greater physician.
The rejections from medical schools hit like a hammer to my heart every time I opened up my email. I made a mistake; I should not have applied. As the year went on, it seemed like nothing good would come out of this. I keep hearing my peers and classmates talk about their interview invites and acceptances to different schools while I had…nothing. “What do you plan on doing after graduation?”, people would ask me. (Btw do not ever..EVER ask people what they plan on doing unless they tell you, you do not know what that person is going through so asking that question may bring pain to them). “I do not know”.
I did not know, I did not know, I did not know. Although I would have a smile plastered on my face everywhere I went, I was sad. But I never gave up on praying. I asked Allah every day to help me, to guide me to the right path, to show me the way. He is the God who caused the ocean to open up for Moses (pbuh) when he was escaping the Pharoah, surely He can help me as well.
He is the God who caused the ocean to open up for Moses (pbuh) when he was escaping the Pharoah, surely He can help me as well.
And then… I got an interview invite. Who? What? How? I was completely shocked. No, this must be a mistake. Did they not see my grades or MCAT score?
I went to the interview scared and feeling a little pessimistic. I was only one of two black students and the only hijabi. The interviewers knew the stats of all the interviewees, so they would know about my low MCAT and my GPA. So, instead of waiting for the interviewer to bring up my stats, I brought it up myself. I told them about my struggles, overcoming them, and how even though I do not look super great on paper as compared to other applicants, I was a determined person who was passionate about medicine and would work hard to make becoming a physician my reality. I was authentically myself the whole time. At the end of my interview, my interviewer looked me and said, “I hope you come here.”
And two weeks later…I got my acceptance.
Look at Allah. I told myself it was impossible, they told me it was impossible, but He said Oumou, this is already written in your book and you will get in. As I am typing this right now, I am crying. Crying about what I went through to get here, crying about the pain I experienced just last year, but crying because of how good Allah has been to me.
Someone asked me if I would change anything about last year but I say no, my journey is beautiful and I am grateful for everything that happened to me.
So, these are difficult times. And it seems like things are not going to get better. But they will because Allah promised us when there is difficulty there is ease. So please, do not give up on hope because if something or someone is meant for you, then NO ONE and NOTHING will prevent you from getting what is yours.