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I Have a Dream, But It Seems I Can’t Reach It

Questioner

C

Reply Date

Jan 06, 2018

Question

As-Saalam Alaikum. I am from Pakistan and nowadays I’m much stressed. I wasn't able to get admission in the medical university. I am doing pharmacy but I’m not interested in it. I want to become a neuroscientist, but there is a lack of opportunity in my country. Day by day, I’m getting phobia from university things. Sometimes I even have suicidal thoughts. I’m depressed. I just want to study neuroscience. I feel I never get what I want. I always loose things and people, that’s why I feel sometimes I want to give up on life. My mother thinks that I can never reach my dream to become a neuroscientist while my father is also not happy with what I’m doing. I have pressure from everywhere. I tried to contact many universities and applied for opportunities but all in vain. Now I’m thinking of leaving pharmacy and pursue my career of neuroscience alone without the help of any university, because this seems to be the only option. Firstly, I was interested in astronomy. I knew I cannot reach it, that’s why I left it broken hearted, but now I don’t want to give up. I want to study what I want. Please help. I prayed to Allah and ask for repentance, but sometimes I think He is angry with me. I often cry on little things, I don’t have friends and no one likes me because I’m not beautiful. Whenever I see my friends enjoying their lives, I feel more depressed. JazakAllah kahyran.

Counselor

Answer


I Have a Dream, But It Seems I Can’t Reach It

Answer:

As-Salamu ‘Alaykum my dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us, and I pray to Allah I can do my best to answer your questions. I am so sorry that you’re going through all these problems with obtaining your dream education. I feel your pain and desperation in your words, and I pray Allah (SWT) grants you ease. Sister, I suggest we begin by getting your thoughts arranged concerning what you would like to do.

You have mentioned neuroscience and astronomy but stated you gave up astronomy. From your question, I can see your mind is all over the place right now, as if you are in a panic. I need you to in sha’ Allah find a nice and quiet place, and first practice some relaxation techniques. I want you to practice these techniques daily in sha’ Allah. In addition, when you are feeling stressed out or anxious, please do the deep breathing technique along with the progressive muscle relaxation. It will help you to relax, focus more, and gain greater concentration and control over your emotions, which is what you need.

Once you are relaxed and can’t think at a slower pace, I want you to write down a list of the things you would like to accomplish. Take joy in doing this; look at it as a lovely map for you to use as a guide in the future. When you are done, please journal your feelings of how it felt while you were doing this.

Next, I want you to make a list of all your wonderful attributes and good points. And I know there are many! You stated “ I’m not beautiful, no one likes me, I don’t have friends” and “ I am very depressed, I always loose things, I cannot sleep sometimes, nor eat, I often cry on little things, get suicidal thoughts, my life is so miserable.”

Sister, these are indicators that yes, as you stated you are depressed. I suggest dear sister that in addition to practicing relaxation techniques and making your lists to refine your goals, you also seek counseling for depression as soon as possible. Please find a clinician in your area who you can see on a regular basis to address the depression. Once it is addressed, you will find that you have more confidence, a greater ability to make decisions and a clearer path on how to make your goals happen (such as studying neuroscience).

Right now, you are all over the place emotionally. You need to regain control over your emotions and happiness and take charge of your life as a young woman. Right now, depression is interfering with logical thinking. I can see you are a very intelligent young woman. However, you need to take care of yourself first in order to begin living in the fullness of your potential. You can do it, I have faith in you. It is my feeling, however, that you have been struggling with depression for awhile now, possibly longer than your desire to become a neuroscientist. I think the failed attempts of studying neuroscience were like the last straw for you. It is my feeling (and Allah forgive me if I am wrong) that there were and maybe still are some traumatic events in your life, perhaps from a young age that you have not yet addressed and are interfering with your ability to fully function in a healthy emotional state. Your self-esteem is low; you stated you were not beautiful. Who told you that? I bet you are most beautiful sister, but sadly, someone along your life path made you think you are not. These are the types of things you need to examine and heal from. Your social life also appears to be compromised as you said you had no friends. Again, why? I bet you are a wonderful friend. I suggest sister that you begin to look at these statements you made and start journaling your feelings about them and find out where these feelings and beliefs came from. Then counter them with a positive. A counselor can help you do this. This is another reason I suggest counseling. You need to see the true light and beauty of who you are, not the faulty messages someone gave you when you were growing up.

Once you address your depression sister, you will be able to better handle life’s bumps and knots that we all have to go through. It is not unusual to go through many university rejections before being accepted. That is common, most students realize this. Also, as a researcher myself, not every paper I do gets published – that’s just life! When in academia sister, you have to realize that there will be tests and trials, things that get accepted and things that don’t, classes we fail and have to take over as well as classes we ace with A’s. Is your passion for getting your degree as strong as your ability to withstand the rigors of learning? Did you know that failing is also a part of learning? We need to be able to go through the critical process of making mistakes and learning from them. This goes for every aspect in life. Instead of getting depressed and feeling like a failure, let a light bulb go off in your head and say “oh, okay, it’s done this way!”

Life is a learning experience and we are not born knowing everything. I firmly believe sister, you will succeed in whatever you set your mind to, as long as you don’t take mistakes or failures personally but you learn from them – as we all try to do –, and as long as you can retain your emotional composure and not get upset. As far as your limitations in Pakistan regarding universities, there are general and specific scholarships to study abroad, grants, Islamic scholarships and so on. You just need to get creative in your approach and be focused on your goals.

So please dear sister, start the relaxation techniques, find a good counselor to help you with the possible depression, focus on your lists and goals (both academic and personal), and look for creative resources and begin socializing with confidence. Join a Muslimah career group, go to the mosque and sign up to feed the homeless, take interest in a sport or yoga or some other interest you may have. This will not only be beneficial for your health and well being but will also get you out doing positive things and meeting nice sisters in sha’ Allah. If you commit to dealing with your possible depression and other issues, in no time at all, you will be ready to adequately address your career needs. I know you can do it. Lastly, Allah (SWT) loves you. Stay close to Him, pray, make du’aa’ for guidance and make istakharah regarding your career choice. He will never leave you. He may test you to see how strong you are. 🙂 But He loves you sister and wants to see you succeed in this life, and the next.

You are in our prayers. Please let us know how you are doing.

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About Aisha Mohammad

Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word poetry projects.

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