Feel Like a Failure? Here’s How to Get Your Life Back on Track

19 June, 2020
Q As-Salamu Alaikum. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.

I am currently finishing my bachelors in science. Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to pursue medicine. However, things were not always great during my four undergrad years.

I lived at home and, due to some internal issues, my parents argued a lot. I am the eldest with 4 younger siblings. I took each and every argument they had at home to heart which seriously impacted my education.

In high school, I was termed an accelerated learner and always achieved really great grades; however, after the first year of the university, my grades really dropped. Nonetheless, I still pursued medicine. I try to study, but my grades are not cut for medicine. I feel like a failure.

Four years of undergrad and my grades are really bad. My parents sometimes make me feel very weak. They tell me that I have ruined my life at the age of 22. I am not married either while most of my friends and cousins are married, engaged, and have entered professional schools. I am still stuck in undergrad.

I am not sure why I have been facing such trials and tribulations. Since 2014, after reading upon the lives of the sahabah and their desire for Jannah and Allah’s pleasure, I have become an active da’eyah in the community, taking part in dawah at the campus and reading and memorizing the Quran.

However, I feel like I am not destined for success. Sometimes my parents tell me to pursue medicine and not give up my goals, but for the past few weeks I have developed hatred towards medicine.

I did not even feel like writing my medical college admission test although I bought the books, studied, and booked a date. My enthusiasm, my zeal, and my initiative to success are at their lowest now.

What should I do? I feel like I want to get married and start a new life. But sometimes I feel as though I should study and still pursue medicine regardless. Other times, I feel I should get married and still pursue medicine. Nothing seems to work.

I haven’t even received a proposal which I would be truly happy with. I don’t know how to get my life back on track. Regardless of all this havoc, I am happy that I am a very practicing muslimah who hopes to purse more deen in the future.

Please provide me with some guidance.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

Oftentimes in life when we are denied something we want very badly, we rationalize the loss by turning against it.

I suggest you find a quiet, nurturing place for self-reflection. Think about all the possibilities and write down those which resonate within your soul.

Think about what it is that you would truly want to do if life was free from drama, stress, and pressure. 

I kindly suggest that you prioritize your goals and desires and work on your self-esteem by thinking positive of yourself and your accomplishments.

I would also suggest that you engage in stress-reduction techniques daily such as prayer and dhikr, progressive body relaxation, deep breathing exercises, and walking.


As-salamu alaikum sister,

It appears that you are at a crossroads in your life which is common for young people at your age. Often times, while others may appear to have it “all together”, we may not know what is really going on behind closed doors.

Feel Like a Failure? Here's How to Get Your Life Back on Track - About Islam

Emotional impact

You are a bright, young lady with a wonderful future, in sha’ Allah, yet your parents’ harsh arguing had an emotional impact on you.

I am really sorry you had to endure hearing your parents argue. Surely, it was an upsetting experience which may have harmed your outlook on family, life, your career, and even your sense of self.

However, in sha’ Allah, I urge you to not let it continue consuming your life and direction. While you may no longer be under the influences of their arguing, it did affect your ability to study something you loved (medicine). It undermined your own self-confidence and ability to make decisions in life.

Reason

You stated you accelerated in high school, yet failed at getting good grades in the university. During this time, you were subjected to your parents’ arguing; therefore, naturally, your grades were not up to par. Had you not been so concerned about your parents’ situation, I am quite confident that you would have gotten excellent grades with no problem.

Oftentimes in life when we are denied something we want very badly, we rationalize the loss by turning against it. An example would be the fact that now you “developed hatred towards studying medicine”.

Most likely you don’t hate the thought of studying medicine, but you detest the stress associated with previous attempts to study and get good grades. Fearing failure as well as pressures to get married may also play a part.


Check out this counseling video:


Life

I kindly suggest, dear sister, that you find a quiet, nurturing place for self-reflection. Think about what it is that you would truly want to do if life was free from dramas, stress, and pressure.

Would you want to be married? Would you want to pursue medicine? Would you find joy in studying Islam to teach women? Think about all the possibilities and write down those which resonate within your soul.

Once you have a list of two or three things you would truly love to do, write a chart of practical steps needed to reach your goal.

I would also suggest writing down possible obstacles (such as the issues you experienced at home) and have a plan of action about how to address these issues so they do not get in your way.

Life a test

Life is a test, sister, and Allah (swt) tests us with many things. We all set goals and often we are tested as to how bad we want to achieve something. Often we get tired. Often we may even give up on attaining that goal.

However, by giving up, we may never really know how happy we could have been – or, in your case, how many lives you could change/save by being a doctor. It is my feeling that you would be an excellent, caring, and wonderful doctor who would do great things for your future patients. But in the end, only you can determine where your heart lies concerning this.

Thus, I urge you, in sha’ Allah, to do some deep soul searching. I have confidence in you that whatever you decide, you will be a great success. You just have to take that first step and start over with a brand new enthusiasm for life, for your dreams and goals.

Healing

Recreating enthusiasm is a by-product of healing. Healing from the trauma you went through due to your parents’ arguments and your concern for them should also be a priority, in sha’ Allah.

As things seemed to spiral downwards during this time and new elements were introduced such as marriage, feelings of failure, and low self-esteem, it is only natural that you feel out of sync with yourself.

I kindly suggest that you prioritize your goals and desires and work on your self-esteem by thinking positive of yourself and your accomplishments.

Keep a daily diary of your attributes and good points as well as your progress in reaching your goals. Try to keep things in a balanced perspective regarding your shortcomings (such as getting low grades) and remind yourself that you were under a period of great stress.

In sha’ Allah, I would also suggest that you engage in stress-reduction techniques daily such as prayer and dhikr, progressive body relaxation, deep breathing exercises, and walking.

Take care of yourself socially as well by going out with friends, connecting with nature, enjoying a nice lunch with sisters, or developing an exercise regime which will improve your health and mood, in sha’ Allah.

While you are taking this journey of self-healing and recreating your life and true desires, always remember that there will be more tests and trials ahead in this life.

In sha’ Allah, you will have the coping skills and techniques to deal with them effectively. Allah (swt) is our best healer, sister. Thus, I encourage you to make du’aa’. Know that whatever you decide, Allah (swt) is Most Merciful.

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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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 projects.