Follow your dreams

December 8, 2017
By Iqra Sarfaraz

Most people struggle with their studies and career choices, nothing novel about it.


Most people struggle with their studies and career choices, nothing novel about it. I also struggled to reach where I am today. Looking back, I cannot help but feel that I wish I knew back then, what I know now.

My name is Alia. I was lanky little girl, adored by daddy the most. My mom was a housewife and had her hands full, raising five children, which she did with great devotion. There was something special about mom. Thinking about her takes me back in time ...

“Alia! Come and get ready for school this instant!” she would shout, running after me with the hairbrush in her hand. “Why do I have to go to school? I don’t like it,” I would reply, crying my heart out. But Mom’s commitment to our education was incomparable.

I was a position holder till I graduated from Class V. After that, I started going down. Maybe the reason was that I was still trying to get used to the school I was shifted to. It was hard to cope as everything was different. And, competition was huge! My confidence shattered even more because the girls I became friends with were all studious. Mom was not happy with me, which made me sad. I understood she was upset as I used to top every test. Still, it was de-motivating.

One thing I was good at was Art, which was surprising. I never gave it any special attention, but drawing came naturally to me. “Look at Alia’s drawing,” my art teacher would tell the class, and display my work on the class soft board. She displayed my drawings in every classroom she went to.

I understood finally that formal education wasn’t my cup of tea. I was a creative person but had to struggle with subjects like Math and Science. My parents were unhappy, but gradually I stopped caring about it. I was naturally inclined towards something good, something limitless and beautiful...

In senior grades, reading and writing piqued my interest. I was the best reader in my class. “You know what? You’re the most charming girl in this classroom; you have amazing reading skills,” said my teacher of English once.

That day I felt so proud of myself! I had a good accent and pronunciation, so my language teachers started to rope me in for debate competitions. Often, I was asked to host school functions. At this point of my life, I didn’t really know what to study ... I was still trying to follow the footsteps of my clever siblings, since that was what my family wanted me to do. I didn’t know I could study what I wanted, or Science was not the only subject for bright students. To my family, Arts was only for losers. Looking back, I laugh but at that time, it wasn’t funny.

In the meantime, my older siblings were testing the waters outside. They were experiencing university and college life and doing great. They were all pursuing careers in fields like engineering and commerce. Me? I just used to paint. I hated Math! How many times I got a beating for flunking Math class tests, I have lost count. My siblings mocked me for my lack of prowess in Math, and I used to feel mortified. “Hey, I don’t need to use logarithm and integration in my day to day life,” I would tell them with a chuckle. In fact, my Math was so bad I barely scraped through my Intermediate Exam. I was unable to get into an engineering university. “Hey, you should take admission in Mass Communication. You are creative. You can’t study engineering or medicine,” my brother suggested.

It was a bright sunny winter morning; I went to check the list. My heart was pounding so hard I thought it would come out of my chest! And then I saw my name on the list. I was deliriously happy!

“Is this what you want?” inquired my mom. “Yes,” I replied. “I hope things will work out for me, ammi,” I answered, happy beyond imagination.

I saw my happiness reflected in my mother’s eyes. Oh, after all these years, I had found my calling. I started to write, did internships in different newspapers and worked on improving my writing skills. It was a whole new world and I was having fun exploring it.

While doing my BS, I lost my parents. It was a sudden jolt; nothing could have prepared me to deal with it. I became very sensitive, but somehow this loss made me stronger; I had nothing to focus on in life except career.

It was at this point in my life that I became fascinated with English Literature. For the first time in my life, I did what I aspired to do. I learned that art in any form, be it poetry, or prose and of course painting, is a form of discourse, a means of communication and a record of what human beings believe about the nature of the world. My family and friends were clueless about what I was up to, but it didn’t matter. I was just following my heart, thanks to the rebellious soul that resides within me.

Art, according to historians, is a visual philosophy, but I feel that art is a visual theology - a way of thinking about the nature of God and the relationship of God to mankind and to all other creatures. Studying English Literature made me strong at critical thinking and helped me as a budding journalist.

It’s been more than a year since I completed my Masters’ degree, and now I am working as a Sub Editor in a renowned publication. Deep down, I feel satisfied, but it’s true that learning never stops. I am still exploring and want to go further. Why am I telling you my story? Simple: I want to tell everyone out there, especially parents, that every personality has different facets, and nobody knows how to break it down into separate traits. Even if you have a finely-tuned awareness of your characteristics, it is possible that you may not get a job to your liking. Don’t be sad  if you don’t do well at a job; move on and never stop. Things will turn in your favour eventually. You need to learn how to own your mess and mould it according to your way; because it’s not always about fitting in to this world’s criteria, it’s actually about becoming satisfied in what you do.