Hi everyone!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything…however, the last few weeks I’ve been feeling lost and to be honest, with a lot of free time on my hands. Thus, I simply wanted to share a little about what I have been up to for the last few months.

After leaving the UK, I moved to the United States because I had to. The first few months, although highly entertaining, were not without their low points. Living in a new place, without knowing too many people can be lonely, frustrating and expensive. Yet, I have learnt so much about this country and how things work, mostly from trial and error as well as from the many negative incidents that I have no control over. There were so many days when I just wanted to escape and return home to more familiar surroundings. I am keenly aware that many people would trade places with me in a heartbeat but people fail to realize that there are two sides to every experience and not everything is what it seems.

Eventually however, I came to realize that these things are sometimes an inevitable part of life and I’ve since not only become wiser but have learnt to always question everything.

For those who are unaware, in January 2017, I begun a graduate program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. After already finishing one graduate degree, why start another one so soon after? It might be seen as pointless by some, but it was due to a combination of factors: (1) I encountered many barriers in trying to look for a job (2) I realized the importance of learning counseling in the latter stages of the previous program and wanted to eventually learn more. The fact that circumstances worked out in this way can be interpreted either way. (3) I wanted to do more hands on, practical work which this program allows me to.

I don’t question if I made the right choice, because events so far have shown me it was the right choice. I question why I did not do this earlier and whether I deserve to be here at all. My family has made countless sacrifices for me and everyday I feel like I should be repaying them back, with a steady job instead of studying some more like I am.

Anyway, the experience thus far, has been interesting and educational to say the least. In terms of the program itself, I have gained valuable knowledge into how and why people behave as they do, how their behaviour can be explained by theories of human behaviour and the ways in which the individual can be helped. I have begun a journey where my counseling skills are constantly being honed and I am learning so much more about people, the unique ways in which they differ in terms of visible and invisible cultures and subsequently, how to best help them achieve their goals and desires. Through my lectures, I am starting to realize that I am enjoying myself more than I have before and I feel like I belong.

Outside of the classroom, I was fortunate to share a class with such unique and interesting people from varied backgrounds and cultures that I have never encountered before. Although we spend very little time together, the way our lectures were structured allowed us to be open, honest and vulnerable with each other. I listened to peoples stories, stories that were distinctive, colorful, heartbreaking as well as stories that demonstrated the strength, courage and innovation that we are all capable off.

Already, I’ve learnt to be more patient in my interpersonal interactions as well as more accepting and understanding of the differences that make us who we are. I’ve also learnt to be less judgmental and more loving to everyone I meet. I realized that the world has forced us to become more selfish and to take whatever we want. Yet, there is so much suffering and pain, even within people who have all the material comforts and I believe that the purpose of human life is to not only achieve ones goals but to also nurture and support each other to achieve self-actualization or the reaching of ones potential.

As you may notice, I lean favorably towards a more existential-humanistic perspective because it’s principles and methods of counseling suit who I am and how I view dysfunction and change.

Being here at this prestigious university, surrounded by bright, determined classmates has inspired me to work harder and smarter to achieve my dreams. Although 2017 has passed by in a blur, I am looking forward to the future because I know I am more invested in its outcome. I am more determined to make myself and my family proud as well as to be the best version of myself so that future clients can be inspired by the effort and determination with which I am choosing to make the best of this experience –  to allow me to grow, develop and achieve my dreams.

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