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My name is Najmah. I’m 21 years old. Today, I want to share with you my story about what it feels like giving up the things people expect from me to do the things I love. This is about living my own story and not that of someone else.

If this article inspires at least one person to make a life changing decision, then this post will have been successful.

We always start from zero

I was born and raised in Saudi and like most kids who were raised in Saudi, I had to leave the kingdom to study for college. Right after my high school graduation, all I thought was I knew what I wanted – and that was to take up Biology in Xavier University. At the age of 15, I left the kingdom with my false dreams and ambitions.

Two years of living in Cagayan De Oro independently and studying Biology was fun, but it was full of lies. It was a lie because I was fooling my family that everything was fine and I was fooling myself believing that I was living a life that I wanted, but it wasn’t. It was the life that my family wanted for me not what I wanted for myself.

After 2 years, I went back to Saudi Arabia and asked my parents to allow me to have a break from my studies while I find myself. I started all over again, from zero.

But, that’s alright because starting all over again means we learned a lot that made us find out that we are on the wrong direction and that made us get to know more about what we really want to do in our life.

Life is a series of failures

During my idle stay in Saudi, I was clueless of what I wanted to do. I asked for a break and every time my dad would ask me when would I want to go back to Philippines, I didn’t know what to say because deep inside I wasn’t ready. So, I looked for ways for me to find what I wanted. I asked my dad to enroll me in any university in Saudi, even there was no course that fit me. Although it’s difficult for us, non-Saudis, to get in a university for college, my parents did it for me just for me to find out what my skills really are. But then after we invested, the university cancelled my registration because of some problem in my papers. So, that was another failing moment for me and I felt really bad for the investment and effort my parents spent for me.

Truly, we are too blessed to have a pair of parents to guide us in whatever we do, and to listen to what our mind and heart say. They are always there even after us disappointing them in many ways. At the end of the day, they still believe in us. We can’t ever pay back their unconditional love, because that love is too special that its source is only from them.

In our loneliness, we find our strength

I felt really lonely during those times. I isolated myself. It made me feel less of myself seeing my high school batch mates doing well in college while I was in my room clueless of what I wanted in my life. But then one day, I realized what I really needed and that was my connection to Allah (swt). My life was so dark back then, and I realized that it was because I had forgotten Him for a long time.

My mother then reminded me to read the Qur’an and told me that through that I would be able to find answers to the things that have been bothering me. So, I spent my time in studying Qur’an. Every day I had a class in Qur’an reading with tajweed and tafseer. Eventually I was moving out from my own darkness. It was also the time I realized that I wanted to blog about my lessons in life and Islamic reflections. Then,  The Muslim Bricks was created.

Together with improving my connection to Allah (swt), I started to improve my wellness too. Truly, having a fit body and healthy mind help in being productive in worship. I spent some of my time in working out, and self-studying about Nutrition. It was then the reason I got interested with Nutrition and realized that it was the course I wanted to grow myself in professionally. Finally, I found out the message I wanted to convey in this world. It was to help others live with their highest potential and to improve themselves in all aspects of life to be productive individuals.

Then, I worked in a hospital in an insurance department. That time, I was able to get out from my isolation. It was also the time that I realized that I have skills that would be beneficial to others. After 3 months, I decided to stop working to go back to Philippines.

Be brave to do what you want to do

But it didn’t turn out that easy. My family was not convinced of Nutrition as a course that would help me in the future. They suggested me to take up either Nursing, or Pharmacy. They weren’t forcing me but they were doubtful of my chosen field and as parents they were there to assure that it would be a decision I won’t regret later. I explained to them what Nutrition is, and how it would be a way for me to help people.  Also, I told them that I don’t want to take up another course just to please other people, which is the reason why some youth take courses they really don’t want. As supportive parents, they gave me their 100% support.

It was January 2014 and I came back here in the Philippines with a set of new dreams and ambitions and this time, it’s really mine.

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Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student in Manila. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. Najmah is a writer and section editor on Hijabi Mag. She loves to write about Islamic reflections, personal development, blogging and health. She blogs on <a href="http://themuslimbricks.net">The Muslim Bricks</a> and <a href="http://bynajmah.com">By Najmah</a>.