Hardships are meant to make you not break you

Ananke’s Empower Program Fellow, Areeba Qureshi shares her story celebrating Women’s History Month.
Hardships are meant to make you not break you!

Although life is always uncertain, I didn’t fully understand its significance until I experienced it. My mother passed away when I was a teenager and, on my way, to completing my O levels. I felt stunned by how abrupt and unexpected it was.

Being the family’s eldest daughter, I was now expected to handle the leftover tasks; I was destined to replace her. With that, I had my aspirations and my siblings to take care of, especially the youngest who was barely ten years old at that time. As a result, my career choices suddenly changed, and I became overly mature. After completing my assessments, if my younger brother was ill and alone at home, I would immediately return home. I kept on thinking that raising a child while also attending school, from teaching him to raising him gradually, was a challenging feat. I used to paint and take pictures, but with time, not only did I start to drift away from it, my academic performance also declined. Due to household duties and stress, I was unable to perform well in my A Levels. This resulted in another significant setback in my life: I was unable to travel since I had to stay home to care for my youngest brother until he reached the age of maturity. I was unable to get into the university of my choice, and at this point, I had already decided to pursue law instead of becoming a fashion designer.

 I got admission in the university which was closest and got into it successfully. However, the university canceled my admission after my A Levels grades came out. I was disappointed since the only reason the university revoked my admission and refunded my fees was that my A level scores suddenly turned out to be below what the university considered to be merit. I persisted nonetheless. I transferred to another university. And, to my surprise, a week after the program I was enrolled in, the university stopped the program in that particular branch and requested us to switch to another field or withdraw.

I was tired by this point. After making it this far, I decided to keep trying. This time, I applied to a law school, and I got in. I wanted to be consistent and work throughout. By the time I started at the university, I was a working student. I was able to keep my GPA above 3.5 while also making progress towards my goal of a 3.7 CGPA. I still remember my Professor who took my interview after learning about my responsibilities, asked me if I would be able to keep up with law and household responsibilities together. I confidently said I would, and now I am a Research Associate in my department and have written several articles. I discovered I was an enthusiast for researching and writing so I decided to go after it. With my work and research, I was still able to write about climate change, speak out against animal cruelty in my community, and learn about tech law, particularly personal data protection. This made me grateful to myself for not giving up earlier. Despite criticism for choosing a male-dominated career in my country, I continued.

I learned that difficulties are a part of life, and it is up to you to figure out how to overcome them. I used to occasionally lose motivation when people would simply make remarks like, “Why did you choose such a male-dominated and low-grade field? Instead, you may have studied to be a doctor. It seemed like all of my efforts and silent battles had been in vain, but then my close friends reassured me that those were just words and that I should maintain a high standard. The bias is clear—graduating in your late 20s looks out of place here. I started my degree late but even today, I’m still pursuing my objectives with high spirits. Being a part of the Ananke Empowerment Program has given me the courage to share a part of my life. Against all odds, I always recall a passage from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist that said, “Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.” At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives.”

Lightly edited for clarity


Image by Almeida from Pixabay

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