Thursday, July 28, 2011

Character flaw

“He’s stubborn,” the faculty member told my mother and aunt, “real stubborn. But his stubbornness is what got him through this.”

My khala (that’s an Urdu term for mom’s sister) was visiting so I took her, my mom, and sisters to Athens with me one day to show them around. We stopped by my medical college and met with a few of my professors and deans from this past year.

My khala was telling them how the rest of my extended family in Pakistan is always concerned about my well-being and how I am getting by and doing things, such as attending medical school. She said it was good that she came and saw things for herself so could reassure everyone back in the motherland that I was doing well.

One faculty member at my school told my mother and khala how I’m really stubborn, how they’ve had to fight against my stubbornness, and how she thinks I’m coming around now. “But his stubbornness is what got him through this,” she also noted.

Before I started medical school, my mom said she was going to quit working for a little while and live with me. But I was stubborn. I refused. I wouldn’t let my parents ever bring it up. Then the next phase was that they wanted a nurse to live with me. Again, I refused. Next, they wanted me to live with a roommate who would be willing to help me if I ever needed it. I turned it down again. This whole process went on for a few months. Finally, I settled upon allowing my parents to visit for a few hours on Sundays to help me clean up my place. I wanted to live on my own without anyone’s help, and I made sure I got what I wanted. I’ve had my share of obstacles—I’ve fallen onto the floor a few times and had to muscle my way back onto my chair or sofa, I recently got a second degree burn on my leg from a mistake in the kitchen, etc—but it’s been an invaluable experience and I’m glad I was stubborn.

I tend to also resist help from friends, fellow students, and faculty members. This just made me get stronger—physically, mentally, and emotionally. There were times when I felt like I shouldn’t be doing this, when I felt like I should have taken another year off to recover—physically, mentally, and emotionally. But I had started it, so I was going to finish it.

I have just a little over a week left before we start classes again and there will be no break until who-knows-when. This year brings its own set of challenges: mandatory patient exams which I still cannot perform properly due to physical/structural limitations, harder material, visits to the hospitals a few times a week for our clinical skills class, and the most important standardized exam we will take in our medical careers (after the MCAT, of course). But I’m stubborn. It’ll help.


  1. Nice post. You can only be dependent on yourself.

  2. "Put not your hope in people, for you will be wounded, but your faith in Allah that you may be delivered." - Ibn Atallah

    Masha'Allah. Hope you are doing excellent. I'm in PA school, myself.

  3. I had to convince my parents! The will power to be independent makes you stronger! I walk around the hospital with a stool, people are always asking if they can help. I insist on carrying it myself... This is the only way I will do it..

  4. Regarding family back in Pakistan and India... some of them will never realize you can do it...

  5. Thank you so much, everyone!

    Med student in Qatar - you are amazing. I know you can relate so well and have your own set of obstacles to overcome. Keep at it!