Ordinary people, when faced with unimaginable challenges, have still refused to give up. What is the secret behind this stamina? Resilience can be cultivated. I have never seen anyone who was able to move forward in life with great success without developing the resilience to accept failure. Most of these people use their failure to draw a map of what works and what does not work. When I entered graduate school, the amount of fear in my heart was enormous. My stress hormone levels were so high that I still feel the pain of it until now when I remember these days. When I started graduate school, I also got married. I also moved from Kuwait where I used to live to Stillwater, OK where I started my Master’s program in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Oklahoma State University. I changed my work, marital status, language, and culture in less than one month. I worked hard in both graduate school and in my marriage. My fear was that the two would collide and collapse. My wife Sara tried very hard to help me, but I discovered that most of our battles with life are internal and usually alone.
I will not forget my first exam when I did not know the meaning of “rule out” in one of the exam questions. I was so ashamed to ask the professor that I had to suck it up and move forward. I also will not forget the time when I wrote a scientific term paper, spending around two months, and my colleague spent two days. She received 95 and I got 65 out of 100. The amount of pain I had during that day was so intense that I came to the conclusion that I was not smart enough to succeed in graduate school. Unknown to me at that time was the realization that these failures were just the beginning of my painful journey filled with challenges and very few successes. My goal of not giving up was always at the back of my mind. Through all the ups and downs, this deep belief in my power to be able to handle all these difficulties without quitting sustained me. I finished my Ph.D. and stayed married!
Every setback I received was a motive for me to be better. In the first semester of graduate school, I received a C in Microbiol Genetics — a class in my major. I need to state that my overall GPA was 3.2. In any case, I received a letter from the Dean of the Graduate School telling me that if I got another C, I would be kicked out of the graduate school. My decision to study harder and not give up no matter what got stronger. I would continue, I promised myself, working hard regardless of the outcome. Years after this experience, my mind always pulls these memories whenever I encounter a failure by telling myself: Well, it will not be more difficult than graduate school!
Thank you for reading my post. I would love to hear from you (Sufalkhaldi@futureandsciencehacks.com).