By Kamal Hilmi
A road taken by all but survived by so few; the process by which a child turns to an adult is rough for most. My name is Kamal and I am a 20 year old university student residing in Canada. For the past 2 years I have lived alone and had to go through struggles necessary to transform me from thinking like a child to becoming a man. It is not as easy as most teenagers think it to be, living alone, far from any family members and having to care for yourself.
Prior to being left alone, I lived with my loving and caring family. My parents, whom I am very grateful for, did their very best to raise me in such a way where I would grow up to be independent. They gave me the best possible environment for me to attain the knowledge needed to succeed in such a fearsome and competitive world. They would try to never spoil me but rather reward me for doing well. They taught me what is needed to succeed and it was up to me to put that to use.
Hard work, patience, commitment, organization, time management and managing financial affairs were just a few skills of many needed that they taught me to help me become independent. Even small mundane tasks such as doing your laundry, washing the dishes, picking up groceries and taking out the garbage help mold me into the man I have become today.
At the time when they first left me to live alone in Canada, I like most teenagers was very excited and did not think of the road ahead. I was lucky enough to have a father who would let me live under his roof, gave me a car and even paid for my food. Regrettably, I ended up squandering the great position I was put in. I would sleep in at times, miss class, go out with friends whenever I saw fit and ended up falling behind in university. The first 3 months of me living alone turned from what I thought to be the best time of my life to my worst. My grades plummeted, my emotions got clouded with depression, my fridge was empty and my clothes stank because I neglected to do any of the chores that were drilled into me. I remember thinking at one point, “This is nothing like high school, this is real life.”
I did not know what to think of all of it. I had to keep it all a secret from my parents, telling them I’m doing great and university is fine. It was not. The last thing I wanted to do was worry those who worked their hardest to put me in such a position, where the worst would never happen and it still did. I remember waking up one day and having all my problems rush into my mind at once. It was such a shock that I would end up laying there staring up at the ceiling wondering how it all came to be. It was surreal for my life to go from great to bad in a matter of a few months. I felt hopeless and it seemed like I would never get out of this mess.
The same morning that I felt like all hope was lost I remembered that I am not alone. It seemed as if I had forgotten that my family, my lifeline, although not with me physically was there for me whenever I needed them. They were there with me in the skills that I learned from them, they were in my heart and never as far away as they seemed. At that very moment, on that same day, I decided to take my life into my own hands and try my best to salvage the great opportunity given to me by my parents. I knew it would not be an easy road but learning that there is no such thing as a shortcut in life was what kept me going.
I started by setting small goals such as waking up early, going to every class that week, allocating time to study and even made time for friends. As my wise father once said, “Have fun, go out with friends and enjoy life. But remember, keep everything within reason. Keep your life balanced.” and with that in mind I did just that. I started with small goals and gravitated towards bigger ones. I started going to the gym four to five times a week, I joined a few small clubs at university and with time matured enough to be able to even care for a small puppy that I got. The opportunity that I thought I had given up, with some hard work and patience came to be again.
Now I am a third year university student who has recently had his sister move in with him. Although I am far from being the best version of myself I do believe I am on the correct path. My grades have gone up, I can manage my time adequately, my fridge isn’t as bare as a desert and I’ve got clean clothes to wear. It may not seem like much but everyone has to start somewhere. This is my new beginning to which I will do the best I can to succeed in life and repay my parents.
Many will go through this and sadly not many will be able to cope. Remember this though, at the end of every dark tunnel is a light. Your life is in your own hands and whether you choose to be patient and work hard to see that very light is up to you. You learn that through life many people will help you to succeed but no one will be able to do the work for you. In the end all that is left is “carpe diem” (seize the day).
Photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren / Foter /CC BY-NC