November 2020

A Welcome Change teaser image

Hi everyone! My name is Fizza, and I am an eternally tired graduate student (is there any other kind?) at the Qatar campus of Texas A&M University. I am thrilled to be writing for this blog! I have always wanted to communicate more with people, but I am also quite awkward and often say the wrong thing. Can’t go wrong in this format though!

I am writing this post at 11:28 p.m. here on a Thursday night (weekend for us), but it might as well be 3 a.m. My day started at 7:50 a.m., and I only got 4 hours of sleep last night. Morning was a rush of frenzy with me scrambling to get ready and packing my bag while my father tried to get me to have some eggs (I know, I know, I should have breakfast). My time on campus was spent running around and completing my tasks before my weekly group meeting.

However, today was no different than the rest of my week. Every day, it seemed like there were a million things to do, and not enough time to do them. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate. And I’m sure many of you don’t like the feeling it leaves either. Not being able to spend enough time with the people you love, not being able to do what you want, and yet not getting everything done. I spent the past few weeks in a haze—wake up at 7:45 a.m., get going, work, eat quickly, back to work, and then head back home around 6-7 p.m. (much to the chagrin of my family). It is incredibly exhausting.

That is exactly how I had been feeling too. Exhausted. The all too familiar burn out. And then a few days ago, on a Tuesday evening, I was walking to the metro station to go back home. Normally, it is too hot here to walk outside without collapsing into a puddle of sweat. But October had begun, and a nice breeze made the ten-minute walk bearable. And in between two buildings, I saw the sun starting to set and all I wanted to do was take a picture of it. Usually, I would not have even taken my phone out because I am absolutely rubbish at taking pictures, but this time I forced myself to do it differently. I took my phone out, and took a few shots. That is the picture I included with this post.

That image marked a change in me, in my behavior. That was a first time in the longest time when I actually paused. Took a breath. And I am glad I did.

Am I suddenly a changed person? Never overwhelmed by work and all of life’s worries? Of course not. Taking a picture does not change that. But I have started to slow down. To focus on things bigger than work and myself. To stop for a second and just breathe. One step at a time. We’ll all be alright.

- Fizza Usmani

Fizza is a masters student in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

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