Resilience Through the Eyes of a Young Syrian

The author standing on a hill with a city skyline behind her.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” - Harriet Tubman

In 2011, something major happened in my country, Syria. It forced me to change and somehow made me become the person I had always dreamed of becoming. Regardless of the painful and tragic human losses and the dramatic damage in infrastructure, I kept looking for a way to cope with the new reality.

I was only 18 years old when the crisis in Syria started. I had plenty of dreams and ambitions that I wanted to accomplish once I graduate from high school. It all collapsed in a moment. It took me a total of 2 years to realize that in spite of the fact that we can’t control opportunities and threats, we can always control our reactions - diminish our weaknesses and boost our strengths. It is a simple lesson in the world of business and entrepreneurship, but I actually learned it in real life.

Can you imagine your life as a balloon you blow up, and the more you blow into it, the bigger it gets? It is called elasticity of objects and at the same time, it represents the resilience of humans. People usually adapt to the difficult events in their lives, like the death of a loved one, attacks and other traumatic incidents, as time passes. It is our ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to changes and keep going in the face of adversity.

However, to be able to enter the transformation phase we must acknowledge the change that happened and accept it. Resilient people don’t give up. They don’t wallow and dwell on failures. They see their threats turn into opportunities and climb on the ladder of their mistakes to reach the mountaintop of their desired goals. We simply move forward and make greater steps.

As a young Syrian teenager, my life hasn’t gone as planned. However, I was lucky enough, to recognize my potentials and invest in them. Most importantly, I looked at the depth of the situation, through the eyes of a young person who is armoured with hope, driven by enthusiasm to make a positive and peaceful change and motivated by millions of other successful people whose lives were at some points much worse than mine.

Having learned many lessons at an early age, I would like to share with you some essential pieces of advice and recommendations. It is dedicated to all young Syrians who are struggling, figuring out the right path - especially girls who are the most vulnerable in conflicts and war zones.

Resilient people are not superheroes. They are people who turn their mistakes and discouragements into fuel to move forward. They see failures as lessons to be learned from - they don’t let failure affect their confidence in their abilities.

Resilient people always have a reason to wake up and get out of bed. They are committed to their goals and understand the greater purpose of their existence. They are aware that their lives are not restricted to their work, but is also about their causes, families and relationships.

Resilient people are aware that there are things they can’t control. So they accept them. They put their efforts into those things where they know they can make a difference. This makes them feel empowered rather than lost and helpless.

Do you want to develop a resilient character? Do the following:

- Keep your positive vision of the world and the future! Eventually, life is how we imagine it and you will get what you’re seeing.

- Set solid goals and ensure a good strategy to fulfill them!

- Create a circle of highly accomplished and inspiring people who can support, listen and advise you! Energy is contagious - be careful whose energy you want to absorb.

6 years ago, I felt hopelesspowerless and lost. I envisioned my future collapsing. Yet, I became the hero I needed and I made a decision to become resilient and an achiever, regardless of what short-visioned people wanted for me. I refused to lock myself in a situation I didn’t deserve, so I started a worthwhile journey.

Today, I’m known for my strong advocacy for education, youth and women’s empowerment. I raise my voice through blogging because I believe words are powerful enough to catalyze change. Locally, I'm devoted to bringing notable social impact through empowering women and young people. I have been involved in international and local NGOs and founded and supported youth-led initiatives, including ChangeMakers, in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation and self-expression. My leadership and communication skills allowed me to attend international workshops on global citizenship, leadership and peacebuilding. At the end of 2016, I made it to the TEDxTaoyuan stage as a speaker to talk about my experience and share lessons learned from Syria.

Through my blog post I want you to see that, if a regular person can do it, then you can do it too.

Syrian Arab Republic