Have you seen people who are anxious, upset, and always worried, who just can’t seem to think positive? That is because they are lost in their misery. When you look at the dictionary, positive attitude has a few different meanings, but I focus on these: optimism, confidence, and focusing on the good things rather than the bad.
People often ask me, “How have you survived all the things you have gone through, Habibo? How can you be the sole care provider for three children, work two jobs, attend school full-time, and most importantly give back to the community?” I tell them it is the product of a positive attitude and determination.
I was raised by my grandmother and uncles in south central Somalia, a male-dominated society where young boys were praised for conquering little girls and little girls were punished for letting it happen. As a toddler I was left alone in our hut while the adults took the livestock to graze. The neighbor boys came and they conquered. By 5, I was grazing the sheep and goats in the grasslands alone, seven days a week. By 11, for months at a time, I grazed my grandmother’s cattle as a nomad. I fought off jackals and hyenas and survived crocodile attacks.
At 15, I was reunited with my mother and siblings in Dadaab, western Kenya, the largest refugee camp in the world at the time After three years spent surviving murders, rapists, malnutrition and starvation, I was selected by lottery to immigrate to America as a refugee. Without any education, no knowledge of English, or any understanding of Western culture, I traveled alone to the United States. Today, despite all this, I work at the finest hospital in the world as a Registered Nurse and am pursuing my PhD in nursing.
Many people give up on a thing after their first try, saying, “I want to do this or that, but….” They suffer from a lack of determination. When we are determined, positive and persistent, we do not give up easily. We fight. We have a hunger for success, or whatever it is we have in mind. When you fall, you get up, because falling down is part of life and getting up is part of living.
Life has its ups and downs, so we must remain positive; success comes from taking action and not giving up. It is our attitude toward experiences that make life a joyful ride. Time is precious and we must spend it with our loved ones. We must laugh often and treasure each moment with carefulness.
We need to find the power within us, the jewel hidden within, for one to be connected to him or herself deeply. That is what makes someone resilient and the ability to conquer all. Your life circumstances or your past do not define you — you above all are the driver of your life.