The Staircase of My Life


One foot on the ground, the other on the second step of the staircase.

I skip every other step whenever I go upstairs. I prefer seeing them pass by twos under my feet. I'm not late for an appointment and no one asked me to pick up my speed either, I just enjoy a fast pace better.

I still remember the day I tried to skip two steps instead of one, but it was very hard and obviously slowing me instead. _

  • Fifth grade - I'm complimented for being mature and having a mindset that is ahead of my age. And I always wonder what it feels like to be older.

  • Seventh grade - I enjoy my time with friends, I love discussing complicated topics, but I express a few needs that are kind of not understood by my peers.

  • Ninth grade - I sometimes act as silly as a nine-year-old kid. it's only been a year or two since I last jumped and sang while watching High School Musical for the fifth time, but when I'm in my "all so serious" mode, they tell me I think too much, that I'm overly worrying.

  • Tenth grade - I spend five-minute breaks between classes with my teachers, talking about life, asking about adulthood, and pointing out my fears and worries about what might go wrong. "You are smart, but it's too early to think about that", they said. "Act your age Hiba, there will come a time where life is going to overwhelm you with responsibilities, why in a hurry? I wish I could go back in time, be your age and just enjoy life. Stop thinking about details that are unnecessary at the moment."

  • Twelfth Grade - "Mum, is adulthood that bad? I'm too terrified school is coming to an end, and there is so much ambiguity about future that I extremely hate. What if I wasn't strong enough to face my own problems? What if I did something wrong that would end up messing my whole life. I'm doing okay for now, but who said I'll do okay with whatever major I'm going for, or whatever relationship I'll get in. Hell I don't even know if I'll do well in the -major defining- exams of this year. I wish I could just skip this whole vague phase of my life, I wish I could know every single detail of my future, maybe I'll be able to avoid problems or learn lessons without falling in mistakes."

That's me. From the very first beginning of my life, half of me would live the time being, and the other half would be running in circles wondering how the upcoming stage of my life would look. Transition between phases is the most draining because not only the daily details are unknown, in fact the whole upcoming phase is unknown!

All of this has drained a lot of my energy, and it still does. I may cry about things that most probably won't happen, just because I am scared they "might". I worry about the career I didn't start yet, the children that I don't have, the death of a loved one that's still alive, the mistakes I didn't do yet, and the list is so long it could never end. Conversations between me and Mum could go on for hours, starting at midnight, just to get me out of the "what if" mood so, I can sleep. Dad, my brother, and dear friends also get their fair share of my extreme overthinking, too.

Many times it left me so drained that I wished I could just turn off my mind for a week or so.

I'm a third year medical student today. Ironically, till this very moment, I still enjoy spending minutes between lectures talking to my doctors, asking them about the sacrifices they made, and what it takes to be a humane physician. I smile when I read the letters I wrote and sent to medical students when I was in my tenth grade, asking if I would get accepted, stating my deep fears of going into Med school. I still have late night talks with family and friends about life. Throughout my late teen years I was able to help my friends get through hard times, because I already had the same panic moments a year ago when it was "too early to panic and eat myself up”. I was able to have connections with adults who were decades older, as my age never defined the way I think or act. Consequently, being in contact with lots of adults added a twist of maturity, leadership and cautiousness to my character.

I am slowly learning how to put some limits to my unnecessary anxiety, panicking and extra worrying, as there is no amount of worrying that will help me avoid problems. I WILL face them no matter how much cautiousness I put out. I will NOT be able to prevent the challenging aspects of life, no matter how much I try. And, I will definitely make mistakes, all the time. Day by day, I am increasingly being thankful and grateful for all the close people who stood next to me and were able to see the strength behind my fear. I realized that I don't have to change myself into someone I'm not, silencing my fears will only lead to a delayed explosion. I can only learn how to make my fear fall gracefully into my character, to reach out for help whenever I feel the pain is too much to handle, to have faith in something bigger than who I am.

I still skip a step whenever I go upstairs. I understand that trying to skip two at once will make my legs hurt, and will eventually leave me falling down halfway, but so will dragging myself to go up each step by itself, trying to be someone I'm not.

Hiba Hijazi is a third year medical student living in Jordan. She loves discussing topics related to humanity and relationships, sharing writings that are inspired by her daily life, and hopes one day she'll end up being an OB/GYN.

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