Thursday January 18, 2016
By: Iman Refaat
“All dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” ~ Walt Disney.
It was a matter of courage, the lack of it, to be precise, that held me back from pursuing my dream. I wanted to write a novel in English, but neither my French education nor my degree in Mass Communication matched up to this dream. My inner voice, my worst enemy, interrupted every fantasy I had to become a novelist, continuously reminding me that I neither had the knowledge, the capability nor the skill to become one. I also considered myself a super busy person. Working as a full time educator, a wife and a mother of two teens with little help at home, I was juggling many balls and trying hard to keep my balance.
One day I read a Facebook post that said, “What’s the one thing you would regret not doing on your death bed?” The words hit me right in the face and my heart screamed promptly ‘writing a novel.’ The dream became too loud to mute and I realized that winning the battle over my inner voice was the key secret to fulfill it. But first I had to leave my comfort zone and work hard. On one hand, the super busy person I am found that impossible. On the other hand, it felt bitter, envisioning the regret I would have on my death bed for not standing up for that dream. Shortly before my fortieth birthday, and haunted by the thought that my time left on earth was probably less than what I’ve already lived, I decided it was time to take action.
Contemplating my life, I remembered how my daughter, at the age of ten, fought to have a dog. For two years, she presented her case to us, defended it, argued, debated, pleaded and took whatever was needed to convince us. A dog is “my childhood dream,” she told her father. Identifying her dream, having the courage to fight for it, the clarity to purse it, and later, how she handled its responsibility, despite her young age, was inspirational. The Cocker Spaniel sleeping at my feet is living proof of my daughter’s courage and self-awareness. I found in my daughter the inspiration I needed. I vowed to take whatever it needs to write my novel. I started the journey by watching YouTube tutorial videos, read and listened to motivational speakers, like Oprah Winfrey and Lisa Nichols.
Without looking too far, I found that knowledge and skills were available everywhere at affordable prices, sometimes even for free. The toughest part was self-discipline. My writing mentor instructed me to write for an hour daily. To make it happen, I followed the guidance and motivational methodology of Robin Sharma’s, bestselling author and global leadership expert. Waking up at 5:00 am, as he advises, to write for an hour became my daily ritual.
Working on my novel while people were still asleep energized me. My novel, together with my family, became my first priority and I worked on it 24/7, even on holidays and vacations. Working on my novel fueled me and filled my heart with joy and I was flattered to learn that people in my circles viewed me as source of positive energy and inspiration. As months went by, my dream grew bigger, and nine months later, when I crafted the last line of my novel, I felt accomplished.
Pursuing my dream was a gift from the universe to help me transform. I adopted new habits, discovered abilities I never imagined I possessed, developed new skills, learned to manage my time by eliminating all time wasters, and gained new experiences and friends along the way. I also learned that commitment and passion are the key elements behind achievements, and not just talent. Writing on a daily basis developed my grit and made me understand that nothing is impossible and that age is just a number. I discovered in me a new person I had never met before.
I remember how for so many years as I browsed through the bestsellers’ section at Diwan Bookstore, I always wondered, why not me? I remember how I froze in front of bookstores’ windows and imagined a book displayed with my name on the cover among their collection.
Seeing my novel Fabulous Veils finally displayed at Diwan Bookstore was enthralling. The thought that I am leaving behind a book with my name on it after I’m gone made me feel immortal. Publishing my novel was not just a dream come true, but also the physical evidence of how I was able to conquer my inner voice, one of people’s worst enemies, in my opinion.
** Iman Refaat is the Students Development Leader at GPIS Egypt (Green Land Pré Vert International Schools). She was nominated as GPIS Community and Service Leader in 2007 after receiving the Blackburn Award for Best Community and Service Project in Africa and the Middle East. To learn more about her, visit her website Perceptions
For more about Fabulous Veils, visit its Facebook Page
Edited by: Lamia Senousi