From Nomad to a Nurse

Parent Category: Resiliency Reader eNewsletter Category: Winter 2016 - Resiliency Reader Index
Habibo Haji photo

Habibo Haji, RN
Guest Author

What is resilience? Think you're a prisoner of a troubled childhood? Think you are emotionally crippled with the memory of war, starvation, beating and rape? Is it possible to bounce back from adversity and go on to live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life? Resilient people do not let adversity define them. They embrace resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving challenges as ephemeral. Sometimes it is easier to be or play the victim; I had to choose not to be a victim but a survivor.

For most of my twenties, I was angry at my mother, father, grandmother, and anyone who had not protected me from child slavery — where the cows, coats, and sheep were more important than me. I was left alone to take care of the cattle in the desert with no food or shelter for (three) months. The scars of my childhood were raw, painful and bitter. I blamed everyone for my woes. I was depressed, anxious and lonely. I had no self-concept, self-esteem, self-confidence. My children became my main motivation. Tears of sorrow and joy dripped from my eyes when I looked at them. I wanted to flood them with love and provide safety, security, fill the gaps of the lacks I endured when I was growing up.

As I have matured, I have become undauntedly resolute to attain a higher self-development. In that process, a colleague recommended that I read books and listen to tapes; which I started with CDs from Tony Robbins, Les Brown and Jim Rohm. The awakening suddenly occurred and I slowly understood that it is not what happens to me that determine how far I will go in my life; it's in fact how I handle what happens to me. I do have the key to my life and create a legacy for my children. I have the ability and knowledge to overcome any obstacle or situation sent my way.

Developing that resilience helps me not to walk between the raindrops, but have the scars to show from my experience. Resilience is not the ability to escape unharmed, it is not about magic; it's rather feeling the pain and living through it anyway. Imagine at the age of five you were told that you are not pretty enough, smart enough, and you will never amount to anything. And 25 years later, you still feel trapped in that five-year-old's state of mind, how resilient will you be? Survivors cultivate insight — the mental habit of asking themselves questions and finding honest answers. We take charge of problems, stretching and testing ourselves. Reframing is at the heart of resilience. Resilience is a way of shifting focus from the cup-half-empty attitude to the cup-half-full because it is our perception and interpretation that make things good or bad.


Conquering the Odds: Journey of a Shepherd Girl

Habibo's life started in a remote rural area of Somalia where she endured hunger and malnutrition. When the war broke, she moved to a refugee camp with her siblings, and finally came to the United States. Facing danger every day during her entire childhood, Habibo has overcome incredible odds: surviving malaria more than twelve times, starvations, female genital mutilation and civil war. At the age of sixteen, she ended up in America with no supporting family nor knowledge of English. She worked two jobs and attended night classes while taking care of her children. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in nursing and now works as a registered nurse for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Habibo often speaks at various places in hopes of empowering young girls. For more on Habibo's story, please see her book, Conquering the Odds: Journey of a Shepherd Girl. Also, see Molly Siebert's review of Conquering the Odds.

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