The Marshmallow Test

Dear Mimi,

Let’s just get this out of the way. 2016 sucked. Sure there were a few good things scattered here or there, but the majority of it was just crappy.

But life isn’t all good things. There are ups and downs, good and bad. Some years were better than others, and unfortunately, 2016 wasn’t one of them.

Personally, 2016 was rough. There were some very depressing family issues I had to deal with, and some members I didn’t get to see at all. It’s astonishing to think that sometimes these issues were there all along, but the innocence and liveliness of childhood does such a dang good job of masking them. Seeing all of these things in a new light made me wish I wasn’t getting older. It wasn’t that things didn’t work themselves out, they did, but I didn’t get to be a part of it like I had hoped for so long.

Then, my career plans came to a standby. Again, it was a test of patience. I got into medical school, but not the one I wanted. I had to question and re-question whether it was something I really wanted to do. I had to take another year off and apply again since the school offered me a spot for Fall 2017. Some people rejected me for choosing to follow my dreams. It was so bizarre for me. Everything I had planned out so perfectly the year before was thrown back at me in my face and fell at my feet. As a Type-A personality, this was the hardest thing for me to swallow.

After that, I had to face realities with places close to my heart, countries I thought would always welcome me with open arms. This year I learned that majority of the world chooses to hate instead of love, chooses to separate instead of combine, chooses to destroy instead of build up. Whether I went back to my parents’ home country, or stayed in mine, I felt isolated and on edge, that someone might say something, that something might happen. Neither place felt like home anymore and neither place completed me, when once upon a time, both did.

And finally, for the first time in my life, I had my heart cracked, if not broken. I gave someone my heart who did not want it, and sometimes, if I’m being honest, I still think about what life would be like if he had just given me a chance. But more than that, even the rishta process was exhausting. In the past 12 months, I’ve had 18 rishtas. It’s not fun, it never was. I hate going through these profiles, one after the other, like I’m buying a house or a new car. At this point, my heart not only has walls around it, but an army guarding its safety. I just wish someone would be brave, strong, smart, and kind enough to break through everything and take care of it forever.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford, conducted an experiment, which has been repeated many times over. The premise is very simple. You give a child a marshmallow and give them 2 options: 1) they could eat it now, or 2) if they waited until you came back, they would get another marshmallow provided they hadn’t eaten the first one already. One treat now, or two treats later. Keep in mind that these children don’t know how long it will be til the adult comes back. It seems like a very easy test, but the results were astounding. After continuing to do long term follow ups and analysis, Mischel found that children who waited for the second marshmallow proved to be more intelligent and successful in life. They had higher test scores, lower obesity rates, better social skills, and higher paying jobs.

Similarly, our whole lives are a series of marshmallow tests. God is always testing us and life is full of curveballs. But, if we are patient, things will get better. Yet, patience is not just about waiting. It’s about trusting in God’s plan and having a positive attitude while waiting. A lot of the kids who waited trusted the researcher that better things were coming and found ways to keep themselves occupied whilst waiting. We have to keep going, actively trying to better ourselves and have faith that good things are coming. Without hope, we have no purpose, nothing to look forward to. It’s said time and time again, however cliché it may sound: good things come to those who wait.

Overall, 2016 was filled with many sleepless nights and even more tears. I worried I would fall back into depression, and sometimes, I got really close. But this year also strengthened my relationship with God. For the first time in a while, I had to trust Him with every ounce of my being and rely on Him completely, which I’m trying my level best to do. And who can be any better to trust than the One who knows what’s coming? He’s the One that has a plan, the One that makes no mistakes, and the One that knows the reason for everything.

Keep on trekking Mimi. I have faith 2017 will bring 2 marshmallows.

Love,

Didi

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Words of Wisdom

“What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of human beings, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured.” (Bukhari)

“If you put your whole trust in Allah, as you ought, He most certainly will satisfy your needs, as He satisfies those of the birds. They come out hungry in the morning, but return full to their nests.” (Tirmidhi)

“Strive always to excel in virtue and truth.” (Bukhari)

“No man is a true believer unless he desires for his brother that, what he desires for himself.” (Abu Hamza Anas: Bukhari & Muslim)