I am Hadeel Hejja, a girl who thought she was not worth anyone’s attention. I was a product of what people perceived of me, and I fell deep into my self-pity. This was especially true when I contracted what doctors referred to as ataxic dysarthria secondary to viral meningitis in July 2011, as I had to adjust to a new life with a strange voice! I knew this wasn’t my true voice and challenges with self-expression and self-representation brought themselves up immediately after.
People tell you the interim between “getting sick” and “getting better” will happen, but they do not tell you, or even know, how much of that change takes time and effort and a new perspective. I tell my family and friends that I felt the need to get better, so I did and challenged myself to do so. The truth was I had to get better for me, as I believed I had so much to prove to people, most importantly to myself.
I want this space to represent my perspective and how it has changed for my future. In a month, I will be graduating Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois with my Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders. In August, I will be marrying my best friend and the love of my life. I didn’t think I’d ever make it out of the hospital five years ago, and now I feel as though my life is truly beautiful. I thank Allah for helping me discover myself, for giving me the strength to live my life and to move on. Strength is something that requires me to experience excruciating pain and loss, and yet move on. It is time for a bright perspective.