From Lemons to Graduation


*Dedicated to my mother, my father, Rana, Rwan, Noor, and lest I forget a name, I will say everyone who has a special place in my heart that is doubtful to ever fade away.

half lemon

Who enjoys eating simply raw lemons?

Yes, this question is for real, and I’m expecting you to legitimately think about it: When given a large option of sweet juicy fruits, who goes for sour, eye-watering, face-wrinkling-in-disgust, did-I-mention-very-sour lemons?

(If the answer is ‘you’, then I concur your taste buds are malfunctional.)

All the raw-eating lemon fans are planning to report this post as spam probably, but before they do, allow me to quickly follow up with one last question:

Who enjoys lemons in some water and sugar… who likes fresh lemonade?

Oh boy, you’re probably wondering exasperatedly. Is this going to be one of those cheesy when-life-gives-you-lemons-you-make-lemonade blog posts?

Well… Maybe. I’ll try to avoid the cheesy aspect of it all.

You see, here’s how I felt at my convocation ceremony: I saw the past five years at McGill flash past my eyes – and realized my life is nothing but a glass of lemonade.

The glass itself is the time frame. I’ll tell you where the lemons, water and sugar come in.



University life was tough. Besides the struggles and headaches and heartaches that occurred throughout, perhaps the most ‘sour’ fact of them all is this: I lived with my family in the same house, yet usually took off in the morning while most family members were still asleep, and often returned home late when most of them were back to bed. If there was anyone awake who was ready for some quality sister- or daughter-bonding time, my mind would be partially preoccupied with that midterm, that upcoming assignment, that deadline, etc, so that the stress would be written all over my face and I would not be fully present in the moment.

How could you miss your own family while you’re living with them? Such was my case. That, I think, was probably the biggest lemon down my throat.



While there were many courses I did greatly enjoy and benefit from in the long run, there were all too many courses that made me seriously question which pathetic hopelessly mundane mindset I was under when I chose to pursue a double bachelor’s degree in one program. Really, Aya? I’d kept thinking wearily after every painful assessment. Did it really have to be this?

The answer to this question was finally answered. Walking across the stage to receive my diplomas, I realized in a surging rush, Yes. It did have to be this. It couldn’t have been any other way. I would not be who I am if I didn’t go through what I had to go through – academic or non-academic wise.

The all-nighters and the rare unexpected nervous breakdowns completely paled in comparison to the successes and unforgettable wonderful times I had, which came washing over me, every bit of it – from friendships to yes I got it! moments to weekly halaqas to MSA life – everything.

So sweet. That is the source of the sugar.

lemon and water


After the ceremony, surrounded by parents and sisters and friends so dear to me, I felt what an immense blessing it was to have all these people in my life. I didn’t (and still don’t) deserve any of them, yet here they were, when I hadn’t asked anyone to come in the first place. The mercy I felt from God was overwhelming. (Emotionally I will either cry or become super hyper, and so I chose not to ruin the mascara and opted for the super hyper reaction.) While I didn’t always have the time for everyone, they always seemed to have time for me – especially when I most needed it.

God’s mercy on me, on YOU, was always there, is always there. But unless you acknowledge it, your life will always appear dry. The moment you realize it’s all around you, that you’re swimming in it, your whole perspective changes.

His mercy is the water in my lemonade.

The journey to graduation is a phase, like every phase in life, merely a transition from a lemon to some lemonade.

So you see, every phase in life has its ups and downs, university life no less so. But if you keep in mind that in life, the lemons are bound to be there, no matter which path you take… and that the sugar will come soon, if not there from the very beginning… and if you simply become aware with your merciful surroundings and realize you have all the water you need to decrease the sourness… Then you, my friend, have your glass of lemonade.

Enjoy it. 🙂

flying flamingo


6 comments on “From Lemons to Graduation

  1. Just in time! I was feeling a bit parched 😉
    Congrats and may life always be an-always-full-to-the-brim pitcher of lemonade!

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