Grad school while fasting is not a joke.
I just finished my last week of classes, and my God it was intense. The last couple of weeks are always busy with papers and assignments. Doing all of that while fasting was an added layer of fatigue, frustration, and just being done with everything. I don’t know how I did this back in middle school and high school when Ramadan was during the school year.
There was a moment on Wednesday afternoon where I was at a crossroads. I had a paper due the next day, but I had just come home from a full day of classes – running on very little sleep – and I could barely keep my eyes open. Did I give in and take a nap, knowing full well that I would not have time to finish my paper, or did I force myself to stay awake and get writing over with?
I opted for sleep. I was able to get the assignment done after suhoor, and it was by no means something I was proud of. But it got done.
That was pretty much my motto for the week. Show up. Get things done. Sleep.
While being physically present in class was awful, it gave me the opportunity to see such sweet and caring sides of my friends.
Every day, multiple people would come up to me and check on how I was doing. I got expressions of sympathy, words of encouragement, and even texts on days we didn’t have class.
It’s been a while since I have been in a setting with so many new non-Muslim friends who are not familiar with Ramadan. I forgot what it was like to have so many people learn about Ramadan for the first time and express their awe at what we do every year.
As endearing as it was hearing their concern for me, I almost felt like I was deceiving everyone, or that I was falsely leading them to believe that I was constantly in a state of utter suffering . I’ve been fasting for over 15 years. It’s hard, but I’m used to it after so many years of going through it.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have found myself giving all sorts of new descriptions of what fasting is like. I’m hungry and tired, but isn’t this all-consuming thought I constantly have. I feel hungry, and then I sort of just deal with it. My attention span may be shorter. My tolerance for other forms of discomfort such as fatigue or boredom may be lower. But in the end, it’s okay. It’s an okay feeling to have because we’re meant to feel it and we’re doing it for a reason.