I started clinics. I walked in my first day with a clean white coat and my biggest smile and saw eight patients. From there my hands ushered babies into the world, held the hands of terminal cancer patients and cried, tried to reason with delusions and mania (you can’t), sutured nearly every part of the human body, and endlessly advocated. I trusted my intuition and was right, even when I didn’t want to be. I witnessed suffering, death, dying, life, living. It was the hardest year by far, on my confidence, on my endurance, resilience, on my mind, on my family and friends who have seen me at my low, who celebrated with me at my highs. It was a year struggling with who I wanted to be and where I see myself-of reminding there is nothing to fear in failure. It was a year acquiring immense knowledge, of speaking new languages, stepping out of my comfort zone, of unapologetically putting myself out there. I had to know who I was, stick to my grit, and not let anyone else convince me otherwise. Happiness is something you fight for.

It was a year I picked up my bags and traveled, more than I ever have. New York City. Algeria. Los Angeles. Washington DC. I found solace forty thousand feet in the air, in coffee shops sipping on cups of courage, in art museums, at jazz nights and open mics, in strolling through places I’ve never seen, in brief conversations with passing strangers that now replay endlessly with kindness.

It was a year learning to let go-that people come in and out of our lives, to always welcome them with open arms and a full heart, and for those that walk away, gracefully bid the adieu and cherish the stories, lessons, memories they leave behind. They were never meant to be grieved.

It was a year of writing, about people, places, experiences, stories, of the chambers of my heart and the crevices of my thoughts. Of letting words move beyond four walls. Of vulnerability, and connections.

It was a year recognizing that touching hearts is far more important than turning heads, that how you carry yourself is how you make a difference-do it phenomenally.

It was a year of learning what it means to be light. I’m still learning, but oh how far I’ve come. Oh how far I’ve come. Alhamdulillah.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely terrified of 2018-of the career moves, life decisions, the future I’m going to lay down in the next 365 days. But I’m jumping in. Checkmate the doubts, build the courage, and do it.

Next year, when you’re reflecting on 2018 and going through your Instagram and watching this video, remember this moment. How afraid you were to shut off the world for two months and study the hardest you have ever studied to reach your dreams, how bewildering it felt to publish your thoughts, to move to two cities for two months, to submit residency applications and fly across the US with a suit, heels, and hijab, sharing your journey. If your plans and dreams have changed, may this be a sweet reflection on how everything pans out as it should, how naive you have always been, how a little less hard on yourself, a little more carefree you still need to learn to be.

Above all, keep your heart and mind open. If 2017 has taught you anything, it is that this life is unexpected and beautiful. Embrace every moment.

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