As I am writing this, I would like to salute myself again & again for not giving up back then.

[Sigh of pride]

“No No No.
Is this some kind of a joke?
What’s the reason for that?
I handed in all the required documents.
There must be something wrong with my eyes. No and a million No!
This can’t be for real!!!!!!”

These were the only questions and words that were running through my head when I first grabbed my passport from the Spanish Embassy. The catastrophic thinking started spiraling and my mind couldn’t take it anymore. A big red stamp on your passport saying: rejected. This was so hard to see. Can you imagine? Do you feel me? My friends and I were going on a vacation trip. All the group got accepted except for a friend and me. The trip was for tourism purposes in Spain and Italy.

However, thanks to my determination and spirit of never surrendering I manned up and changed the scenario in my mind to: “I can’t, and I won’t accept this. I am doing something about it. I don’t take no as an answer. I stopped my internal monologue and said out loud: “I won’t give up; I am definitely going to Spain….” with tears streaming down my face.

My mom interrupted by saying: “Be rational. This is an embassy, Hiba. You can’t defy them or try to change their mind. They always know better.”

“Excuse me? Be rational? Is asking for a clarification or standing up for myself an irrational act? They know better? They’re humans Mom just like us, they commit mistakes too!” She was so negative with me, not only her, but my friends too. Everyone contributed to this campaign of negativity. They told me to sit back and wait for another trip to apply for a visa again. But of course, I turned a deaf ear.

I am a hard nut to crack…but in a good way. If I want something, then I do the impossible to achieve it. Visiting Barcelona has been my dream ever since I was a child. I love its language, culture, and people and on top of that I love Enrique Iglesias. My favorite Latin singer made me fall in love with this city and write it on my wish list.

I have always pursued my dreams. Then, why stop now?

This moment of realization made me gain some sense of relief. I remembered the quote that I have always lived by: “You’ll never know if you never try.” You never really know what might happen later if you didn’t give it a shot. Even if you are dealing with the most challenging things in life, who said it is impossible to do what you want to do? This question boosted my confidence big time and gave me a huge dose of positivity. I badly needed this as stress was eating me up.

After a while, my clenched teeth, and fisted hands relaxed. I took a leap of faith and went to Google search engine. I typed: What to do if you have been rejected from an Embassy? The answer was to write an Appeal letter. To be honest, I experienced a moment of self-doubt. “Maybe Mom has a point, what is the process? I don’t know how to write an appeal letter. What is an appeal letter in the first place?”, I murmured. The racing thoughts escalated: this is an Embassy, you can’t do it, they will not consider your Appeal Letter, for they have lots of other tasks to do. What will you write to them? You are an unimportant citizen; they’ll surely overlook your request”. This overwhelming feeling had me on the verge of giving up. However, my wild imagination of me practicing the Spanish language there, making new acquaintances, and discovering its mesmerizing culture left me with no option of giving up. And Venice!? Oh, Venice. It is so hard to look at its famous bridges in the pictures and resist the temptation of visiting them and tasting their mouth-watering pasta.

So, I searched for different samples of appeal letters to understand the structure and grasp the content. After multiple attempts of composing a well-organized letter, it was finally ready to be sent to the embassy.

A pounding heart, churning feeling in my stomach, unable to sit still, restless…. I experienced all the symptoms of anxiety when I reached the day where I had to finally click send. I felt like the button was frowning at me and I was too weak to click it. I was consumed by fear.

Guess what? I did it. They replied after two days with a call to come pick up my passport. This was a eureka moment for me. The sight of the lovely, stamped visa made me feel exhilarated. I did it and I was so proud of myself. I want to thank myself for believing in my capabilities. I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for my faith in myself.

The bottom line is that when faced with a challenge, shift your attention directly to the next big step instead of focusing on the dilemma itself. Don’t waste time. Time is precious.

….and yes, a walk of pride followed while exiting the embassy.