In 2012, my friend Habibah graduated and received her Bachelors. She had applied to a program at Med-school but had not been accepted.
I began to see her throughout the summer and into the next semester, when I was still attending school, and she would tell me about an intense depression that she was feeling. She felt hopeless and could not imagine things getting better. Her sadness was visible, her presence carried heaviness, and it became rare to see her smiling.
Another brother graduated from six years of Med-School. While he was attending and studying for difficult exams, he was fine. As soon as he graduated, he and his friends sat around in a depression, wondering where to go next and questioning whether or not this was all worth it.
This phenomenon is not uncommon. These are two examples, but there are many (Google it – subhanAllah it’s an actual term) and I’m sure this will resonate with others.
I thought about it and realized that there is only one thing that is lost when someone graduates or meets a milestone that they had been working towards.
Contrary to what some may think, it’s not the loss of a schedule, the routine, or even the friends, that contributes most to this depression.
It’s nothing more than a loss of purpose.
For years, they have been working towards this goal, and this was their purpose. Then one day, the goal is met and their purpose is fulfilled. It seems to be counter intuitive to say that this is when things start to go downhill for them, but upon further thought, it makes all the sense in the world.
The human being needs a purpose. Our Creator ordained it to be this way. And He was so merciful when He told us exactly for what purpose He created us. “And I did not create jinn or man except to worship Me [alone].” Surah Adh-Dhaariyaat, ayah 56.
And He swt was so merciful when He gave us a purpose that requires constant striving, for our entire lives. Even at our deaths, we hope to die with dhikr on our tongues (La ilaha illAllah) – worship.
So the Muslim who realizes his or her true purpose is secured from this type of depression that I have mentioned here. That is because, we may graduate from universities and programs and the like, but our true purpose is not yet fulfilled.