Hear from Tahmid Hasib Khan, an individual who was strong enough to not just overcome one of the darkest phases of his life, but who was also courageous to give a TED Talk about it at University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.
Firstly, how are you doing Tahmid Bhai?
I am as good as I can be. While life has taken a lot from me, it has given back in ways that I thought were unimaginable. The conversation taking place right now is proof of the fact.
I just finished my undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto in Global Health with minors in Statistics and Anthropology. While it was an excruciating experience, I am very happy to be done. Looking back at my time in University, I can safely say that there were very few things in life that were more testing and coming from me, that says a lot.
Prevailing over such a traumatic incident was not easy, of course. How did you finally stand back up on your feet?
You have to rationalize your past. Some people say that you should forget what has happened to you and move on. For the person themselves, it is much harder to do that. Your past is your reality. However, time heals a lot. Your past can be a constant reminder of a tougher time or it can serve as a lesson and a motivation going forward. Make peace with it.
In order to be back on your feet again, you must learn to move forward. You have to set small goals for yourself and give yourself due credit once you accomplish that. Life does not follow the same path for everyone. Your progress will stagnate if you start comparing your hardships with someone else’s. It is always better to move one step forward and two steps back rather than sitting idly. Learn from your mistakes and learn from your right decisions. Most of all, when you come across something that inspires you, try to incorporate that into your life before you start sharing with others.
I am a very idealistic person and I take lessons from the smallest of things. However, it was implementing those lessons into my life, which was able to help me get back on my feet. At the end of the day, you yourself hold the power to improve your life. It always starts from within.
Overcoming this phase was challenging. What were your sources of hope, when everything was turning gloomy?
Draw happiness from the smallest of things. At a time when there was not a lot to rest my hope on, when my fate was in someone else’s hand, I squeezed the positivity out of life. I took happiness in a beautiful sunset and when even that was not there, I took happiness from a random conversation. I tried to grasp all that I could and firmly hold on to it. I could not let negativity take over because once that happens, your sanity starts to slip.
It was through positive reinforcement of all that was jolly that I could build a fortress for myself. One I took refuge in throughout the time. Once I had happiness around me, I could find hope. A lot of people ask me how I can still hold on to that smile which I’ve always had preceding my life changing incidents of 2016. My smile is proof that one can have happiness despite the odds. Your happiness depends on you. My smile isn’t just something that gives hope to others, it is something that I can look at and believe in a better day.
Do you have any message for the youth individuals of Bangladesh?
Do good because you are capable of that. For a generation that has not seen the struggles of 1971, we are often underestimated by our seniors. However, we have seen a Bangladesh that has progress etched into its name. We are the generation that has constantly adapted to change albeit not that of our identity. We have not seen wars and we have not seen famines, but we have seen a Bangladesh of endless possibility. We want a future without conflict; we want peace in our lives. The youth understands the comfort in stability. We do not compete within the confines of our boundaries anymore, we compete with the world now.
For a group of people with so much potential, there are plenty of hurdles. I do recognize that fact. My friends and family constantly complain about their struggles in the country. However, each struggle represents a problem that can be solved. It is the responsibility of the youth to figure out the source of these problems and address them to begin with.
I feel a personal need to work on Climate Change. I have been doing advocacy and want to base my future research on sustainable solutions. Maybe someday this very youth of Bangladesh will work with me to deal with the issues of now. I have personally been inspired by many people doing groundbreaking work in Bangladesh. We have to realize what we have. A country born out of extreme resilience which is reflective of the people there. Now the future is in the hands of a very similar and very resilient generation who are out there to improve others’ lives while improving theirs. There is every reason to hope.
Here is the link to his TED Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzkrdCdzfFw