Getting Married Was a Dead End

Think Big

If you want to be big, think big!

This was a sentence on a calendar I had when I was a teenager in Algeria. I kept it for many years just because of this sentence. I had a dream to be a scientist who studies stars and planets.

I thought that I would never be able to study these fascinating objects that hide during the day and cloudy nights, but shone on dry and clear summer nights. There was no real possibility for me in Algeria to achieve my dream. On top of that, the civil war had just started.

I wasn’t even sure I would make it to university. I was so devastated… until I read that sentence on this calendar. Something lit up in my heart and I started to believe. It seemed very far away at that time but belief made me take the first step on this long journey.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

I deeply believe that the way we think today will shape our future self. I had no idea how I would achieve this gigantic goal, but I had begun to believe there was a possibility. There was a way and I was going to find it. That was the first step.

I started making a plan, which was very simple. I had to make it to university, study physics and then go to France to study astronomy. It was very simple but incredibly hard to do.

To start with I had a lot of difficulty at the last year of high school. I was struggling with depression and could barely pass the Baccalauréat exam, which is required for university entrance. Before that year, I was always one of the top 5 students since grade one. Depression greatly affects motivation and brain performance but I didn’t know it at that time. I just thought I was getting stupid.

Getting into physics at the university required higher grades. I wasn’t that far below admission standards but I had to beg the director to let me in. Finally, they let me in and I barely managed to pass that first year.

The second year was even harder because I completely lost my motivation to study. I told my parents about my intention to study in France. As I was born in France, I could get a French passport, but my parents refused to help me acquire it.

They required me to get married before leaving Algeria. That was my first obstacle as a woman in science.

I was really not interested in getting married at 18 years old, and even less interested in trying to convince a man to come with me to France and to delay having kids until I finished my studies.

For me getting married was a dead end.

I wasn’t ready to get married but the train was passing me by. I gave up, there was no point in studying. I got even more depressed and stopped attending lectures. The days went by and I didn’t pass examinations for that year.

Meanwhile I told my parents that I have no intention to find a husband but that my train wouldn’t wait. I don’t know what made them change their minds but finally that summer they decided they would help me get my French passport.

Hope came back, there was again a chance for me. I went back to the university determined to pass my exams for that year, but I found myself very far behind. I had to work really hard. I barely passed the examinations. I was really worried that none of the French universities would let me in, but I will leave this story for another time.


I would have never begun my journey and kept going if I didn’t have that belief. My message to you, no matter where you are in your life and your journey:

See yourself clearly at the end of the journey, no matter how hopeless your present situation is.

# Now it’s your turn:

α) Could you Think Big about one thing you believe is impossible to achieve?  

β) What is the biggest obstacle? Could you brainstorm 10 ideas to overcome it? 

γ) Please share in the comments any obstacle you had as a woman in achieving your goals.


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