I am a Pakistani girl living in Australia. I came here for my studies. I recently completed them and am now working. I have spent a considerable amount of money on my education and am looking for a better job, one that pays more than my existing one. But I can’t seem to find one. I believe the reason for this is because I wear a hijab. I believe most of the companies where I went for interviews turned me down because of my hijab.
I also have a few health issues which are not covered by my medical insurance in Australia. I can’t afford the medical bills if I decide to pay for my own treatment. Thus I often fall sick here but am unable to go to a doctor for treatment.
I often think of resigning from my job and going back to Pakistan for medical treatment. And then to return once I am fine. But due to the following reasons I am unable to decide if I should take this step or not.
Firstly, my work visa is for 18 months and if I leave my job in between and return to Pakistan, I will have to come back within this time and look for a new job, which as I told you is quite difficult. On my return if I am unable to find another job then I will have to leave Australia for good once 18 months are over. I don’t know if I should take this risk or not.
Secondly, I am a very independent person by nature and find it quite difficult to live with my family back home in Pakistan. This is also preventing me from going back to seek medical treatment as there I will have to live with my family.
Thirdly, there is no one back home in my family to support me financially. Therefore, if I go back to seek medical treatment in Pakistan, I will still need to look for a job to pay for my treatment and to support myself.
What is your advice? What do you think I should do?
Confused Australian Girl
Dear Confused Australian Girl,
I am sorry to read about your poor health and your suffering because of it. I hope you are able to get it treated soon and feel better.
I believe your health should come first – above and beyond all other factors. If one’s health is good, one can achieve other goals in life too. But if one’s health is poor, then achieving other goals becomes a huge challenge – and in some cases nigh impossible.
I can understand your hesitance in going back to Pakistan since you will have to give up your job in Australia and find another one on your return, which as you have mentioned is quite difficult. But again I will reiterate that your health should come first. You might not find a job immediately when you come back from Pakistan after your treatment or you might have to settle for a job that might be less than ideal, but at least you will be healthy enough to look for jobs and stick to them and not have to worry about quitting jobs because of poor health.
Life is full of compromises. And everyone has to make them, sooner or later in life. You might not like living with your family back home in Pakistan because of your independent nature – I understand and respect that, although I may not fully agree with it – but for the sake of your health you should compromise and go back home. At home you will be amongst your loved ones and that believe me is a huge, vital and irreplaceable support system, especially when one is undergoing treatment for poor health. You will get the love, care and support (all support doesn’t have to be financial) of your family and that will go a long way in helping your overcome your health issues.
What I have gathered from your letter is that although you have health issues that demand immediate attention, you are luckily well enough to still work and get treated for your poor health. This is a big blessing. Not everyone is this lucky. Many people have to give up all semblance of a normal life if they get afflicted with a disease. Therefore, keeping this in in mind, I will suggest that you go back to Pakistan, look for a job and start your treatment. Once your treatment is over and you feel better, come back to Australia and look for another job.
As for you wearing a hijab being an obstacle in getting a good job in Australia, that might be true to a certain extent (there are recorded cases of racism that we keep on coming across in the media) but I still believe not every employer in Australia must be a racist. What I am trying to say is that please don’t fall prey to this kind of thinking – where you feel like a victim – and don’t give up your search for a better job. (And don’t give up hope. It’s very easy to do so.) Instead take out time and deeply look into the issue of why you are not getting a better job. Is it because of the hijab as you believe it to be or perhaps it’s got something to do with your qualifications, experience, interview skills, attitude, etc? Be honest with yourself (not at all an easy thing to do but something very vital which all of us should do from time to time) and try to figure what you could do differently or better that would help your chances of landing the type of job that you want. Carrying out this self-assessment will hopefully go a long way in getting you the sort of job you are looking for.
All the best!
Asad is a counsellor, life coach, inspirational speaker and a personal-development expert. He advises on social, personal and emotional issues. You can send him your questions for this weekly column at [email protected] with “Ask Asad” mentioned in the subject line and provide as many details as possible.
Note:The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Express Tribune.