The blessed month of Ramadan has held a special place in my heart for as long as I can remember. There is always excitement in the air when it comes around every year. I wait for it eagerly, counting down the days. My non-Muslim friends often ask me how I could possibly be so happy to see the month during which I cannot eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. They believe that the task is absolutely impossible and tell me that they would never be able to do it. That makes me smile because I know that with a little bit of patience and willpower, it is quite possible. I clearly remember the first day I ever fasted - seven years old, missing a few teeth, and super excited to do what the big people, AKA my parents, were doing. I was not obliged to fast, as I had not come of age yet, but I wanted to practice and see what it was like. My mother deemed me ready for that big step and we decided that I would do it on a Saturday during the month. That Saturday morning, my mother woke me up before sunrise for suhur. I sat at the dinner table, drinking my glass of milk and eating my banana in the darkness. I probably looked like a sleep-eating zombie (I’ve never been much of a morning person!) I went back to sleep after that, waking up later at ten o’clock, fully charged with energy and ready to face the day. I was prepared for the day; I had a plan. I figured that the goal was to pass the time until I could eat again when the sun went down, so the only thing I had to do was find ways to occupy myself. I thought it would be easy enough, because of all the toys I had. And so - out came my Barbie dolls, my Polly Pocket dolls, my coloring books, my painting material, my books, and my DVDs. Needless to say, my mother was not pleased with the mess I had made… But it didn’t matter to me, because I was going to have so much fun that the time would pass by really quickly and cleaning up after would be worth it! But of course, it didn’t work out that way. Having the attention span of a goldfish, I got tired after a mere four hours. Being a seven-year-old child, I still knew what it meant to be bored and I had gotten to that stage. And so, like every other bored kid before me, I went to bother my mother. It was about two o’clock in the afternoon and I had just started to feel hungry. She gave me a few chores to do, and I (grudgingly) completed them. I also took a little nap to pass the time, but even that couldn’t keep the hunger pangs at bay for long. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to eat very badly, but I didn’t want to fail on my very first day of fasting! I generally eat very little and rarely ever get hungry, but at that moment, I felt as if there was a huge pit in my stomach. It was five o’clock, with three hours left before sunset. I was terribly hungry and cranky. My father told me that it was OK if I ate because half a day was a pretty good start for someone who had never fasted before, but I was set on finishing the day. Seeing my determination, my mother told me that I simply had to be patient and that it would be over soon. And so, I waited. The last two hours were probably the most excruciating ones. I was lying on the couch, staring very intensely at the clock, willing its hands to turn quicker and willing the time to go by faster. However, if Time knew what I wanted, it was being mean and doing the exact opposite. The seconds that slipped by felt like hours. I ended up annoying my father by asking him a million times how much time was left. His answer was always the same: “You asked me this a minute ago. Do the math.” As sunset slowly but surely approached, the apartment began filling itself with the delicious smell of my mother’s cooking. She was making all my favorite foods to reward me for my patience and my successful first day of fasting. I couldn’t wait to eat it all. When the adhan finally sounded, I was overjoyed! It was as if I had come back from the dead. All my hunger and tiredness suddenly vanished and I was jumping up and down, celebrating the fact that I had survived a full day without eating or drinking. I was so excited that I practically forgot to break my fast! I was proud of my achievements and so were my parents. I broke my fast with a date, as the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had done long ago. That small date felt like heaven in my mouth, though I had never particularly liked that fruit before. I was very grateful for it and that made me realize how little we need to be happy. My family and I prayed Maghrib, then shared the feast that my mother had prepared. The atmosphere was comforting and full of joy and celebration. My first day of fasting during Ramadan was an incredible and humbling experience. I felt the pain of hunger and that made me very thankful for all my blessings. It taught me empathy because I realized that hunger is a sad reality for many people across the world. They live with it every day, without a feast at the end to keep them going. Fasting also taught me that if I had the right mindset, willpower, and patience, I could achieve almost anything, even if it was difficult. I have become more patient thanks to the month of Ramadan. Patience is an important quality when navigating through life and I am very glad to have acquired it at such a young age. Now, as I continue to grow and face new challenges, I know to be patient and stay strong, because it will all be worth it in the end.