Palestinian-Polish singer-songwriter Sarah Alghanem shares her mental health journey in an exclusive interview.

Sarah Alghanem found herself in a bind, torn between the expectations of her parents and her burning desire to follow her musical aspirations.

As ubiquitous as it is for parents to have grand aspirations for their progeny—envisioning them as doctors, lawyers, or business tycoons—the pressure can take its toll. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting the best for one's child, it is important to recognize that children are their own persons, with their own passions and goals. To dictate the profession that a child should pursue is to rob them of their agency, and their sense of self-determination. It can lead to feelings of resentment and frustration, and ultimately, a lack of fulfillment in one's work.

Sarah in the studio. Credits to photographer Adel Alvin

"I have a traditional Palestinian father. He always wanted me to be that person that's corporate, that finishes off University, living a successful corporate life and that's exactly what happened," shares Sarah. He made every effort to fund her university education while Sarah pursues her passion for music on the side.

"I got the opportunity to be at 'The Voice,' but it didn't work out," she adds.

After returning from the competition, she was struck by a sense of despair, as she has set her heart on winning and simultaneously found herself needing to secure a full-time job. "Just like my father wanted me to, not because he was pushing me to do it but because that was in the back of my head," she says. Sarah wanted to honor her father.

For three years, Sarah shelved the music dream. "I didn't feel fulfilled. I felt empty," the singer-songwriter recalls. When she felt that she had the means and the mettle to invest in her musical pursuits, she mustered the strength to take the plunge and give it a go. "My songs may still not be out but I'm getting there," Sarah says about the challenging road called music. "Until now, I feel the many ups and downs when it comes to not being able to balance work life, family, social life, career, everything is literally on top of my head!" Sarah believes this is an experience that many can relate to, as it is easy to feel lost and adrift at certain points in life.

"Sometimes, you feel like you're worth nothing and some days you feel like you're worth everything and it's just a mental roller coaster." Overwork can be a veritable bane to one's mental health, a slow poison that eats away at the very fabric of one's being leading to a host of maladies.

"You meet people that support you, you meet people that don't support you and it could be very tough."

Throughout all of the mental flux, she remains positive holding fast to a goal—and pursuing it. Her hiatus from music only gave her a deeper sense of commitment to follow her dreams.

"No matter the culture, no matter the financial situation, no matter the social lifestyle that you have, it always goes back to that one point that you are interested in, what you really love, what you really want to achieve in your life." There will always be that persistent voice speaking at the back of one's head—something that is going to stick.

"So, go through it, live with it, accept all the ups and downs, and pursue what you love no matter what the consequences, or the results, just do it and enjoy the process!"

Sarah Alghanemm as photographed by Adel Alvin

Those who toil endlessly, driven by the ceaseless demands of the modern world, may find themselves growing increasingly frayed and frazzled, their nerves stretched to the breaking point.

"Everything happens for a reason. Whether good or bad it happens because your destiny takes you through it," she concludes.

HOMEGROWN is musivv’s segment dedicated to featuring UAE-based artists. Features under this segment are eligible for a nomination under this category at the Musivv Awards annual recognition.

January 9, 2023

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