Songs of Victory….

Yesterday, I attended my School-specific graduation.

I really wanted to get a lot of different things done relevant to my dissertation research before this date, but it couldn’t happen due to the need to prioritize the “dignity of work” which I will address in a different post. It was a special and important moment for me in addition to the hooding ceremony in December. I am glad I went there. I also think it is important to show up to these things if you can.

I remember last summer after defending, I put this list together of songs that I would listen to during my doctorate studies. After the hooding ceremony in December, I was in a great amount of pain. I couldn’t listen to any of these songs. It was only this past week that I started to listen to them again, and tonight as well, after the graduation yesterday for another victory lap, after a strenuous couple of weeks at my new job…(the 3 months anniversary to come this Monday).

I would listen to these songs at different stages of my PhD program…Some I just added towards the end of my studies… If you could just listen to these songs for me once, it would mean a lot… I listened to them in some of the most darkest moments, during my daily runs, my milestone and victory laps… and to motivate in difficult moments.. and it would mean a lot if you could listen to them for me. Most of these are pop songs… and it isn’t a comprehensive list, but I’d like to share this here…because they mean a lot to me… For some songs, I share some passages from the song or some comments about it which made it special…. And I have the link to the YouTube Video of the song too…

I Won’t Give Up…

This song is a given. It’s a very daunting process, the doctorate. Never give up on the dream and embrace “the process”…


You held me down, but I got up…

Get ready ‘cause I’ve had enough… I got the eyes of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire…

you might see a couple of Katy Perry songs :l…

Much of her music is truly inspirational and special.

Take me Home…

“Hold the gun to my head, count one, two, three.. And if it helps me walk away, then it’s what I need..

I’d listen to this one a lot while I was in Wisconsin in my final stages…


“I came to win, to fly, to conquer, to thrive…

This Nikki Minhaj song really carried me through my fields and dissertation proposal stage, during my milestone laps…


“But don’t run, Stop holding your tongue…maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live… ”

I would listen to this among others on this list, before every single presentation or public speaking event during my doctorate, because of my anxiety and fear of public speaking… I made it part of the process… a reminder to stop holding myself back. It wouldn’t lead to blowing the roof off the building, but it would get me through it all…

Fly Away

“I had a dream that I would fly away.. I knew that I couldn’t stay, so I had a dream that I would fly away”

I listened to this one in difficult times while in Wisconsin, especially at moments where I really felt stuck… A late addition but truly powerful…


“We gonna rise rise rise until we fall…”

Another song I added later…especially in final writing stages when I had to return to Wisconsin to finish my degree…

Never Seen the Rain

Another late addition…


“Fighting my anxiety constantly… I try to control it…. I don’t wanna lose control… “


“I know the higher I climb, the harder the wind blows…

Cause I am resilient…”

Don’t give up on me now.

“I’m not giving up…even when they say there’s nothing left… so don’t give up on me now.”

A very relevant song… really helped me through the finish line…

The River

“Water heal my body, water heal my soul, when I go down down by the water… water I feel whole…”

People at the standing rock protests during Trump’s Inauguration in 2016 were chanting this song. I needed to know where it was from. And then I discovered it from Coco… really powerful and serene, as it speaks to the healing power of being near the water…

 I am Here

“I’m am here… I’ve already seen the bottom, so there’s nothing to fear. I know that I’ll be ready when the devil is near.”

A late addition, but indeed, it helped me remember where I am now and the passage above speaks for itself.


“Told them your dreams and they all started laughing…

I’m the small town…Why can’t it be me?”

“They said I’m going nowhere, tried to count me out, took those sticks and stones, showed ‘em I could build a house. They tell me that I’m crazy. But I’ll never let ‘em change me, ‘Til they cover me in Daisies, Daisies, Daisies….”

Another Katy Perry song… one that really speaks to my personal experiences. The passages above, how people didn’t believe I could get my degree. My diploma was really in a sense a giant middle finger to them…

Fight Song

“This is my fight song, take back my life song, prove I’m alright song”

Love yourself.

“I’m goona put my body first.. and love me so hard ‘til it hurts… I know how to scream out the words…”

How far I’ll go…

A Disney song…but powerful and motivational.

Let it go

“Be the good girl you always have to be, conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.. but now they know…”

Of course I have to include this here in this thread, as Elsa, but this wasn’t really on the list. 😉

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

“You cannot deny me…My freedom is burning…This broken world keeps turning…I’ll never surrender… There’s nothing, but a victory…”

Indeed a true victory lap song for the Suicide Survivor within me…

Terey Saath

“Na Tu Sahin, Na Meh Sahin, Chalte rehain gai ek saathe”….

This was an add-on on my final writing stages while I was in Wisconsin during the Pandemic… A friend sent me a playlist of Pakistani rock Music. This song stuck out for me. Particularly this line above. It’s a really beautiful song. And I was so moved by it that I had to listen to it every day almost during those challenging moments…

Got it in YOU

“When The lights go out and leave you standing in the dark. No one ever told you this would be so hard. I know you think your fire’s burning out, But I still see it shining through… You got it in you…”

Courage to Change

“Have I the Courage to Change today?… You’re not alone in all this, You’re not alone, I promise…”

Broken and Beautiful

“Underneath,… I’m broken and it’s beautiful…”

High Hopes

“Had to have high high hopes for a living…Shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing… didnt have a dime but I always had a vision… always had high high hopes..”

Must have high high hopes to finish a doctorate degree…

Sindhi Maro…

This is really a very very special song from Sindh. It is especially important to me, because I danced to this song with the Malani Family in Mithi, Tharparkar Sindh.. the family of the first Hindu Member of the National Assembly in Pakistan, and I remember at that time, it was truly one of the most joyous moments of my life… I am not allowed to share the video but I would watch it from time to time and listen to this song too…. I think I may have accidentally lost or deleted the video from back then.

Jummah chumma dede…

I thought to add this song in the end, because I defended on a Friday and submitted my dissertation on a Friday. I recall telling my Mom that this song is now in my head upon the Final Submission. When I was a kid, I thought this song just meant having a good time on a Friday. It actually means something a little extra. 😉 Aside from how it objectifies women, still remains a catchy classic… 😉

And Today is Friday, so happy Friday everyone. I know there are some songs that I may have missed, so I will add them here when I get the chance…I missed all those Red Hot Chilli Peppers… lol… But Thank you for tuning into these songs of victory with me!!!


As I said, it was really hard for me to listen to these songs for a while. Partly because I missed the thrill of being able to fight for something, something so big and what seemed so impossible to me much of time during the process, the PhD, as I noted in this post.  It does feel like I am at a bottom of a mountain again, and right now, I am no longer sure what it is I am fighting for. Is it to make the research and travels more valuable? To make the data I discovered mean something more? Or should I pursue a whole new goal now?

I shared a lot of insights in my online networks, but I guess somewhere along the way, I lost even the little social capital I had, even at the familial level. It is stunning to me really how I have always celebrated everyone else, and when I celebrate myself, there is something wrong with it….As I have noted in previous posts, I honor my journey because I know how much I struggled and persevered, and I too deserve it, and I know no one else would really see it. So if I do that for myself, why is that perceived the wrong way? Why is a woman with many disadvantages given the evil eye, when she honors herself for her achievements and sacrifices?  And I to feel guilty about that? This was the one big thing that happened to me and I’ll be turning 40 in two years. This was my baby.

After the defense, in such a time like the Covid era, I have needed time to heal as well. So I have taken it, but I’ve needed to process things too.  This has all taken time, and recovering from all the challenges of instability, mental, emotional, physical, financial, economic, social, all will take much more time. As we hear from many of these songs, it really requires a lot of self-empowerment, self-motivation, and at the same time, protection from self-destruction….

I am going to make something more of all the hard work that I put in my doctorate, my dissertation. Indeed, there are more articles to come (already coming). Academic, professional, creative…

I am going to keep writing, and someday my writing will matter. It will all take time, now, and I need to be patient.

There are more goals, more dreams, more everything for me to take many more victory laps. There will be more struggle, and the higher I climb, the harder it will keep getting, but I am not at the bottom of the same mountain again as I have been thinking. I am starting again at a different starting point. I am not starting over from the same place I was before… I have more to do, more to accomplish, more to achieve, more victory laps to run!

I have on my wall a quote:

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seed you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson.

And once again, I want to share the quote that has taken me through my entire higher education and something that I will take with me in this new chapter of my life as well:

“All your scholarship would be in vain if at the same time you do not build character and attain mastery of your thoughts and your actions.” – Mahatma Gandhi

All important reminders…

Thank you for reading and many congratulations to others who have taken the “victory laps” the past year and this academic semester! 

Peace, warmth, and blessings,

Your Sister,

Dr. Elsa 

Warrior KQueen

“She wasn’t Looking for a Knight. She was looking for the Sword.” – Atticus

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