Sometimes I just sit back and think of how drastically different my life was this time last year. I was a completely different person than I am today and so much was so different. Looking back, I have been able to see my progress as an individual and how much I’ve grown as both a person and a Muslim.
And now, I just want to reflect on the change that’s occurred.
This time last year…
I was just starting college and this was when I realized that change scared me and I had an inability to accept Allah’s will.
All through high school, I thought I knew myself and I thought I had life all figured out. I thought that everything I knew at that exact moment was all I needed to know for the rest of my life. I though that it was going to be a breeze.
Going into college, I was convinced nothing was going to change, but little did I know nothing would remain the same. This was going to be the first time that my best friend of eight years and I were going to be separated. That was the most difficult change I’ve had to endure. I constantly found myself trying to remain in high school. I spent time with the same people I did during my high school years, I pushed away new people and even seperated myself from one of my best friends because they were a form of change. I visited my high school often just to continue feeling like nothing changed. But everything had been altered and I tried running away from that reality as often as I could.
One day, about three weeks into my first semester, I cried during one of my college classes. I broke down. That was the day I realized that I am horrified of change—that I didn’t like unfamiliar people, things, or situations. I missed having my best friend around for eight hours, five days a week, for seven years straight. I missed the sense of familiarity. I had a difficult time accepting that things happen only by God’s will. I found myself constantly becoming angry and frustrated by unwanted circumstances instead of accepting God’s qadr (decree). Finally, I realized that life is fluid, that change occurs and it is good when it does. It helps us grow. I realized that I do not know everything and that I am going to continue growing and learning new things because I had no inch of life figured out, and all of that scared me to death.
I fell into a pit of sadness. It is not hard to say that the last half of 2015 was a difficult time for me. I was so unhappy and so lost. I never let anyone see it, but I hated it nonetheless. I hated the way my life was unravelling and how I was approaching it all. I hated that my life was not going as planned. I yearned for happiness, for completion, anything—and I looked for that in everyone I knew. I thought that my happiness was always in someone else, that my happiness depended on someone, that someone created it for me. I waited for someone to come replenish me and to “make me happy.” I wanted more than anything to be happy, and I thought that everyone, but myself, could bring me that happiness.
I felt unworthy. Just like my happiness, I put my worth in the hands of other people. And because of that, I was constantly putting myself down. I was insecure; I hated myself, my body, my face, my smile—everything about me was wrong. I thrived off of the occasional compliments given to me by others, and I lived my life based off of that. My self-worth was dictated by the whim of a few. I needed to hear from others that I was worthy, that I was beautiful, that I was funny, and that I was something, anything. Even though I heard it, it didn’t do anything. It didn’t complete me. Why? Because I didn’t believe it no matter how many people said it to me.
I was afraid of being alone. Part of my unhappiness and my feeling unworthy was my fear and inability to be alone. I was uncomfortable with just myself and my thoughts. I didn’t know how. I always wanted to be around people to ignore my feelings and loneliness. But, I didn’t realize that even in a crowd full of people, I still felt alone.
I didn’t know what to do with myself while being alone. But being alone wasn’t just a physical notion, it was mental. I wanted, needed, someone to be with me. I thought that my happiness and self-worth was determined by someone else, and quite upsettingly, the “someone else” I had in mind was a man. And that was probably one of the most disappointing things I have ever done to myself: putting my self-worth and happiness in the hands of a man. I thought that if I had a significant other by my side, I wouldn’t be lonely anymore, so I tried to fill that loneliness through any and everything. I started talking to a boy that I thought could take away the loneliness, a boy that I thought, with a few words, could make me feel worthy. I didn’t know my worth enough to stop talking to him regardless of the numerous blows I took.
I was shy and didn’t want to be seen or heard. I didn’t know how to speak up for myself or what I believed in. I always remained on the sidelines and continued to let people walk all over me. I stayed in my shell and didn’t bother anyone or let anyone bother me. When I talked to people, I didn’t look them in the eyes, and I barely even spoke to people. I went to my classes and went home. I didn’t give myself a chance to get to know anyone new; I pushed people away and closed myself off to anyone, new or old. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I didn’t want to see anyone, I just wanted to be by myself all the time; ironic since I had a fear of loneliness, huh? All I did was confine myself to a box and didn’t allow myself to leave that box.
But now, everything is so different. I’m so different.
I’ve made peace with my fears. I’ve walked out of my comfort zone. I’ve accepted that change is a part of life and now I couldn’t be more excited for all of the changes life has to throw at me. I’ve learned to accept Allah’s timing and will and I’m happy with all of the challenges and trials that He throws at me.
I’m happy. I’ve rid myself of the idea of people determining my happiness. I created my own happiness and I’ve managed to keep it up. Any time I feel my mood going down, I remind myself of how lucky I am to be living this life and to be here right now experiencing life. I’ve managed to put only positive thoughts into my head and keep them there. I know that as a human, I’m going to experience bad days—but this experience taught me that bad days don’t stick around. Most importantly, it taught me to never lose faith in Allah (SWT). He has been the only person who has been able to help me overcome all the bad days and pulled me through the darkness and unhappiness I was experiencing for a long period of time. Truly, He is al-Jabbar, the Mender of hearts.
I try to spread a smile and a ray of positivity everywhere I go. I now know that I am the ray of sunshine I’ve been waiting so long for. My smile is the best thing about myself and no one is going to take that away from me.
I love myself now. I can’t imagine life any other way. I’ve come to terms with all of my flaws and learned to love myself for them. I’ve accepted that my acne is who I am; my hips make me stick out in a room full of skinny girls; every inch of me may not be perfect, but it’s me. My worth is only dependent on me and no one else. I am my biggest supporter and my biggest lover and no one else is going to love me more than I love me.
I am okay with being alone right now. I don’t need a companion to take me through life. I am great with or without another human being around me. Once I’ve accepted myself, I’ve been okay with being alone with myself and my feelings and thoughts. I enjoy my own presence now.
I got a job that forces me to speak to people and not fear having to speak; I write for a magazine and I started my own blog that allows me to express my opinion and my feelings without feeling wrong.
I think that one of the biggest ways that I’ve grown is my ability to break out of my shell. Breaking out of my shell was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. I speak up, I talk, and I say what’s on my mind. I open up, I don’t push away; instead, I pull closer. I express my feelings because my feelings are valid and they matter. I say exactly how I feel. I got a job that forces me to speak to people and not fear having to speak; I write for a magazine and I started my own blog that allows me to express my opinion and my feelings without feeling wrong. I’ve joined on campus organizations that teach me to allow new people in.
Everything that I’ve grown to be right now at this moment is due to Allah (SWT) and His constant help and being there when no one else was and understanding me when no one else could. I am sure that all of the changes that I’ve managed to bring about to myself are because I have learned to strengthen my relationship with Allah (SWT). I’ve gone from someone who managed to pray three prayers max in a day to someone who refuses to miss another prayer. I make it a goal to not go to sleep until I have read from the Quran at least once every day, I make sure to say Alhamdulillah about everything that happens in my life; I truly put my life in Allah’s hands and allowed blessings to flow in.
This is life and it’s wonderful.