What I have learnt, Episode Twenty-Seven: A bit of a rant. A random Sunday in June.
Just a random Sunday in June. My holiday from this half-term holiday. I have much to do, before I go back to work tomorrow. Please, TES, don’t fail me today. Today I did some random things. I read a passage from the Qur’an, which reminds me that I should always seek to strive for excellence. Take what is Khayr from things; leave the noise, the deception, the whatever-is-of-no-value, benefit.
You know, no matter what you do, nobody gets to tell you who you are. The Truth only comes from Allah; there are these truths of you, too. Your life: between you and Allah. And with your fellow beloved companions: fellow-travellers, with whom you walk in love. There is a seven-year-old you to really impress, and there is (possibly) a seventy-eight year old you to really impress, too.
Your beating heart. Mind, soul, body. Tethered, on-goingly, to the One who made you.
Nobody gets to make you feel like you are ‘too religious’. Or too ‘bookish’. Or that your feelings are invalid.
Today, I am (finally getting the time to write about, and am) thinking about the idea of ‘cool’: something that we all, in one way or another, try to be.
Early adulthood brings with it an intense self-consciousness. Suddenly, you’ve got this emergent self-identity to reckon with; this entire other friggin’ gender to think about all the time. You’re growing, mentally and physically. Things don’t quite make sense, all of the time. You are no longer a mere extension of your parents; you move from ascribed places in the world, to achieved ones.
Hyper-aware of what others might be thinking. A need to be smooth, be pretty, be ‘cool’, be ‘cool’. ‘Popular’. ‘Liked’, liked, liked.
We are beings who require others here, as mirrors for us: to tell us whom we are. Our places in the world. How we are going to challenge ourselves, and better ourselves, and grow. This is in our nature. [leaf emoji, mushroom emoji, sunflower sunflower].
Seeking validation from the world: what a recipe for ongoing heartache. Everybody comes with their own views – informed by such things as family, the media, friends – about what is ‘pretty’, what is ‘smart’, what is the best way to live one’s life. Wallahi though: pinning our ways of looking upon ourselves to what everybody in the world might make of us. We would hunger for the rest of these (limited) lives of ours.
Bismillah. I am Muslim, and I am me. Over time, I have reached a better understanding of what and whom I am. What I want, from this world. What I do not want, from this world. For some, my ‘what I want’ is their what they do not want. And mutatis mutandis, the other part.
Over time: I’ve had high energy. Well, not always physical energy. But I would get excited over things like straws, and Young Journalists’ club, and doing homework. And then, for a while, I tried to quieten it down. ‘Fit in’, ‘be cool’. And now, I feel as though the people whom I maybe tried to emulate… tried to emulate me. Being excited over the ‘small things’. Being really, really excited.
Annoying, even. Weird, even. Crazy [problematic word. ‘Spirited’] even. A massive nerd (as Isa keeps saying) even. The fact of the matter is, if these are what I get from being me, and living the way I love to live… then these are all badges of honour.
My religion is ‘too much’ for some. My ways of seeing things do not sit well with some. The way I live my life; the way I would like to continue to live my life.
But they sit very well with all the right people: with the Tamanna, and the Tasnim, and the Sarina and… the Saif. When he is not deliberately annoying me.
There are always things, here, for me to try to work on; to seek to improve. But the ‘point’ is never to seek to prove anything to anyone. Never to begin from ‘standards’ that are outside of whom I am: whom Allah has made me.
Something I am really fed up of is when people freely make negative comments, which I (being quite sensitive to these things, admittedly) end up ruminating over afterwards. Comments on whether I ‘have a life’ or not. I don’t know: generally, I don’t really say much back by way of retaliation. I think insecurity is indicated by such defensiveness.
As I’ve been thinking about more, recently: true security is shown when people are happy (not continuously euphoric. That isn’t possible, in this temporary abode) and are happy for others; happy for others to be happy, also. Trying to make other people jealous; trying to alert them to one’s blessings in loud ways; being mean to people… indicative of a lack of security. Security is wanting to share goodness, and being aware of one’s weaknesses, flaws, humanness — not in denial of them. Insecurity is needing to come across as being ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ than others.
I must try to be compassionate to others, while also being very compassionate to myself. They say I’m ‘boring’ for reading a book? I say, I’m sorry it takes so much more for you, to feel stimulated. They say I’m weird: I say, sorry you’re generic. In the same tone that they say it.
I need to realise that people only see glimpses of me. They see, outside: a girl in Hijāb, holding a book, maybe. And all these ideas then come into play: projections. I am not who near strangers might say, think, I am. And this is true for the compliments and the criticisms alike.
I did worry that I’m too ‘weird’. Maybe ‘zany’ is the word: one cannot be ‘zany’ and ‘cool’, at the same time, probably. Then: too academic. The pursuit of knowledge; of mind-stimulating experiences. Things simmered down a bit: I guess I found something of a middle way, in Year Nine. My purple SuperDry bag, with badges over it. Black jacket, boots [both of which, teachers never flagged me up on, because they saw me as being a ‘good student’], Mockingjay pin (which Mazhar had gotten for me). And I was quiet, because I guess I was often sad.
And then: exams, exams, exams. And a sense of self that felt so lost, a lot of the time. A desperate need to find. I guess it happened eventually, at exactly the right time. Alhamdulillah.
“Where we go,
With guns hidden under our petticoats.“
[Dear government, just because I’ve referred to guns, here, please don’t assume I’m ISIS.]
The numerous phases of early adulthood [which, in the Islamic tradition, begins as soon as we hit puberty. But it’s said that, between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one, we are in need of a lot of good advice. And friendships with parents/parental figures].
I know that I have my personal strengths: gifts from God. For example: writing; making people feel comfortable; making people think about things, and making them laugh. My intuition strong, too. Masha Allah: sometimes she scares me a little. Weaknesses: a w k w a r d n e s s, for example [the other day, I saw Mazhar on C. Street, near Quality, and I said hello and asked him what he’s doing there. He said he’s picking Isa up. And then I basically said something like, Oh, cool. Okay, well see ya and then nearly got run over by a car, which I had put my hand out to stop. Mazhar saw everything: he made that same smiling ‘what even are you’ face he usually does, shaking his head. My awkwardness is… something else.]. A certain sort of chaotic-ness. Anxiety. Hyper-sensitivity: necessary downsides of the upsides.
Everybody has their personal strengths and weaknesses. Blessings, tests. Would I give up my unique holistic set of these things, for another’s? Never. With others, we don’t even see the full picture anyway. Only glimpses, images. Everybody is blessed; everybody isalso in, as Allah puts it in His Qur’an, Kabad.
I quite like how things can always be better understood in retrospect.
I despise how people can feel so free to treat certain people however they want. But as soon as the same energy is returned to them: they’re disgusted, appalled, outraged. Yeah, I just think: they need to learn. For example, when people say things about my brother. I want for them to see the crazy [‘spirited’] in my eyes. I’ll (metaphorically) kill them.
I’ll gladly be a black sheep, a scapegoat, reject, or whatever else, in certain contexts. As long as I am not a coward or a liar, who let bad things happen because I was scared of what some fellow mortal human beings might ‘think of me’.
I am tired of feeling boxed in by others’ expectations; by others’ assumptions. I need to learn to disarm them, and the power they hold over my identity, in my head. I am who I am, and not merely what another might, based on two or three external things, glimpses, see.
And if I am ‘stoosh’ and ‘too academic’ and ‘too religious’ for not dressing a certain way and for not deliberately dumbing myself down for random men [I mean, sometimes I am just dumb. But that shiz is… o r g a n i c]: then awight, I should be glad to be these things. [“I thought you only cared about school!”] Definitions matter. If I am ‘boring’ for dressing a certain way, while outside, and not going to clubs and such, and for caring about pursuing knowledge: I need to accept that their definitions of ‘fun’ are one thing; their ways of seeing things, of processing… me. Life, too. Mine are another. To quote the Qur’an: you have your way of life; I have mine.
We will never be (truly, deeply, really, and for who we really are) accepted by everyone in the world. It’s good to be rejected by certain people, for the right reasons: *Northern accent, here* you ain’t trynna be like them!
If I always remember Allah, and always reason: Allah won’t let me lose myself, or my way.
“I’m sorry I don’t fit your views.
I was never made for you.” [K.S.]
‘Seem’ versus ‘is‘, also. A super important ongoing theme here.
I just realised that I love how Farhana speaks Bengali: in such a distinctive British accent. Really shows her… dual cultural identity.
And I also learned, from some journal article I found online, that testosterone stimulates fat deposits to the abdominal region. Beer bellies = *deep voice* testosterone bellies.
Everybody needs a ‘safe space’ or two. Much of the world is very hard for us. But there are safe spaces: homes, for us, here. To open up, and to be, beautifully, and to grow. [Darn it, stop with the floral metaphors already!]
tends to be, at secondary school, the girl whose power is derived from the fact that she is, a) pretty, and b) mean. She may rely on ‘friends’ who are actually scapegoats, to feel superior above: to make fun of, to get them to do things for her. To feel small, so that she can feel ‘big’. And she is ‘cool’ because she does not really show emotions. She seems ‘self-certain’, unbreakable, stylish. What might the equivalent be, for boys? Probably, the guy with the athletic physique, who gets the gewls. [Nando’s dude voice: the GEWLs]. The other boys want to be him, because they want the gewls too.
‘Cool’ is not being weak: it’s being, in a way, mighty before the people. Just… mysterious, faultless-seeming. Nobody is really ‘cool’, here. Everybody has versions of themselves, which they present to others. Everybody is born messily; everybody exists here in what Dunya is. And then we come home, to the right places, and to the right people, and we’re real. Not cool: that would be boring and miserable. We’re warm.
The truth is, we can’t connect with people whose humanity we aren’t seeing. On images, we can only project.
Claire from Mod Fam: I’m sorry. I’m being ridiculous.
Phil Dunphy, my soul animal: Don’t apologise. I love you when you’re human!
When the makeup comes off; when the phones are put away. When we are left with only the truths of ourselves, and our existences. What then?
We have these hearts that beat: a finite, actually, number of beats. And all this loss, and all this pain, and all these doubts and uncertainties and all the rest of it. It’s a very hard but worthwhile, I think, thing to do: to come to really know our suffering.
We were helpless, red-faced, screaming babies, once. And everybody really wants to be held like that, again.
And the whole world will not approve of us; will not, cannot, love us. But… our worlds will. I’m trying to act all deep and everything but I just ate all the chocolate from that icing tube that I’d purchased yesterday. It is good chocolate; would 10/10 continue to have, as a snack.
You spend so much time trying to be liked, liked, liked. By all these people who are approaching the world, and you, from their own schemas, forged over time, by parental voices, by media influences, by allllll the rest of it. And then, suddenly: you feel – and are – loved by all the right people! For the very human thing that you are: even the parts that you tried to keep hidden for a while. And it’s the best thing in the whole wide world. It’s secure; it’s nurturing. You think you’ll slip up, and it’ll just go away: but it doesn’t, because it’s durable.
Love sees you, determinedly, in beauty: through the best eyes, in the best way. And it makes you want to (not in an obsessive way that makes yeh feel inadequate) do better, be better. Love, love, love. In contrast to neutrality/dislike/’like’, based on image-based things that we don’t really have control over.
Furthermore, did you know that, while some might, for example, call your skin colour ‘pale’ and undesirable… quite a few Desi women are spending money to bleach their skins, to look more like you? On the flip-side: in South Asian communities, they might tell you you are not ‘Shundor’ (pretty) because your skin isn’t that fair. And, this, while some women are spending a lot of time and energy on fake tans, to look like you. Perspectives.
Personality-based things too. We take the merits of we for granted. I need to thank Allah every day. For the good that makes me me, and for the struggles – the tests – which remind me that I am not at Home just yet. I’m a traveller here: adventurer. Sleeping-bag, roaming around. A regular brown Muslim female Jack Kerouac, mey. Minus the lots-of-casual-encounters-with-the-opposite-gender.
Also, for example, my friggin’ nose, which is slightly-upturned in shape: two particular people outwardly did not like when I was young, and told me to keep pressing it down, to get it into ‘proper shape’. Bro, not in an arrogant way, but in a finally-appreciative one: people have surgery to have a nose like this. It’s everything that you might doubt about yourself: somebody else wants.
You are ‘liked’ on account of the shapes of your facial features. On account of a funny joke you made once. On account of what your bank account might be sayyin’. Which school you go to. Your postcode. On account of where you are ‘from’. Things like that. You could just as well be disliked on account of such factors too, but it isn’t… true. This stuff: it’s all cheap.
You are loved on account of everything you are. They see your good; they see your necessarily weaknesses. They know more about where you have been; who you are. And love is the thing with comfort, which brings tranquility to the soul.
I know of some people who seem like they are very ‘loved by the world’, ‘respected’, based on more ascribed things, than on character-based achieved ones (beginning, most usually, with physical appearance). Super ‘cool’, and some of them seemingly always have been. But then it becomes a fight to keep being liked, for the reasons that they are, and by all the people. Must be exhausting. I’ve seen whom they are, when they are at home, and comfortable. It can be a beautiful contrast, because this is what earns our interpersonal relationships value: with different sets of people, you must be different versions of yourself. All our various masks: to hide parts of ourselves, or to make ourselves seem less flawed or whatever. And then, at home, you’re you [unless you, unfortunately, are currently living in an abusive household or something. You might be in ‘survival mode’ right now, but Insha Allah, one day you’ll feel home again].
Who are we, at home? Crying to escape all the time, or content?
As I keep saying, I need to stop projecting anything onto people I don’t even know that well, and onto places. For a while, I kept saying that I wanted to move to New York, Cambridge, Scotland. Apartments; organic food shoppin’. Autumnal rainfalls, farm-y stuff. It’s all already around me: I just have to be appreciative, and then I am consequently increased in favours. That is how it works.
Moving forward: I am Muslim. And a Fuldi [older sister, basically. F l o w e r sister]! And a teacher/writer/learner. And to the best people: a friend. Alhamdulillah.
I really want to learn how to play the duff drum properly. I’ve got one, from Morocco, in my garage. I can’t wait for Mazhar’s Nikkah preparations, Insha Allah: when Maryam, the kids, Sweetie and I are together… we shed everything we are, to external eyes, and we have so much fun. It’s strange, stupid, and funny and awesome: some of my cousins are the sort of people (or, have been ascribed with certain personas) that would likely have made me reluctant to be friends with them, if we went to school together or something; they probably feel the same about me. How glad I am that we are basically forced to like each other, on account of being related! [Jk.] I want to write out poems (or Post Malone lyrics) on people’s arms with Mendhi, for Eid or for the Nikkah.
“I sometimes see the grey and I sometimes see the rain,
But I’ll see the colours of the cotton-candy sky again.” [Z.B.]
Random, but I can’t believe I wanted to be like certain people (my impressions of them, based on a few fleeting images, projections), and not myself, way back when. They’ve got their merits, in terms of how they are; they’ve got their necessary struggles. I’ve got mine too. But the mean girls: it’s only indicative of insecurity if you need to make others feel small, rather than big, in order to hold ‘power’. Pafettic mate.
Grrrr. It’s when people I find to be, but secretly, hidden-ly, extremely boring and shallow in what they say, and in their senses of humour, and their ideas of fun… openly say things about me. Gotta bite my tongue. Or maybe I should, in a secure kind of way, say something. Gives me a wee lil adrenaline rush, deez fings.
Or, perhaps I should be more like Ranga Mama. Just… fully secure. So, if someone makes unsavoury comments… just smile and agree. “If it makes them happy to make comments about you, let them be happy!” That shows that you’re really secure; enough to accept that you weren’t even doing certain things for others’ attention or approval anyway. You’re just happy.
No, I feel I must use my sarcasm. Use it or lose it! But, sarcastic comments in a tone that makes it seem like I’m being genuine. “Do you even have a life?”
“Nah, not really. Won’t you liberate me from this existence, please?”
I, for myself, would like to smile more. And to be warmer. ‘Weirder‘, even, according to certain definitions. Sink into who I am, and my purpose here [the pursuit and embodiment, as much as I can, of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness]. Even though, sometimes, being ‘warm’ rather than ‘cool’ tends to translate as… embarrassing myself in front of people sometimes. Being super awkward! [Tas thinks I over-exaggerate how ‘awkward’ I really come across as being. When I die about how ‘awkward’ I am in conversations, she insists that she thinks I seem ‘super cool’. In fact, she said that when she first saw me at school, she thought I was ‘too cool’ to be friends with. Appearances versus Reality. LOL]
Whose eyes actually matter, to me? Who holds the keys to truths? What is happening, here and now? Who are we, truly and organically?
Dear Dunya. You exhaust me, a lot of the time. You seem shiny; want-able. If I chase after you though, you will destroy my soul, and my eternity which follows this.
I have got to really appreciate what Allah has given me. Including, who I am, and the sum of my personal stories. All of it. While deeply acknowledging that Dunya is not the happy place: this place was not made for man’s happiness. It’s meant to leave us feeling, always, a little hungry.
You know, for a while, I had felt myself absolutely drowned, drowning, in greyness: in anxiety and depression. I was lost; He guided me. I’m so glad to be back, Alhamdulillah! In Islam; as myself!
- Having enough money, Subhan Allah, for necessities and for luxuries
- Going grocery shopping. I’m a paper brown bag enthusiast
- Making food
- Eating food
- Checked wellington boots
- Fire. Candles, campfires.
- Laughing about things that probably should not be laughed about
- Children! Their ways of seeing the world
- Structure and novelty, from work
- The freakin’ farm, man
- The way the sunlight peers through things, sometimes
- Handwritten things
- Emotionally adorable things. I just think of that scene in ‘Wonder’ when Auggie is feeling outcast and self-conscious at lunchtime, and Jack sits with him. When they are laughed at, Jack deliberately eats messily, hilariously. His friendship with Auggie is more important. And they have so much fun together! If I ever have a son, Insha Allah, I would want him for be like this Jack Will kid
With all this, the things I suppose I am necessarily foregoing are: dressing in certain ways to go outside; being easily uproarious; listening to music all the time; loving designer-clothes shopping; drinkin’ and drugs; extramarital relationships; hitting the beauty salon every week, for lots of different treatments. Nothing wrong with some of these things. It’s just not for mey. And, it’s just that, when you choose certain things, you start thinking about what you have foregone. Is the exchange worth it? For me, heck yeah.
So much of the media touts these ideas that if you do not live your life a certain way, then you are boring and pathetic. But, yah: my Lord tells me that I’m not missing out. So I’m not missing out.
Hardships: everybody has a distinctive and unique list of these. We don’t want others’ tests: they weren’t designed for us.
Today’s song that will play in my mind pretty much the whole day, probably: ‘I see the light’ from Disney’s Tangled.
All those days, watching from the windows
All those years, outside looking in
All that time, never even knowing
Just how blind I’ve been
Now I’m here, blinking in the starlight
Now I’m here, suddenly I see
Standing here, it’s, oh, so clear
I’m where I’m meant to be
And at last, I see the light
And it’s like the fog has lifted
And at last, I see the light
And it’s like the sky is new
And it’s warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once, everything looks different
Now that I see you
All those days, chasing down a daydream
All those years, living in a blur
All that time, never truly seeing
Things the way they were
Now she’s here, shining in the starlight
Now she’s here, suddenly I know
If she’s here, it’s crystal clear
I’m where I’m meant to go
And at last, I see the light
And it’s like the fog has lifted
And at last, I see the light
And it’s like the sky is new
And it’s warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once, everything is different
Now that I see you
Now that I see you.
[Merit if you sang it how it’s meant to be sung].
Finally, to quote Peppa Pig [the lads shall be returning from her World very soon, Insha Allah]:
Bing bong bing,
Bong bing boo.
Bing bong bingly bongly booo.
Our perspectives make it so.
With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.