Hello Sam; Assalamu ‘alaikum.
Thank you for your kind words about my blog. Interestingly enough, I’ve been thinking about deleting it recently… in order to ‘start anew’. But perhaps I’ll keep this one. I sometimes worry that my articles — sometimes an avalanche — are something of a mess.
I understand you on the religion front. Alhamdulillah, at this point, at the age of twenty, I am certain that Islam is the Truth. But, although I was born to religious parents, I did struggle with questions and such. Quite a lot, actually. If eighteen-year-old I were to read my current writings, I think she’d find them quite hard to relate to, too. I’m quite inclined towards ‘abstract, philosophical’ thoughts and ideas. I also very much love language; these things brought me to Islam. As I’ve mentioned in a previous piece of writing: if and when it happens, it has to speak to your mind and heart specifically. I was truly lost and confused for a while; full of questions. And I truly believe that Allah guides anybody who sincerely asks.
I too struggled with notions of religious community. It took a great deal of ‘finding myself’ to get to where I am now, Alhamdulillah. For example: fearing judgement, and things like this. And now I just think: other people don’t ‘own’ Islam. But good friends, and a good community helps. I’d say these points are linked to the following:
Once you start coming into, or in a way returning to, your authentic self, more authentic connections tend to ensue (Alhamdulillah).
Social anxiety. I’ve struggled with it too. It was hyper-sensitivity for me. Being so hyper-aware of things; of changes in tone, facial expression; noticing people looking, even from far away. Feeling very tense and self-conscious. Sensitivity, surely, has its pros and cons. I’m almost sure that your sensitivity, for example, is what has also led to your being a writer.
At points of major stress in my life, my social anxiety became very, very bad. Allah has got me to where I am now, Alhamdulillah. One thing that helped was this: noticing that there are little children who remind me of myself at that age. I think about their personality traits, and about how… my first instinct is never to disapprove of them for being whom they are. I really think our original selves are shown in our first seven years. Who were you then? And why, perhaps, are you not okay with being him anymore?
On the sensitivity note, I felt overwhelmed in bustling ‘office-like’ environments. Yet, when I worked in a less ‘corporate’ place, things got easier. Favouring less over-stimulating places. It took time, of course. A Moroccan proverb I quite like: “drop by drop, the river rises”.
Furthermore, I’ve found it rather interesting how people I never really would have thought experienced ‘social anxiety’… actually do. Some people are just tremendously good at hiding it, or at redirecting the anxious energy towards… coming across as being quite confident, Masha Allah.
I hope you get to take part in more schemes like that. I’ve realised something about the notion of ‘belonging’: you really don’t have to be ‘just like’ other people. You’ve got to be you, and seek to forge ‘bridges’ between you and others. And nobody is ever quite fully ‘confident’, but it’s important for us to know ourselves better, come to feel more secure therein, and then look at what roles and such we can play within communities. You’re already you: what had little you been like? Are there parts of you that you are yet to accept?
When you’re feeling [socially] overwhelmed, are there some particular things that you do, which help?
I hope this helped in at least some sort of way.
With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.