This is kinda going to be my end of the year post (the horror) (if you get that reference, you’re awesome)
This year went by really fast but I felt like I endured every single day. I went through some things that really consumed me. Before Ramadan I was someone else. I was unstable, I was looking for answers, I was unsure of what Allah (swt) was wanting for me. It was the end of my college career and I couldn’t believe it. It’s still taking awhile to sink in. I know this sounds cliche, but I’m sure we all have it. I felt myself fighting battles no one could see. I had pride in myself that I could solve everything on my own and not ask for help. I admit to it now. I assumed and made things worse than they were, and I let idealistic thoughts creep into my mind. No matter how realistic you try to be about your dreams and what you want in life, the picture you paint will always be beautiful and perfect to you. It’s not until you’re in the situation that you know exactly how it feels to be wanted, to be someone that’s worth fighting for, to be someone that kids love and hug every day, to be someone that is severely flawed, to be someone that’s embarrassed at her weakness even though she shouldn’t be….I’m all those people.
I would read posts about empowerment, gaze in awe at my friends who seem like they’re so invincible, and maybe they are, I wished I had their strength.
I realized the pain I felt sunk in like a rock, just sitting there. I’m fond of rocks but not like this. I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough to please Allah swt. But with every sacrifice I made, I felt like it was medicine. Because to me, it always hurts before it helps. I say that all the time. This year I found myself thinking more about my goals and what I wanted be and do.
It became so surreal when I began student teaching. I had to be more courageous, I had to get out of comfort zones I didn’t know I had. It’s really cool that we as people, can have many sides to us. My friends often joke about how maternal I can be, or how serious I am. Those parts of me translated pretty well when I was teaching. I surprised myself, and as the kids started to open up to me, and care about the effort I put in for them, I felt this amazing sense of worth I never got from anyone else. It was something new that I had to put aside “at home sarah” and “at university” and “with friends sarah” and “woke let’s get the feds sarah” away and be another version of me for this profession. It turns out, I could include all parts of me in ways I never thought. People are always giving me the “ew” side smile when I tell them I taught middle schoolers. It’s true-they’re trolls. It was a roller coaster for me. I tried so hard to separate my life in different ways, but I’m human. Yes, I cried in my car many times. They say teachers do that. But I found myself doing that aside from teaching. It all gets to be too much sometimes. People don’t realize that people who are teachers, are so dynamic. We don’t all just have our work personality then clock out (nothings wrong with that) but we have to be somebody’s mom some days, somebody’s friend, somebody’s “get your life together” coach, even when we need that sometimes. Teaching is very much a profession that can take so much out of you. I’m learning that if I’m going to do this, I want to be invested with it like I am with other parts of my life. I learned this too. If you wanna have a good life, with good friends and healthy relationships, you need to invest in people. This hit me so hard when the Chapel Hill Three shooting happened. The only reason Deah, Yusor, and Razan were remembered was because of how well they invested their time, love, money, and care into other people. That is why Allah(swt) let them be remembered and revered. My friends and I made a small vigil on campus for them.
In the process of writing our speeches and getting other things ready, I realized just how blessed I was to have all these genuine people around me. It hit me that if anything happened to any one of them, I would seriously go insane. I would give anything for their safety and even though I’m small, that won’t stop me from charging at them lol.
So we summarized spring semester lol. Lessons:
1) Invest in people. This means you give your time, energy, love, money, etc in the people who matter most to you. Even people who are distant from you. You can check on them, make Duaa for them, and I promise you they will do the same. It all adds up. And if tragedy strikes, they will be the people making Duaa for you. I always think of our cemetery, and how it’s far from where I live. I hope that when I pass away, I have people making Dua for me. We need to think ahead like this. Nowadays anything can happen, and we have to be ready to face all challenges with Him in our hearts and His words on our tongue.
2) Gather your own thoughts before you ask others for theirs. It’s good to ask people for their opinions and advice, but if your brain is scattered, it’s tough to listen to everyone’s input while your standards, ideas, and goals aren’t settled yet. Take the time to think. Think about you, think about how YOU think. It’s deep stuff. Not for the shower.
Now onto summer.
Honestly the best part was Ramadan. Everything else was a blur. I have 4 Ramadan reflections that pretty much summarize how I felt. I miss you, Ramadan.
I’ll tell you some things about relationships. With friends and not friends lol. I truly think that the best way to better your relationship with anyone is always have best interest in mind. Meaning, in matters of the deen, you stay true to what it entails. Easy enough. But the hard part is staying true to you, and not letting anyone’s influence your judgement. I used to think certain ways about people and found that my mind was quickly changed because Allah showed me something else. I loved that. I love that about people, about love, about our hearts. We all have our standards of what we want in friendships and relationships and we should stick with them. But I’ll tell you, like mama says to me, “illa be thala bel7akee, ghair teegi 3ala rasha.” Translation: if you keep talking, it’ll come over your head.
Meaning: Don’t be a person who just talks about what they want and not actually BE what you want. Be the person you want to meet. I remind myself this all the time. It’s also in reason, that we respect other people’s standards and what they want. Some people care to emphasize and be picky, some don’t. Some go with the flow, and some worry. It’s all you. But neither makes you less or better than anyone. When Allah gives you something, it was meant to be. And no one could have handled it better than you.
1) cherish all of the good and happy times, no matter how fleeting. As painful it is to constantly remember the negative, you’ll find yourself smiling at random for the little things you forgot. I recently talked about Surat Ad-Duha with some friends and one of the gems of it is how Allah (swt) reminds the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) if the good things and times of light. He puts us in situations, and then He moves us out of them. SubhanAllah, and this is only seen with time. I used to look at myself in the mirror and tell myself “this’ll all pass, you’ll be right here again, much better and more happy” or “dang, you look hobo, but weeks from now you’ll be graduated and free” lol. Point is, life is about moving and shifting and growing. You don’t stay in the same rut forever. You don’t stay in comfort either.
2) Allow yourself to grow. Teaching really taught me this. It makes things much easier to accept. You make mistakes, it’s okay. Instead of regretting, accept them and grow from them. You aren’t the same person every year. Get better, be better.
3) Let Him in. Sometimes we get into Iman lows, and our connection with Allah seems lost. Recently at a convention, one of the speakers said something that really struck me: “We don’t make Duaa or not read Quran because we are lazy or bad people, but because we are so addicted and caught up with worldly things that we just don’t have the capacity to make Duaa or read.”
Seriously so true. Mentally exhausted from all that happens in the world, but instead of tweeting about it all the time, we should have our energy to hold our hands together and pray.
4) Pray extra. Even if it doesn’t feel so awesome. The longer my head is in Sujood, the longer I feel at peace.
5) Find your safe spaces. Find places or do things that make you feel safe. I mean this mentally and physically. Go somewhere where you feel like you’re safe to be you and think whatever you want to think. Where your heart can be poured out to Allah and have no one judge you. Mine safe spaces are Sujood, my car, or even my room when I’m alone in bed. I feel relaxed. I can mope and think away without having any distractions.
6) When doing things for the sake of Allah, you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. You do what you are striving for and disregard criticsm especially if it’s not constructive. This really helped me stay strong at work and at school. Stand your ground and don’t let an uncomfortable vibe make you stop serving Allah or even going to the Masjid. It’s time as Muslims we drop this idea of letting other Muslims effect our productivity. I’m not saying you have to eat crap all the time, but remind yourself of your intentions. Always renew them.
7) We all have our own definition of family. Whoever that is to you, keep them close. Put them first. I’m so blessed to have a large and amazing family. My cousins were my first best friends and they still are. Family will always be there for you. And if you’re Palestinian, you don’t have a choice lol
Above all, the one thing I can say that will always help is knowing Allah is always on your side if you’re on His. He knows the battles you face, He knows all. This gives me so much comfort. In a world where dictators remain untouched, where people support them, where money goes under the table, where deals are made unseen, Allah sees you. And I believe in His recompense. He is close to us all, He has answered so many of my Duaas. And there is Baraka everywhere if we just look.
Finally letting go of 2015. Year of great lessons. Alhamdulilah.
This has been in the drafts, unfinished since December 9th. And lots of things have changed since then. aH. God really does work in mysterious ways.