Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tough Love in Learning

Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim

Assalamualaikum WRT WBT

Hello people.

Four weeks was a long time to finally find myself again. There are no simple solutions. Whoever thinks like that is actually still living in the clouds, an alternate reality. Some did give me religious alternatives such as strengthen my bond and relationship with Allah Taala. Even though that is the best and only way to get peace of mind, everyone must understand that sometimes, it's more complicated than that. A relationship with Allah is the most important relationship you can ever have. Trust Him and everything will be fine. But again, sometimes everything is so much more complex. Blind trust without effort is foolish because Allah doesn't reward results, He rewards effort. The problem I was having was I didn't know what to do in terms of the effort part.

Alhamdulillah for the past 2 days, a lot of things have changed. After writing out my fears and feelings, I realised that I was finally able to explain and put my feelings into words. Before this, it was all stuck in my head. And without any outlet, without putting them into words, they were only just feelings. Nothing more. But feelings are dangerous to have when it's negative. Because it will eat away at you. Believe me. I know.

The next step I did was see my supervisor. And I have to humbly say that my supervisor rocks. She is so cool and supportive that I spent the whole time just crying my eyeballs out, whilst all she had for me were words of encouragement. She explained to me a lot of things that I could relate to.

Humans were created in a unique way where everything has its purpose and its use. Allah also created us as those who thrive for proof. That was why there are existence of mu'jizat. Every single group of people that ever existed where given a Prophet that called them to worship Allah Taala, and each Prophet were given special mu'jizat as proof of a higher power. Which is why, till this day, we cannot simply just accept a saying or a statement without the proper proof or evidence.

I also needed that. When it came to my feeling of loss and stupidity, I needed someone to tell me something to counter that feeling. Which Alhamdulillah my super awesome supervisor did by explaining to me that what I'm going thru is a process of learning that everyone goes thru. She drew me a diagram of two theories that supported what she was saying and explained in which level I was in and how it is a norm for people to find it difficult.

It was such a relief to hear that. I heard myself sigh in relief, knowing that other people also have difficulties in the same phase of learning. Learning is always hard at some point in time, and she told me how jumping from degree to PhD might have been the reason why I felt so lost. Without the proper exposure to the research process before this, and suddenly being thrown into the PhD battle field with no preparations or weapons. With expectations being so high, that was the reason why I broke down and didn't know how to mend myself back. Alhamdulillah I was so relieved.

She also said that it's normal in this stage of learning to feeling stupid and feel like you don't know what the heck you are doing. And hearing her own experience and experiences of her other students whom have shed buckets full of tears, I didn't feel so alone anymore. I didn't feel like I was a useless case and that I was the only one who felt that way. Before this, I couldn't understand why my self confidence was shattered when I used to be so certain. I was brave and pushed thru when times were tough. But this time, I feel hopelessly stupid.

Today, I was able to come to class and face people. I went to lunch with a friend and shared some of my concerns, and Subahanallah how good that felt. Slowly but assuredly, I feel I'm becoming myself again.

However, please don't stop praying for me.

PhD is hard. Seriously hard. And it is a process of maturity in all sense. Maturity in knowledge, in self worth, in self-confidence, in the process of thinking and process of viewing the world. And most importantly, it's the maturity in maturity. Everyone doing PhD will go thru a series of weak phases and weak spots. And I finally understand that these weak phases are really really tough. I have only gone thru one, and I have a lot more along the journey. And with each weak phase we go thru, the more we grow as a person, the more deserving we are in getting the honour of the title Doctor of Philosophy. Philosophy. That's a tough word to actually understand.

I have been reminded countless times of how not just anyone can go thru PhD. Not everyone is willing to go all the way and not everyone can reach the maturity needed. I pray and pray and hope that I am one of the deserving. Allah put me on this path for a reason. I know I am here for something. So I need to be strong. My supervisor said to me "You can cry all you want. But at the end of the day, when all your tears are spent, you have to be strong and move on thru all the pain you feel. No matter how uncomfortable and painful you are at that moment, just shove thru it and fight on".

MashaAllah. What an eye opener. Thank you Allah.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Cry for Help

Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim

Assalamualaikum WRT WBT

Hello people.

It took me a while to actually be brave enough to start writing this post. I couldn't decide if it was a wise idea or a step that I will regret later in the future. But this has been going on for a while and I know I need help.

Vulnerability can be seen as many different things. Some see it as a weakness, some see it as a phase in life we go thru every now and then, others see it as a way to get back at you. I guess this was my fear.

I am in a very vulnerable place right now emotionally. I don't know how to express it verbally, so Im taking the chance to write whatever comes to mind to see where it leads and figure out what is wrong with me.

For the past 4 weeks, I have been keeping to myself a lot. I'll admit that it is a kind of hiding. I havent been out of the house very much. I don't want to. I can't seem to make myself do anything. I can't do work, I can't function properly, I can't study, I can't concentrate on studies, I can't seem to be able to even plan.

So I find myself doing other things like cooking. Because Im good at it.

Its like everything I try to touch, everything I try to do is doomed to fail and Im going to fall flat on my face miserably. I have fallen in this deep black hole and I don't know how to climb back up. My confidence is at a super low and I can't find anything that can motivate me back up. And the dark is starting to scare me.

I used to have a lot of things happening in my life. My dakwah work, my business, my studies. There was a time where I was able to juggle responsibilities without a hassle. I reached deadlines, I performed with flying colours and I loved what I was doing. But right now, all three things are crumbling down at my feet and I don't know why.

I've cried myself to sleep numerous times, I've had this feeling that I need to do better and make plans tons of time. But when I try to start, I stare at whatever I was trying to write for a few minutes and stop. Then I start to worry and find something to distract myself from worrying or thinking. I watch TV or I cook.

Friends close to me might have noticed my absence. I havent been talking much. I havent been updating my status much. The only things I write on FB are motivational words that I read every single day and that have direct translation of my emotional state. I closed my FB chat because I don't want to talk to anyone. I haven't seen people lately. I don't go to public gatherings or public programmes. I have been keeping very quiet.

Sometimes I ask myself, "Doesn't anyone notice? Doesn't anyone care?"

I am NOT this person. I am outgoing and I love to talk. Ask anyone that knows me. But why have I become like this? What's going on?

There are days where I can't get myself up from bed. Im not sick but I feel sick. And there are times when I can't find anything to distract me, so I sleep to forget whatever was upsetting me. I feel alone and sad and pathetic.

I feel like Im failing in everything in my life right now. I don't know what's going to happen to my business right now. I hate what money has made me become.

My studies used to be the one thing I was good at. The one thing that I was confident with. But now..? I have no idea anymore where it's going. Im going into my 5th semester and I still feel like I've done nothing. Like I don't really know what Im doing.

So when my one strong lifeline for motivation starts crumbling down, all the rest start deteriorating as well. Im scared and Im angry at myself.

I cry coz I get scolded for small things that leaves a deep impact in me. Its as if it's proof that Im as pathetic and useless as I think I am. Everything I do is wrong. My plans are wrong, my actions are wrong. And it makes me fall deeper and deeper into the ravine I've fallen in.

I feel like I've disappointed every one. My parents, my siblings, my friends, my supervisor. And that stings right to the very core of me. I fear of people thinking the worst in me, I fear I'll be left out, a failure, a cast off.

I'm hurting and I don't know why. I'm sad but I don't know why. I feel like everything is so overwhelming that I don't know what to do anymore, so I don't do it coz I know the outcome won't be good. Whenever I try to start, something holds me back.

Everyone has bad days. I've had my share of bad days, but I've always been able to pick myself up. But this time around, something is different and I'm scared.

I'm scared I've lost my chances in my studies. I'm scared I've given up a good opportunity. I was the one who wanted it for such a long time. So I don't understand why when I finally get the chance, with all the resources around me, with all the great contacts and with the grant I was awarded, I suddenly feel terrible and feel like I'm not going to be able to cope. I know Im stronger than this. I know I am.

My supervisor told me that I should talk about my problems. But Im not that kind of talker. I have good and reliable friends. I have a supportive and loving family. I have no doubts about all that. And I do talk. But Im not good at talking about my negative feelings. Im not good at talking face to face with people when it comes to my failures, my achievements, my fears. I don't want to talk about it. So Im writing.

If someone asked me if I'm ok, I'll honestly say Im not. Im not ok. I feel myself running away rather than face whatever problem that is bugging me. I find myself thinking of any form of distraction for me to concentrate on rather than sit down and face it head on. I find myself coming up with all kinds of excuses rather than actually doing it. I know this. I realise this. But why can't I do something about it?

Ya Allah, please help me.