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.

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