Being the best you

It’s time to meet a new person. Yourself, meet yourself.

2020 is nearing an end. This year has been difficult for so many people, as a lot of us have struggled with mental health in isolation, financial difficulty through one of the biggest pandemics, loss of people, opportunities and more.

While we quarantine, we know that it’s for everyone’s safety to be able to soon return to a maskless, energy-filled lifestyle outside. In spite of this, sometimes we can’t help but feel alone and hopeless. But in reality, we are not alone. We have someone who is close to us, that person is you. 

Could we say we tended to our mental health before the pandemic? What about during? In self-isolation, in circumstances where we are constantly having a conversation in our minds, these situations can get so stressful they can lead us to the breaking point. 

We may overthink, overanalyze, over everything. We might wish there was an off switch for this, where we could only think of good and happy thoughts. I know, we are made to reside in a world where we have to be realistic and not daydream of our own beautiful fairytale we created in our minds that we escape to when things get tough. 

We may often bury ourselves in T.V. shows and movies because getting lost in some else’s world feels better than facing the reality of ours. But, we have to break this cycle. In life, we might find things and places to run off to so we may forget our own pains and struggles. These vices come in many forms. They could appear as positive actions like painting, reading, writing and hiking. Or, they could be things that impact us negatively, such as over usage of drugs, alcohol and being with the wrong crowds. 

What is bothering us so much that we want to forget that we too have a role like every other being in this world? Could it be past childhood or current traumas? Could it be our depression and anxiety? Or could it be loneliness and an identity crisis? There are many things we could name off here, but we need to focus on one thing, which is freeing ourselves from this to be happy and peace-filled beings. 

“If something finite, temporary and fading becomes the center of our life, the raison d’etre (reason for existing), we will surely break … Even if you do reach that which you seek, it will never be enough … That is why we live in a world of trade-ins and upgrades. Your phone, your car, your computer, your woman, your man, can always be traded in for a newer, better model.” said Yasmin Mogahed, a Muslim scholar and specialist in spirituality, psychology and personal development in her book titled “Reclaim your Heart.”

Everyone is capable of being kind and loving towards each other as well as nature. We are all human. We are born alone, we die alone. We need to stop depending on our happiness stemming from other people and things, because every single human, land, building, food and animal is temporary, and not here to stay. 

We are travelers in this world. “Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler along a path,” said Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. This is one of my favorite sayings by him because it emphasizes how evanescent every living and existing being and thing in this world is. We have seen or witnessed instances of people be ridiculed for their accent, citizenship status and identity, when in reality, none of this matters. Accents will fade, lands and borders will disappear and identity is personal for everyone. 

Time is ticking, and will never stop. We set aside time for temporary activities that will make us happy for only a moment, while we don’t take time for activities that will improve our well-being. “I’ll do it next year,” or “I still have time,” or “Maybe when I graduate,” are some of these excuses we make. How do we know we will live until next year? How about next month? Day? Hour? Minute? Second? 

We are sometimes scared to try new things because we fear risks. If we fear it, then what is the point of living our lives in fear? Could it be because we are scared of dying, of making life-long memories? 

We need to stop delaying our mental health. Therapy is a great place to start, but in some places and cultures, I understand it is hard to be vulnerable. Some people may have been raised to be dismissive of their emotions. They may have been degraded, abused, manipulated and been around narcissistic people. 

Through therapy and focusing in-depth on yourself and yourself only, you are able to find the root of the problem and issues you are facing today in your adult life. This could be experiences you had as a child, teenager or grownup. It may be from a certain time period of your life, or something less concrete. Running away from it will not heal us. Facing it without fear through therapy will help us cut it out completely throughout our lives. 

Concluding with one of Yasmin Mogahed’s poems from her book “Reclaim your Heart”: “Don’t grieve at the stab. It’s only meant to free you. From the chains that bind you to the earth and shackle you to the shadows of the people. The mirage of water cannot quench. But is so beautiful to the thirsty. I’m afraid. Of never knowing another life. Different. So different. If I let go, will You take me higher? Above grief, want, loss. Above all that I’ve ever known. Take me higher. Unbind me from the earth. Like a vaccine, it sickens, to make you stronger. The stab is temporary. The freedom, eternal.” 

Earth and pain are temporary, so stay as a traveler, learn from this world but don’t take it with you. Free it, see it as nothing but momentary amusement. All will leave you, but you will remain for yourself.