25 lessons by 25: 2017 reflections

25 lessons by 25: 2017 reflections

I shouldn’t have waited this long to put something up on my blog again, but here’s a post to hopefully mark a fresh beginning.

1. Believe in His Divine arrangements

Your plans remain merely as plans because Allah ultimately decides. I had dozens of things planned out this year, where only several worked out. But I stay firm in believing that His arrangements are far better than mine, so I just have to keep going.

2. Don’t underestimate the power of du’a

Even if it’s asking for the most minor thing like wanting to have something in particular for a snack, or hoping you’d bump into someone you’ve missed, never ever doubt that the As-Samii’ (The All-Hearing/Ever-Listening) would miss out on your little wish and not grant it to you.

3. Giving up should never be an option

There were plenty of times I’d wanted to give up on hunting for a job, and giving up on everything I had set out to do in my life altogether because I got tired. But it was always in that last stretch of effort I put in that He decides to prove to me the very reason why I should never give up on the things I believe in doing.

4. Success comes with hard work and conviction

This ties up with my previous point about not giving up. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to succeed with barely any effort. But the best taste of success still comes from shedding your own sweat and tears. So always believe there will be light at the end of the tunnel – that’s His promise.

5. You’re never alone

I think everyone needs to know that whatever you’re going through, you’re never alone. It’s okay to feel helpless once in a while, but never allow yourself to think that you’re alone. A number of beautiful souls I’ve met this year have made me realise that my hardships, no matter how absurd, are in fact universal and that things are going to work out just fine. Yes, you will be fine.

6. Little or not, your actions matter

Every little thing you do, no matter how insignificant it seems, does matter. Even if it’s a simple ‘sorry’ or ‘thank you’, those words could easily make someone’s day. When I think about doing small things, I think about this hadith from Prophet Muhammmad s.a.w.: “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if it is small.” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim]

7. Speak good, or remain silent

If there’s a rule that everyone needs to follow, it’s this hadith from our beloved Prophet s.a.w. without a doubt. If it’s not for this, I think I’d have to deal with more arguments among my family members and peers. We already have plenty of negativity to go around, but whether it’s online or offline, we should all try better to reserve our judgement and leave it to the Almighty to do that.

8. There’s no reason to look down on anyone

Respect should be shown and applied across all age and social groups because literally everyone has some form of wisdom to pass on to another. Who cares about your background or status? Part of our existence is to lend each other a hand (or some words). Everybody has something someone else lacks. That makes us all equal.

9. Always give others the benefit of the doubt

Some of us are more sensitive than others; so much that even the smallest remark (or gesture) is enough to trigger negative emotions. But I’ve learnt that while some words from others do hurt, we ought to learn to take it with a pinch of salt because often what was being said was not intended to hurt (that’s giving them the benefit of the doubt!). Also, rather than getting affected by such things, I think it’s better to accept that we all have our own mannerisms.

10. Do not let your low self-esteem consume you

If there is one reason I have not spent the entire year uploading posts up on my blog, it’s this. And that’s among many other things I ended up not striking off my to-do list because I was busy evaluating myself and my worth. I now truly regret the time I’ve lost spent on doing anything but progressing in life. So please, if your low self-esteem is holding you back from doing awesome things, remind yourself it’s now or never. Do it for you.

11. If it doesn’t make you feel good, leave it

I remember one particular incident that occurred this year which made me pull myself away from people briefly and boy, was that worth it. It didn’t only allow me to breathe again, but the time alone allowed me to reflect on everything that was happening and it helped to neutralise my thoughts. If you do feel annoyed at something or someone at any point in your life, take a break from them. Your mind will thank you.

12. There’s no room for negativity

This is a pretty obvious but important lesson. One of the very things that pulled my self-esteem down was my decision to let negative thoughts float in my head and that’s not okay. Take the advice above to allow yourself to take the wheel of your own happiness. This brings me to my next point.

13. Everyone has every right to be happy

It’s easy to become bothered by what others think or say about you, and it’s something we tend to waste a lot of time and energy on. Don’t let others stand in the way of your happiness. If eating your heart out makes you happy, do it! If spending everything you earn on travelling makes you happy, do it!

14. Take care of five before five

Having fallen sick more than I’d like during the second half of the year alone has made me realise that I should pay more attention to my health a little more. I’ve also realised a significant reduction in the amount of things I could get done in a day as I’m getting older (heck, I’m halfway to 50). So in case we don’t realise it until later, let’s remind ourselves to take care of these five things before five: your youth before old age, your health before sickness, your wealth before poverty, your free time before your lack of it, and your life before death.

15. Do not take anything for granted

I had to throw this in because it’s easy to forget the things we’ve already been gifted with. We tend to wish for things we don’t have, but quickly forget about them the moment we possess them. This goes the same for our relationship with God too. There’s so many things we forget to be thankful for, yet when we ask for more, He continues to provide us. :’)

16. Allah knows what you’re going through

He does. A lovely soul once reminded me about the power of prayer and how the act of prostrating is our direct communication with God. So let your heart out and spill it all to Him in your prayers because He doesn’t only listen, He also has the power to grant you the very things you ask for. It’s also important to remember that the prayer in the two thirds of the night is like an arrow that never misses it’s target. ♡

17. Always reflect and realign your intentions

There was an extreme point in my life this year where I felt burnt out. I was sure I knew what I was doing at the start, but somewhere along the way I found myself lost. I no longer knew the direction I was heading. But that’s when a few friends reminded me to realign my intentions and it instantly got me going again.

18. Right intentions will not leave you misguided

Similarly, if your intentions are right, everything you do will fall into place, God-willing. It might not make sense, but it’ll somehow feel right. If you’ve set out to do something great in your life, start with the right intentions because when something becomes amiss, that’s going to be your guide to keep on the right track.

19. Don’t let your achievements define you

This lesson was a little hard for me to take because I was frequently asked why I still didn’t have a full-time job despite having a degree. While part of the reason was by choice, it’s a pain to face that pressure to fit into certain societal standards. So my take is to just do you. It’s okay if you’re clueless about life even after getting a degree, and that certainly does not make you any less great of the person you are. Similarly, if you don’t have a degree yet, it doesn’t mean you’ve achieved less. This also serves as a humble reminder why point #8 is important. You just don’t know what people are capable of beyond results and scrolls.

20. Everyone grows in their own time

This ties well together with the previous point and it’s a phrase I’ve repeated countlessly to myself. You’re going to see people achieve things you’ve yet to achieve. You’re going to witness people taking a step ahead of you. But you have remind yourself that everyone’s going to get a different slice of the cake at different intervals. Watch yourself grow at your own pace and find peace in knowing that you are making progress in your life. Remember point #1.

21. You can’t have everything at once

As mentioned in the previous point, things will unfold itself in due time. There’s no point in wanting to achieve so many things at once because you’ll end up getting tied up in your own mess. Pace things out and attempt them one at a time. If something’s meant for you, it won’t miss you.

22. You don’t lose anything from being selfless

I initially listed this as ‘Do not be selfish’. But more than not being selfish, I think it’s crucial to know that by being selfless, you’ll gain more than losing. To put things into perspective, you should trust that donating your last dollar to a stranger would benefit the both of you somehow. Because what God can give you in return would be much greater than what you originally had. The Prophet s.a.w. said: “Charity does not decrease wealth, no one forgives another except that Allah increases his honor, and no one humbles himself for the sake of Allah except that Allah raises his status.” [Narrated by Muslim]

23. Be kind to yourself

At some point this year, probably the same time I chose to seclude myself from others, I had to remind myself of this very point. You can’t just tire yourself from certain thoughts all the time. Give yourself a break every once in a while and reward yourself with things that make you happy. Ice-cream always does it for me!

24. You deserve more than you think

We tend to underestimate ourselves sometimes. Giving ourselves some credit should not be confused with overconfidence – it’s not. It’s normal to feel down when things keep failing on you and when you can’t seem to get certain things to work out. But that’s just part of being human. You definitely deserve way more than what you have now and it’s not wrong to want better things for yourself and those around you. Take this advice from a friend of mine: “Dream, du’a, do.

25. Let success be in the eyes of God

I saved the most important and most vital lesson for last. If things are starting to feel tough, take a step back and scan your heart. Who are you actually doing this for? For real now. Whatever you’re doing, who are you actually seeking to please? If your answer has anything else but God, then it’s time you put lesson #17 to practice. If you’re ever not pleased with where you are in life, and with the things you’re doing, reflect and relearn your purpose and intentions. Because at the end of the day, true success can only be measured by the One and Only, the Almighty.


That wraps up my reflections for most my 2017, if not the entire year. This post was inspired by someone I truly admire, Ms Sarina Iskandar, @sarinaiskandar on Instagram – follow her if you haven’t! She wrote this post to commemorate her birthday and I thought it was a good way to recollect my thoughts for the year. I have yet to read the entire post to avoid getting influenced by her points. 🙂

 

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