I use so many different ways in looking after myself, it all depends on the season of my life. Whether it be a season of heartache, family problems, feeling lost or experiencing death, it all takes a toll and sometimes we feel alone, abandoned and unloved. In all the situations in my life, from growing up in a single parent household to unrealistic expectations in friendships/relationship, I have always found solace in writing. Ever since I was a little girl I absolutely loved writing, mainly because I found it so difficult in communicating and expressing how I feel. At times of stress and despair, I used my journal to write out how I felt, what was going through in my mind and I look back now and truly believe that in some ways, I was writing to God. I needed an outlet other than praying as the act of physically writing out your pain has felt so cathartic and it always felt as if the burden had been lifted as God was listening. I still journal my days ahead, how I feel about certain situations and people as this helps gain clarity and allows me to believe that my thoughts are valid (a little like imposter syndrome). I now believe the more you’re able to express yourself (even saying No to people), the more you’re able to gain confidence in yourself and thus you’re able to feel good as you are aligned with your thoughts and beliefs.
I’ve also started my journey towards self-love (so millennial of me). I started becoming aware about how I lacked in self-love, value and although I was confident in social situations and with family and friends, I didn’t have that self-belief of being able to achieve anything I put my mind to. This came from so many different places, broken relationships, a difficult upbringing and feeling like I wasn’t part of the Muslim community because I was a little different.And for that very reason, I chose to leave my work, sell my car and get back into education as I felt such a need to develop in all aspects of my life. Throughout this time I have chosen to also date myself. Yes, I am a Muslim and I have declared that I have been dating… myself. All the instagram quotes are great but they don’t show you the most difficult and absolute boring parts of working on yourself. The days where you literally only speak to 1 person in your day because you’re so focused in getting the job done the best way and the nights where you spend watching self-development and Islamic youtube clips on self love and finding ways to level up to meet the life you want for yourself. Dating myself is a 24/7 job and some days I just want to lie in bed and let the whole world pass. Some days I do exactly that however I have started to hold myself accountable and I believe this also goes back to self-love.. you get what you believe you deserve.
This leads me to say that I have also learnt the difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Just because you are lonely does not mean you need to suffer in silence and equally experiencing being alone can bring about the most profound and light bulb eureka moments of your life! Some women in my age group go through seasons where all their friends seem to be moving on with their lives by getting married and start to live completely different to you, leading you to feel a little lonely as you start to realise that you have to be your own company on Friday evenings. I have been through this and although it took me a while to grasp, I truly believe that until God reveals that it is my time, I will need to continue to work on my self and my relationship with God. To reduce this feeling I knew I had to get back out there and form meaningful connections with people. Volunteering helped within and outside of the Muslim community as well as taking part in art classes (recent findings suggest that creative outlet such as painting reduces levels of anxiety and increases cognitive performance). I found new things to get excited about and trusted in God that it would lead me to feel better internally which reduced my anxiety. I started to love my own company so much over the past few months that I decided to book a week long trip to Barcelona by myself. I had such a good time and I proved to myself that A) I could do it and B) I deserved going on trips (even if I am not married or have a partner). I deserve and will continue to live life to the best of my ability based on the fact that God created me, I am here for a reason and I am valuable regardless of my relationship status. I also learnt to not give a hoot about what other people are doing with their lives, as long as I was internally happy and God was pleased with me, that’s all that matters to me.
In the end, all my experiences have always led me back to God, regardless of how far I strayed. My mental health will always be a priority in my life and when I fall of the bandwagon and have my days where I don’t want to speak to anyone or feel as if this world has taken it’s toll, I jot down my thoughts and I celebrate the small wins (brushing my teeth or making my bed). Small wins, self love and gratitude is in my book, the recipe to consciously and mindfully living your way to a life you deserve. I firmly believe that your self value and how much you understand yourself will allow you to live the best, highest and truest form of yourself. For me, it all stems from God, His words, His way of life, His boundaries and most importantly, His blessings and love.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup”