As I waved to my friends and disappeared quickly down the subway steps, I shook my head. Laughing to myself – or maybe it was at myself, I jumped on the 6 train right as the doors slammed shut, heart beating rapidly.
The year was 2014. It was the night before the blessed month of Ramadan. Before we parted, my friends and I had just reassured each-other that it would only be 30 days.
Thirty days before these late nights, being crazy teenagers, worrying our parents sick would be our reality again. And so, I had laughed at what I thought was our little secret.
Little did I know, we had not just parted. We had parted ways.
Little did I know, that Ramadan, my life would change…
OK guys, as promised, your fave ordinary human girl is back – with a bang, literally. I might have banged my foot trying to rush downstairs and complete this article, he he. I’m trying.
All jokes aside, that little snippet is a memory that is distinctly at the front of my mind. I can remember it as easily as I can remember where I was the morning the twin towers fell.
Scientists call these memories flashbulb memories. Most of us ordinary humans can’t remember what we ate for breakfast the other day, or what we wore, let alone what was on our to-do list unless we wrote it down…see what I did there? Anyway…
These so-called flashbulb memories are created when our brain stores traumatic or life-changing events especially well. We vividly remember where we were, what we were doing, what time of day it was and even who we were with.
My point is, that night – five years ago, was such a memory. In my first article (never thought I’d say that!), I mentioned that 2014 was when I first fell, head over heels, in love. Before I found myself, The Beloved Found me.
Since this blog is all about changing yourself into a better you, I thought I’d start from the beginning. No, this is not a religious lecture. If you’re not Muslim, no, I’m not trying to convert you. There are lessons here for everyone, I promise.
I’m drawing attention to this memory because it was, and I’m quoting myself here, “The first major change in my life.” This is my journey. Yours may be different, and that’s ok.
To catch you up, I had mistakenly grown up with the idea that Allah Was this distant figure who would reward you if you did good, and punish you if you did bad. Simple Kid Terms.
As a teenager, I thought a little differently. Allah Was only Who you called on when you wanted something really badly, like an A on your physics test when you didn’t really study enough or more pocket money. Kind of like a fairy godmother.
He Could also be Who you asked for protection when you were really scared. You would be reciting the Ayatul-Kursi really, really fast when you were coming home from school at night; it was later than you were supposed to be out. You were paranoid that the man behind you was a serial killer…who would disappear with you – into the darkness.
Ooooh…just got goosebumps recalling that memory.
To sum it up, I didn’t know Allah beyond that. First, as a Reward-er or Punisher and then, as a Special Wish-Granter or Protector.
They say hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, I think, what about all those times in between?
And if I expected Allah to Give me so much, what did He Want from me, if anything? What was my purpose in all of this?
I’d always had this gnawing feeling in the back of my head that kept nagging me to think deeper. That Ramadan, it was suddenly all I could think about. Who was I hanging out with? What did they have me doing? Where did they have me going?
And most importantly, what did they have me becoming?
This brings me to the FIRST and ONLY Lesson this time…
Be careful who you’re friends with. Who your friends are is who YOU are.
Shockingly, I even posted this quote by Jim Rohn on my Instagram back in October of 2013. This was long before I “embarked” on this life-long struggle to change. Long story short, I kept putting it off – which used to be one of my greatest weaknesses, I’ll admit. I always got distracted and refused to confront reality.
Until some Force beyond time or space Pushed me to the ground, on my knees.
In the Ramadan of 2014.
It was well into third week of Ramadan when I started asking these questions more bravely. It starts with a curiosity, I guess, that was nurtured by LOTS of research. And some sort of intention, of course.
I would say aloud, “If there is a God, then show me a sign.” “I’m so far from happy.” “In a crowded room with my “best friends,” I’ve never felt so alone.”
“Is there something more?” “How did all of this just happen?” “What’s the point of doing anything if we’re all going to die?” “Just to leave something behind for others?” “What if humanity ceases to exist – who will remember or benefit from my legacy then?” “Convince me if You Exist.”
With the innocence of an ignorant teenager, I relentlessly asked these demanding questions.
Mentally, spiritually, scientifically – they were assaulting my mind and I was hungry for answers. That was my intention.
I wanted the truth, and nothing but that would fill the suddenly gaping hole in my heart.
It was the very heart I had tried so hard to fit this world into. Much to my chagrin, the grades, the friends, the lavish lifestyle – doing what I wanted, when I wanted to just didn’t seem to fit.
Keeping my mind and options open, I started researching into all the major world religions. I told myself I would run away if and live in the subway if my parents kicked me out as a result of my choice. Gratefully, that never happened.
The hours turned into days which turned into weeks. Time flew by. As soon as the month had began, it was about to come to an end. It was the 27th night…
STAY TUNED FOR MISH’S METAMORPHOSIS: PART II – TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3 at 9PM EST! (Or earlier, if I manage my time better – a HUGE weakness, which I MUST turn into a strength – a future blog post, God-Willing.) And no, it didn’t end happily ever after…the first time.
– Your Ordinary Human Girl
P.S. I set a Thursday at 9:45pm deadline for myself this time. I was so nervous writing this article because I thought I wouldn’t have enough time to “perfect” it. But I did it, Alhamdulillah (All Praise and Thanks to God). Another behind the scenes lesson learned: JUST WRITE. SET your deadline. MEET your deadline. The length or content can always be edited after you write that first draft – like I’m doing now, 10 minutes after publishing it, he he. Just Write. Get it out there.