Kalima

A New Chapter

I’ve done it. I can’t believe it. It’s January 2024 and I have just completed my final assignment for my MA in Professional Writing.

Over the moon is an understatement. Scared to death is another one. What a weird space to be in. While I’m ecstatic that I’ve completed my goal and become a whole new person in the process, I’m also kind of terrified of just how much everything has changed in such a short space of time, and also of what’s to come.

A couple of years ago, I was drowning. In grief, regret, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, loneliness, isolation, heartbreak…the list goes on. My confidence levels were in the minus numbers and my vision for my future…well…let’s just say it was rather bleak. Life had really done a number on me up to this point, but the one thing I can confidently say, is that I’ve never been one to give up. I flatly refuse.

In January 2023 I began my MA in Professional Writing at the University of Westminster. I felt shy, embarrassed of my age (thinking I’d be the oldest on the course), a bit stupid (having been out of education for so long) and generally unsure of myself and whether I’d made the right decision. I told myself to just sit quietly, listen and keep my head down, and prayed that I’d be able to get through the course.

Then my first lecture happened and I got a very clear message: “Absolutely not, Zakiya, you will not go through this course hiding in the background!”

You’d never believe it, but in my very first class, one of my fellow students decided to make the assertion that Muslims are terrorists and that we are being fed propaganda that turns us into extremists. Yes, all of us, apparently. How could I sit quietly and listen to that?

By the end of the first lecture, both professors knew my name (out of around 50 students), and as the weeks went by it became clear to see that they were very interested in my opinions. I think I was the most vocal person in the class. I also got A’s on both assignments for that module. My confidence started to grow, and I started to experience this really weird sensation of ‘believing in myself’. It had been a LONG time since I’d felt that.

Fast forward to January 2024. I’ve just completed my final assignment. I’ve had amazing feedback from all of my lecturers about my work so far. I’ve started a project that I’m hugely passionate about (this very platform that I am writing this on!!!). My confidence has skyrocketed. I’m envisioning things for my future that I had never even imagined before.

But…

I’m scared. I’m nervous. I’m confused. Part of me is itching to go backwards in time to people and situations that were bad for me, that made me feel worthless, useless and alone. I sat in therapy last Wednesday and told my therapist everything. Before she could even offer an explanation, I told her I already knew why. When we are faced with change, with challenges, with new experiences, we often want to regress to our comfort zone. If, like me, you’ve been through a lot of trauma in life, your comfort zone can often be a place of chaos, sadness, pain, confusion and loneliness. But you find comfort in the fact that you know it.

When faced with new, positive things in life, the fear that we may mess up or ruin the good things that are happening can sometimes be a driving force to make us self-sabotage. We are so used to things going wrong that we can’t cope with things going right.

My therapist tells me I’m one of the most self-aware people she’s ever met. And I’m so grateful for that subhanAllah. It means that even though I experience these feelings, even though I still long for people and moments that broke me, ruined my confidence and self-esteem, and negatively impacted my life, I am HYPER AWARE that feelings aren’t facts, and that I don’t need to allow these feelings to take over and ruin all the hard work I’ve done. Knowing why these feelings occur helps me process them, and helps me move forwards with confidence.

I know how resilient I am. I know how strong I am. I know how brave I am.

I know that I deserve all the good things that are happening to me and that will happen to me in the future. I know that everything happening right now is a result of all of my duas, of building a close relationship with my Creator, of finally learning to trust in Him and His decree for me, and at the same time tying my camel and putting in the hard work. I’m grateful Alhamdulillah.

This is a new beginning and the start of my new life. I have no idea what the future holds, but I know already that I am content with God’s decree. I’m looking forward to what the next chapter holds for me.

“And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.” (Qur’an 65:3)

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

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