The last few months have been tough for me, and I’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut. It’s as if the heavens have aligned, all planets carefully synchronized, to bring me misery. Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but we’ve all been there, haven’t we? When you’re feeling lower than low, and if you’re anything like me, you turn to romantic comedies and whatever the refrigerator is able to provide, and those mindless rambling Tumblr blogs with their emo pictures about love and believing and cherries-on-top – Instagrammed and strategically blurred to perfection – make you feel soft and fuzzy on the inside.
Reality check: Life doesn’t go away. After your movie ends, and Channing Tatum gallops into the sunset, you have to go back to whatever it is that’s dragging you down. For those who are particularly lucky, your problems may just fly straight into your face before he can rescue the princess from the tallest tower in The Land of Fairy Giggles.
What is a poor wimpy kid (or housewife, or pot-bellied news reporter, or a grand combination of both) to do? Well first of all, even though you’ve got that special, unique, one-of-a-kind, major problem that’s way way worse than anyone else’s anywhere in the world, remember that the world has over 6 billion people in it. Some of them are bound to have the same problem. It’s simple statistics, people. And before you start to emphatically deny me the pleasure of being completely right, No, no! You don’t understand! It’s worse for me because I lost my pet donkey! let me just share with you this wonderful quote:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
It’s one of my favorites. And why not? Plato was a smart guy.
Here’s my list of top tips for those insanely mind-blowing problems we all have to learn to deal with:
1. Find a ‘safe’ buddy
We often feel like there’s no one we can talk to. Maybe sometimes we feel that we shouldn’t share our problems because it will reflect badly on us, on our husbands, on our wives, on our families, on our friends. Sometimes we feel ashamed – what will people think? We don’t want to appear vulnerable, stupid, insecure, the neighborhood basket case. But just think about Desperate Housewives – those women have got some serious issues, but in the end they all get together for a porch-and-martini powwow and learn to deal. I am not endorsing the use of alcohol for getting over those bumps in your road. I am simply saying that having a group of – or even one – ‘safe’ friend(s). Someone who may or may not be able to take any concrete steps to help you, but that you can call and whine to. It could be a work buddy, an old friend, a loved one – or a random stranger. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get your frustrations out there and not only lighten your emotional load, but talk through them and figure out how to move on. And if you can’t talk to anyone, write. If you have a God, write to him – long letters, emotional prayers, it doesn’t matter. If you wanna write to Santa Claus, or Hermoine Granger, do that. Write to Britney Spears. Just write. Put your feelings on paper. It’s catharsis. It helps. And if you’re super paranoid about privacy, just burn it when you’re done. Press the ‘Delete’ button on your keyboard.
2. Try to find a solution.
Try to analyze the situation. No one understands it better than you. Why is this happening to you? When will it stop? How can you make it stop? If you can’t change it, then change yourself. What can you start doing so that you don’t feel so hurt anymore? How can you protect yourself from your surroundings? Who can help you? Or how can you help someone else to make your situation better? Find your salvation – whether it is personal strength, art, feeding the homeless, whatever. Find your inner truth, and hold on it. Harness your strength and energy. Believe me, you can do it.
3. Run Away/Take a Vacation
I’m not joking. It may sound terrible, selfish, rude, irresponsible, immature and a host of other unflattering adjectives, but it’s a good fix. When everything’s getting to your head, you might need to take a break. I’m not saying abandon your three-month-old baby and run to the Bahamas with a dapper young gentleman, but what I am saying is ‘running away’ doesn’t have to mean shirking your responsibilities. Maybe I should say ‘take a vacation’ instead. Don’t call it a break. ‘Break’ has negative connotations in our minds and it implies that we have something to get back to, pronto. Treat yourself to a vacation. If it’s your kids driving you crazy, use their at-school hours to treat yourself to something relaxing – whether its an hour at the spa, or a warm cuddle with your newest novel. If your friends are working on your every nerve, say you need some ‘alone’ time, or come up with some pressing matter you must deal with. The point is, remember to breathe. You’re allowed to chill. You can use it as re-charge time.
The point of all of this is 1 – to survive, 2 – to learn from the experiences you’re having, and 3 – to find a way to bring positive change. Positive change is key, and once you’re determined, nothing can hold you back.
So how did I deal with it? (Disclaimer: This section is a personal account of how my religious beliefs helped me conquer my problems. Everyone has a right to their own beliefs, and in the following paragraphs I am in no way trying to impose my views on anyone else. If you find you may not appreciate my personal story and beliefs, feel free to stop reading beyond this point.)
Well I’m a Muslim, and as I’ve stated countless times before, that’s an extremely optimistic term to apply because it implies that I might be a good Muslim – which, unfortunately, I have not always been able to live up to. Anyways, since I’m Muslim, I think I may have got the easy way out of it. Ramadan is here, the month Muslims believe to be the holiest, filled with opportunity for bountiful blessings. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve completely ignored the last two or three Ramadans. This year, however, my life’s been looking down more than up, and I decided I wanted change.
Who better to bring change than God? And how better to ask for change than by praying? All religions all around the world acknowledge the power of prayer. It’s silly how we say we believe, and yet we ignore God most of the time, and only turn to him when our own efforts are useless. It’s like we treat him as our second best option. And that’s a darn shame.
So alhumdolilah (thank God), this year I’m using this month as an investment. Islam teaches Muslims that Ramadan is a microcosm for the rest of our year. Since we believe God makes it easier for us to be ‘good’ in this month, and helps us fight our evil alter egos, I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to take some positive steps and improve my life. As one of my teachers always used to say, “Got a problem with God? Talk to him about it. Need something? Just ask. All you have to do is try.” So here I am, trying. I hope I am able to change my life for the better, just like I hope all of you find solutions to your own problems, and start smiling a little brighter every day.