Self-discovery through dealing with (the fear of) loss and being broke

 

I‘ve talked a lot about discovering and growing our within here because I truly believe you are what you think, feel and bring out from within. The theme with most of these is loss whether it be in the form of our mental or physical state. In any case, loss is painful and it’s something that each and every one of us experience in one way or another.

I’ve talked about unemployment, social anxiety, digital detox and among many others to guide myself—and hopefully whoever is reading these—to see the struggle beyond the surface. But I haven’t gone far down the road of other losses and some even more personal things—in which I don’t think I ever will. Or at least not entirely.

From these experiences and for all these while, I thought I’ve been holding the successes in this world in my hands but honestly, day by day I’ve started feeling like they’re seeping into my heart subtly. It isn’t that I’ve lost myself within the success of this world but rather, the failure and struggles that I’ve faced.

When the fam was away for vacay, I’ve had a few moments of solitude that have caused me to inevitably contemplate about a few things in life and truly reflect on the struggles that have led me to where I am currently. So, let me welcome you into my thoughts—a truly personal space—but only to somewhere that I am comfortable enough to show you some vulnerability. This will be more than abstract ideas and thoughts—as I know I tend to be idealistic sometimes—but more towards a reflection on the reality of life.

 

1. My loss can be from my own doing.

Last week was difficult to take in as I felt that my personal budget including my savings  have become a lot tighter than I ever thought it would be. Then the fear started kicking in—the fear that I wouldn’t be able to make it until the end of the month (to pay for transportation etc) with my own money. But the one thing that has affected me the most is the fact that I might need to cut down on investing on my personal project(s) for now.

As much as I’d like to believe that rizq (sustenance) are boundless, I’d like to think that our hardships can sometimes be the result of the lack of our effort. So, my own loss can be from my own doing.

Recently, there have been too many occasions which I used them for emergency like buying a laptop as the previous one is dying or an occasion when I’ve had to buy a new pair of glasses just because I thought my old pair was missing when in fact it has been misplaced *head smack emoji*.

If you are in your 20s and still depend on daily needs from your parent(s), then you are not alone. As someone who’s brought up in a family that advocates independence as much as possible, you can say that asking for financial help would be the last option and shall be used for desperate moments only and considerably.

I am starting to calculate the things that I’ve spent on when I was blessed with the financial ease and only now starting to realise how much money I’ve wasted on useless things. I don’t want to regret anything because what’s happened… well, happened. The only thing left for me to do now is to be a lot more mindful, consume less and have a proper financial plan for next year.

 

2. Financial struggle is a real thing.

As you can see the theme for this post is more towards the practical side of life.

Financial literacy is so underrated in school.

Let me just be the first person here to say that I used to hate accounting in school. To those who enjoy accounting, I envy you (in a good way of course). I wish people would’ve told me that financial planning is not just crucial if you’re interested in opening a business but generally a survival skill in the modern world. And as there isn’t much option for employment nowadays, one tend to resort towards starting up a business.

Financial struggle is one of the main reasons for family problems and  I’d testify this to be true as I’ve seen it before my eyes and had felt the struggle at a young age. But these are just lessons for me to learn from.

So, I have this constant urgency be as financially independent as I can and will.

I’ve used my money to invest in classes etc for the past year but there has only been little source of income to compensate for these.  I don’t count any of these as losses but sometimes, I do question whether I’ve used them all wisely. Weirdly enough, I started struggling with my own financial goals when I’ve started working.

As of now, I can say I am relatively broke. And I am not being negative, ungrateful or anything. This is just me trying to tell myself or anyone out there that financial struggle is real even if you have a family that supports you.

And to all those who are trying their best to be as financially independent as you’d hope to be, I feel you. I know it’s hard and I know you need to sacrifice but it’s going to be worth it. It’s not too late to start sorting out your financial plan now. Start thinking about it now. Don’t delay and wait for 2018.

This led me to the next question.

 

3. Who are we without any support system?

No matter how alone you are in walking on the path towards a change or goodness, you need to have a support system in order to get somewhere.

When my fam was away, I was struggling to get things done and making sure that all cats get fed as well as me trying to find time to cook for lunch in order to save up some money. I hate to rush but I also haven’t had the strength to wake up much earlier (more than just getting ready and pray for Fajr) just like how my mom does it every day.

I’ve realised that without them, I can’t function to the best ability. It has taken at least a week for me to get used to the routine. And for all the struggles that I’ve been through physically alone in the past, my family has always been there to give me that emotional and mental support.

But then, I’ve also realised one thing. Your support system can help you so much but in the end you are the only one who would need to make your own choices as to how much would you like a certain to thing to happen.

This thought brought me back to my adolescent mind years ago. I remember exactly a moment where I first stepped out of the country to study abroad. You don’t know anyone and the only one you’d truly have to depend on is yourself.

It was scary but exhilarating because the next time people would ask you would not be “So.. you’re this person’s daughter?” or “Oh, your family is such and such?”

People don’t care where you’re from or who you are but they only see what you do and what you’ve brought to the table as you. And not as someone’s daughter or friend or cousin for that matter.

As I am still drifting in air and trying to find a stable place—including my income—I do sometimes wonder if this is a state that I will continue to be in for a long time.

The only thing that left me going is purpose.

4. But our successes are ultimately not from us nor our support systems.

Last Friday, I received news that I’ve been rejected yet again for a job that would give me a stable income. It was painful to get an email to say that I’ve been rejected. I actually had to delay a few things just to take a moment to grieve.

This one especially hit me hard because this is a job that I’ve been waiting for so long and the only job that I’ve secured an interview with that has anything to do with my degree. Despite my love and hate relationship with geology, I was still hopeful with getting a stable job so that I’d be able to do more.

I’ve prepared for it more than I had with any other job interviews before. But you can’t get anything you want in your life. We (my fam and I) were all hoping that I’d get this job, but I didn’t.

I can’t believe I would ever grieve over a job opportunity loss. I honestly felt that I kept my expectations as low as I could before but this one still affected me. The only thing that moved my mind out of that grief is the purpose of life.

But the impact is a lot less time-consuming than before because I still have a job. I still have a source of income and for that I am grateful.

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This year has been one of the most challenging years for me but for so many good reasons—I know and believe that. Honestly, I do break down sometimes for the fear of loss and not reaching a place where I’d like to be in this world and especially the next. But that fear drives me too.

Despite these challenges, Allah has given me so many moments and blessings that money can never buy. He is the only reason why I keep doing what I doing and investing on my time, energy and money on something that would never make sense if wealth is the end goal—as a case that this world makes us to believe in.

All of us have dealt with losses and some deal with more than others. In a worldly sense, it would seem as if the loss is the end of something good. But for a believer, the essence of a loss or a hardship is more of a means to go back to the Him. Above all, we need to trust His wisdom as it is more than our human comprehension.

It’s also okay to grieve and take all the time that you need to heal from it. It’s okay to just be and sometimes, take the time to pause and find what it is that you need to do to make a change.

In any case, you can’t really attain anything in this world until you experience a kind of a loss or reach a place to remind you that you don’t own anything in this world. We don’t get to feel entitled over our successes and worldly gains. Our losses could be a means to cleanse our heart and purify us from the things that pulled our souls apart.

The questions that I often ask myself are: What is it that God wants me to learn from this experience? From the losses that we’ve experienced, what are the internal gains that we’d get? Why am I scared of being broke or poverty when Allah is Ar-Razzaq? Why do I feel deprived when He the reason for us to live, breathe and struggle?

The moment I’ve started seeing things from this perspective is the moment I’ve started feeling liberated from living for this world.

*

For all the losses and struggles that we go through, إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ‎ (inna lillah wa inna illahi roji’un). We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.

When it does feel like a dead end, لا حول ولاقوة إلا بالله (La hawla wala quwwata illa billah) There is no might and power except in Allah.

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