This week I have been feeling reflective than usual. One thing is probably because I have been missing the Ramadhan vibe. I’ve been comparing myself when I was in Ramadhan than when I am now. A lot has changed actually pre to post Ramadhan in myself than what has been going on in my life. I’ve also been comparing myself with how I’ve perceived those whom I’ve had the chance to spend more time with. I’ve met people whose spirituality I envy (in a motivational way) and I’ve met people whom reminds me of myself when I was just searching for the truth—which doesn’t make me any better than them.
The frequency of these thoughts and reflections brought me to the idea that sometimes, people feel inferior just because of they’ve seen not just in social media, but around them. Most of us don’t value money and fame as much but I believe anyone who’s reading this have more of a tendency to compare themselves with someone who seems more successful than them. She thinks the next person sitting next to is achieving more than her; he thinks the person on that stage is making more of an impact than him.
We live in an age where young people seek for jobs that can actually make an impact to their society. We live in an age where we are all trying to reach our fullest potential that if we don’t—which by the way is what we should continue seeking for—that we forget to ground ourselves sometimes.
We have more tendency to compare ourselves with people whom we’d put on a pedestal just because we are only able to see their successes that we forget our own. We only focus on our weaknesses and compare that with other people’s strengths. This is unfair for both sides—us and those whom we’ve put a pedestal on. We don’t truly consider that those whom we deem as successful had put their time, effort and energy to be where they are now.
But let’s be real with ourselves, we will never stop comparing ourselves with other people.
This can be good if we know how to use this feeling. Let’s say you are aiming to be the best student, you would naturally compare—or even compete—with the best one in class that if you are that competitive you would want to know how this person can be the best. You can treat this as a benchmark but not to a point that you forget about your own strenghts.
So, the best thing to do if you ever feel this way is to start thinking about what exactly about this person you are looking up to? What kinds of traits and achievements that you are seeing in this person that inspires you? Also, this is an opportunity for you to narrow down to the one thing that you would like to focus on and develop yourself in.
For instance, I would like to be a successful writer. I need to seek out for an exemplary writer out there who I look up to and I need to compare my journey with them in a sense that it would help me become a better one every day. I need to understand what struggles that they had to overcome in order to reach their goals. I compared them to myself at a realistic human level. Yes, I put them on a pedestal but I also would explore their stories on how they get to where they are today.
I also treat this as a sign that I need to seek more opportunities to improve myself in my areas that I would like to be an expertise in.
Another realisation and reminder that came over to me this week, is how it doesn’t matter how other people perceive you but how Allah perceives you does so much more.
This reminder keeps clouding in my head for the longest time, especially during Ramadhan.
You may be reading this now, thinking that I am purer or know better than you but I’ll crawl myself to my cocoon, away from every possibility from expressing myself if you just knew of my ‘aib (my sins etc). I feel this hits me harder as I am putting more reminders and thoughts out in the open. But Allah is Most Merciful and Most Forgiving.
If you’ve ever felt that way, then understand that you are just being human. I remember a time when this feeling got me to a point of toxicity that I felt like I wasn’t good enough, which by the way, is just a part of the tricks of the shaytaan, to make you lose hope.
So use this realisation as an opportunity to reset our intentions in which one of the ways is to make du’a to protect both our hearts and honour.
This whole experience and the purpose of the existence of this feeling is to ground ourselves back to who we are as a slave.
I understand that we can never truly know the state of our hearts, whether we are in complete humility but know that our efforts to reach that state is a lot more important because we will never, ever reach it like how the great people during the times of Rasulullah (Peace Be Upon Him).
I also honestly believe that comparing ourselves with people whom we feel are more superior or greater than us determine what we value in life. Do we value fame? Do we value money? Do we value beauty? Whatever it is have no place in our hearts but Allah.
But it also serves as a means for us to reach the truest form of humility, to feel small but hopeful in front of our Lord.
If you find this helpful and beneficial, I'll be exploring these kinds of topics in a podcast by myself and my friend, Teah "A Sunday Thing" where this podcast aims to help us understand more of our difficulties so that we can eventually heal and become the best version of ourselves! Join us along a growing community by subscribing below!