Here, our editor Iqra Ali, describes her past year and a half in a nutshell, and how while people may seem happy, lively and somewhat content with life on the outside, a lot of people have internal struggles that they battle. She hopes it resonates with people who are afraid of uncertainty in any aspect of life. Here is her story of her journey and her healing process…
I want to first start off with being grateful for everything Allah (God) has blessed me with. A wonderful family, an amazing best friend, a fulfilling job that gives me meaning and a purpose, a roof over my head, water, air, food… and most importantly… WI-FI (2020 would have gone downhill without that). Allhamdullilah (thank you God).
Despite being grateful, everyone goes through a phase in their lives where they doubt themselves. Question themselves. Look at themselves in the mirror and wish they could go back to who they were. Suddenly begin to wonder what their purpose in life really is.
My story… Apart from close friends, it is not something I share publicly. However, the reason why I am sharing this in my blogpost is because this could literally be the survival guide for someone else who feels the same way. If my story could inspire even one person, then that would mean the world to me. Most of the time, I am not what my social media portrays I am, since it is a very filtered version of my life.
Long story short, I got rejected from my dream course in March 2019. It was a smack in the face since I literally set out my whole entire life for this one thing. My whole life that I had known before had evolved around it. The school my parents sent me to, the subjects I studied at school, the opportunities I availed and my hobbies that I pursued. I wasn’t that person in school who particularly required much input from teachers when thinking about my future. I always knew what I wanted and up until the day of the 30th of March 2019, I pretty much got it.
Even though that day was a huge blow, I still tried to carry on with my life as normal. Exams, social events, holidays abroad, Ramadan etc. But this burden was always on my shoulder. While all of my friends had gotten into their desired courses, I was left for the first time in my life feeling uncertain and suddenly… alone. Me experiencing what according to me is failure had proven to be disadvantageous to me at that time, because I was leaving the safe haven of school and stepping out into the real world. No teacher to nudge me into the right direction with a soothing pep talk. Friendships were changing as I was slowly making new ones (of course I still did have my closest friends still by my side; thanks lil Noor). My routine was changing. But the scariest thing? I had no idea where I would be or if I’d even be anywhere the following September.
A long summer spent in Pakistan got me thinking deep and hard. My behaviour changed. I was moody, short tempered and little remarks got to me. Feeling like a sore loser makes you feel like cr*p. I missed home but was also dreading the task of figuring out what the heck to do next. Uncertainty was really unfamiliar to me.
When I came back, I made the really hard decision of skipping 1st year of university and plunge straight into year 2 of the current degree I am doing. This is where I reluctantly am admitting that I was privately educated, got grades that allowed me to get unconditional offers from Russell group universities and even in some cases I could potentially could go straight into full-time employment. The course I wanted to do initially however, these grades were not enough, nor the experience I had.
Why do I mention the above? People do view me a typical snob once they get to know all of the above. ‘Wow, you went to Hutchie… that’s POSH’. I am forever grateful for the life I had experienced back in my school days, but like anyone else, I have major struggles with things like self-confidence, PMDD and adjusting to uncertainty. Money and prestige is not everything. I also developed imposter syndrome, since I began to question if I even was good enough. It takes a lot to put your not so good bits out in the open. My life is not perfect like many people assume it is.
By the end of October 2019, I was what you would describe as a hot mess. I was so angry with life and myself that I used to look at myself in the mirror every day and cry my eyes out. I 100% hated where I was in life, I hated the fact that everyone else seemed to have what they wanted and I did not and I wanted to escape the feeling of being a failure. From the outside, I could be laughing and socialising like crazy. But at home in my bedroom alone, I would constantly say that I miss the old me… like I was missing a completely different person.
That depressive state led me to being diagnosed with vestibular neuronitis in January 2020 (inflammation of the nerve in the ear responsible for controlling your balance). Depression can make you more prone to contracting viruses. Being on sick leave from work made me realise that I am really not okay and I haven’t been for ages. That was the moment, I realised that if I really want to pursue my dreams, I have to heal (and of course healing is not linear, it takes time, but I got to start somewhere).
By the end of January, I was back at work and was grateful for little things like my health, being able to walk again without holding onto something. The first step on my road to healing is being grateful. It automatically raises your vibration. Secondly, I started to get into my hobbies like charity work again. Helping someone else in need also makes you feel amazing and raises your levels of gratitude. Thirdly, I became closer to my deen (religion), reaping the benefits of early mornings, self-help books, podcasts etc. I can definitely say February and the start of March 2020 were amazing. But as we all know… who took over? COVID19.
Remember me saying healing is not linear? Yep… the pandemic situation kind of became a pothole in my journey since I already struggled with mental health as it is. I slowly went into that feeling of unease again. However, I think in the end, my awful experience in 2019 made me more prepared for this situation. I again struggled during the strict lockdown but by the end of May 2020, I can certainly say, I felt different.
I understood that sometimes, things happen out with our control. Me not doing as well as I thought I could have is NOT the end of the world like the South Asian community makes it out to be. COVID19 is not exactly the end of the world since globally, we have overall handled it very well (could have been better though).
Part of healing is embracing uncertainty, embracing the different paths that you can end up and reassuring yourself that babe, you are exactly where you need to be. Healing is accepting you cannot change what happened in the past, healing is taking action for your own sanity, healing is rediscovering yourself again. Healing reveals your true friends. As Noor says to me, Allah (God) has the perfect plan for you and everything will work out. The most important lesson I learnt from failure is described perfectly here, which a friend said to me: ‘If you view yourself as a failure, then others will view you as one too. If you embrace it and take it in your stride, others will too’.
By getting back into what I love, I am definitely on the road to almost healing. By taking my failures in my stride, I have sort of become normalised and okay to experience it, since now I view it as redirection. As the legend Shah Rukh Khan says ‘Success if not a good teacher, failure makes you humble’. Sure, success feels amazing, but failure has been a great teacher in my life, and now, I am so grateful for everything I experience over this last year and a half. It makes your successes more real and grateful for that bumpy road of healing that made you stronger inside.
By Iqra Ali
Failure can initially be very difficult for some people to deal with, like me and you are honestly not alone. If you would like to share your personal experiences with dealing with failure, then you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org