A Year of Seizing Opportunities & Stepping Out of Comfort Zones

Like the years before and the years to come, this year had been a balance of dusks and dawns. I remember closing the chapter on 2018 with a rumination on taking risks, daring to embrace spontaneity and trusting God to execute the best plan for me. This proved to be a lesson I continue to learn as I segued into 2019 with a succession of serendipitous encounters, seizing opportunities, and choosing growth. But the year is undoubtedly not without its bitterness and sweetness – both elements necessary for any human being to have a balanced serving of this fleeting life.

I mentioned on my Instagram about the change bridges I have experienced this year. 2019 had seen me through many beginnings and stepping out of comfort zones. I will start with the first change bridge I have walked on…

{Career}

I was given the ‘formteachership’ role for the first time, and it had been (and continue to be) a steep learning curve, made manageable by the kind support from colleagues and my dearest students. I was privileged enough to be given a bunch of sweet kids and supportive parents who trusted their children’s education and well-being with me. But what ease is there without the hardship? The same time that I enjoyed this blessing, I was given another class to teach, and it was honestly one of the toughest classes I had to manage because of a handful of recalcitrant, rudest students I have ever come across in my teaching career. Amidst all my frustrations, I was taught the value of patience, and practising calmness in the midst of chaos. I had learnt that the children who need the most love would show it in the most difficult of ways. Every student, no matter how much they stressed my brains out, had something to teach me. Of this I’m sure. I’ve learnt through my encounter with a variety of students with different needs which had built me in my resilience and patience manifold. 

{Spreading my Love for Words through Talks, Workshops & Spoken Word}

I think I broke my personal record of stepping out of many comfort zones this year in a mission to share my passion. I was given the privilege to be part of various platforms to share my love for words. I shared a little bit about reading and the Light Journal project where I journal Qur’an verses creatively during the Millenial Muslimah March event organised by Sparkreativ x MYF, as well as through the Light Journal workshops which was a Moved by Words initiative by AshaNCo. There, I was met with kind, kindred spirits I never would have known if not through these platforms. Soon after, I was called (in rather short notice) to present a poem on the Christchurch tragedy which I had written just a week prior. Little did I know that this gathering would be one of the most unforgettable things to ever happen to me. The ‘Remembering Christchurch’ vigil organised by OnePeople.Sg offered me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stand before esteemed guests and recite my poem. I connected with beautiful souls who made me realise the power of standing in solidarity in times of crisis. I was moved by the response and the love for humanity, differences aside. How meaningful it is to stand for something together, and be the bright light that trumps the evil and darkness of this world…

{Spending Summer in Europe}

I got to explore a world I’ve dreamed of visiting in a spontaneous fashion where I quite literally hopped on and off boats, chased trains, and made random plans for coffee and cake with acquaintances. I was blessed with the privilege to travel with a dear friend to Europe in Summer to unwind, hygge and fika our way through Stockholm and Copenhagen. It was a good mid-year break and I came back rejuvenated and refreshed. The whole trip had been half-planned, half-spontaneous. As someone who’s quite a stickler in planning, traveling to two cities and making some plans on the whim would have made a 24-year old me anxious as heck but I suppose as I grow older, I’m beginning to embrace a little spontaneous fun. It was a break and change in scenery that we sorely needed from the mundanity of work.

{Self-Publishing ‘Untuk Mama’ Anthology with a Friend}

This is a change bridge I was so proud and beyond grateful to have crossed with a dear friend – materialising the dream Amal Lina and I had of launching an anthology for the mother figures in our lives, and as a tribute to our late moms. What started out as a random thought scribble in our notebooks, had transpired into a book that had alhamdulillah benefitted readers. It was a crazy journey but I would never trade it for the world. We felt the fear, but did it anyway. We did our best with this collaboration, felt immense gratitude for the positive response, and we hope to continue stepping into discomfort if it means to welcome love and light.

{The Passing of my Dear Aunt}

My closest aunt, my second mom, had returned to Allah SWT this year. As much as it had hurt me, to no longer have a mother figure in my life who I can pour my problems and love to, I felt a wave of calm and peace in knowing that she had finally been released from the shackles of cancer and suffering in this temporal abode. It broke my heart to know that all the hopes and dreams and prayers she had bathed me in, she can never see manifest. But this life is fleeting, this life is a roomful of tests. And I’m comforted by the fact that by His mercy, we will reunite, together with mama, in a place much, much, much better than this. A place so eternal and true. A place where I’ll finally meet You.

{The Birth of my Dear Nephew}

I will always be perpetually floored and in awe over how beautifully 94:5 keeps manifesting in the years of my life, as a lesson of balance. Of opposites. That with every hardship, there’s always ease. A few months after nursing the ache of watching my aunt leave, God blessed our family with a cute little addition – my nephew! Now my four little bears have a cousin to play with. Oh the joy these little ones bring to our lives. Certainly a change very much welcomed into our small family. May Allah SWT make them the coolness of their parents’ eyes and may they grow to be a blessing to the ummah of Rasulullah SAW.

{Publishing my Debut Book of Poems, ‘Homebound’}

It’s still in the process but I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that my baby is out! It almost feels like giving birth (instead of 9 months, this was over the span of 3-4 years in the making) to a precious little book. This is possibly one of the largest change bridge I had to ever walk on. A milestone I was fuelled to achieve thanks to my dreams of being a writer, and the du’as of my mother. I have so much to say about it. I think it probably needs another blog post on its own. But this has been momentous and I cannot express how grateful I am to God and the people who had made this possible for me. An incredibly insane and lonely ride, but Allah SWT gifted me with so much love and light at the end of it. Alhamdulillah a thousand times over, Alhamdulilah.

It is necessary for me to reflect at the end of every year and take it as a point of learning. To take my successes as a blessing from God, and my failures as a chance for growth. This year in particular, I had learned, relearned and unlearned so much about myself, the people around me, about what it means to be a good teacher, a responsible steward of my gifts, a human being with a spectrum of human emotions, and to protect the time I have been blessed with on this earth. It’ll be 2020 in a few days, but I hope that as much as we want everything to work out for us next year because it just sounds cool to hit milestones in a symmetrically numerical start of another decade, we need to remember to celebrate the process as much as we celebrate the results. To keep on keeping on. For everything worth doing requires effort, heart and hard work.

I pray for more years of beginnings and seizing opportunities for myself, my loved ones, and for you reading this. Only positive change bridges to walk on from here. Even when there are endings, remind me that they are all but fleeting. That I am crossing bridges in this life to reach home. For the world outside my own, I pray for less pain and oppression in every corner of the globe and for light to continue permeating the darkness. For my internal world, I pray that I’ll continue to get the hang on trusting in His plans. And if it fails for some reason… to never stay down. To trust the re-route. To never doubt. There’s always something beautiful beyond the line where the eye meets the sky, and where the sky meets sea.

To more beginnings, changes and stepping out of our comfort zones in 2020 and beyond.

2 thoughts on “A Year of Seizing Opportunities & Stepping Out of Comfort Zones

  1. A lovely write up, beautifully crafted. Your love for words really inspire me to keep on writing too (a self therapy that I had disbanded for quite some time). May Allah grant you a prosperous new year ahead, TheBookJacket!

    Liked by 1 person

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