Monday, March 9, 2015

When Being Strong is the Only Option...

"God's plan for your life is not a straight line. There are curves, de-tours, u-turns and shortcuts. God knows what He is doing. He is strategically directing your life. " A wise friend of mine told me. I know this is true because it has been so in the past and I suppose it shall continue to hold in the future...yet going through the process, it is easier to curse every stumble, every set back to feel harsher than it is, every failure to sting deeper than it lose sight of the light ahead or within, and to feel forsaken and wonder just how much one can really handle. 

I guess I am getting ahead of myself. Perhaps, when everything is chaotic and muddled it makes you question so many things. It makes you realise so many things. Travelling is indeed a lesson, it may lead to growth if you are open to it. A little recap about my life, I am currently pursuing an Msc. Development Economics and Policy at the University of Manchester, married to a wonderful man with one child and employed at the Ministry of Finance, Zanzibar. To so many looking at my life from afar it is perfect - I have the biggies figured out. Perhaps it is when compared to so many less fortunate than I have been. I am always eternally grateful because even if I were to start counting my blessings it will not be possible....there are too many. Because simply thought; that breath that you just took - thats a blessing denied to many.  

Taking the decision to leave my family behind, my support system and all that I know to pursue this degree has not been an easy decision to make. This challenge has been a long time coming. I had mentally prepared for this eventuality but the reality has been very drastic. Moving from the familiarity of everyday life that I had dared thought boring and needed extra in my life...well maybe mentally not so much. I specifically chose the UK because I will be done in a year...and my heart can not bear the separation any longer...So the culture shock this change in weather for starters has turned me into a grump. Like everyone here. I find myself laughing less and worrying more, become more isolated than I have ever been in my life, and coming from a communal lifestyle to every man for himself... I thought I would revel in the freedom to live selfishly for a while and it felt good for a few days and it became a constant ache after that. It took me a zillion miles, a cold temperature, an unwelcoming country at war with people of my faith to realise that I have changed so much. To realise I have grown. To realise I have different priorities, and that I love my life back home. When confronted with all that I had always assumed I wanted; and an awakening hits you that it no longer was. I guess on my way to achieve my dream, I got lost and found a better one. I had all I needed and I was content...only I hadn't known it yet because I was plagued with expectations of how I should live my life not realising that the way I lived was how I wanted it.

I had always taken for granted the acceptance of my faith as a Muslim by my community and the array of friends I have...but to come to a place where people who dress like me are labelled "terrorists" and people cringe as you sit next to them in a bus or are afraid...or when an older man pushes you off the bus and asks you to go back to your country...perspectives become skewed. I fight my inclination to shout back that I want nothing to do with this country and I am actually paying them to be here...and I miss the vibrating breathing lively air that resonates in my warm country. In the country of abundance and the depressed always searching for more and people asking why are you smiling at them for...I miss the place I call home where we smile through our poverty, streets filled with music and laughter, and acceptance. I toast my fellow muslims who chose to continue to live in places like this and face the xenophobes and discrimination.

I have become so used to being the youngest person in meetings at the office, the youngest with my married friends, the youngest at home...and now I am the oldest in my class. It took the awe of my classmates who think I have gotten my life together while they are unsure or searching for theirs. Young enough to still allow their parents vision of their life to guide them and not setting the time and effort to really figure out what that want of their own be the only one married with children surrounded by people still searching for that meaningful connection...I envy their freedom of choices still available to them while they envy the hard set course of my choices. 

Everyone I seem to meet looks at my condition and conveys how strong I am to be doing all this. I don't feel  like I am particularly doing anything too remarkable, simply continuing through a decision I made regardless of the hardships and the trials and tribulations along the way. I am accepting of decisions people make regarding their lives because I want to be afforded the same chance. I am in a country of isolation and every one is busy with what they sense of community or support and I accept that. I lower my expectations and allow those who want to be there for me and with me and forgive those who cant, regardless that we are related or we are countryman or any other reason that I mentally hold them responsible. 

Being a person who loves to travel and always loves a challenge and making friends comes easy, its been a wakeup call when that hasn't been true this time round. When the arrays of goods and shopping doesn't hold the same pull. When being away from my claustrophobic hometown doesn't give me the same sense of freedom. I asked myself why? I have been raking my brain for some semblance of understanding. Then I realise I am at peace with myself. I am no longer seeking external validation of my existence. I am still trying to make sense of who I am, and there are parts I still want to change. However,  I do not need big life altering experiences to feel deep profound joy.  It is simply there when I look at my blessings. I am at war with my emotions, listening to myself, questioning long held ideologies that no longer serve me, and trying to see myself through the same loving eyes as my parents, my husband and my daughter. I have always been so understanding and accepting of people yet I am always my harshest critic. My confidence in who I am eroded after I had drastically changed physically and mentally following the birth of my daughter...and now I am in a search for a more authentic acceptance and confidence in who I am. I am grateful for my struggle because without it, I wouldn't have stumbled across my new strength. 
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