Three months and three days. That’s how long it has been since I put up a blog post. When I started this blog, my goal was to come here and write away without having to convey a certain message. So much for being consistent with my blog. FAIL.
Although I have not put up any posts recently, AlhamduliAllah, I have been very productive [with my writing] during these past three months.
- I changed my genre (equivalent to a major) from Fiction to Writing for Young People (YA). Generally, a change in our primary genre is not allowed. Waiting to be approved by the core faculty, heads of the MFA program, provost, and registrar was very nerve-racking.
- I completed my first project period (equivalent to a quarter/semester) of graduate school. WOOHOO!
- I attended my second residency in LA. I was still pretty nervous going to my second residency. It was nice to see that the family of writers I was surrounded with during my first residency were still amazing. Each of the incoming classes received a cohort name that we graduate with. Our cohort is Blue Spruce. You can imagine the variety of nicknames we have. ;]
I had a brief break between my finals and residency, which gave me some time to think… extensively. Going back to my second residency was exciting and also still a bit terrifying. Being the only Muslim and Middle Eastern makes me feel as if I am experiencing a more mature version of high school. It’s one more adventure I must struggle through. It’s difficult not to notice the eyes that follow my every action and ears that listen carefully to everything I say. I’m blessed that my program consists of some of the most open minded and worldly people I have ever met. My cohort is absolutely amazing and my mentors are brilliant. Yet, I still feel like I always have something to prove. It doesn’t help that I am surrounded by amazing writers, already published authors, and those with much more life experiences than I have had in my 23 years, 6 months, 3 weeks, and 4 days of life on Earth… not that I was on another planet before this one.
A close friend of mine just expressed to me over Gmail chat, “Grad school has a way of making you feel incompetent.” I couldn’t have agreed more with that statement. I have a lot more on my plate than I would ever admit to anyone. It’s best to keep it between me and Allah swt. SubhanaAllah, it’s another challenge from Allah swt. We have to remember that there is a reason for every path that we take. Every challenge leads us closer to the All Mighty. As Muslims, we need to put our tawakul, or trust, in Allah swt and hold on. Always a reminder for myself before anyone else.
“Put your trust in Allah. Allah loves those that trust [in Him].”
[Quran, Surah al-Imran 3:159]
Ever since I have jumped into my second project period, it has been one battle after another with school, work, and family responsibilities. My social life no longer exists, unless you count my hours upon hours of studying at a coffee shop. Being OCD and a perfectionist, you would think I would be able to adhere to the planner and two calendars I keep updated at all times. The first month back, I was lost and scattered with all my duties. You can’t always be prepared for the unexpected, especially the painful situations. As always, all it takes is an emergency situation to jolt me awake. All our stress, anxiety, what we believe to be burdens comes down to managing one thing. I believe all of our worries come down to the concept of time.
How well do we use our time? Do we truly understand the significance of time? We’ve all mastered the art of procrastination, knowing very well that our time in this life is limited. No one knows when this time will be stripped away from our fingertips. This realm of the unknown should push us forward.
For Muslims, the concept of time is very precious. Everything we do is measured by time- from our five daily prayers to fasting and hajj, or pilgrimage. Everything has time constraints and regulations we must abide within. Time teaches us patience and self-tarbiya. Tarbiya in Islam is the intellectual, spiritual, and physical growth of a person. Allah swt’s messenger, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), has given us guidance on the significance of time through his hadiths. His words are simple and straightforward… We still choose to push them aside when we go after our desires.
Ibn Abbas narrated that Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) health and free time for doing good." (Bukhari).
In another version of the hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) said, “There are two of Allah’s favors that are forgotten by many people: health and free time.”
We continuously complain and whine that there are not enough hours in the day. This is not something new. We are always going to feel this way. In truth, Allah swt has given us enough hours in a day and enough time in this life to recognize our blessings and do the best we can with them. We continuously waste this blessing of time that Allah swt has given us. How wisely do we use it?
Not nearly as wisely as we should.
Last week, I spotted an article that put things in perspective. (I have posted it at the end.) Wasting time is easy. No one can deny this. I have never been addicted to any the social media sites floating around. Having caved and bought myself an iPhone two weeks ago … addiction just got a lot easier. Without much thought, I jumped onto Facebook, posted the article, and started cleaning out my account. Hours later, I was shocked to see that I had convinced myself to erase every single wall post, message, and everything but several profile pictures. My account looked like new. My initial intention was to delete my account but my two best friends convinced me not to go through with it. Truthfully, I never spent time on mine or anyone else’s wall. Scrolling through the news feed when I signed into Facebook was enough procrastination with the millions of articles that my friends posted. Still, I felt pathetic that I actually couldn’t get myself to delete my account.
The next day, a friend saw what I had done and struck a deal with me. We both had projects that needed our attention far more than any ridiculously addictive social media website. We agreed to both deactivate our Facebook accounts for exactly 90 days. Basically, we would fall off the face of the Earth from February 1st at midnight until May 2nd. What’s incredibly depressing is that I know people that consider disappearing from Facebook as equal to falling off the face of the Earth. “How are you going to keep in touch with anyone or anything??!”
Did you take note of the question mark sitting at the end of this post’s title? Is Facebook, or any of the social websites we check- like our life depended on it- the real thieves of time? Or is it us? Are we at fault?
Honestly, it’s really all up to each individual how she or he chooses to use her or his time. The cliché is that it’s much easier said than done. When it comes to time, I disagree. It’s all in our heads. It’s under our control. Yes, the unexpected is always lurking near but if we’re truthful with ourselves concerning where our priorities lie, Allah swt already knows, then He will be there with every step we take to better ourselves and our future. Our dreams are not out of reach. Yes, it’s going to take effort. Yes, it’s going to be challenging. Yes, it’s going to exhausting.
No, it’s not impossible.
Aside from having a Facebook, I’m not a part of any social media website. All I have now is my email. It’s more than enough. I haven’t disappeared. I’m still in contact with everyone I care about. When I can’t be near them in person, there are these nifty technological advances called telephones, texting, email. I’m using Facebook as my example but this applies to anything you find yourself spending way too much time on- internet browsing, games/apps, Twitter, email, Tumblr, online shopping, constant texting, whatever you find yourself quickly and unintentionally turning to when you have very important work/studying/etc. to get to.
A great reminder to always bring myself back to where I need to be comes from Allah swt’s messenger. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your senility; your health before your sickness; your wealth before your poverty; your leisure before your occupation; and, your life before your death” (Ahmad, Baihaqi and Hakim).
It’s been almost a week since I have deactivated my Facebook. Facebook wasn’t exactly the solution that changed my life. That’s not the point. What deactivating did was show me that I could detach myself from the internet overall. It’s now me and what I need to do to please Allah swt as well as pave my future. Suddenly I have a good amount of time on my hands to accomplish my daily goals. It’s still not enough time. That only means that I need to struggle on to find that balance. It’s still a good amount of time for leisurely activities along with school, work, family, even friends, and especially my writing.
Allah swt does not give us more than we can handle.
“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned.” [Quran, Surah al-Baqarah 2:286]
May Allah swt provide us with the blessing to use our time beneficially, efficiently, and wisely.
Check out this article and the video!
Jake Reilly's 'Amish Project:' 90 Days Without a Cell Phone, Email and Social Media
College Student Drops Social Media, Reconnects with Romance