About Me

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She writes simply to put her thoughts together.
Sometimes they're well-structured, sometimes they're in absolute mess.
But always, they're personal.

Ultimately, this is all for Him.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

The One Year that Wiped Out a Lifetime's Worth of Internal Suffering

This time last year I was officially pronounced Mrs. Asyraf, solemnised by Ustaz Ashraf at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The feeling was too bizarre that I just cannot brain how the man (like any other men) that two minutes ago I had to safeguard my eyes towards (like I always had), now I can stare right in the eyes for however long I want. What's more mindboggling is that I can actually get rewarded for doing so!

And that's how this marriage business has always made me feel: Bizarre.

We were strangers when we got married. Despite being in the same society whilst we were in the UK, I only first knew of his existence less than one year before we got married, when he asked if I was still available through his acquaintance who was of the same uni as mine. Little did he know that that acquaintance of his was my roommate, and she was sitting right in front of me when he sent the text message to her. That was back in November 2015. August 2016, that stranger became my husband.

How did I easily accept, you ask? Well, it goes way back.

For as long as my young-adult years, I've always had boy issues. I was never in a romantic relationship with anyone but there's always someone in my life that tugged my principle of not having a boyfriend before the right time. Especially when I had more guy friends than girl friends. I struggled to define what I want out of a man. It can’t be just friends forever, right? Who do I want as a life companion? What criteria should they have? But what do I want out of marriage in the first place? In this struggle, I ousted so many men but also got relatively involved with quite a few, with no clear basis whatsoever. It was a mess. In fact, it became the skeleton in the closet for me for a good few years of my early adulthood.

Until one day in my 3rd year of uni, the day when I went to a weekend seminar named Parenting Matters by Al-Kauthar at Birmingham with my friend. That was when the issue within me was finally cleared(Disclaimer: I've always had an interest in being a mother and raising a child. I just hadn't figured out the part about finding the father yet.). I finally decided then what I want out of life that I announced to my friend, "Unless the man that asks my hand in marriage has the same vision of creating the next Salahuddin for the ummah or help boost me in my current journey of wanting to be closer to God, then I rather not be married at all. So be it if I become unwed my whole life. As long as I get to fulfill my purpose of being closest to Him in this world and Hereafter."

It was a bold statement, alright.
Later on, I cleaned up my remaining mess and became content of being on my own, focused on achieving the one goal I engraved in my heart. Soon enough, the right man came. By then I had my objective laid out very clear in front of me that the whole taaruf phase was very goal-oriented. Our communication was all through my roommate and her husband. I asked Asyraf all the relevant questions in our whatsapp group. Not long after, I broke the news to my parents. Then a few weeks later, Asyraf and I had our first meeting at my city (facilitated by a great friend of ours) and the deal was sealed.

There was no feelings between us. There might be sparks here and there but we didn’t get romantic until the day we got married. It was so goal-oriented that I reached a point where I exclaimed to my roommate, “I’m now left with no choice lah kan? He ticks all the boxes and I have no reason to say no.” And in fact, he was everything I’ve ever asked for (and never asked for) and more.

To be frank, I felt gamed. By God. Well, not in a bad way. I just felt as though Allah purposely left me to drown in the mess that I had for that past few years so I would reach this stage of firmness. And it was as though I have passed His test with so much excellence that He awarded me with this amazing man whom I have the privilege to call my husband.

It's true when they say, the right man will come at the right time. Because had Asyraf come into the picture anytime before that particular moment that he had, I believe I would most definitely not accept him at all. Who he was before could never fit any of the criteria I once had in mind. But as time passed by, he changed and I too, changed. Like two converging lines, as we walked along each of our own individual path, we reached a point where our paths meet and the past experiences made us fit each other like gloves. 

Honestly, there were so many occasions that could make us meet each other sooner - but we didn’t. Like when I rejected the scholarship offer that he took. Or when I rejected to go to the A-Level college that he went. Or when I stubbornly refused to apply to the university he enrolled in. Or when I go to all the programmes our society held, except the ones that he was involved in. It was all planned really well by Him. Truly, God works wonders :')

It is even fair to say that we're not only made for each other, but we were made to be with each other. I had so many past experiences in life that I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. Which explains why I constantly felt that no one in this world knows me for the whole of me. Anyone who has been in my life only sees fragments of me. But Allah and His wonders, everything happens for a reason. And as I got to know my husband further, I felt that all those bad things that happened to me was so that I can marry him, so that I can understand him emphatically, and so that I have nothing to hide from him. MashaAllah.

Truly, I feel nothing but blessed and grateful throughout this marriage. Alhamdulillah thumma alhamdulillah. All of the restraints I had towards men before I got married felt so worth it when I learned to love my husband. Now I fall in love with him everyday. I was very surprised (still am) by how much I can love a human being. It felt truly out of this world. And this is supposed to be nothing compared to the love Allah has for His creations, for His slaves. Subhanallah.

I feel like so many things have happened in the past one year that we've matured so much as a couple. We’ve combated the 9-month long distance relationship, we’ve battled each other's personal issues, we’ve tolerated each other's flaws, we’ve fought through obstacles life presented to us, and most importantly, we’ve grown as one entity, completing the other half of each other. Nobody said it's going to be easy. It definitely requires our continuous efforts but being in love only in the frame that Allah has permitted us gives our lives barakah so much, that unless someone has experienced the same, they can never comprehend.

May the years to come only make us stronger together and fonder towards each other, forever until the day we both get to see Allah everyday for the whole of eternity.

A&S (30:21)

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Taking Matters to My Own Hands

Sometime last month I came to a point where I was sick and tired of being down in the dark. It's been too long. First it was a prolonged painful friendship breakups, then it was finishing my oh-so-very tough undergraduate studies, then it was super-hard working environment. It seems as though my every phase would be that very difficult one. But that didn't feel right. I questioned myself, is it really that my every phase is hard and stressful, or is it something wrong with myself as the person going through them?

That question triggered it all.
Maybe I should stop complaining.
Maybe I should see more of the good than the bad.
Maybe I should just have a shift of mindset.

None of these are new findings to me. I always say to myself that I should be grateful, that I should count my blessings, that I should see things in a positive way (even my husband was deceived, thinking I'm that positive girl that's always chirpy lol). Yet the truth remains that I'm a very pessimistic and timid girl. Yes I take bold steps, but they're always precautioned steps. Yes I paint a smile everytime I see people, but inside I'm dying.

So I thought, enough is enough. At work I'm involved in revamping our team's reporting processes. Simultaneously, I'm also working on revamping my outlook of life.

So here are the first few steps that I took (and still actively taking) in order to improve my perspective:
  1. Stop complaining. As much as I can, I wipe out all the British ways of replying to "Are you alright?" with complaints, replacing it with "Alhamdulillah, it's alright" or on the bad days with just "Alhamdulillah". It's easy to forget that the word alhamdulillah literally means all praises to Allah. Meaning we praise Allah for the things that He bestowed us. Because as Muslims we believe that whatever befalls us in life, whether good or bad, is actually the best thing to happen to us. And it requires great intelligence to give someone every single thing being the best. So the fact that the Highest Intelligence have bestowed us with the things bestowed upon us today is already enough for us to feel grateful and constantly appreciate what we have.
  2. Make every moment a beautiful one. This is the most important leap, I believe. One of the biggest issues I face when I came back to Malaysia is that I find my patience keep being tested at every corner. Be it the constant traffic jams, the waiting of just about anything, and particularly the attitude of my people. Refraining anger is always hardwork and in the end it would result in me being very miserable about my life. Worse, I blame everyone and everything else for it when in fact it's my own emotions that I should have had control of. So I identified the major things that make me tick and I try to beautify the experiences.

    It started with my daily commute: everytime I'm waiting for the train to arrive or get me to my place, I would make it a point to read. I try to limit it to books and articles and Quran only because the moment I step into social media, I know I would fall into the scrolling-and-wasting-time trap. At first it felt like a chore because reading books require me to think and it's very unappealing when I'm mentally exhausted from work. But soon I feel the joy of it. To the extend that now everytime I have to wait (be it for the train or for a programme to start or for someone to arrive), I actually first feel happy because I get to read.

    Then there's the traffic jams. I have road rage like nobody's business. I'm still trying to improve that but as stated in my previous post, I've tried to resolve this with listening to podcasts, and it's working so far. Or maybe I just drive less in traffic - partly because my husband does the bulk of it now. Hehe.

    Then with the people. I changed my perspective from expecting people to not be rude, to I myself making the effort to be extra kind to people and not expecting anything in return. Truthfully speaking, I generally despise people. They tire me. So I don't really talk much. But everytime I have to interact with someone, I try to make a conscious decision to go out of my way to make someone's day just by their interaction with me. So I play that game to myself and surprisingly (or rather, unsurprisingly), I feel very good after seeing that person's happy face. It's true when they say that the act of giving can release the feel-good hormone.
  3. Be lighthearted in the present. I believe this is the one that makes the difference. I've always been the kid who thinks a little bit extra and works a little bit harder, never satisfied of the present. Though this helped me in moving myself forward, this also brings a great deal of stress to my life. Now that my body is already trained to think and move in that certain way i.e. pushing myself to the limit, I feel that I can train my heart to let go of the situation. What this means is that when I'm doing work and having my head in the game, my heart can still appreciate my surrounding. This in fact help me view the world differently. From here I start to like my job, appreciate the people I'm working with, and just about everything else that I found very negative before. Or like the fact that I can observe and enjoy this beautiful scenery from level 33 of a skyrise in KL.
    My lousy phone's camera can never do justice of the beautiful scenery

    I guess it helps when I have lighthearted colleagues as well. They taught me to translate our stress into ridiculous sense of humour and taught me that whatever happens, just enjoy the ride. The art of letting go of the present.

These steps are subtle yet brought profound impact to my life. Alhamdulillah, with the aid of constant support from the people around me, and continuous help from my Lord, I see myself slowly breaking away from the shackles of sadness and depression. The thick cloud still comes once in a while, but at least now I actually get to feel that I'm living, rather than being merely alive.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Sakit Mental Unit. Really?

In my workplace, I work within a unit called the Strategic Management Unit, or SMU in short. The other day I saw a sticker pasted somewhere around the service lift which has a playful logo of SMU that says SMU stands for Sakit Mental Unit. I had a laugh at how much it rings true.

After more than half a year in my working life, I must say that it was nothing short of "hitting the ground running". Overwhelmed is probably an understatement. Even so, I feel that I've not only gotten a grip of what I do now, but also that I'm starting to love it. Although, I am stating the latter with reservations, because it could be the result of my being better at what my job, hence I might just confuse love with the sense of accomplishment.

Many people came to me and ask how come I do what I do now if I was so passionate about Physics before. I was passionate about Physics, and I still am. I just need some navigating before I truly decide what I want to dedicate my life into.

As I once told my husband, I still couldn't fully figure out what I really want to do in life and I acknowledge that it might take a long time (maybe years) before I do. All I know is that I want to fully utilise my youth. If I can't achieve much, I want to acquire much. I want to be pushing boundaries. I want to do things I never thought I would, and be good at it. If I can't give as much as I want, I want to at least gain as much as I can so that once I reach that level and age where I can contribute, I can give back more than what I was initially capable of.

Often times people say that part of being a human is that we're made to be resilient. We can surely take whatever life gives us. Scientifically proven. Which is why in the Quran Allah says that He would not inflict us with things that we cannot handle. It's just a matter of how we want to deal with it. Either to survive, or to strive, or to thrive. Yet, as Muslims we need to be the best that we can be and always delivering our best. At times when we're weak, surely our floor would be that we can get out of our struggle safely. Perhaps while curling up in our duvet and cry. But when we're in a better state, is it fair to still choose to do just okay?

I'm always reminded that I'm created for a bigger purpose than the hurdle that I face. Be it going through secondary school, or get a degree, or even graduating this graduate trainee programme. It's just not fun when we're too focused in surviving a particular event because soon enough there'll be another event to handle. After hurdling a series of events, it's only natural that we feel tired. But isn't it more fun and satisfying when we also come out of it bigger and better?

Biarlah kalaupun SMU forever stands for Sakit Mental Unit instead of Sangat Mengasyikkan Unit. But I want to at least I can laugh at the name genuinely, not awkwardly. And that I one day outgrow the mental pain and come out of it with a stronger mental capacity.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Finding Content in a One-Hour Commute

Pun intended.

On a normal day, it usually takes me a solid one hour to get from the gate of my house to my seat at the office. Shying away from the fact that previously, it took me only 15 minutes of cycling to get to uni. I consider my daily commute to work in the KL metropolitan is alright.

First 20 minutes is the drive to LRT station, then 10 minutes of looking for a parking space and waiting for the train to arrive, 20 minutes of train journey to the station at my office, and another 10 minutes to walk and take the elevator up my place.

After a few years living in the UK, I somehow trained myself to not listen to the radio. I do listen to music occasionally, but only selected ones, and that's all. Radio stations are different in comparison to music playlists - they have DJs talking, programmes, and commercials. After some while driving in Malaysia, somehow, I grew an annoyance towards anything but music on the radio. So usually if I were to switch on the radio, I would be jumping from one station to another everytime a song in that particular radio ends.  To me, it's either music or just complete silence. But because jumping stations can be too much of a hassle, especially in the morning where talkshows are everywhere. Sometimes I even get annoyed by having the same songs being repeated in the radio. I don't fancy listening to music from my phone because my phone speaker is so bad and  my car doesn't have an AUX port. USB stick is an option, but since I don't really listen to music, I couldn't be bothered to do the compiling.

Besides, everyday I only have to drive for about 20+20 minutes, so I usually just leave the radio off and enjoy the silence.

After the driving, as I get off my parked car at the station and continue my journey by train, I'll either occupy my time with reading the Mathurat/Quran or a book. The 20-minute journey is more than enough to finish a mathurat kubra, or the whole surah kahfi, or help me achieve my one-month-one-book resolution. In fact, I've been doing one-month-two-books now (yeay!).

But matters started to change last month when I had to go to my one-week monthly training. The training is held at an office near my mum's workplace. What's usually the case is that I would go on an hour ride with my mum to her workplace and walk for about five minutes to get to the training venue. Since I have another person in the car and I'm not the one driving, I would usually kill the commuting time through chatter and alternating it with browsing social media. What made last month's training different is that my mum was on leave the entire week. Alhamdulillah, I don't have to pay for parking since I can have her spot. But this means that I have to drive on my own and battle the rush hour traffic for one and a half hour in total everyday (somehow it takes me one hour to get to the venue, but just half an hour on my return journey).

With the horrendous traffic of KL, my road rage simply cannot be contained. I got agitated by the amount of time I spent on the road, not being able to do anything beneficial. One day I ranted about this issue to a friend of mine, to which she suggested listening to podcasts. I told her that I don't like listening to people talk, to which she responded that that maybe because the talks you usually hear on the radio are of no substance. As I reflected back, perhaps that could be the reason why. Malaysian radios are largely filled with prank calls and stupid challenges and useless (yet perhaps to some, fun) topics like "the most embarrassing that happened to me at gym" or "how affectionate should you be in public" which encourages people to call in but rarely refer/relate to anything solid. Empty entertainment, in my opinion. And I feel that kills the precious little extra time I have in a day.

My friend then suggested BFM, among others, saying that they cover some interesting topics.

I gave it a go that day and the day after. And I got hooked. Although their soundtracks are not to my appeal, but their topics for talks and discussion are so random yet of good substance. And they call in speakers who are experts in their field. This isn't just about a supply of information to increase your general knowledge, you actually get the vibe of passion and context from the people who's been doing the things they talk about their whole life. The DJs are also great moderators, coming up with critical questions that heats up the conversation so it doesn't feel dry, making the discussion to be very intellectually stimulating.

Did I mention that BFM have almost no commercials at all? I once tried an Islamic station - out of guilt because Islamically-inclined people usually listen to that station all the time - but grew utter annoyance of the immensely high amount of commercials they have. I don't want to talk about the quality of the station because the commercial part itself is a huge turn off for me. I'm sorry to say this, but if say I'm not a very practicing Muslim, that sort of media feed would definitely not catch my interest to be closer to Islam at all.

Anyways, up to this point, I've been loving the talks/discussions and whatnot on BFM and I feel that it relaxes me because unlike reading books, it doesn't involve much thinking, yet I'm not wasting my time while driving.

So that's why, this finding gave me the sense of contentment and it's also giving my brain content ;)

If anyone knows of any podcast or other radio station or anything of the similar nature, would appreciate if you can suggest it so I can explore - and also for the benefit of others who read.