Stopping That Step Back

Yesterday I was trying to clean and organize whatever I could to put up in my storage unit when I came across an old journal of mine.
For my own sake I won’t go into what the journal pertained to, but I started and stopped writing in it in 2012. Five years ago.

It only has three entries. The last one I wrote reads:

“I hate that I ever started. How evil of me…. Bitter is the soul of a woman who lives in the past.”

I didn’t write in the journal again after that, until last night.
After having read my three entries and realizing how little has changed in certain parts of my life, I regret not continuing to record my thoughts in this journal.

I stopped writing because I didn’t want to live in the past but had I continued writing perhaps I wouldn’t have lived in a delusion for so long.

On a positive note I am happy to report that this journal is evidence of my changes.
Yes, I have become a better person than I was.
Yes, I have grown more compassionate and concerned.
Yes, I have taken charge of my own faculties, analyzed myself up and down, and learned to function at the highest capability with whatever is a constant on my plate.

Yes, I blunder here and there.
Yes, I have a long way to go still. I will always have a long way to go.
Yes, I will always be in a state of learning and attempted comprehension.

Will I continue to write in this journal?
I honestly don’t know. I feel like the delusion came to end when I found the journal. Reading my old entires felt like I was tumbling down the Alice’s rabbit hole with a bag of bricks tied to my back.
What I do know is that this was a much needed wakeup call (which really sucks because honestly, who likes to be woken up?? It’s one of the hardest things to do).
I can’t expect people or circumstances around me to change but I can certainly change myself to handle things better.
Make myself a priority in my own life.

One flaw I admit to retaining that I just can’t seem to get out of – falling asleep with my contacts on. My eyes hate my brain.

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Here We Are Again

***I’m using this post to cope and get my head straight***

Off the top of my head I cannot think of a more anxiety-driven day than the first day of school – mostly because today is my first day of school after a really long time and I severely hate it.
Since when did our education system become the ultimate source of our mental disorders and trauma?

Better question: WHY is this the case?? And why for the love of God are we okay with it??

My cousins and I have messaging groups via FB and SnapChat and God bless them – they’re all in the same boat as me: Anxiety through the roof for one reason or the other. We’ve got a kid in every level of institute at the moment, from elementary to post-back college, and not a single one of us got a good night’s rest.
We’re really good at bouncing feelings off one another.

Anyways, in case it wasn’t obvious, this post is a coping mechanism for my anxiety.

It’s the middle of a work day. I have a bajillion things to do and plan and move forward with, and just thinking about my basic math and science classes this semester had me almost hyperventilating and crying.
So here I am, taking a deep breath, writing out my emotions, bringing all the negativity down a notch or 50 so I can go back to being a functioning member of society.

This is something I have tried to teach my cousins and a handful of students who have opened up to me – analyze yourself.
Know what makes you anxious, what traumas you have and what triggers that trauma, recognize your symptoms so that you know what your body and mind are going through – then handle it according to you. That way we minimally take our nonsense out on unsuspecting loved ones.

Take me for instance:

I know that I have anxiety about math and science classes. I know that these subjects have always been difficult for me and the mental block I get when I think of them is half the battle. The fact that I’m paying for these God-forsaken classes doesn’t act as a motivator in fact, it just adds to the burden.
I know that at any given moment I am also thinking about the disgusting amount of debt that I owe, how far I can stretch a penny with the new months unexpected expenses, and how badly I pray no one else ever ends up in this God-forsaken financial situation because AUGH!
I know that as much as I try, not a day goes by without me thinking of these three mental blurbs at least once:
– Amina is gone and I miss her and I can’t think about her but subconsciously otherwise I’ll stop functioning all together
– I most likely can’t have kids of my own. 95-ish% that remaining 5-ish% is an abstract mental torture device
– I will be the ‘Old Maid’ at all of my cousin’s weddings as the get older and move forward because I probably shouldn’t get married, ever. I’ve found various formulas that result in a successful marriage and I’ve plugged myself into said formulas in every which way; when I’m plugged in I never churn out a successful result.

Now knowing all that I know about myself and my daily internal battles, I also have learned to recognize the signs.
When I start craving chocolate and bread in particular, I need to cry it out.
If I start getting wound up and hyperventilating, I need to walk outside alone.
When there’s an avalanche of responsibility freaking me out, I need to write out a to-do list and then immediately take a nap.
What I need to NOT do is communicate with loved ones, binge on Taco Bell, and pop my knuckles.
So knowing all this, I understand that I am stressed because I am overthinking. It is just the first day.
After my meeting today I can run home, make sure I have registered for the classes I can handle, go through the lectures and take notes, take the quiz, and knock the hell out. This needs to be my Tuesdays. Wednesdays I can dive into work.

Okay.

Breathing normally again.

Allhamdullillah this coping mechanism has always been a solid one.

I have no idea if anyone still reads this thing because I stopped blogging regularly a while ago. But on the off chance that I do still have readers: if you find yourself in the same sinking boat I was just in and need a hand, contact me.
It’s okay not to drown.

On a positive note: I got my business cards yesterday and I feel like I haven’t been adulating completely wrong for once.

–Sobia

 

 

Watching Them Go

It took me a while to get to this post but I’ve been wanting to pen it since May 21, 2017 because that was when the first rounds of graduation took place – this one with my students (we’ll get to the cousins later).
I’ve experienced three years of students graduating and every year is as surreal as the previous one.

Every year, without fail, I have been overly excited to watch my kids walk across the stage and every year, without fail, I am an absolute emotional wreck at the end of it.

Most of my students I only got to teach for a semester, and yet working in a private K-12 schools allows for a unique opportunity to work with your students outside of your class. So semester after semester, year after year, I was still able to build a relationship with my one-time students – aiding and assisting them, hollering at them to get a door, having quick conversations between classes about the current political state or their college options, and assisting in club activities.

These kids made getting up in the morning worth it. If I missed a day of work I was more upset about not seeing my students that day than anything else. And now when my career has shifted, I’m not being able to cut the cord. So you can start to imagine the state of mind I was in with this graduation in particular.

I don’t know how to explain what it feels like to watch a student of yours close a major chapter in their lives and look toward starting a new one. You feel so excited and happy for them. Proud of them for making it. Scared out of your mind at what they will have to face. Protective of them for what they will have to face. Full of faith in who they are. Confident that the world is in need of them and can’t handle how amazing they are. Upset at yourself for not knowing how to express all this in one elegant swoop of words and facial expressions.

Watching your kids graduate is not just bittersweet, it’s a strange sensation of completion and incompletion. Completion is obvious, that whole chapter closing metaphor. The incompletion a little obvious and a little more tricky to explain. Excuse me for sounding like my hippie self but this is the truth as best I know to explain it – as a teacher it feels like you impart a tiny faction of your soul into your students. You pass it willingly to them as you impart whatever knowledge you can, and you pray that if nothing else, that little faction of your soul can help them find their grounding when their feet can’t find the floor.

And frick I only taught them for a semester, I can’t even imagine what teachers who have known their students from Kindergarten must go through.
I love all my students like I love my cousins, which says a lot because my cousins are my fricking life.

Speaking of which, two of those munchkins graduated this year as well.

For me, the only thing more emotionally draining than being a teacher watching your students graduate, is being a Baji watching your cousins graduate.

Those little brats who you spanked and yelled at when they started copping attitudes. Those little delinquents who found a way to make a mess wherever they went. Those little haters who never let you forget a mistake you made or let go of any opportunity to make fun of you.
Those little soldiers who have always had your back when everyone else turned against you. Those little bright eyed angels who saw your future brighter than you could even imagine. Those little loves who have given me meaning and purpose, who I couldn’t imagine my life without, who I would give anything for if it meant sparing them of even an iota of pain.
Two of those kids have blossomed and graduated, and have made me so proud that my heart is about ready to just fly out of my chest.

So to recap: 2 of my students graduated, 2 of my cousins graduated, a number of my 7th graders actually said they would miss me, and my career switch means my future schedule as a teacher is unsure.

Can you say emotional mess, because that’s what I have been.

I’M NOT READY TO LET GO. TEARS! ALL THE TEARS IN WORLD!

 

I know I know, I have a tendency to be a BIT dramatic…it can’t be helped!

Anyways, I can’t even start to list the duas I have been making for my students and my cousins.
I believe in them all, and I have so much faith that Insha’Allah, they have nowhere to go but up. I only really hope that I will be given the opportunity to witness their journeys as they progress to their individual successes Insha’Allah.

On a less emotional positive note: I was a smart cookie this year! I made a Ramadan budget and I may just do more than float above water Insha’Allah! Here’s to another I hop suhoor!

–Sobia

When did 25 become overwhelming?

Honestly, about 6 years ago when I couldn’t go back to Baylor (but that’s an old scar that only sometimes itches).

Still, there is something to be said about falling out of your expected time.
We plan, we dream, we hope to a point of self-manifestation, we become so sure that any other outcome is impossible that any other outcome truly does become impossible – we soar!

And then we hit an airplane going in the opposite direction, plummet to the earth and get hit by a couple of trees and telephone poles on the way down.

Depressing, huh?
My bad, I’m not normally a down in the dumps kind of person – it’s just today.
You wake up so grateful for a day off in eons with all these intentions to get ahead, but then you wake up tired and get nothing done instead. (Did I rhyme on purpose? Of course I did).

Part of the stuck of today is physical – my body and brain have crapped out on me. They’re tired of my constant pushing and they are not cooperating unless absolutely necessary.
Can’t say I blame them.

But the other part of it is realizing just how behind you feel. It’s not that you’re necessarily behind in the grand scheme of things – each individual’s life spins on an individual axis uniquely their own. Yet you are not where you had planned, hoped, and expected to be so you feel behind.
And when you feel that way, you also enlist in a lot of things to get ‘caught up’ to where you think you ought to be.
Ultimately: you become so overwhelmed with the things you need to do to get unstuck that you become more stuck by shutting down all together.

That’s where I’m at today.
I’m not stating so for sympathy. Rather this post is an effort to do something other than nothing. At least get my thoughts out of my head.
I’m taking the advice I give to everyone else – It’s okay to get stuck sometimes, as long as you plan to get unstuck as soon as you can handle it.

Insha’Allah I can handle it tomorrow.
Today I am willingly staying stuck for the hell of it. Thank God it’s Ramadan otherwise my best friend right now would be Taco Bell, and that would REALLY be counterproductive.

On a positive note: staying at home all day means you don’t have to worry about Ramadan breath all up in people’s faces. #thestruggleisreal

New Year’s Reboot

I have realized time and time again that I absolutely suck with the whole ‘new year new me’ shtick.
And I know exactly why too – I completely lack in discipline. I would much rather do nothing and be great at it, than do something and absolutely fail at it. But. I also realize this does not a functioning member of society make.

On the very last day of 2015 I came across this understanding and decided that I was not going to allow myself to fall into a rut again. The semester before had been full and brutal, and I was not going to put myself through hell and high water with a bare minimum of survival in every aspect.
So I sat down and actually wrote down my new year’s resolutions. I was going to tackle 2016 with a fierceness no would see coming! I was going to redefine my life, reinvigorate my soul, and become the me I want and more!

And now I find myself on February 9, 2016 in the same rut I was in, in 2015, thinking what the actual hell. How did I lose more than a month to nothing??

Well it’s obvious – it’s so easy to fall into old habits.

It’s comforting to not owe anyone anything, or worry about meeting an expectation. The trouble is that this is not happiness. This is not progress. And this is completely counter-intuitive as a Muslim.
Being a part of the amazing Ummuah, we’re supposed to constantly grow and blossom – internally and externally. We’re fixers. We are satisfied and grateful for all we have been given while realizing constantly that we can do so much more in all that we give.
Am I making sense outside of my head?

So I know all this. So now what?
First and foremost it’s reboot time.
I cannot stand where I am right now. I know I can do better.

The tricky part will be to allow myself to accept the difficulties while not turning them into excuses. It’s so easy to throw a pity party for myself. But that’s one of those shindigs where everyone stands around awkwardly, not knowing one another or caring to know one another, wondering when it’s socially acceptable to go home, change into pj’s and form butt-prints on the couch.
That is not the kind of party I want to throw.

The difficulties: Anxiety is at an all time high for some reason which, of course, means depression is at an all time high.
The acceptance: It might not get easier.
The non-excuse: I am an extrovert who needs to go out and do things and be around people. If I allow myself to focus on my symptoms, I’m going to be bed-ridden and make it all worse.

Okay. That’s step one.
And well this blog entry is step two. I miss writing, even if it does lack a solid point or form, or readers. I used to blog to get out of my head. Insha’Allah, I want to get back at it for the same reason.

February 9, 2016 – the New Year’s Reboot. This blog marks it.

On a positive note of substance: Taco Bell just came out with the Quesalupa. What more could a person ask for??

-Sobia.

Lessons in learning. Wait, I Mean Teaching!

So, Allhamdullillah, I completed my first unexpected semester of teaching, and I almost feel like I gypped my students because I feel like I’m walking away with more lessons to learn from xD
Without further adieu: my reflection post!

– I learned that I don’t think I will ever not be a student. And I don’t think I will ever not relate to a student. The student life is difficult but also comfortable, because it’s this odd mix of responsibility and vulnerability and insecurity.
And I don’t think I am the kind of person that will grow out of that phase.
I think I just need to accept that.
I’m not necessarily complaining about this revelation though.
I like being a student (figuratively and literally); I’m always in a state of learning. Plus, having a student mentality makes it easier to grow in humility, I think. When you allow yourself to learn from someone, whether they are older or younger than you, you are allowing for yourself to be imperfect and incomplete. You realize that there is still someone out there (a many someones out there) who know more than you, and you have to step back and appreciate that.
For this, I appreciate my students and my coworkers.
I’ve learned a lot, and I know I have quite a ways to go.

– Do we ever really stop being high school students?
Yes, absolutely. But you establish quite a bit of your personality in your high school years. I went through that in Bush, and I can’t say if I was very aware of the process. But it was interesting to watch my students. I loved how different all of my classes were. I loved the comrade-ry, the silliness, the self-awareness, and also the lack of self-awareness. I think the best way to describe my particular brand of adulthood is one foot in high school, one foot in college, a hand at home, and the other holding a big mug of tea. My head is in the clouds of course – don’t think that will ever change xD

– I loved all of my students.
This actually did surprise me because I had barely 5 months with them. I thought that, at most, I would have a fondness for them. But nope! I love every single one of my students to bits! They’re all so special. Each one had a hand in making my experience unique, and I wouldn’t trade a single one out of any of my classes. My first graders were a handful, because it was a full class Mashallah. But each one had sch a generous heart.
My second graders had this amazing sense of care for one another. This was also the class that I got to spend the most time with, so I really did almost cry during my last class with them!
And my high schoolers, I don’t even know where to begin with them!
My high schoolers were an inquisitive and intelligent bunch. I looked forward to my class with them the most. I enjoyed reading their work, and answering their questions. I loved when they participated in the discussions, because there was always something interesting to be said by someone or another.

– My career choice has been validated: I am more than 100% sure that I want to teach High School, preferably a non-core academic class. I’m fairly certain I would hate teaching to a test, and I feel bad for the teachers that have to do that, because I know they hate it. I love teaching Journalism, I hope that’s what I’m meant for Inshallah.

– I was very ambitious, I wanted my students to walk away knowing everything!
But that was a learning lesson too. Next time I’m breaking things into actual units. And I won’t pretend I’m SuperWoman anymore =__=;;

– School is getting more and more stressful.
It’s not just me, it’s not just college – it’s the general atmosphere of our nation. Everything good is just getting harder. And I feel for my students.

– I hate homework.
With a passion. I made sure to do my best to assign as little as possible, and to offer resources during class time, so that students wouldn’t have to work at home. I thought I hated getting homework, but really the guilt of assigning it made me feel like the Wicked Witch of the West.

– I don’t understand why almost every teacher/professor I had would say something along the lines of “this won’t be acceptable in the REAL world.”
Now that I am living, and a functioning part of the real world I can say that my biggest shock factor, was that the REAL world is full of humans *GASP!*
It’s okay if you get caught in a traffic jam, or the printer isn’t working, or your alarm didn’t go off so you’re late 10 extra minutes, or whatever. It’s okay. I’m not saying anyone has to make a personality factor or a habit of being a flake. I’m just saying that the human condition requires compassion and a little room to stumble now and again.

– I hate tests.
Yes I understand they are necessary – sometimes! But for my hippie, indie, intro level class I hated the idea of a test. For my class, a standardized test wouldn’t measure jack. Allhamdullillah.

– I think I may have been one the cool teachers….
And I think that was pretty cool!

– I always want my students to be comfortable with themselves with me.
It’s so important for kids of any age to feel safe with the adults in their lives. I hope I established myself as one of those adults.

– You don’t have to know your students for years to feel the need to defend them.
I realized I will fight tooth and nail for all of my kiddos. It’s a strange realization- that you can feel so overprotective of a group of humans who are not your family or chosen friends.
But that’s the life of a teacher I suppose – You feel on a whole other level.

– I love being a teacher, a teacher’s assistant, a student, and a worker for my school in specific.
I would not trade my previous 5 months for anything. I look forward to working here for many more years, Inshallah. I never thought I could break the monotonous norm of hating your job, but here I am loving all of it, and I’m so thankful for that.

Oh and if any of my students are reading this, feel free to un-follow me here and on Twitter. If you’d rather stay a follower, that’s cool too. You’re call 🙂

Thank God it’s summer!

-Sobia.

A Time Of Need

Salam dear students,

Yesterday all of us received the news of young Heba’s passing.

Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajioon.

I, unfortunately, never had the opportunity to meet her. However, I still went to the Janazah today because- well a number of reasons. Through everything I couldn’t help but flashback a few times to Amina’s passing…

Death is not an easy reality to face. It is a true test of patience and faith for the living.

I don’t know which ones of you knew her, which ones were close, and how this reality has affected any of you. But if you need to talk to someone, or if you need someone to listen to you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m here for all of you.

-Sobia.