Exam season has been tough. I sat my first A2 exam yesterday, and since then the crippling fear and doubts about not getting the grades to get into my first choice university has hit me. I’ve reacted the way I usually do these days: slept a lot, distracted myself with damaging procrastination.
Remember when I talked about making a leap of faith and having to go with it? I can’t recall what post that was, but this afternoon after trying to will myself to study, I opened up my timetable for the day. I felt like my efforts were going to be futile – that they won’t get me to where I want to go.
I talk about my experiences being Muslim here a lot. But I don’t really delve into my spiritual connection to God mainly because it’s pretty much deteriorating right now, and because it’s such a personal aspect that I’m afraid many won’t be able to understand or relate to.
However, I’ll give it a try. It’s Ramadan, and I wanted to post every week despite exam season. So I’m going to focus on my spiritual connection to Allah in this post.
When I opened up my timetable I decided that since my bared-back set of study tasks were clearly not going to get me to the level where I am confident in having done the best I could in my exams, I restored my exam study timetable to its original Godzilla version. In doing that I restored my Ramadan timetable. I like the freedom of study leave, but in not following my structured schedule I was doing myself and my revision a disservice.
By this time it was already past Asr (afternoon prayer – Muslims have five prayers every day), and from Asr to Maghrib (after sunset prayer) I had sectioned out some time to get closer to Allah. I was still anxious about not having time and this panic bubbled up – the indecision of taking some time out to do something Islamic vs grabbing the nearest textbook and answering questions.
When I went to Islamic weekend school one of my teachers taught me this neat trick. She said that if you ever want guidance from Allah about a subject then just open up a translation and flick through it. The verse your eyes land on will naturally tell you what you should do. Now this isn’t a Muslim tradition (surprisingly) but something that’s just helped her out personally. I tried it today and a lot of the verses that came up were about non-believers and rejecting Allah and not receiving His Help if you’re the one who consistently rejects Him.
The anxiety quelled. I was determined to get Allah’s help. It was a familiar sort of determination that existed pre-depression days. There’s no way I’m going to allow myself to go to Hell. I read an article I had read before actually on Virtual Mosque about numb hearts. I read a few more. Went on Productive Muslim and they have this elaborate “Heart Detox” going on over there. I listened to a Nouman Ali Khan lecture and figured out that I’m probably on a two week free trial on his site Bayyinah TV.
It doesn’t matter whether I end up at UCL or Queen Mary or even take a gap year. What matters is that I trust what I am doing right now.
Not worry about the future, or my results, or what people will think. I grew up living off expectations of success, but I also grew up yearning for the freedom to call my life my own. And any expectations of success worth listening to, then, are my own.