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Inspiration

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Photo Courtesy: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samir_Mondal

 

If you are thinking that bollywood is all about romance then you are getting it twisted. There are many moral and life lessons to be learnt but well, it all depends on your kind of thinking. Do you spend one/two hours watching something just because it was a hit and worth your cinema ticket or do you really try to analyze what is to be learnt from it? That’s food for thought but for now let’s get back to our topic. I am not always on track with the latest movies and most of what I’ve watched is many months or even years after it’s release. Nonetheless, I am critical in what I consider a good movie worth my time. These are just a few of which I think even if you aren’t a fan of bollywood, perhaps you should give a try to. They are quite some years old but their effect never get old on me. I am sure there are several more that have inspiring after-effects but this is what I could come up with for now.

1.Taare Zameen Par: My all time favourite. I have probably watched it a dozen times now. It still moves me. It still makes me cry like it’s my first time. The story revolves around a young ‘naughty’ boy who has a major problem in reading and writing. His father is very hard on the boy and keeps comparing him to his older brother who is just the ‘perfect son’; perfect grades, perfect cricket player. The young boy; Ishaan grows with a very low self esteem and becomes a loner. Only for his teacher to break it to his parents that he has dyslexia; a mental condition yet still a very talented artist. Coincidentally, Ishaan has several features like my baby sister. His height, slimness, the shape of his face, his teeth. Perhaps that is why it always gets to me but it has inspired me a lot. This is especially a good movie for parents (for teachers too); this exactly shows how scolding children really brings them down and how their support can make the best out of a student. How children should be allowed to persue what they can do best and for Ishaan, his art was simply spectacular! I’d just like to mention what the teacher told Ishaan’s father about a certain island called Solomon’s island where people don’t have to cut down the trees all they have to do is go in front of the trees and shout at them, insult, scold…and the trees die on their own. (Another food for thought).

I previously wrote an article about dyslexia which is also available on this site. That is how much this movie inspired me. You can always have a look at it! Well, to cut the long story short; it is definitely worth your time if you haven’t watched it already.

 

2.Bhaijang Baijarang: Well who hasn’t watched this?! A story about a very honest man trying to return a dumb girl back to her country Pakistan after getting lost in India. The obvious is that without anything this is already an awesome plot and a great story but there is about sacrifice here. How far do you go to helping someone even when you know you will be risking your life and not getting anything in return? Especially when you are dealing with a dumb girl and communication is such a struggle?! Crossing borders illegally is not exactly ‘an honest man’s way of doing things but he still tries his best to make it ‘right.’ I particularly like the similar ending of this movie and of the previous movie that I mentioned on Ishaan. The teacher throwing his student on air and in this, the saviour throwing Shaheeda (the dumb girl) on air too. Very moving! Very inspiring! Oh yes, stories involving children are simply the best! So, how much can you sacrifice for any human being?!

 

3.Ek Villain: Okay okay, it is a great love story alright but there is such a great lesson to be learnt from Aisha. Aisha is suffering from cancer and the doctors see no hope in her living any longer. So she has a bucket list that she wanted to empty before her death. A very interesting bucket list if I may add. But there is so much we learn from her. How her bucket list involves making other people happy more than herself. She keeps putting up very inspirational quotes on path ways. She is like a shining star that’s slowly falling. She smiles, she laughs, she has hope, she dedicates herself to fulfilling other people’s dreams even when she knew she was dying. But what I loved the most is how she taught her husband (who was filled with rage and pain over his alarming past) that darkness can never drive out darkness, it is only light that can drive out darkness. She was able to change her killer husband into something amazing. She was able to teach him that in life there is day too besides the night. We learn from her the art of being happy, of creating change in others, in being the light at the end of the tunnel for others. It is such a sad story and how it ended (or rather, started) wasn’t exactly what the viewers wanted but I like stories that beat the ordinary; unpredictable. Worth the watch, worth your time.

 

4.Three idiots: Ohhh boy. Amazing, simply tremendous! If you love stories about school life then this is definitely it. So much humour, adventures and craziness. But besides all that, this story evolves about three friends who invest all they have in their relationship. The kind of friendship that lasts forever. There is so much sacrifice, laughter, smiles, tears, sorrow, standing up for one another. Well, with our current world filled with fake friends maybe we can borrow a few ‘real friendship’ tips from these guys. Perhaps then we can start having the right definition of friendship.

 

5.Mary Kom: A tough girl who dreams of being a boxer and the obvious is that her father was totally against it. But she was persistent, still persued boxing, went training, had her many challenges but still became a champion. The twist of events happens when she gets married and gives birth to twins of which one was sickly. She had to stop boxing and training for a while and when she decided to come back to boxing it was like starting from zero again. But she still didn’t give up and struggled her way up once again. The perfect story for the saying, ‘where there is a will there is a way’. It’s all about dedication, courage, bravery, hard work and determination. You have a dream? It’s never going to come easy.

 

6.Baghban: Another very touching story of an old couple and their grown up children who decide to separate their mother and father after their house was sold. Really sad story in how it vividly potrays how children poorly traet their parents when they are of old age. The two parents are neglected and are hurt several times by their children and their spouses. The husband and wife miss each other but are miles apart and all they do is lie to each other that they are ‘okay’. Something interesting about this story is that their adopted son is the one who comes back to them, brings the two back together and treats them well more than their own children.  Yes, the story very well highlights that another man’s son could be better to you than your own family.  This is the ‘treat others right’ call. You just don’t know who will be good to you when you least expect it and who will be bad to you when you never expect it. Be good unto others, you just never know!

 

7.English Vinglish: Many of us take for granted our ‘illiterate’ parents and not just that, we rub it on their faces that they don’t know a thing. Well this is the same thing here. This story evolves around a very loving mother and wife who doesn’t know English. Her husband and daughter treat her awfully and mock her for being uneducated. When she travels to America for a family wedding, she secretly joins an English class. She gets to meet new people who really appreciate her and consider her delicious cookery as art. She starts loving herself for what she is and does all her best to learn English, which she does at the end. It’s a light story, perhaps not a super hit but one you can learn from. Again, where there is a will there is a way. She breaks all stereotypes around her and makes herself appreciated. The issue of parents come again; perhaps we really underestimate the damage we cause in our parents when we make silly jokes, mock them around or treat them misappropriately because of their weaknesses. Do only what you would want your own children to do to you!

 

8.BLACK: Being both blind and deaf from a young age is not any easy thing. This story talks about a young girl who becomes blind and deaf after recovering from some illness at the age of two. She becomes trapped in her own darkness and becomes a frustated and violent girl. Then comes this new teacher who is very hard on her at the start but he becomes the main reason of her learning and becoming better mannered. He teaches her to express herself. The teacher walks hand in hand with her in this journey until she is able to join university. She keeps failing but still continues persuing her dream until she finally graduates. At that time her teacher is already succumbing to alzheimer’s disease whereby he starts forgetting her and other memories too. On her graduation she ensures that her teacher is the first one who sees her in the gown and when he sees her he starts remembering bits from the past. They start pronouncing the letters together. It’s the teacher now learning from/with his student. Another inspiring story for teachers especially those dealing with special needs. What we learn? Teachers really have a great impact in our lives more than we assume.

Photo Courtesy: https://www.pinterest.com/

Hey Assalam aleykum  😊

If not Muslim, hey buddy!☺

It may be one of those rough times in your life. Perhaps you are undergoing a financial collapse, a family conflict, a heart break, bad marriage, betrayal, identity crisis, quarter life crisis, mid-life crisis…you name it. Perhaps you are just feeling lost and confused. Perhaps you don’t exactly understand why you came to this world. Perhaps you don’t feel your need existing in this world. Perhaps you think this pain is too much to bear. Perhaps you wish you could disappear. Perhaps you can’t stay hungry anymore. Perhaps you have no strength to work one more day. Perhaps you are undergoing writer’s block. Perhaps things are just not working out. Perhaps you feel the very urgent need to explode. You feel low, stressed and depressed. But perhaps…all this is not as bad as it may seem.

One thing for sure; you are going to over-come this and it is going to remain as a memory. Perhaps a bad memory but it will all be in the past and what’s in the past no longer defines us.

Be rest assured, there is nothing abnormal in the kind of pain we live in. Everyone is experiencing some kind of battle, maybe not at the same time as you do but they surely do. Don’t see happy faces full of smiles, walking on the shores of the beach and going for shopping sprees and you start thinking ‘why the hell is my life like this? And not like that?’ The only difference comes in how we deal with that pain. You are the one to choose whether you are going to let go of what is eating you up, whether you will forgive others and yourself and whether you will stand up after that terrible fall.

Sometimes too many things collapse at the same time especially when you are in your 20’s. This is the time when just almost everything seems to be falling on your head. Identity crisis; you don’t even know what you want in your life, betrayals; you start seeing the claws of the dearest people to you, University’s chaotic life, financial problems, Career search that never ends, transition into marriage life etc etc. This could be like “hello! Welcome to the real world” call. You start seeing truths you’d never want to know but you are forced to stare into that horrible reality for some time and maybe for a longer time than you expected. But hey! Don’t despair.

I am just going to tell you 3 things that I hope you can take note of.

1.Dear, you are not alone. You are definitely not alone in this. Perhaps you consider yourself such an awful person or you feel so lonely and don’t expect anyone to even cry if you died this moment. Maybe you think that you are better off six feet under with only soil to hug you. Do know this; people do love you. It may be one person, three, ten or even a dozen it doesn’t matter the number. What matters is that this person or these people can cross oceans for your sake. However many your flaws may be, these people truly and sincerely care for you. Some even look up to you, they probably even consider you their mentor and role model while you are just not aware of it. Do know that to someone out there, you are really needed in this life. Your existence is crucial for them so don’t let the sadness sweep you off your feet forever. Don’t disappoint them by letting yourself sink in that wavy ocean. They need you to stand up NOW. You are Needed.

2.You are allowed to feel the pain. It is just a phase of life. It is okay to experience it and embrace it. Just don’t allow yourself to stay too long in the darkness. Cry, mourn, talk it out if you need to but don’t let it take over your life. Just take enough time to grieve but not too long to make sadness and loneliness a part of you. It is all about learning how to stand up after that great fall. You can do it 😊

3.I’d like to give you an example here. Let’s say you admire some girl out there (or the vice versa) and you really want her/him to talk to you. You want the attention. So what do you do? You create a problem for them so that they can come to ask for help from you. If you know that she can’t fix a puncture you intentionally prick her car tires so that she may ask for your help. You know that she may ask for help from her other mates but sometimes no one can help except you. So she will come, eventually; sooner or later. Patience here is crucial. When this problem is over you make her computer crash. And then maybe put a virus in her flash disk. It could go on and on. It depends on how much you love that person. The more you love them the more you want them to talk to you and thus, the more difficult situations you create for them. It doesn’t mean you want to harm them does it? It just means you love them so much that you would want them to know how much you are crucial in their lives. This is the same thing with God. Well not exactly but almost. God doesn’t need your attention in fact, you need His! But when He loves one of His creations, He keeps testing them again and again. He knows you will go to your mother for assistance or your best friend or your neighbour but eventually you realize that no one can help you except Him. Now look at all these problems you are whining about. See how God loves you? See how much He wants you to talk to Him? See how much He wants you to seek help from Him? For He is more than ready to help you! He is just waiting for you to call unto Him. What are you waiting for buddy?!

With that said, please rub off those tears. Please be patient. Please have faith in God. Please believe in yourself. Do your best and let destiny take you places. Do not under-value yourself. Be happy and grateful with the good things in your life. Do not worry too much over what’s going to happen next. Let the flow flow! Keep talking to Him and you’d be amazed what great plans He has for you. Better things coming buddy! In shaa Allah. Now don’t let that smile fade from your face. You just don’t know how pretty it makes you look! 😊

By: Hanan Barre

As a child, the world was a simple place. Everything was in black and white, and a distinct line in between. The good and the bad. Two distinct groups. No in-between. The villain would always be obvious, he’d be defeated by the hero and the world a safe place again. Happily ever after was possible and good would always triumph. Faith ran high. 

As I grew up, that line blurred and  the world greyed. The villain could be staring me right in the face and I wouldn’t know it. The “heroes” were subjective to personal opinion. My “hero” could be your villain. Everyone was fighting their own battle and the only victory anyone cared about was their own.

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Unity and working for the good of the community became pretty non existent. My faith in the world waned. I came to terms with the fact that my prior beliefs in humanity and working for a greater good were delusions, and my dream of a better world fantasy. There was no hero in this story,just different levels of villainy. Everyone working towards their own end with no care for who got caught in the crossfires. 

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A human life was no longer sacred. Millions would die and we wouldn’t bat an eyelash. Heaven forbid ,some food be stolen by a hungry orphan, watch the backlash as all the people scrambled to uphold the so-called laws and the integrity of the judicial system. “No ‘criminal’ will escape the law.” I wonder where that law went when millions died fighting for a cause they knew nothing of. I wonder where that law went when women were raped and the rapists escaped Scot free,sometimes even provided justifications for their actions. I wonder where that law went then. Is this the world many died trying to build? Is this world people died fighting for? If so , there sacrifice was really for nothing. 

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And now, now I hope. I hope that this isn’t the reality our forefathers dreamed of. I hope that things have just hit an all time low and the we’ll bounce back from it stronger. Because it’s the only thing saving me from insanity , the only thing that gets me out of my bed in the morning. The reason I want to raise awareness, the reason I want to fight, the reason I want to change the world,the reason I want to dedicate my life to not only my own benefit but to that of my people.

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 I’m not crazy for dreaming of a better world for my off spring. I’m not mad for thinking ,with the right moves, this world can be as beautiful as my childhood fairy tales.

                                         

Photo Courtesy: https://www.etsy.com

I dreamt about Maths today. And when you hear me talk about it you would think I am talking of a lover who broke my heart. The dream was dreadful that I had to force myself wake up 😃 The last time I had a Math exam was five years ago in high school because right after that I said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH Math. I am definitely breaking up with you for good.
But guess what? Foolish Math won’t leave me alone. I keep having disturbing dreams of me being in an exam room doing a Math exam and totally being blank. When it isn’t a Math paper it is Chemistry lol. Please don’t remind me of molecules right now. So back to last night’s dream. I was back in high school, doing a Math exam and I couldn’t even remember how to calculate perimeter. Was it Length plus Width? I leave the exam room to eat chocolate 😃 with my high school friend; we call her Ms Wheels 😃 Perhaps that was to make me calm down and remember a few things. When we come back people are done with the exam and guess what?! My paper is not on my desk anymore. I couldn’t find it. Oh now this was becoming depressing. So I decided to force myself wake up. I didn’t want to see the end of it 😣

Got me thinking, why do I still dream of Maths out of the MANY beautiful things in my life and in this world? It could be because I really struggled with Maths during my high school era and it was stressing that as much as I put in so much effort into it I barely improved. It was a major failure to me and perhaps that remains stuck in my sub-conscious to date and haunts me in terms of my dreams. It brings me back to the exam room where the failure happened over and over again like a nightmare. Funny thing though is that I never really assumed that the failures had such great impact on me without even noticing it. I wasn’t a complete idiot with zero but I also didn’t perform as I expected.

And I know for a fact that I am not the only one who is being haunted by a failure of the past.
Maybe you started dieting but never lost weight.
Maybe you had a business but never got profit.
Maybe you married but couldn’t save the marriage.
Maybe you didn’t win the competition.
Maybe you didn’t become a super cook as you wanted.
Maybe you didn’t make a change after all.
The maybe’s could go on and on…bottom line is: you feel you are a failure and that could be eating you up subconsciously.

One great lesson I learnt from my own experience is that: however poor you may be in one thing, you are amazingly superb in something else. Your brain can’t fail you entirely. Maybe you failed in being the master chef at your home but you could be the best teacher around.
You may not be the best footballer as you wished but you turned out to be a genius in mechanics.
You may be poor in academics but very intelligent in social and current affairs of the world.
You may have failed in being a powerful public speaker but you are too amazing as a writer.

You may not realize this immediately but failures are what make us better people in life. They make us pursue our strengths and our talents. They make us determined and passionate to be who we want to become.

When I think of my own example of Maths and Chemistry, I imagine how my life would be so different if I managed to succeed very well in them. I would have probably become a pediatrician. I wouldn’t have taken onto my dream journey of becoming a writer. I wouldn’t have explored my talents in Journalism class. I wouldn’t be having this website. You wouldn’t be reading this right now. Of course I would have found other good things on the other field but I would not be what I am today.

And you know one of the consoling things for me is that when you go into a Journalism class, 90% of us didn’t do so well in Maths and Sciences. Maybe just one or two B grades 😃 In my class we used to really laugh about it because even the lecturers know why we are there; one of the reasons is to totally AVOID Maths. So I learnt that it was okay to be a failure in Maths and sciences. I wasn’t alone so nothing was wrong with me after all. It IS okay. Yes we avoided what we are not good at to explore what is beyond amazing for us.

So whatever ‘failure’ you have gone through, it’s time to change the mentality. Well that includes me of course. Let’s change the name of ‘failure’ to ‘an eye-opener to my better potentials.’ Use all those low points in your life to discover what best suits you and what amazing things you can do with your brain or your hands. You are definitely not a failure. You are a genius still exploring your potentials. Keep going you will get there by God’s will.

Photo Courtesy: Unknown

“Conceal
Don’t feel.
Don’t let them know.”
~Frozen

When a boy notices his tendency to cry a lot or even be more emotional than expected then this is when Anna’s words become a consolation. You feel you are not alone in this; not alone in the hiding and burying. Not alone in the turning away from the inner you, the real you that wants to scream, that wants to cry, that wants to break down, that needs a hug or at least a pat on the shoulder. So you shut the doors and put a pillow on your face so that no one hears you silent cries. You lock yourself in loo and cry until you have no more tear for anyone to see or simply go mute on everyone. No one should know. You have to hide or else everyone will raise their eyebrows at you, “dude are you normal?”
“Are you straight?”😒

The girls are usually the victims of this but for the few boys who are characterized as ‘sensitive’ then they definitely have a hard time.

As boys grow up they keep hearing it over and over again, ‘real men don’t cry’, ‘man up’ ‘be strong’ ‘be like a soldier or a lion…’ ‘Are you a girl to be a cry baby?’ But anyway who brought up this notion? This foolish theory that when a man cries he isn’t ‘real’ anymore? What does ‘real’ mean anyway? Does it mean that the boys who cry a lot or show their emotions have any less of the y chromosomes or perhaps they should freak out and see a psychologist whether they may be turning gay?? 😲

I say it is foolish because I believe in a person who feels. It means they have extra ordinary power to connect with others. It means they love others honestly. It means they are strong enough to respect their inner self that is wounded. It means they are simply not allowing their ego to overtake their soul. It means that despite all the tears and feels, they are strong enough to admit that they are in pain and that pain needs to be let out. It means that although everyone expects them to be fierce and hard so as to be recognized as ‘strong’, they decided to have their own definition of ‘strong’. It means they are humane and feel for others. It means they are special.

Yes, they are definitely special. These cry babies are the ones who will make the best of husbands and fathers. As much as some women may argue that emotional men can’t protect them and would probably cry with them during tough situations instead of acting immediately, do remember that the Y chromosome in him still exists. He will protect you more than the man with an ego would ever do. He will protect you because he is true to you; because he won’t ever want you to get hurt especially because of him.
And hey man, if a woman ever mocks you over your emotional make-up then she is simply not worth it. If it is family or even friends then just over-look the criticisms. Sometimes you just need to ignore what people think about you.

These men you call cry babies are ones who will restore humanity whenever, simply because they feel extra ordinarily and with deep empathy for others. They are the ones who keep touching hearts and inspiring people. So if you one of them, please feel free to cry and break down and feel extensively. If the inner self is wounded and needs to bleed then please bleed if you need to. Don’t let your ego destroy your beautiful soul. Your tears are your power so use that power to make a difference. Do know that the best of mankind (men) were seen in tears and were known for their empathy and deep emotions. So never feel ashamed over who you are. Your soul is simply amazing and that; that should really make you proud 🙂

Photo Courtesy: https://afremov.com/

Loneliness usually creeps in at the most unexpected times like the surprise visitor who knocks at your door just as you switch off your lights to sleep. It could have a knock-knock on your little heart at the moment you are in the middle of a crowd as people cling their glasses with cheer and laughter or when you are in the arms of your spouse or even when you are eating with your friends as they tell jokes and crack up. You feel so far yet so near. You feel disconnected from the people around you. Sometimes it could be due to sudden changes in the closest people to us; how you and your spouse no longer share your deepest secrets, how your friends no longer remember your birthday, how your loved ones no longer have time to watch a movie with you or it could be simply due to the life transitions such as leaving for college, losing a partner to death or divorce, starting a new job, retiring and losing the daily company of colleagues and associates, or moving to a new town or country. Loneliness is the isolation that comes with nursing a feeling unreturned — an expectation unmet. It is the perpetual state of seeking that which you so crave, that which you so need. It is the putting of your key to happiness in someone else’ pocket.

The longer our loneliness lasts, that more challenging it can be to break the mindsets and judgments (both ours and others’) that contribute to maintaining our isolation.

When you are lonely, you tend to assume people aren’t interested in your company and that if you reach out to them they will reject you and turn you down. As a result you take little initiative and find excuses to turn down invitations when you do get them. Your negativity and reluctance to give your friends the benefit of the doubt creates a self-fulfilling prophecy in which your own reactions and avoidance pushes them away even further. Because you remain blind to your part in creating the distance, you see their withdrawal as confirmation of your fears and become even more convinced they no longer care about you.

On the other hand, being alone is quite the opposite. Loneliness and aloneness stand as the two pillars to the one, emotional pendulum. Loneliness for some, may be a chronic condition where your own company is never enough; where spending time with yourself may produce anxiety and sometimes worse symptoms such as panic attacks and depression. For many, the perceived solution to keep this fear away is to make sure that you are always in the company of another. Being alone is being totally okay when you are by yourself. Being happy watching a movie alone, walking at the beach shore as you enjoy the sunset, treating yourself to ice cream because you simply deserve it. You are alone, not because no one wants you in their life but because you simply love yourself and you are alone by choice. You are emotionally independent and you don’t mind if your best friend doesn’t text you for some days or even weeks. You can’t allow yourselves to be defined by the people you surround yourself with. You can’t allow yourself to be defined by your relationship status or your weekend plans or the screaming silence of your mobile phone.

Although alone and lonely are often thought of as being one in the same, alone doesn’t equal loneliness. Learning to be alone may be initially scary but once mastered serves as the cornerstone for your development and growth as a human being. There’s so much to be gained from learning to rely, and more importantly, to trust your own inner voice as the best source for your own guidance.

Loneliness may have deep effects and be the part-cause of mental disorders such as depression, social anxiety, addiction and hoarding. Therefore, addressing your loneliness could be the key to unleashing your healthy mind. And as much as someone may argue that all of us do feel lonely every once in a while, you just shouldn’t let it overwhelm you such that you become a victim of the above mentioned disorders.

Sometimes the best cure to loneliness is, in fact, to be alone. You may want to take baby steps first in stopping feeling lonely and starting to being alone such as going to a road trip by yourself, a swim, a movie or even simply a treat. Then gradually take greater steps like making your own life decisions, being independent, managing your own finances and taking full and complete control of your life.

Just know that, whichever you happen to be or feel at this exact moment, the power to maintain or change it will always be in your own hands — not in theirs, or in anyone else’s. Start making the necessary changes in your life and make yourself the best company for YOU.

REFERENCES:

psychologytoday.com
http://thoughtcatalog.com/

Photo Courtesy: http://images2.fanpop.com/

The situation of our current world is just pathetic; wars, bloodshed, diseases, brutality, criminality, you name it. The list could go on forever. You look at Palestine and you feel the pinch but then you look at your own country and you find misery too, just of a different kind. If the pain, agony and sadness around the world could be painted then perhaps we would have a totally black painting with just one dot in white to represent humanity, happiness and joy. Every continent, every country, every city and every person is fighting a battle of their own. Sometimes we get too empathetic over what others are going through that we forget our own pain, our own struggles. How many times have you had a full plate of very palatable food yet your appetite betrays you with the thought, ‘children in Syria are dying with hunger, I don’t deserve this food. I don’t deserve this privilege’ and you just don’t feel like eating anymore. You look at Yemen and see another disastrous view. You look at Iraq, Nigeria, our own Kenya and you are just too helpless. Too much corruption, too much cruelty by our own leaders, too much poverty, hunger and gloom. You really really REALLY wish you could help but you just have no way. You want to go out and have fun but you see the children spread out all over the town begging and you feel, ‘how selfish am I to be happy when others are too sad, in too much anguish?’ Then it goes down to a personal level. You see that very lovely friend of yours fighting with cancer and just when you are about to do something for yourself, that punch of guilt comes in. And even when you decide to forget the entire world, you find the same grief in your own soul. Then comes the question, why is life just too distressful?

For a long while I was a victim of my own empathy but then I came to realize that truly, God never gives you pain unless that which you can handle. No, don’t say that is just a saying. This, is really true. I see my own siblings living in Yemen and they tell us of the scary nights where they can hear bombs nearby, where they can see the great infernos, the gunshots. They literally count the bombs being drop and their texts could go like, ‘they just threw the first…second…third…fourth…please pray for us…’ then they go offline. You are just left with frozen blood and you just can’t sleep till the morning to hear from them that they are okay. But they are still living!! They cook good food when they can, go to the village, shop, laugh, make jokes and despite everything else, they are grateful to be alive. They cry when they have to but they also enjoy life whenever they can. We see the examples of the Palestinians and we just admire their bravery and how strong they are; living in half houses for the other half is already down yet they are grateful for each morning. And their smiles could make you tear up. It makes you wonder, ‘how do they afford to smile with the kind of life they are living?’ But their firm faith and patience is because God has already said it that He will never over burden any of His servants. Don’t you trust God?

It’s good to be humane, to be empathetic but don’t let it take over your own life. Don’t make it neglect your own soul which needs so much care as well. Whatever problem you are going through, do know it will not last and most importantly, have faith that God will not let your grief last forever. This is your test so be patient please. Give your heart the attention you offer other people. Love yourself and have fun whenever you can. Cry when you feel like it but also don’t forget to smile and laugh. There is so much in life to look up to and anticipate. There might be too much suffering all over the world but there are also so many people who are doing great things. There are so many doctors who dedicated their lives to saving lives in war-torn areas, there are so many humanitarians helping different people, there are so many comedians dedicating their lives to make people like you smile. There are so many writers, poets, artists, photographers trying to create hope by their art. There are so many people creating a difference in other lives. Yes, even in this cruel world, there is still so much to be happy for. So never hesitate to be happy. Be happy always. Smile like you just won a lottery. Help other people like you have no problem of your own. Treat yourself to ice cream or pizza or whatever it is that you like. It doesn’t have to be your birthday or any celebration and if anyone asks you ‘what is the treat about?’ Do reply, ‘I am celebrating myself.’ I know circumstances sometimes don’t really allow you to treat yourself but you can do anything else that makes you happy; take a walk on the beach shore, paint, go for a boat ride, Swing, dance, anything! Create your own bucket list; your own personal wishes that only involve YOU and how to make YOU happy. Create it like you have just a few days in this life and live it up. Empty that bucket list. As for the rest of the world, don’t worry excessively about them. God has never forgotten His servants right? So remember them in your prayers always. Pray that God eases their battles…and yours too.

Don’t let the pain engulf you. Be patient. Appreciate life. Pray sincerely. Help others. Have Faith. Be hopeful. But most importantly, Be Happy Please 🙂

happiness2

Photo Courtesy: http://exploringpsyche.com/

Photo Courtesy: drew.edu

On the day of my graduation, I met a university colleague just outside the compound while I was still in my gown. She congratulated me before asking what I had gotten in my results. The moment I told her it was a first class honors, she jumped with excitement and exclaimed, ‘eish!! First class na huringi?!!’ I laughed at this yet it made me wonder, what do people exactly expect from you after getting first class? Walk with head held very high and maybe start glaring at people from head to toe or write it on all walls, chant it like it is a magic spell, stop strangers on the road and tell them about my result or perhaps wear a placard that says ‘I have a first class’?? 😀
My classmate later on asked me what my feeling was for my achievement and I said, ‘I am just grateful and happy’ then when she realized how it wasn’t such a big deal for me she went on, ‘Ah you are a genius that’s why.’ Lol again, no, I was never a genius. I very well remember getting 7/30 in my CATS, getting a few C’s in my final exams, panicking like a freak just before ALL my exams for not having read enough, without forgetting those assignments I terribly failed and literally had to ask the lecturers to make me understand how they were awarding marks. And no, I never cheated in my exams to get my first class. Perhaps this is where we say, ‘where there is a will there is a way.’ Sometimes, no I mean always, all you gotta do is work hard and put your entire faith in God with the belief that He will never let you fail when you have done your very best.

So a pal who is still in university requested that I write about how one can work through challenges in university; both in academics and social life and the laziness, so as to get first class. Perhaps he too thought I am among the nerds who used to trans-night to study while my legs shoved in cold water and a very large cup of coffee beside me to keep me awake. Well, there is no single night I stayed awake throughout just to read nor was I in the library 24/7 exploring all the books in there. I believe so many factors are to be considered here; like what course you are taking, your IQ, your suitable studying technique and your social circle in university. As much as I made it through, there are a few things I wish I had been told, advised and warned about university life before hand that would have made it an easier path to walk through.

But even before we start on the topic, I’d like to re-tell what one of my lecturers said during his first class. ‘When you finish university, you leave with one of these four things: your certificate, real life-long friends, a spouse/partner or a baby/AIDS. Sometimes you leave with more than one and sometimes you leave with none. You decide what you want to have’ Perhaps this was the best advice we got as starters for we realized the importance of being focused from the very first time you join university.

1. There is difference between hard work and being a genius: Something very important for you as a student is to know where you lie in the IQ chart. Some people are geniuses, some are just hard working while some, are a powerful combination of the two. Well, unfortunately not all of us are born geniuses and we had to struggle to get to our goals. DO NOT compare yourself with someone else and DO NOT imitate their studying styles. I very well remember my only other mate who got a first class like me would not start a 10 paged assignment until the night before and he would still score very well or sometimes better than all of us mashallah while someone like me would start the same assignment two weeks ago and still get the same marks like him. To top it up, even while doing his work overnight, he would still do it comfortably with no fuss or worry while I would still be panicking to the very last second before submitting my work. SO do not look around and comfort your poor soul that so and so too hasn’t started his/her work. ‘I am not alone.’ No buddy, you are very much alone. You are on your own in this so know where you stand in the IQ list and how to do your work in the best way possible. And perhaps you already know that you are not a genius and need to work extra hard and just taking it easy. Well, you can forget about the first class then.
P.S. Even the geniuses have to put in effort to succeed, only that the amount of effort is what differs with each individual.

2. Studying style also differs with different people: Some students have to regularly re-read the same topics again and again before grasping it, some can just read a topic once and that is enough to make them get the A’s, some can just listen to the teacher keenly and that’s it, some need to listen to the teacher and also read a bit, some can stay without ever attending class but still study on their own and still succeed, some work best with cramming, some just have to trans-night before the exam day and they are good to go, some entirely depend on cheating while some have to do a combination of ALL the mentioned; read, re-read, listen to the teacher, cram, trans-night every night and cheat on top of it so as to succeed. Well cheating is really never going to get you anywhere because as far as you get in life, the effects of the cheating will appear in the shoddy work you will do in your job. So get to know what studying style suits your IQ and your course of course (as explained below).

3. Your studying style should consider your course: Of course the studying style for a medicine or architectural student can not be the same with the one for an art student. This is because the level of academic pressure differs to far extents. For other courses, theory is much more while in others, it is the practicals. Like for the journalism course that I was taking, our theory notes were just countable pages yet most units needed practical projects, assignments and exams. So you get to know where to put your greater focus on and as you’ve noticed all these 3 points inter-connect i.e. your IQ, your studying style and your course come hand in hand.

4. When the lecturer asks whether you want group work, be the first one to scream a ‘NO’ If possible, take a speaker and shout it out. Write it on the board in Red, Bold and Capital letters. Not unless you are one of those who like taking advantage of group work, you will totally agree with me that group work is annoying, irritating, time wasting and most of the time all the pile of work ends up being done by one or two people. To make it worse, sometimes you end up submitting very messy disorganized work done last minute. Well, sometimes you get lucky and get great partners to work with but still, it is very rare to get all your group mates being cooperative. You won’t miss one or two who will just mess all of you up. Another mistake most students do is getting into the same groups with their friends with the thought that they can work best together. Well, not unless your friends are very focused people, you guys might just end up chatting and laughing, everyone waiting for the other to start the work until it is too late and you just decide to write up anything for the lecturer. You need to know you are in university alone and you will leave alone and all these small works given to you matter in your end result so take everything seriously from the start.

5. Be part of the society but not necessarily part of the group: In universities we don’t miss to have groups in our classes. I don’t mean the red cross groups and religious groups or so, I mean ‘the birds of a feather flocking together’; the group of friends who hang out together of which most of the times they meet for less constructive issues or we can call them the informal groups. Well, it always feels nice to be part of a group but sometimes, peer pressure comes in. You start skiving classes, doing things you would never have thought of doing, not doing assignments etc. But there is also another problem of being part of a group. Usually social groups never miss to have opponents or rather, another group that just agree on how the other is. These differences usually lead to spoken and sometimes unspoken hot wind of hatred between the two or more groups. Differences could be of social class, academics performance, behavioural differences or even political. Trust me, in university, you don’t really want to be part of a particular group because if there is any place you need to have good connections with people, it is university. Especially if you are living far from home; in hostels, you need the strong network with different people including the non-staff; the gate man, the cook, the cleaners. You just never know when you will get into trouble and need someone to help you. And don’t say I can never get into trouble. Sometimes you just need assistance especially in our Kenyan universities, you struggle a lot if you don’t have connections in the administration offices i.e. the clerks, financial managers, PR etc You could need assistance in your projects and assignments from an IT guy or an engineering student or perhaps the graphic designer to design you a poster for the school elections; could be anything really. So be part of the general society; help others, laugh with all sorts of people, connect with people, appreciate them even when you have personal differences with them and hang out with them when you can but don’t directly associate yourself with one social group only. It usually has its consequences; could be positive but most of the times it is negative. Well, as for the introverts, you don’t really have to excessively connect with people. A simple hi with a smile every time you meet different people is enough.

6. Your assignments and projects are your trump card: Never underestimate the value of your CATS, assignments and projects. Not unless you are among the ones who just want a certificate doesn’t matter what grade it is so long as it’s not a fail, you need to take every of these seriously. Because in the very end of your study,all your points in every step of your academic life do count to make up the final result.

7. Discipline Well, who doesn’t know about discipline? We have been hearing about it our entire school lives. Remember the lecturers do consider your discipline even when awarding you with first class. Being arrogant just because you perform well won’t take you anywhere far. How many times have we heard of students failing just because they had an argument with a teacher and they ended up being in their bad books? Perhaps that is the bad thing about university, your entire career life is in their hands by how they award you marks. Some are fair, some just fail you the moment you step on their toe. So be careful; respect your lecturers, your mates, be timely and meet the deadlines as required. By doing this the lecturer doesn’t gain anything, you are the one gaining here.

8. Laziness and Procrastination: Ironically, we have been going to primary and secondary school as from 6 or 6:30 in the morning. We have been having more than 6 subjects per day with few minutes or an hour for a break, yet we are too lazy to wake up early for the university class that starts at 8 and ends at 11. Or too lazy to do an assignment that was given to you two weeks ago yet you previously used to do 3 assignments per day. I think this comes almost automatically to all university students. Wonder why? Nonetheless, this should give a reason to be more determined and focused, ‘if I could wake up so early for a full day in school then why not for just 3 hours or 6?’ Well, some courses are more demanding like medicine where they have to be in class full day but then still, you chose the course yourself; this is your goal and your dream so go for it. Getting A in secondary/High school doesn’t count anymore when you get to university. The challenges in university are many especially on the peer pressure. If you are not careful you can easily drop out. The tables do turn and your hard work is all that matters. Personally I had a B- in secondary school and still got first class. And I am not the first nor the last to have done that. The vice versa has also happened. Very bright students who unexpectedly failed their finals while some didn’t even get half -way through the years. So don’t be relaxed that you are a genius who got straight A’s in secondary, this is a totally different life and experience where you got to work hard to get to your goals. Stop procrastinating and start doing something now.

9. You have to be your own master: If you let friends divert you then you will definitely get distracted from what brought you to the university. You skive classes with someone who can very well succeed without the lecturer’s directions while you really need extra elaborations to understand the lesson, what are you doing to yourself friend? You waste your studying time with rich friends who can afford to join any other university or course when they fail, but are you sure your parents can do the same to you when you fail? Do you really want to put them through such trouble? You don’t do assignments because your friends didn’t and take CATS jokingly because your friends can depend on the exams only to pass? Again, remember each person has their own IQ and own studying style that suits them best. So instead of just blindly following the flock, know when is the right time to hang out with friends and the time to really get serious with your studies. You went there alone and will leave alone. This is your future entirely in your hands therefore be your own master.

Finally, I’d like to wish you well as you go through this rough, tough road of university life yet filled with so many beautiful memories. Set your goals and be focused. Know which of the 4 things you want to leave the university premises with. But again, remember, Nothing comes easy. Nothing comes on a silver platter.

Photo Courtesy: Salem_Beliegraphy

By: Swaleh Arif Sayyid Ali

We spend a lot of time plotting
We spend a lot of time planning
But you should ask yourself
In the end
Will it be worth it?

I’ll begin with a little story. I was in a matatu that was taking me to kisauni one day, and there was this man riding shotgun (that’s the seat next to the driver by the way). He was chatting with another person and he said, “Poa bro, tutaonana kesho. Lakini kesho ni ya Mungu kwa hivyo huwezi jua”. The weight of those words struck me so hard that I immediately started feeling ashamed of myself. Here’s a man, who to most people is probably a nobody, saying something so profound and so true that it made me wonder who really is wise and who really is ignorant in these troubling times. The shame that I felt was because I kept forgetting that death is closer to us than we think.

We, as human beings, are ambitious in nature. We were designed to want to achieve something. It can be anything really, be it money, fame, general popularity, that Adonis physique that most men and women crave for and so forth. There’s nothing wrong with ambition, nothing wrong at all. What’s wrong is what you’re ambitious for. The worst kind of ambition is the ambition that is self-serving and derogatory in nature, whereas the best kind is the one that is selfless and benign in nature. A prime example of a person with selfless and benign ambitions was our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). I don’t need to elaborate on what he achieved and what he’s still achieving.
No one knows when they’ll die, that’s obvious. So why plan for something that is selfish and pointless, if there’s every chance you’ll drop dead the next second? Wouldn’t it be futile in the end? I think this year is the year where a lot of us have witnessed young people with bright futures have their mortal coils severed. So if you’re going to be ambitious, be ambitious for something greater than yourself. Be ambitious for something that will benefit your family, community and the entire world, if possible. Then again, nothing is impossible before the eyes of The Almighty. Aspire to build schools, free hospitals, sports and other recreational centers that will distract the young generation from the temptation of drugs and other destructive vices. And what’s so amazing and beautiful about this, is that in case your life is cut short and you never managed to serve your ambitions, you’ll still be rewarded by Allah because of the good intentions you had with everyone.

But remember, no man is an island. Find like-minded individuals who are working towards the same goal and achieve all that you could not accomplish on your own.

As I conclude my piece, my advice to you, dear reader, is this: make sure the seeds that you sow in this life, will grow into something healthy and beautiful, ready for reaping in the next.

Aspire to inspire.

And Allah knows best.

Photo Courtesy: Mc’Lopez

In a world where everyone believes they are a star, a legend and a hero, be rational enough to yourself. Accept yourself as you are; without exaggerating your own existence. Yes, you ARE special. Always remember that…but never forget that you are not any more special than anyone else. Don’t raise your nose and walk with arrogance, believing you are thee best; like no one is better than you.

Taking a hundred selfies, getting 200 or 1000 likes, having the most followers on snapchat and instagram does not define your self worth. Neither do these photos portray self love.

You only become a legend by creating a difference, by leaving footsteps in other people’s lives; by being yourself. Do not be a slave of society love and fame because if that’s what matters to you, do know your time of fame is quickly running out and someone else will soon be ‘thee new star’. For all that I’ve ever known, no star ever labeled themselves that name. They were recognized for their impact and their achievements and not by their show off. So don’t get ahead of yourself. If you believe you are a genius, then do know you are not the first one to exist nor will you be the last. The same thing with anything else that you are good at; be it sports, talent, academics…you name it!

Many people confuse egocentrism and narcissism as self love. And as much as the current world encourages people to love themselves, the whole idea of it shouldn’t get to your head. There lived so many legends who were not appreciated until their death while there lived people with immoral ideas yet they have been made our idols.

Times are quickly changing and most of us have been enchanted by what we see on social media; people sharing their naked photos, egoistic posts and underrating of everyone else in the name of self love. And sadly enough, we are made to believe that it is very okay to be narcissistic and to consider everyone below us. So whilst the villain also considers himself a hero in his own mind, be brave enough to balance your self esteem and self love without letting your ego take over your thoughts.

My idea of heroism has always been the same as what Ellen Goodman said: “I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference.”

Always remember that what you do; the smallest bits of kindness and humbleness that you give to the world is what makes you rather extra-ordinary. So even when the whole world thinks you are a nobody, do know that for someone out there, you are their biggest hope and their light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ll end this by this remarkable quote that very clearly draws the picture and summarizes this whole article in a few words:
“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” – Arthur Ashe

Keep leaving footsteps wherever you go!