Calculating Risk

 Short piece submitted to Man Repeller's Writers Club

Planning seems to be at the forefront of everyone's minds at the beginning of a new year, which makes sense, no? “new year, new beginning” and all that. We spend the better part of our lives figuring out all the steps we need to take in order to achieve the ideals we have in our heads. This year I find myself wondering “what will happen if I let go of my persistent need to plan?” At least to some degree anyway. The answer to that is unknown and, as we all know, the unknown has risk written all over it. 

2017 was a year of personal development for me and one of the things I learnt was how to utilise my faith as a means of guidance when I feel most lost. Perhaps the probability of achieving my goals has a greater variation with that new outlook, but the irony is that despite lowered levels of certainty, I have never felt such clarity before. Don't get me wrong, I can be a complete control freak and always need to be five steps ahead. For example, my To Do list consists of everything and anything including shower, put clothes away, SAVE MONEY!!!, pack lip balm in bag, try sleep in rollers, pluck that one eyebrow hair and even make a to-do list. These lists I make day in and day out somehow give me a faint sense of purpose. It’s obvious that where small-scale organising is concerned, planning has to remain as it would intrinsically. But the thing is, not plucking that pesky eyebrow hair poses no risk to me (I hope) and continuing to plan these things for the day to day is normal (again, I hope). 

The plans I'm talking about belong to an entirely different scale altogether.

A friend who unwittingly asks me questions that challenge my more obstinate views (thank you, btw) got me thinking about the year ahead. What struck me most when he asked about me having any plans was that I was unusually calm when answering “no,” followed with me realising that I essentially have none set in stone. Predicting outcomes for things I want in life often leave me with sky-high levels of internalised anxiety. As someone who requires a plan for everything, I hate to admit that it hasn’t always helped to try and mould those outcomes and it’s safe to say that they certainly haven't looked the way I had idealised. 

With all that in mind, what risk do I hope to take this year? Well, I hope to replace planning the things I cant control with patience, leaving outcomes to be determined as the dice gets rolled. Although a big part of me is itching at the thought of not being in control, an even bigger part of me knows that diving straight into the unknown means 2018 might just surprise me.

Identity, Religion & Home

 Blog post published on the website AMALIAH.COM.

There are 24 days, 1 hour, 44 minutes and 40 seconds from the point of which I'm writing this until the day I turn 24. At this very moment all I can keep thinking about is whether or not to question myself, what I want in life and who I am. 

Up until around four months ago, I thought I very much knew where I stood when it came to a number of different elements in my life. To note, the areas that have changed the most are where religion is concerned. The thing that has changed the least is my desire to have a family of my own. The two have become interchangeable and intertwining. It’s a strange clarity I didn't expect to grace me with its presence this year. When I explore the deep running roots in my mind as to why for so long I rejected the notion of Islam, I realise there is only one that stares me in the face yet I had an army of various and intangible excuses to justify myself. But I don't want to justify it anymore, it has little to do with the choices I have made as an individual, the inability to understand how I could possibly fit into my surroundings, the blue eyed blonde haired popular girls at school who thought it was cool to have an “exotic” girl a part of their clique, the teenage years of rebellion, the men who found me attractive or even the dumbfounded curiosities I wanted to explore just to say I had experienced them. The truth is, being able to blame a higher being for the suffering I have endured in my personal life is the only real reason I chose to reject my religion. It wasn't until someone recently asked me whether I had planned to bring the children I want to have as Muslims or not, that I realised I was not being honest with myself.

Time passes, and in that time it is unnerving how vast amounts can change. Throughout the month of Ramadan, I kept thinking about how, when I have children, I would bring them up. I also thought about how so very little of the ideas of my future I had built up in my head were plausible. By removing myself from the religion I grew up with, I would also be removing myself from my family. It wasn't as I had always thought, that they pushed me out for not being the same as them but rather it was the very opposite. They would never reject me for the choices I make, it would be me rejecting them. 

Religion to me means home. It’s the love that my family runs on like clock work. It’s the heritage of my Father’s family, defining the very acts and statements they made in its name. It’s the mutterings of prayers I can hear my Grandmother making quietly in her armchair. It’s the thing that binds my Mother and her sisters together as a strong female unit. It’s my brothers and cousins praying all together on Saturdays no matter the space they are in and how many of them there are. It’s the only way I can connect to the memories left of my Grandfather. It is and always has been in every part of my life, when I wanted it and when I didn’t. I could never walk away from what will always be home. So, aside from providing the family I have of my own one day with a physical home, I want to bring them up knowing that there isn't just one definition for it. 

I now have 24 days, 32 minutes and 49 seconds until another year has passed. For a change, I am settled. Im not afraid of not having achieved everything I wanted to. All that matters to me now is how the thoughts that form my blurry goals make me feel; a sensation I would love to be able to lament in words, sadly though scouring the dictionary hasn't come up with anything satisfactory for me yet. Let’s revisit this subject in another 389 days and I might just be able to say.