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Reflection: Last Year vs This Year

Whenever a new year draws near, I always ask people close to me: “How has this year for been you?” Of course, they never fail to reply with the usual: “We thank God.” Afterwards, I add: “What did you achieve this year?”

I do this not to poke my nose into others’ affairs but to find out if there is someone out there who feels as unfulfilled as I do when the year is about to end.

Not many people ask these questions. In fact, not many review their experiences during the past year to make resolutions for the next. I wonder why…

Is it that we’re afraid of acknowledging the little things we did and many things we didn’t do? Or is voicing it out going to jinx our plans for the next year? I really don’t know but what I do know is that it’s hard not to look back and marvel at how far we’ve come in twelve months. Even if you may not have done much– at least, you survived the year and are about to witness another. That should count for something, right?

When I look back at 2019, I feel nothing but gratitude that puts a smile on my face. Before you ask, I feel thankful, not because the year passed by like a cool breeze. I feel gratitude because despite every failure, doubt, or hindrance I faced in achieving my goals (both known and unknown), I still moved on. I still tried to achieve something- even those things I never thought I could.

I survived and that is all that matters.

The past year had its ups and downs. For one, I struggled to pass my final papers so I could graduate with my mates. I had two courses holding me back. There were times I wanted to drop my handout out of frustration. There were numerous reasons to stop and give up but there were also more than enough reasons to go on. I realised that I was not the only one in that predicament, there were so many of my mates in the same shoes, a few of them with three to five and even ten courses. Not to mention those who had to stay behind for the whole year. This made me feel ashamed of myself for doubting in the first place, not just myself but my Creator- Who had planned this by His Mercy. Alhamdulillah.

Moving on into the year, I had to come face to face with post-university challenges like choosing a career, prospective suitors, and my own personal development as a woman and a Muslimah. I was at the stage where I got to take full charge of my life, take responsibilities for my actions, and even make life changing decisions. I made my fair share of mistakes but looking back now, I realise that last year was all about growth- both mental and spiritual.

Whether we want to admit it or not, every passing second of our lives is enough for us to grow and progress for the betterment of ourselves and our society. And for us women, these transitions take longer.

I had a lot of plans last year: one or two worked out, others did not. A few faded away before I could even put a perspective to them. Then there were the plans not even imagined. I found myself doing things I never thought I could do and excelling in them. My extra semester in University made me believe that I wasn’t really cut out for big things. Later events completely debunked that notion and I found myself dreaming and aiming for things that seemed impossible.

As Muslims, we’re aware of freedom to make choices in life and we’re even more aware of our Creator’s plans. Whether they coincide with ours or not, we should keep pushing forward, towards living good lives that will benefit us fidunya wa alAkhira.

Our failed plans of last year shouldn’t stop us from making new ones. Life is all about moving forward, no matter how slow, towards the right path. My life became easier as I learnt to let go of things beyond my control. All I had to do was pray to God to remove any worry or thought that would not benefit me in this world and the next. Supplication does wonders you know, especially in times when we’re tempted to lose hope in the future.

Remember life isn’t always easy. It wasn’t for our predecessors, who were even more steadfast than we ever could be. so how can it be for us?

Sometimes we make so many awesome and mouth-watering plans that we forget Allah is the Best of all Planners. We feel that having these thoughts and desires running through our minds is enough to make it happen. As a result, we fail to seek His counsel first but rather that of friends and family. When things go downhill eventually, we remember Allah as the Helper.

Wouldn’t you feel better sharing your new ideas with Him first? This was something I learnt last year. I jokingly call it “Putting God on top your matter.”  Any time I had an idea or burning desire to achieve a goal, I put it in prayer. So, even before I pursue it, I let my Creator know about my intentions and seek His guidance and Blessings for its success. It gives me immense peace of mind and I don’t even feel bad when it flops because I’ve got Allah with me. Always.

It also enhances self-confidence as you believe in your abilities for the sake of The One who gave them to you.

Remember that gratitude also goes a long way from times of ease to times of difficulty. Try not to complain so much that you begin to lose faith in the future.

Do not let your failures of last year dim your shine for success this year. Sometimes prayer takes time to be answered just as hard work takes time to yield results. Never give up.

This year, I promised myself that I will do more good deeds – be it voluntary acts of worship, reading beneficial books and sharing knowledge.

Do not underestimate the power of little things done with good intentions, they carry big rewards. Not just in the Dunya but Akhira. This year is a chance for you to move forward by doing more, not less. Last year was a lesson, learn from it. This year is a blessing, seek it.

Keep planning, keep dreaming beautifully, work hard at it and never stop praying for it.

If it is meant to be, it will be in sha Allah. No doubt about it.

Let prayer be your booster and not a cushion to laze on. Don’t wait for things to happen. Go out there and seek opportunities that will bring you closer to making your dreams a reality.

If last year was big for you, make this year bigger. If it was small, make it big this year. And in all our pursuits for worthy lives, always put the Akhira in mind. This year is our chance to move, not mourn.

I hope to see us all smiling and flourishing this year in sha Allah (Ameen). Do have a splendid 2020 ahead.


Editor: Hafsah Bint Nurein


The author ummnamlreads

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