The Quarter Life Crisis: An Update

Monday, December 20, 2010

I’ve asked myself and other Muslims this question: If you could be in front of the Ka’abah every single day to ask for God’s forgiveness and blessings, would that be enough to make you happy for the rest of your life? Or would you still want more?

I’m a great believer that everyone is in search for something paramount in their lives.

This search is reflected in everything that they do. It is reflected in the steps that they take and the choices that they make. My quarter life crisis was (and sometimes still is, I think it comes and goes) all about figuring out my search is. I’ve contemplated on how the world works and the way people treat each other these days. 

The cycle of life, survival of the fittest, the rat race.

This culture we live in has taught us that life is just one big competition. I’ve seen greedy people destroy the lives and futures of others, and indirectly and ironically their own as well, because they want an ego boost, power, money, a higher ranking social status and the approval of others. They satisfy their desires without thinking about the consequences of their actions.

Corruption (sins and disobedience to Allâh) has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned (by oppression and evil deeds), that He (Allâh) may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allâh, and begging His Pardon).                                                                               (Surah Ar-Rum: 41) 

Popular culture doesn’t want us to feel good about ourselves and without even thinking about it we’ve become absorbed in an unhealthy way of life and thinking. Everyday we’re running, rushing, pushing and struggling to achieve all kinds of dreams and ambitions. At times we get too affected and caught up in all of it until we forget.

We forget about how we got here in the first place.
We forget about what makes us truly happy.
We forget about having a purpose.

Or we don’t know. We don’t know how we got here, what makes us happy or what our purpose is.

We all want success.

But who defines it for us and how do we measure it? Is money always the best way to do so?

I think as we grow older it’s important for us to re-evaluate and re-define ourselves and our goals as we go through different stages of our lives. At this point in my life what I really want to do can be summarised in one word.

Simplify.

I've decided that my ultimate search in life is inner peace and contentment. It doesn't sound very ambitious but trust me, anything that involves spiritual improvement isn't as easy as it sounds. I've been working on it and it's like having a tug of war inside myself. Trying to be a simple person is not so... simple. 

I want to be better at balancing my chase for dunya and Jannah because let's be realistic, I don't think I can ever completely abandon my worldly desires. I will always enjoy the finer things in life and some fun and entertainment. At the same time, I yearn for genuineness. I search for it in everything that I see and in the eyes of everyone that I meet because I believe I deserve nothing less than truth and authenticity. Because of that I don't ever want to lose sight of God and Jannah. I believe that the overconsumption of anything can lead to this therefore the balancing act is of utmost importance in order to live healthily - spiritually and physically.

I also believe that there are only two things that truly belong to us in life. Our relationship with God and our spirit. By spirit I don't mean our soul. The spirit is where our drive, free-will and character are derived. It comes from the type of heart you have - good or bad. As Tariq Ramadan once said, "It is not because you are poor that you are good. It is not because you are rich that you are bad.  It is what is in your heart." Think about it, everything we have can be taken away in a split second. Nothing lasts forever in this world and there’s nothing we can do about it. However, we will always have a connection with our Creator if we choose to have it and strengthen it. We will always be strong-spirited if we believe in ourselves and in Him.

These two elements also define who we are, unconditionally. It's not the family we come from, the clothes we wear or the house we live in. Sure, these things help to build our image and form our identity but they don't define us. When you think about the person who has touched your heart or inspired you in life I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say that it most probably had nothing to do with their wealth or looks, or anything like that. And when we face Judgement Day someday, Allah surely will not judge us on the basis of such superficial things either.

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).                     (Surah Al-Hujraat: 13)

What I've learned from my quarter life crisis is that I'm not going to have my whole life figured out at the age of 23. What I do know is I don't want to live my life according to other people's standards. I don't want to take part in any social climbing competition. And what I can tell you is I've done all this before and it didn't lead me to a happy place at all. I just want to make the most of my life by being a good person, having passion for all that I do, staying true to who I am and by simplifying life as much as I can. Hopefully enough to say, "If I can pray in front of the Ka'abah everyday to ask for God's forgiveness and blessings that would be enough to make me happy for the rest of my life."

13 comments:

Mustika Sari Sayuti said...

Dear Sha,
what an inspiring post it is..
this kind of thought also happened in me starting from a couple years ago when I was about to finish my study in university. Everything became so blurry and my mind was fulfilled with doubts about life and all the things i want to achieve to the highest. Am I this shallow by only defining happy life as a place and time where I could live in a decent environment and overwhelmed with joy kind of world. What about the life after this world? when we'll be gathered and judged for all good and band things we've done in this short lifetime.

I hope we won't forget what is the purpose of the creation of this life. Thank you for sharing your thought sha :)

As for me, i would also be happy and feel content if I could get God's forgiveness and blessings. And yes, that would be enough.

K said...

sistaa, after reading this, i cant help but smile :)we all need the balance when it comes to the pursuit of both dunya & jannah!

anyway, sometimes when i feel like im getting more attached to the dunya, i would watch this video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtjwtmjbOKE

ooh, this blog is good :D

http://theidealmuslimah.blogspot.com/

hehe, assalamualaikum! (i always tend to forget, this is supposed to be said at the beginning of the message, baah )

Asielah said...

beautiful post. funny enough, it's exactly what's been on my mind lately too. the battle within to live this life as simple and modest as possible, but at the same time, being able to enjoy the lil pleasures life has to offer. ur not yet there at the quarter line dear, what with being only 23 y/o! i on the other hand is! time's running out! hehe.. but what you wrote is definitely what im going through right now. definitely feel a connection to it.

And i think, ultimately, being infront of the Kaabah asking for forgiveness and blessings is enough to make me happy and content. it'll put an end to all the confusion and restlessness. Masha Allah.. How great would that be? Hopefully, it'll come sooner than later for all of us..

Beautiful post dear.. :)

rialive said...

Salams beautiful Sha,

It's like trying to work reality and miracles at the same time isn't?
may Allah make it easy for us all, amin..

HUGS & LOVE!

Love and Sugar said...

Sha. I really needed to read this post. I felt like you were writing to me, to convince me that it is okay to lead a life of simplicity. That we don't always have to please others but we do have to please Allah (swt).

I love you as my sister in Islam, sha. And I support you in this.

soso said...

wat u studying sis?
http://hiddeninstyle.blogspot.com/

Shahirah Elaiza said...

Mustika: Thanks for sharing your story with me =) Just as you did, I have been thinking a lot about akhirah and why we, as humans, do what we do.

K: Wassalam =) Thanks for sharing the links. The video title sounds interesting, will watch it once it's done downloading.

Asielah: Always nice to know that people can relate to what I write in my blog. But who's to say I haven't reached the quarter life crisis? That's like assuming we will all live until we're 100 lol. I think all this stemmed from me graduating soon and thinking about what's next. InshaAllah khair, would love to visit Mecca again.

rialive: Wassalam, Ameen!

L&S: God works in mysterious ways. I hope you will always take what is good from this blog and leave what is negative =)

soso: Majoring in Communication Studies, minoring in Politics and Marketing.

Asielah said...

hehehe.. ok. bad assumption on the age thing :p

i agree about how all these feelings came from. graduating soon, 'suddenly' realizing that im not getting any younger! and also as a recent hijabi wanting to be closer to God and understanding the true meaning of why we're here.

naziehah said...

Salam Shahirah,

This is my first time reading you and commenting. I found out about you and this blog from the Maysaa event review.

I am able to totally relate with you on your quarter life crisis as I have been through mine as well. I understood the pain, confusion, and the going back-and-forth between what we know is the truth and dunya's constant distraction. I will pray that both of us and others reading this will always be given strength and guidance insha-Allah.

Thank you for writing such beautiful and insightful posts. I will be coming back for sure. And keep on writing! :)

shaza said...

Your truly an inspiration...
I've been in constant struggle of acceptance from my parents who are all about social acceptaance. I yearn so much for d simple life where happiness and family is the essence in life rather than money but sadly my parents don't see this way. I also can't help but to love finer things in life...My point is I could relate to this post so much and I just wanna say ur an inspiration. Keep doing what ur doing and not pleasing others and insyaallah, Happiness is what u'll achieved

Anonymous said...

I read this with some understanding, as some years ago this was me. It is more intense if you are by nature a quiet and contemplative person and frustrating when you don’t always have the answers. Patience is indeed a virtue, one we must not forget as Allah says in the holy Qur’an repeatedly that the patient will be the successful ones, the inhabitants of the Garden.

I think you are very smart and blessed to stop and think this way, not many people do.
If material goods and pretentious behaviour made us happy, there would be less depression and anxiety.

There is this dominant particular lifestyle idea, reinforced in movies, books, magazines etc., of what a successful life for a young person should be/ought to be like. They must be popular; they must be successful; they must possess a fabulously skinny/toned body; they must be exciting and a little risky (read: sin); they must have travelled the world and have a whirlwind social life (the evidence of both plastered weekly over FaceBook); they must be academic and have at least a university degree, better if they had a masters; they must get married by 25, have 2.5 kids, live in a big house, be superwoman work, be the perfect mother, socialite and wife, do charity work etc.

Who is this person? Is this who you want to be? Who decided this for you? And we wonder why so many are so unhappy when they fall short of this ‘ideal’

The biggest lie of our times is that ‘you can have it all’. I think we need to be more truthful to ourselves, because you cannot have it all. You have to pick those things that are most important to you and try to get them with uncompromising steel.

It is vital to have a healthy spiritual life & a close relationship with Allah, that is not debatable. This does not mean though that you cannot enjoy the permitted pleasure of this world, it is ok to buy an expensive handbag if you have the money for it.

p.s. it is safe to assume that uncertainties and questions will remain until we depart from this world, as long as you are certain & content for the most part, count yourself lucky.


W/S
Stranger

Shahirah Elaiza said...

Asielah: LOL - life is short. Whenever I visit my father's grave I will see other graves. Some of people died as children, some at the age of 25. We never know when our time will come.

naziehah: Wasalam, yes it is a back and forth process. There are days when my iman is strong and there days when it isn't. Thank you for your prayer, Ameen! =) InshaAllah He will give us strength and hidayah to lead life as better Muslims.

shaza: Aww I'm happy you could relate! I thought I was the only one cos none of my friends seem to be going through it. It is even harder when your parents don't understand. I know some people whose parents are all about "image" and nothing about truly understanding why Islam promotes modesty and moral behaviour. I hope Allah continues to guide you and your family towards the right path.

Stranger: I don't know who you are but your words touched me. You expressed my sentiments better than I did and I agree with you 100%. Your comment should be a blog post on its own. You're amazing! JazakAllah khair.

Anonymous said...

thanks for posting this :)