I’ve been feeling neutral nowadays.

It’s almost a feeling of non existence on one spectrum and a feeling of questioning my very existence on the other end. And I wonder if that is even possible to experience these feelings in one spectrum.

The last month or so, I challenged myself to consciously be present in the moment. And I think its been going on well. In fact, being in the moment somewhat felt easier as I don’t scramble for my phone to capture the scene, afraid that I might lose out on the experience. I actually used lesser mind activity on unnecessary distractions.

With that achievement per se, I think I might have reached a plateau. I’m starting to wonder if there is ever a situation where you’re so caught up in trying to live in the moment that you eventually use that as an excuse not to chase after life possibilities beyond the boundary of the moment? You start to ignore planning for something beyond a week, you rather stay home and see where the days goes. I’m becoming one of those.

Is this normal?


Bubble wrap

I’m bubble wrapped.

Sometimes, a pinch of the vacant air triggers a reaction. A reaction that often caught me off guard.

But sometimes, the pinch of vacant air, liberated me of feelings that I was never aware of. It messes up my mind, bringing in turmoil, then settles me down into a state of acceptance and contemplation.

My thoughts and feelings are bubble wrapped – safe and sound only known to Allah who knows how it truly feels.

That’s how it feels right now

For a while now, I’ve always felt like I was looking at things from the outside.

When I’m surrounded by people that I’m usually spending time with, I don’t deny at the particular moment, the feeling of fun and excitement dominates but at the end of day it often felt like I was watching the moment from across the room. I’m physically present but never truly felt like a part of it.

Everyone seems like a character in a movie. And just like watching a movie, by the end of it, you as a viewer might get emotionally attached to one or a few characters from the movie but after a while the feeling fades and you moved on with your life.

That’s how it feels right now.

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I was sitting out my thoughts the other night and I came to a rather “depressing” thought. For who I am as person, I’m always in a position of looking out for the people around me and making sure that they are alright. However, I soon realised that checking in on others first was actually my one hope to have others checking in on me too – to feel like how my day went or feelings matters too. Well most of them did, but isn’t that just a natural response and common pleasantry when someone asked you “How are you?” for you to ask the same to them too?

Stop texting them first and watch how you’ll never talk again

That’s how it feels right now.

It’s not hard to make a difference in people’s life. It’s a matter of being present and having a sincere heart. Well, I often try my best to be present in everyone else’s life, advising others and helping them in whatever ways that I can but sometimes I wonder, have I ever had anyone present in my life? Is there anyone out there that cared enough to know how I feel or how my day went? People often remind me of things such as “Oh Za, you should know and understand that he/she is like this…, we should learn to understand him/her” Yes I’m understanding but then again, what about me? Has anyone cared to understand me and where I’m coming from?

That’s how it feels right now.

I’m always seen and known for being the strong and positive girl who never really experienced difficulties in her life, who have her life sorted out into place. But I guess the statement “The strongest people often feel broken inside” is finally making sense to me.

Nothing seems to tear her apart. But nobody knows the distress that’s brewing inside of her heart. Nobody has seen her when she is alone. All day long, she is calm and composed.

It comes in moments, fleeting and unknown, yet as painful and surreal as that time-warping instant I came to realise that I’m probably just a character in a movie.

However, there’s a silver lining to all this misery, a ray of light in my pit of loneliness and dark years of uncertainty. That’s the moment I knew Allah is testing me with this feeling of loneliness to remind myself that Allah alone is enough for me to rely and get attached to. For everything else in this world is temporary, even the closest relationships that you’ve ever had.


“They always say call your loved ones before it’s too late”

It’s been a while since I last wrote in this space and tonight I’ve got the feels to pen down my thoughts.

A few days ago, a dear friend of mine lost her beloved uncle to life’s inevitable – death.

And as much as I’m always there for my loved ones, I’ve never been good in grief. At times I find myself struggling to find the right words to say and especially so when we are miles apart away.

Her grief reminded me of the period of time when I experienced a myriad of emotional anxiety and breakdowns when my best friend’s dad passed away last year. I struggled trying to understand what the emotions that I felt meant or how does it all even make sense, because I’ve never felt such an overwhelming gush of emotions in my life before. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve experienced death in my family before but I guess its different when you’ve actually come to an age where you’re matured enough to understand death as a subject on its own.

But as much as the discomfort of remembering that period of time lingers in my head through the text and words that she sent, I’m glad I pushed through my own discomfort to be there for her even if we are miles away because that night her grief taught me of a very important lesson.

They always say call your loved ones before it’s too late

It became a reality for her.

Her late uncle celebrated his birthday recently and as her mom reminded her to give him a call to wish him a Happy Birthday, things happened and she never get to make the call. That broke my heart and I’m sure it broke her heart a million times more because she never had the chance to say goodbye and especially so when she’s miles away from home.

Here are the lessons that I gained out of this story.

At some point of time in our lives, we are guilty of not being there enough or giving our undivided attention for the people around us, for the people whom we love. Isn’t it ironic that even with the evolution of Internet that seamlessly connects us to anyone from around the world, sometimes we find ourselves drifting apart from the most important connection of all – the human connection.

We’ve got to find a way to be more mindful and be present. And what I meant is to be fully present not just in the physical aspect but also mentally whenever we’re around people who we’re engaging with. That moment is happening now, and you may never know what beautiful outcome or surprises you might lose out when you focus your attention into something else.

And also, I’ve always believed in living as though it was our last day on Earth. I go to bed every night thinking if I’ve ever wronged anyone that day and if I did, I seek forgiveness from them as soon I can. Or if there’s anyone that has wronged me, I forgive them and seek forgiveness for him or her from Allah because He is the Most Forgiving to his creations.

Always be in a position where you know if you were to die or the people around you were to die unexpectedly, there will be no regrets, no resentment and no anger manifesting within your soul or the others. We need to manifest love rather than negativity so that the people that matters to us know that we love them and that we are  forever grateful for their presence in our life.

They always say call your loved ones before it’s too late

Have you? 


How does it feels to be in transition?

Maybe I feel like my previous job won’t let go of me, but maybe for some partial truth, I didn’t want to let go of it. Despite the emotional backlogs, deep down I knew I’m ready for a transition.

There were always feelings of uncertainty, doubts and fears that taking a Gap Year might not be the best for me. But isn’t it natural for humans to feel this way when faced with uncomfortable situations or in making decisions that are totally new to us? Nobody likes to be in an uncomfortable situation – especially one that leads to growth.

But growth is rarely straight forward.

There were moments in the day during my transition where I had to take a deep breath in and exhale the excess. “Let go of the day, the last moment, the last hour, the last minute. You’re here. You’ve chosen to be here. And Allah has planned for you to be here. So relax and give yourself this moment.”

Come to think about it, without these feelings of uncertainty, doubts and fears, we won’t have the inertia or faith to push ourselves beyond what we are capable of in life. When we are comfortable, we remain stagnant and we don’t push ourselves as often as we should. It’s only when we feel these feelings of uncertainty, doubts and fears, will we start questioning ourselves on why do we feel this way and eventually discover what truly matters to us in life. And that’s why they say growth is rarely straight forward.

Being in transition is a personal journey. I don’t need assurance from others to make me feel good or feel bad about the decision that I made. Of course it’s important to tell your loved ones about the transition because generally speaking they deserved to know why. But at the same time, it’s important to know why is the time taken for the transition important to you.

As the months pass by and I began to discover myself again and doing the things that make me happy, I began to let go and fully embraced the transition process. Along the way, it also made me more conscious that we are all living in a transition phase. We are living in this world temporarily. In that sense, we are in transit to our final destination – the Hereafter.

And transitions are never always seamless. Even airport transits makes us feel uncomfortable with some anxiety and fear that we could never make it in time to catch that next plane. Life is never different from that.

One thing that I learnt throughout this transition process is to never settle for comfort. Transition is in our future. We are in constant transition and the only way to survive is to embrace the uncertainty and make sure we have our passport ready for the next flight out – wherever, whenever that will be.

Doesn’t it comfort you knowing that every transition in your life has already been planned by Allah even before you were born? And Allah will never let you miss the ‘transiting flights’ that he has put you on, no matter what the situation is, so that we can reach our destination – the Hereafter – safely.

So have faith and always be ready with your backpack filled with Deen and knowledge for that ‘transiting flights’ you are about to take on, for Allah will never leave His faithful servants behind.

How can baking a brownie inspire you to write – especially in a rainy weather

The scent of brownies baking in the oven starts to linger in the house. My current thoughts – hoping that my popcorn brownies in the oven turns out good. 

It is the perfect kind of weather to laze around at home in my PJs – snuggling up with a good book, baked brownies and milk for teatime, and of course, a sideline of random thoughts lingering in my brain.

People often asked me, “What exactly do you on most days?” I can’t deny it, but that was the kind of question I will ask when someone told me they are on their Gap Year. Before I dived into my own Gap Year, I had a pretty bias overview that a typical Gap Year usually consists of 80% traveling and the other 20% lazying in bed.

But of course, that wasn’t the case.

Now that I’m almost 9 months into my Gap Year, my first rule of advice for those who are thinking of taking one is to set out and understand your purpose and intention(s) of taking a Gap Year. What makes one’s Gap Year different than the others is our intention(s). If your intention is to travel the world, then of course 80-90% of your time will be spent on traveling.

My Gap Year intention is pretty straightforward – it is all about self-care. Therefore pretty much everything that I do during my Gap Year is towards a greater intention of caring for myself (in other words, anything that will make me feel happy, rejuvenated and at peace).

For a while, I’ve always wondered why I do what I do, or why I love engaging in certain activities. Two weeks ago before my trip to Japan, I had a mini intervention for myself. It was after the intervention that I became more enlightened about my life. For a start, I became more assured that Allah put me on this Earth to serve humanity through my strength in influencing others to be a better version of themselves.

And I realised that in order to fulfil this life calling, there are a few factors that drive me or in other words, I need these things in order to be able to serve people in my best self.

1. A healthy mindset – that’s why it makes so much sense that I love the outdoors, traveling and nature. My interests in cycling, trekking and a sense of adventure are the medium for me to create a healthy mindset.

2. Constantly seeking knowledge – that’s why I’m always curious about life and the drive to learn new things is always there to keep my mind active with new knowledge and wisdom.

3. Getting inspired – that’s why I love to constantly surround myself with positive people and be in an environment that will never fail to inspire. This is where I actually thrived – especially when I meet new people and get inspired from hearing their life stories. At the end of the day, life is a series of stories we tell. 

4. Reflections – that’s why I love having deep thought provoking conversations with people around me. And it never fails to amaze me how sometimes you can get that connection with people whom you just met.

5. Love – that’s why family, friends and the religion are important to me to always keep me grounded and be grateful with everything that I have in life.

Even though it seems like a luxury to be able to take a year off, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. There are many times that I questioned myself, have doubts about where I am in life right now and how do I go about my life after this year.

Nevertheless, this reflection post was a great reminder to myself as to why I needed this Gap Year for myself. It is not about how much time you’ve spent that matters but it is how those time spent makes you feel that matters.

My brownies turned out great – slight regret in mixing the stale popcorn in the brownies though.

I became an Uber driver for 3 weeks, and here’s what I learnt

The title itself is self explanatory and how it got to the point of me being a driver is a different story on its own. No one really saw it coming except for my closest friends and family. It was a win-win situation – the family got to use the car for a month but in return I had to be an Uber driver to cover the cost of the car. It’s my Gap Year after all and what’s a Gap Year without trying new things out of your comfort zone.

It was no doubt an enlightening experience and here are my takeaways from this experience.

  1. Every job has its own challenges
    It doesn’t matter if you are a taxi driver, a cleaner, a manager in a financial firm, a lifeguard or a postman, every job has its own set of challenges. Sometimes we take for granted the jobs that seems ‘small’ in our society. It’s important not to disregard the challenges that the people around us might be sharing about their job. In fact, you may never know if you could actually learn valuable lessons from those ‘work rants’ that could be valuable not only for your job but your life too.

    Being an Uber driver for 3 weeks made me appreciate individuals who are driving as their full-time jobs – be it taxi drivers or bus drivers. It is a huge responsibility to be carrying passengers and making sure that we reach our destination safely. It might seem trivial to us, but while I was driving passengers around, consciously I became more aware of how important it is to drive safely – not only for your life, but for others too.

  2. Time is valuable
    Let’s be honest here, I didn’t like being an Uber driver. It’s nothing to do with the drive itself, its more of a personal preference because of the sedentary nature of prolong driving. It came to a point when I was driving, all I could think of was the opportunity cost (time) that I could be spending doing something useful or even if its not useful, something that I really like to do. I rather hike for 4 hours, than driving a car for 4 hours for ‘work.’

    But I learnt more about myself through this experience. It assures me of the kind of lifestyle that I love and how important it is to integrate that lifestyle in all aspects of my life including the next job/career path that I’m taking after this Gap Year. I realised it definitely bothers me when I couldn’t move around or have my mind challenged in a job. And it is of more important now for me to do the things that I really want to do that makes me happy because time is valuable.

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  3. Mind over matter
    Even though I didn’t like being an Uber driver, it was truly mind over matter. I knew I had to cover the cost of the car (well, it was until my brother came in on board to help cover the cost, that I was relieved from driving), I had pretty much no choice but to stick through it because I made that decision to try out to be a driver.

    And this applies to every aspect of our lives. The mind is a powerful place to create positive thoughts and energy to get through the challenges in life –  especially in situations where you just can’t wait to get out of. What works for me in getting through challenging situations in life is to look through the ridiculous bad parts and seek for the ridiculously funny and amazing parts about it. You’ll be amazed at how it will make you feel so much better. In this case, it was the conversations that I had with some of the passengers. And it helps to be surrounded by people who could appreciate that ridiculously funny and amazing parts about life.

  4. Incentives means nothing if you have no passion for what you are doing
    Uber had many incentives for its drivers – those that requires you to drive a certain number of trips and you get extra cash out of it. Even though it was a relatively ‘easy task,’ it wasn’t enough to motivate me to drive that number of trips simply because I had no interest in the drive itself.

    It brings me to the point that if we have no passion or interest in the job that we are doing, the incentives of the job will not seem valuable to you even though its worth a lot to the eyes of others. And that my friends, reassured me to follow my heart and to work for something that is aligned with my goals and passion in life.

    Signing out from being an Uber driver.