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.

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What happens when you make yourself vulnerable

Our generation is expected to grow up and know these things but in reality the first few years of our career is either a make it or break it time period for most of us. How do we face up to the demands of working and living yet still remain faithful to our religion? I’ve learnt this through my own experience of hustling for the last 2 years in my first job out of graduation.

How it began

For the longest time, I was afraid of being vulnerable. Growing up and ever since I could remember, I’m always known for being the strong and optimistic girl that could easily make the room comfortable and alive. And because of that, unconsciously I grew up having a mindset that I’ve always had to be strong and optimistic no matter what life challenges befall upon me – even though if it meant holding back my tears when I knew about the passing of my best friend’s Dad to be strong for her.

But as I was hustling for my career for the last 2 years, things began to get overwhelming at work. But of course, I was pretty strong and optimistic that I regard the feeling of overwhelming as something temporary and I should just throw it all at the back of my head and not talk about it. Well, it didn’t work out.

Apparently feelings started to build up inside of me, till one day I broke down when my colleagues started to push my button. And it all began with a simple question, “Za, are you okay? Do you want to talk about it?” And for a while because I was afraid to be vulnerable, I didn’t know how to start the conversation and what more to share about the emotions that I was not even aware of in the first place. I mean think about it, you are technically risking putting your heart on the line to expose who you are and all you are to somebody and you have to face the risk of being ‘judged’ for the rest of your life. So why should I share?

What happened when I started being more vulnerable

But my colleagues kept pushing through and eventually I became more aware about my vulnerability and was open enough to share the deepest thoughts and emotions that I’ve cleverly hid bit by bit. And that was where I realised the irony of being vulnerable. Vulnerability involves me opening up my heart and thoughts to take the stronger position. The more I share and make peace with the feelings I’ve had by understanding why I felt that way and how it can help me grow as a better person, the more I became stronger and less fearful about openness.

Connection beyond the conversation 

With vulnerability, I had a deeper connection with the people around me and naturally I’m surrounded by people who are attracted and inspired by the value of my openness. And it’s amazing how certain things that I shared are often relatable to the people whom I shared them to – naturally resulting in a more trusting connection between myself and other individuals. I also began to be more conscious of the relations of these feelings and thoughts in a more spiritual context – understanding deeper about the wisdom (hikmah) behind it. In a way, being vulnerable makes you reflect more about the level of connection and relationship that you have with your individual self and God. You began to rely more on God to help you through the various challenges in life.

It was also through this vulnerability that I began to question myself if I was hustling for the right purpose in life and what do I really want for myself? For a moment, I was secretly hustling to meet people’s and society expectations of what success is especially being brought up in a traditional society that has somewhat predefined to us what success is like. Unconsciously, I was struggling between juggling the demands of my career and the Hereafter. And that was where I knew that I needed to take a break from everything, to refocus back on what’s important and what do I really want for myself – that’s how my Gap year came along.

Importance of a great support system

However, I was lucky enough to have a great support system at work where my colleagues were mentoring me along the way in developing not only my skills professionally but also more towards developing my emotional agility in going through life challenges. And that was where, my friends and I realised that not many of us in our own Malay/Muslim community have the opportunity to be surrounded by a trusting support system that could guide us through juggling the demands between our career and the Hereafter, while being vulnerable to the people around us. Why is that so?

Do we then conform or challenge the status quo?

It could be that we don’t really talk about these challenges as a young Muslim living in a contemporary world among our friends/family as it might come of as a sensitive issue and we should just stick to the status quo. And specifically, could it be that we shy away from wanting to share new knowledge or ask more about the religion among our friends/family because it doesn’t seem ‘cool’ to talk about it during a casual lepak session? Are we afraid to show our vulnerability among our friends and family?

But as I’ve shared earlier, it could be because we are afraid to be vulnerable like how I used to be because along the way we grew up being shaped by the relationships or the society we grew up with to not showcase that vulnerability and challenge ourselves to define our own definition of success. It could also be that we are not aware of the benefits of opening up or at the very basic level, we just don’t know how to start being vulnerable among our trusted circle of friends to provide us the support that we need to be a better Muslim and person in general.

Taking the first step

For a fact, being vulnerable is the first step towards self transformation and I feel that our Malay/Muslim community needs to feel empowered and start seeing the benefits of it.

We’re not saying that letting people in—especially when you’re not used to doing so—is an easy process. But with a little bit of self-awareness and a few communication skills under your belt, you may just be able to lock down that loving, authentic, and mutually supportive relationship you’re afraid to admit that you yearn for. While this is sometimes scary, it is precisely what enables us to enrich our lives and grow – greatist.com

Think about it, when was the last time or have you ever become vulnerable among your friends or family in sharing the challenges or feelings that are affecting you emotionally or mentally? If yes, how does that makes you feel? If no, what was stopping you to have that conversation? 

Or have you ever ‘shut down’ or ‘criticise’ friends who are vulnerable and are open about their feelings as a weakling or being too emotional? What about for some of us who are aware of the benefits of being in touch and open with your feelings – did we share the awareness among our family or friends and specifically, how do we react to someone else’s vulnerability? 

And remember, like how it happened to me, it merely start with an intentional question that could trigger an individual to be more aware about his vulnerability, embrace that vulnerability and take actions to be a stronger and better person than he once was.

So what’s next?

For the last few weeks, this reflection kept me up all night to figure out a way where we can get more people to feel inspired, reflect and start a conversation within their social circle about what it means to be a young Muslim in this contemporary world we are living now and to live for a higher purpose.

Alhamdulillah, Allah opened up a pathway for me and made me realised that my life calling is to inspire and empower individuals through the knowledge and experience I’ve gained in my life. I didn’t realise that it was naturally ingrained in me that I have that power to consciously or unconsciously influence the people around me until people started sharing with me how at some point, I’ve inspired them in their life. MashaAllah, that is a pretty big responsibility to hold in some sense.

But I believe that Allah didn’t somehow made me went through that vulnerability stage while I was working and made me went through a Gap Year now for no reason. InshaAllah, what I’m working towards now for the community will be beneficial for all of us and may Allah bless all of us with the strength to continue to strive to be a better Muslim for His sake.

Here are a few reflection questions to myself and also to all my Muslim brothers and sisters out there.

What does it mean to be vulnerable as a Muslim living in this contemporary world?

How do you define vulnerability? What does it mean to you? 

What do you think is the most important factor in building that safe environment for us to be vulnerable with the people around us? 

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This is how I finally found my purpose in life

24. It is the age where you are independently capable enough to purchase things on your own as compared to when you were 16 – when waiting for your birthday every year seems like a 10 year wait for your parents or loved ones to fulfil your never ending wish list. Now that I’m 24, I realised that I had everything that I have ever wanted and most importantly, I knew I had everything that I was suppose to have.

But there is no deny that at this time and age, we have also evolved into creatures of habit. We stocked up on things that we don’t really need. We buy another pair of shoes just because the other pair that we owned no longer seems fashionable or fit the current look that we’re going for. Overtime, we tend to buy things for the sake of buying – it becomes a habit that no longer creates a value to an individual.

I’ve always been the kind of girl that isn’t materialistic enough to appreciate an expensive handbag or needed the most expensive items from the product range. I am relatively simple in that materialistic sense. It was went my best friend shared with me a quote from Yasmin Mogahed’s book, Reclaim Your Heart that made me think twice about my materialistic position in life.

“I thought I’m never the materialistic person, because I’m never into branded bags, high salaries, expensive items. but I realised materialistic is not just about things…its about emotions, people…anything related to Dunia. And it was then I realised that I AM materialistic, I was too attached to people.”

This quote made me realise that the word materialistic meant more than what I thought it was. And that my friends, was the catalyst that made me embark on this journey of self-transformation particularly with regards to any forms of tangible and emotional attachment towards worldly affairs. For a start, my journey began with me deleting my 4 year old Instagram account (a huge emotional attachment for me) which you can read more about here.

From there, I moved on to address the most obvious tangible attachment in life – cleaning out my room of items and clothing that I barely used. For a start, I googled and began to get more interested about the whole ideology of being a minimalist. My search engine often includes phrases such as “How Do I be a Minimalist? Ways to declutter your room? What is minimalistic?”

I asked myself the following questions every time I hold an item in my hands while I was clearing out my room.

  1. Does it spark joy to me now?
  2. How long has this been in my wardrobe/cupboard?
  3. Do I even know when was the last time I wore this or use the item?

If the answer to any of the questions above are either a no or don’t know, it either goes into the donation box or into the recycling/throw away box. And with that, I managed to clean out my room within 2 days – talking about efficiency guys!

For a while, I’ve always thought that being a minimalist means owning lesser stuffs and in some sense, being a decluttering expert even when you have other professions in life. If I were to summarize it, it was all about stuffs – dealing more with the tangible objects in our life. But that was just the beginning.

Over the next few days after cleaning out my room, I became more conscious that being a minimalist is more than just decluttering what’s on your counter top. I realised as a Muslim and in the spiritual context, being a minimalist is also about purifying your heart into reconnecting back to the reasons you are living in this time and your purpose in life.

I soon began to search for new spiritual knowledge and who would have thought that even if I’m still now at the beginning stages of this continuous learning process, God has shown me the path that has led me in ultimately finding my purpose in life. And there it is. My Gap Year has just gotten more interesting because now with this new found purpose of life (which I’ve yet to share), I am setting out on a new venture to make a change in the community which I’ll probably get around to share over the next few posts.

Here’s a quote from a recent documentary that I’ve watched about minimalism (Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things) to summarize how I feel about being a minimalist.

 “The people you bring into your life – we should always be hanging out with people who have the same values and that is what really being a minimalist is all about. It’s about living deliberately. So every choice that I made, every relationship, every item, every dollar that I spent – I’m not perfect obviously – but I do constantly ask the question, “Is this adding value? Am I being deliberate with this decision?” – Josh

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