An update

I’m moving blogging platforms. The reasons for this are as follows.

  1. I despise WordPress as a platform. It is ridiculously unfriendly to use, and the choice of themes is so limited it saddens me.
  2. I’ve found it difficult to be open on fooosaa, mostly because it’s my first attempt at keeping a public blog, but also because I am immensely private, and I dislike sharing my honest opinion.
  3. I’m familiar with tumblr as a platform, and since I’m on it most of the time, it’ll be more convenient for me. I also have more control over the layout.
  4. WordPress is really slow on my computer.
  5. I really hate WordPress. Like seriously. That is the primary reason for all this. I know I could’ve just revamped this entirely and just start over, being more open, sharing more of my writing, but no. I refuse. I am ten degrees of DONE with WordPress.

In all fairness though, I’m not sad to see this go. I thought I would be, but I’ve invested so little of myself in it, that it’s about as sad as cutting my nails. Although I am going to miss the back-and-forth with H.A.M.H (who, incidentally, has gone off the blogging radar himself), I’m not going to miss struggling with this.

If you’ve been following me here, you can now find me at ya-heyyounglion.tumblr.com¬†ūüôā

21

It’s crazy how things can change in just a year. It’s so little time, and yet, so much time.

Around November last year, I made a series of posts about what I’d learnt before I was 20. It was a logical list, and I considered it well thought out. At the time, I had every intention of following everything I’d written. I’d written about four distinct life areas that were most important to me. Friendships, gossiping (or my attempts to stop), relationships, and looking before leaping.

In the time that has passed between the publication of those posts and the writing of this one, I have lost some friends, gained back old ones, strengthened existing bonds, gained new friends, lost new friends… *laughs*

I have made multiple attempts to stop gossiping, but after a very successful eight months, I have found myself slipping into old habits.

In terms of looking before I leap, I’ve looked, seen dangers, but I’ve leapt anyway. I’ve learnt the consequences of that the hard way.

And with relationships, well, last year I learnt what to do in a serious relationship. This year, I learnt how to deal with the end of one.

So, for the sake of updating, I wanted to share four things I’ve learnt before 21. Summarised, of course.

1. Looking before you leap.

When I was younger, the lack of life experience meant I didn’t understand the concept of long term vision, and I made a lot of rookie mistakes that landed me in trouble. At 20, I know better, yet I still appear to struggle with impulse control. *laughs*

I’m the type of person who’ll eat a whole packet of Oreos whilst knowing full well it’s gonna give me a stomachache for the rest of the day. Though small decisions like this only give me short term pains to deal with, I’ve also made some decisions that have had higher stakes, and have had to deal with the negative consequences.

I’ve learnt that I need to stop making a decision to do something even after knowing that the cons outweigh the pros. It took many of these mistakes this year for me to finally say, “okay dude, enough, stop doing this to yourself.” It shouldn’t really have taken this much time, and it’s something I hope to work on next year.

(This is easier said than done. I mean, just look at how many procrastinators are out there eh?)

2. Friendships

I’ve repaired some broken friendships this year, and strengthened existing ones, so this aspect is looking very positive. However, I have lost a few friends and acquaintances, some out of unavoidable circumstances, others as a result of the breaking of other people’s relationships (and of course, some as a result of the breaking of mine).

What I’ve learnt here, is that, with enough effort on both sides, friendships can be repaired. And some friendships will fizzle away anyway, no matter what. And that sometimes, some potential friendships just won’t work out because you (and perhaps, the other person) made the wrong choices. And if you invest well enough, you’ll gain decent returns on your friendships, enough so that you don’t fall and crack your skull on the concrete when something terrible happens, because they’ll all be there to catch you.

3. Gossiping

I TRIED REALLY HARD OKAY?!?!?!

It was steady progress at first. I found myself limiting it around certain people and avoiding it completely around others. But it was easy to fall back into it around close friends. And I noticed that whenever I was feeling particularly low, I’d go right ahead without caring.

But I also learnt that it takes time and perseverance. I don’t bitch nearly as much as I used to before, and I do find myself consciously trying to stop myself more often. Major progress. I know what to watch out for, and when I should keep my ears closed and my mouth shut, because some moods make me more vulnerable to going back to the habit than others.

And I’ll keep trying, that’s for sure. Because that’s what’s important isn’t it? Constant effort?

4. Relationships

This was a lesson I was hoping I didn’t have to learn, but here it is anyway.

Sometimes, circumstances get in the way. Sometimes, circumstances cause two people to stop clicking and drift apart. No matter how good things were once. And sometimes, circumstances can cause people to change. To buckle under pressure and stop trying. To stop being able to hold on.

Sometimes circumstances don’t really cause people to ‘change’, but rather, cause people to realise that something long term may not have been possible due to major incompatibility points.

The end of a relationship is rarely the fault of a single person. In most circumstances, it is the fault of two people. Who did what first eventually stops mattering, because in the end, it’s over, and there’s nothing that can be done.

Things did get complicated, as they are bound to when things go sour, but I was very lucky to be able to be with someone who took good care of me for a long time, and gave me the safety of a serious commitment. I learnt a great deal, and also found that I still have a long way to go.

It’s hard to avoid causing the other person pain, especially after an ending. Bitterness and anger are unfortunate side effects of such an event. And sometimes, you make the mistake of letting your emotions get away from you.

Understanding that you can’t always make amends is important. Sometimes the best way to make amends is to simply leave each other alone and move on.

A few final words

I know I said the “Humility” post was the last of the preachy posts, but there was something else I wanted to say.

It’s the final stretch of Ramadan, and tonight is going to be the 27th (or as we say it in Dhivehi, hathaavees vileyrey). This means everyone’s gonna be getting their knee pillows out tonight (seriously, fai assi eh nuveytha?) as they prepare to submit spiritually on one of the most important nights of the year.¬†But like I’ve been¬†trying to say all month, our attempts to become better Muslims shouldn’t stop at being spiritual.

(I would like to take a moment to say that I am not discouraging you from worshipping on the potential Laylat-al Qadr. If anything, you should be going hard.)

Continue reading “A few final words”

Humility

The last of the “preachy posts”, hopefully for a long time.

As Ramadan draws to a close, it’s natural to see people reverting back to old habits (or making extra spiritual efforts, depending).¬†Not judging in the least bit, I mean, we’re all culprits aren’t we? This also means that, any attempts to be extra nice also goes flying out of the window.

But here is a final reminder anyway, because why not, right?

Most people wonder where the line is between humility and subservience. After all, a certain level of pride is essential to maintain dignity, isn’t it? While that may be true, I think humility is one of the single most difficult traits to master. Step too far across the line and people are gonna walk all over you. Run too far the other way and you’ll turn into the biggest jerk around.

So, again, where’s the line?

I think it depends.

Let’s take the concept of Facebook profile pictures to illustrate this. For some, the idea of putting up a picture of themselves at all is vain in itself. For others, putting up a flattering or touched up¬†picture is what’s vain, and they choose to go with a standard photograph of themselves, sometimes candid, sometimes not. These are also the people who tend to keep a single picture for the longest time.

Then there are those who don’t mind posting three pictures a week, all taken in studio lighting and filtered (or photoshopped). Facebook profile pictures seem to have become a pretty standard judge of vanity (no prizes for guessing who seems the vainest), but is this really a decent way to tell how humble someone is? For all we know, the person with the picture of a flower might be the most self-centered asshole we all know, and the girl who changes her picture thrice a week might actually be a lovely person.

Putting your best face forward is¬†important, but being humble is knowing that it’s okay to do things that people may consider ‘degrading’. Here in the Maldives, we seem to have a pretty warped concept of what’s degrading and what isn’t. The other day while walking out of work, I came across two guys who were trying to get their motorbike out of a parking space, knocking over a bicycle (on purpose) in the process. My coworkers and I stared at them for the longest time, but all they did was try to avoid our eyes and speed off, leaving the bicycle on the ground.

Would it have degraded them to put it right? They were the one’s who knocked it over in the first place, so no, most definitely not. But here’s where humility fails most Maldivians, picking things up off the ground, regardless of whether or not you dropped them, seems to be something that’s degrading (yes, I’m talking about littering,¬†again). But don’t you think that falls more under the line of humbling? You’re admitting your mistake and rectifying it, putting your pride away for the moment. And that’s not in the least bit degrading at all.

Humility is about being humble enough to admit when you’re wrong, to apologise and try to fix situations, or to not boast about your achievements and abilities whenever the slightest chance presents itself. It’s about putting your best face forward, but being bold enough to be okay with knowing that it could get dirty. It’s about taking credit where credit is due, but not harping on about it for days on end. It’s about knowing that it’s really hard to humble yourself, and knowing that it’s even harder to know exactly where the line is (spoiler alert, it’s pretty narrow), but trying without telling the world anyway.

Honesty

I’m not sure if¬†we’re wired to be honest anymore. It seems to get people into more trouble. Nevertheless, honesty is usually a pretty good trait to have. People will know what to expect from you, and you won’t have to get caught in a web of lies.

Sorry, Abuela, I try

(please watch Jane the Virgin, it’s very cute)

A common situation where a lot of people lie is when someone confesses their feelings, and they agree to go out with them so they don’t hurt them. This often leads to a great deal of stress and/or humiliation for one or both parties, depending on how it turns out. Imagine the pain and time that could be saved if¬†no one had lied.

The above also applies to situations such as being asked to do something you don’t know how to do. Sometimes, we lie to save face and get promptly stuck. It’s not worth it. Saying “I don’t know” shouldn’t be a matter of shame.

There are situations where honesty doesn’t always work so well, however. If you’ve got something to say that might hurt someone’s feelings, you’d be better off keeping your mouth firmly shut. Honesty doesn’t mean voicing out every single opinion you ever have. Some people have trouble understanding this difference.

Being honest with yourself is also more important than you might think. Lying to yourself and pretending that you’re ready for things you’re not ready for, or that you want to do something you’re uncomfortable with, can cause more problems for you in the long run. Being honest about your limits, and also about what you need to do about yourself and your life (need to do the laundry? stop pretending it’s gonna do itself) can help you get your life together.

Like the others, honesty isn’t an easy trait to uphold, but it tends to be a lot easier than most of the others. So perhaps this can be a good starting point.

Discipline

I’m talking about discipline in the personal sense. Not in the “be quiet and sit down” sense.

Not saying that procrastinators don’t have their day (*nervous laughter*) but for the most part, getting through things with less stress and more efficiency usually requires you to have at least a little bit of discipline.

(I should watch this movie again)

Take the picture above. Mulan’s had the roughest time, she’s risked death to enlist, she’s been picked on, failed to get through any of the training exercises, been called a failure by her commanding officer, told to go leave, and yet, she wills herself to be disciplined enough to climb up that pole until she reaches the top.

Since we’re on the topic of Ramadan anyway, let’s take a religious example. Say one wishes to get through the entirety of the Seerah within the month, to learn and understand more than they did when they listened on the radio as a child. Because there’s a deadline involved, there needs to be some kind of organisation regarding divvying up sections to get through each day. And to get through each planned section will take discipline, because after the first few days, it’s gonna start becoming repetetive, and people are gonna start coming at you with more exciting offers, and you’ll think to yourself “mm, I’ve got the rest of the year to get through this, it’s cool.”

However, if you do persevere (yay, throwback!), you’ll end up achieving what you set out to do. Same concept applies to diets, to exercise plans, and to marathoning three seasons of a show in three days. You gotta be disciplined to achieve this stuff.

Ultimately the rewards are greater and far more satisfying than the instant gratification of procrastination, so by all means, be disciplined.

Book Review – Love, Rosie (Where Rainbows End), Cecelia Ahern

(Check out my reading list here) m

Love, Rosie chronicles the lives of Rosie Dunne and Alex Stewart in the most engaging epistolary format I’ve read so far. The best thing about the book is that it’s an easy read. You don’t get lost or confused, and there’s nothing to stress out about. Well, almost nothing.

Spoilers under the cut. Continue reading “Book Review – Love, Rosie (Where Rainbows End), Cecelia Ahern”

Frugality (Part 2)

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 7.07.16 PM
Consumerism hijacked ramadan a long time ago… it’s not new tbh. We’d be kidding ourselves if we think that the very prominent emergence of corporations and retail outlets capitalizing on a month that is supposed to be about abstinence (ironic isn’t it), specifically from extravagance and wastefulness, is something novel. The commodification of religion or anything revered or held sacred is pervasive and inevitable under capitalism, everything is just waiting to be turned into a source of profit, nothing less, nothing more.

I saw this the day after I posted part one, and I didn’t want to update the previous post, so I’m going for a two part post instead.

It’s a little different when this happens in countries that are not majority Muslim (or have a wealth of different religions), but when it happens somewhere like here, you know something is going wrong. We have religious control over so much else, sometimes too much control, sometimes the wrong kind, but over this? I don’t see anyone jumping to protest roadha sales, or the custom of “roadha ah mulhi ge aa kurun” as much as they do women’s clothing…

But really, we do have this custom (and I suppose it’s a global custom) of going all out for Ramadan, when it really should be the opposite. Instead, we always focus on abstinence solely during the fasting hours, reverting right back to normal after the Iftar haze has passed. It’s as though it was never Ramadan at all, and that’s really quite sad.

Anyway, here’s hoping we make the best of the rest of the month. Less than half left! Make the most of it y’all.

Frugality

Ah food. It’s what Ramadan revolves around isn’t it? The lack of it, the abundance of it. Truly a month of fasting and feasting.

(Yeah. Sarcasm.)

It’s common for lots of households to overload on the Iftar prep, only to toss out leftovers so that everyone can have new dishes the next day. I don’t think I need to really express just how wasteful this is on a normal day, but on Ramadan, it almost borders on being extra sacrilegious. We’re supposed to be hyper aware of such things, and yet I feel as though everyone is more concerned about their personal spirituality (some people anyway), to the extent that they don’t have any qualms over disregarding the practical aspects of this world.

Someone I admire very much once said that we emphasise the concept of “deen over dunya” so much that we often forget that this world is our¬†only path to the next. How else are we going to reach the Hereafter? I don’t see any expressways through the lowest level of Heaven (or the highest level of Hell). We need to be more contentious about how we behave, and it goes way beyond saying and returning salaams and reciting duas before everything.

Wasting food isn’t just about “the starving African children”. What about your neighbour in need? There are so many people right here in Male’ who would kill to catch a break and get some free food for once, or not have to cook after breaking their backs at their jobs.¬†Spirituality and morality aside, the environmental impact of food wastage is pretty huge (see here, here, and¬†here¬†for starters). Rotting food in landfills is a large methane producer. Add that to everything emitted during the production of said food, plus all the water that gets used (and wasted) to grow crops, plus the carbon footprint of transporting these products, and you have food wastage as the third¬†top emitter¬†of greenhouse gases.¬†Food security is becoming a legitimate problem in more and more countries, and here we are, in a country that imports nearly¬†everything, tossing it away like it’s nothing.

So let’s try, not just during Ramadan, but every day, to reduce our food wastage, to not toss unless it’s gone bad (or going bad), and to be more mindful about our environment and those in need.


Some other links I found that I wanted to share:

Poor Muslims in America (sharing because this relates to us too)

Ramadan Is Not A Poverty Simulation Game