Lifestyle

Look after yourself

Those were the words my wise father gave me on one of the last occasions I saw him.

He had to leave because mother had already phoned him, wondering where he was. He had come over to my apartment one late morning to help me out. It was both humbling and humiliating for me. It was humbling because here was a man who was still prepared to help me no matter what. While he may have been disappointed as many good fathers sometimes get when their grown-up children fail in life, he did not judge me on my inability to help myself at that time. I had to ask myself; what would I have done and where would I have been had my father not been able to come to my rescue.

Graciously accepting a parent’s help is one thing. But on that occasion it was also humiliating because my pride had taken a nosedive. I kept on asking myself why I could not help myself and why I continued to fail. I was also devious in my desperation to gain my father’s sympathy. Wise as he is, his sympathy was restrained, but his concern for his eldest daughter was greater. In my plea for help I explained that during the course of those past weeks, the stress and frustrations I was dealing with caused my nerves to suffer. Normally I keep these thoughts to myself, but I was desperate. And, in any case, it is better to share one’s thoughts and emotions than to keep them bottled up inside.

Some time before our meeting, my father shared a most profound statement of faith which should not have surprised me, but it did. I informed the family and my closest girlfriend that I had just sent through a job application for a position that I was quite keen on. I’m still keen about this job, but it’s been months since I’ve heard anything, so that job has fallen away. One of the things I said was that I had given up on prayer. It did not seem to be helping me anyway. My father’s response was simple, but truthful. Don’t give up on Allah. Be thankful for the gifts and abilities that he has bestowed upon you.

In our last conversation together, I was feeling embarrassed once more. I cannot say whether it was pride or sheer shame that caused me to sink my head down to its shoulders. But anyway, my father reminded me of the consequences of prayer. The rituals, words and thoughts may all be different, but the practice, principles and thoughtful (or thoughtless) motivations are universal. Successful prayer must be accompanied by actions. It goes without saying that successful prayer must be fervently uttered with great faith and trust.

But to set aside spirituality and religious practices and speak secularly, if you will, for a moment, faith in one’s self is extremely important. If you are getting up in the morning in a nervous funk like I was, doubting that you are not going to accomplish what you have in mind; then it is likely that you will fail. You blame the world for your own shortcomings and deny any responsibility on your part. You believe the world will get worse before it even contemplates getting any better. You have no hope. You feel hopeless. Your hopelessness is trending. Checking social media networks, you see that there are many other girls out there who have also begun to give up.

Setting yourself up for ultimate failure, that is the last thing you should be doing.

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