It’s All About Fitting In, Isn’t It?

Isn’t it?

Since we first enter school, all of us just wants to fit in, to be part of the crowd, to be accepted.

So, we decided to do all kinds of things that would allow us to be accepted. We dress differently, we change the way we talk, we do dumb things.

But is it all worth it?

Fitting in?

Maybe, maybe not.

Fitting in gives us a sense of social acceptance, knowing that we are part of a larger group. We are social creatures, we feel safer around others. By fitting in, we can depend on others for help, for comfort and maybe in evolutionary terms, for our own safety.

However, is there a fine line that we need to draw between being socially accepted into a group and discarding our unique identity?

Each of us is a unique individual with our own set of quirks and talents. As unique as we are as individuals, there is always an interest of ours that connects us with some other individual out there, a common interest.

Many individuals come together to form a social group. The personality of that group depends on the type of people that make up that group. A group full of motivated individuals would be motivated, a group full of artists would be highly inclined in creativity, and a group full rednecks would be loud, obnoxious and insane.

The fine line has to be drawn when that group starts to devour you, putting pressure on you to change against your own free will. They impose on you that you have to act a certain way, do certain things or dress a certain way to be accepted into the group.

I personally think that if you start to feel like you are not yourself, you are no longer being accepted but being controlled. Don’t think that you are fitting in when you’re in that situation. Find others.

I feel that being accepted shouldn’t come with unnecessary pressure to change and be someone else. The group should embrace you for being who you are and not wishing who you are not.

Find that group that you fit in naturally and not one that is artificial.

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Meeting New People

Meeting new people has never been a thing of mine. I am always nervous and worried whenever there is an occasion that calls for me to introduce myself and make new friends. My palms will be sweaty and my mind will run into the many possible situations that could happen. My unconscious mind would prepare multiple introductory lines that I could use such as, “Why are you here?”, “Which school were you from?”, “Hello, my name is Hakim and I was from _____.”

So, when I was at the Life Sciences Camp, already armed and prepared with the questions and ready for awkwardness, I was surprised at how easily I conversed. There was no sudden weird awkwardness nor were there any weird antics that I did. I managed to contain myself and not allow my nervousness to control my actions.

Never thought that I would say this but meeting new people has been a wonderful experience. It is amazing how strangers could reveal a lot about themselves to each other and gain trust in just a span of a few days or even hours. We had heart-to-heart talks every evening until the early morning and it was wonderful, something that I have always loved doing.

Next week, I will be attending another camp and honestly, I am excited.

I made wonderful friends in the duration of that camp and I hope the friendship lasts.

 

How I Want to Spend the End of My Life

I am currently reading ‘Being Mortal’ by Atul Gawande which is a book about ageing and mortality.

As humans age, we become more dependent on others for our daily activities such as showering, going to the toilet and even buying of food. This is because our body starts to fail, our bladders become weaker, our balance no longer as good as before and sometimes even our eyesight begins to falter. Thus, as we start to lose the ability to become independent, we are faced with the tough question of how do we ensure that the elderly continues to live well and safe.

In his book, Gawande shares the different ways the elderly are living the end of their lives as they slowly lose the ability to be independent. Some were sent to nursing homes while other decided to live independently till the end. However, some had a hard stance against being sent to nursing homes until they realised that they could no longer live on their own.

So, this got me thinking, how would I want to spend the end of my life?

I guess, my life’s purpose then would be to live happily and be close to God. Definitely, I would want to live independently with my wife (whoever she may be) till the end. I would want to live peacefully in a small cottage somewhere away from the cities of the world. I would also want to take frequent walks, strengthen my relationships with people and read a lot. Though, there may be a time in my life where my organs will begin to fail, I would still want to live independently as much as possible (maybe hire a maid if it comes to it?) but I want people to respect my decision especially to my future children. I would not want some stranger telling me the way to live my life nor schedule my life for me. I would instead want to be as free as possible. Isn’t that how it should be for all?

I think, for now, that is how I want my end to be, quiet and peaceful, surrounded by my loved ones and recalling the stories of the past.

Now that I think about it, death is like a slow regression of life where it will end in a puff of smoke when we have reached a point of weakness that we can never recover from. Maybe this quote is true after all:

Old age is a continuous series of losses.

 

What’s Different

What is the difference between us and the successful? What is the difference between you and Elon Musk? What is the difference between you and Mark Zuckerberg? What is the difference between you and Gary Vaynerchuk? Yes, you might have differences in terms of skills and the types of opportunities they got but apart from those there really isn’t anything different between us and them. They are not genetic freaks with superintelligence that allows them to make instant money just by doing one simple task, no, they are normal human beings like us and like any other normal human being, they worked hard to become successful.

You might say that they might have special opportunities that allowed them to be where they are today but that is wrong. You have opportunities, I have opportunities and they have their own sets of opportunities. Opportunities exist everywhere and it is up to us to grab them when we can. They made use of their circumstances to their own advantage and they leverage on them.

We, in our time and age, have the largest opportunity called the Internet. For the first time in history, the information from all the major libraries can be found instantly. With such a powerful technology, we have more opportunities than ever before. Learn it, use it and leverage it to your own advantage.

There is no difference between us and the successful, nothing major actually. It is just because that we subconsciously create a belief that these people are special and their standards are unreachable that made us think that they are some sort of genetic freaks. Okay, maybe there is a difference…

Like normal people, they worked hard and sacrificed to reach where they are now and that is where we differ between us and them. Most of us, including myself, are trying to find that specific technique or a specific skill that would make us instantly rich, thus, we looked over the fact the thing that people are preaching: hard work and sacrifice. Okay, maybe ‘looking over’ is a too nice of a term. I should instead say, we DENY that hard work and sacrifice have to be made. We reject it because it requires real work and we do not want to do it. The successful people instead took it step by step, the path of hard work and sacrifice; they may not know whether they would succeed but they know that it is a path that they need to take to reach to where they want to be.

We Lose Our Colour

Many of us face this problem, the problem that we might not be doing what we want to do, the problem that where we ended up today is due to the decisions of our parents and loved ones. Decisions that made for you because they think that it would be good for you. However, deep inside, you know that you want to be someone else, you want to do something else, a different degree, a different career, a different life path but… you let your parents decide because you think that they know what is the best choice for you. However, little do we know that for every decision that someone else makes for you be it important life choices of the food we eat for lunch, we slowly lose our colour. We slowly lose the colour that defines us as a person, as an individual. We slowly lose that colour that makes us who we are as a person, a person with their own brains and common sense to make the best decisions for themselves, a person who knows what is in their best interest. Unfortunately, that is not that case, we allow many people to decide our future for us and many of us are already losing our colour. We can see it, through our everyday actions from how confident and decisive we are when making a decision and how much we contribute to a group discussion.

Decisions that made for you because they think that it would be good for you. However, deep inside, you know that you want to be someone else, you want to do something else, a different degree, a different career, a different life path but… you let your parents decide because you think that they know what is the best choice for you. However, little do we know that for every decision that someone else makes for you be it important life choices of the food we eat for lunch, we slowly lose our colour. We slowly lose the colour that defines us as a person, as an individual. We slowly lose that colour that makes us who we are as a person, a person with their own brains and common sense to make the best decisions for themselves, a person who knows what is in their best interest. Unfortunately, that is not that case, we allow many people to decide our future for us and many of us are already losing our colour. We can see it, through our everyday actions from how confident and decisive we are when making a decision and how much we contribute to a group discussion.

However, it should not be that way. We can re-take control of our lives. We can start by understanding ourselves, by looking deep within ourselves to know who we truly are as a person such as our likes and dislikes and our interests. By understanding who we are, we will be able to better make judgements on whether things are in our best interest.

Sometimes we let others make the decisions for us because we are afraid of making a wrong one and ending up suffering for it because at least we know that if someone else decides it for us, we can blame it on them if it goes wrong. However, know that you do not need to be afraid of the consequences of a wrong decision, an advice that I need to listen and swallow whole. The consequences of a wrong decision are not as major as we see it in our minds. So what if you failed your first start-up, rebound and try again. So what if you lose most of your money, learn from the mistake and hustle on. Understand this, not one of the Greats achieve their greatness through luck and special opportunities alone. They worked hard and even if they had to risk everything and work through the dirt, they did it because they know that that is how someone reaches the clouds.

Listen, especially me, do not lose your colour. You have spent countless hours understanding who you are as a person, know that whatever consequences from your decisions in the future is your responsibility but no matter how bad it might be or how dark it is, it is how you learn from it that matters. People like Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson know who they are as a person and what they want to achieve in this world and thus, they allowed their decisions to portray what their colours truly are.

Be yourself and let your colour flow.

We are not entitled to anything

I guess, this can be applied to everyone from the first world countries.

In our peace and prosperity of our countries, in the comforts of our own homes with food on the table and a variety of drinks to choose from, with water running from our taps and clothes that fill our wardrobes, it might be hard sometimes to realise that we are not entitled to anything at all. We are not entitled to having food on the table, having a well-paying job or even having a roof over our heads. Sometimes we forget that we need to put in the effort to get that food on the table, that career that we have always wanted and a house of our own and thus, we complain to the government on why don’t we have enough food, why don’t we have a high salary or why don’t we have a place to live and question their competency of being the government.

We need to remove that sense of entitlement from our heads because deep down, we are not first-class citizens from a first world country, we are merely a common human being who will not have anything unless hard work is put in and we go through the right way.

Questions for the Dead

Death is that one journey that nobody has ever returned from and most of us are afraid of it because of how little true information that we have. There is no catalogue of the places we can see in the hereafter, there are no brochures or websites that we can browse through to get an idea of the place and there are no travel guides that we can ask.

Recently, I paid a visit to the cemetery to clean and pay my respects to my late grandfather, late grandmother and my late cousin whom just passed away recently. In Singapore, Muslim graves are made out of concrete rectangular boxes giving neat rows and columns. Each empty grave will be cleared of dirt before the body is placed in. Once the body has been placed in, dirt will be used to fill the rest of the grave. Due to the nature of the graves being pre-dug and pre-built, there would be empty graves emptied of its dirt beside the filled ones. This was the case for my late cousin’s grave.

I stood there, looking at his grave and at the empty one beside it with a ladder sticking out. I began to wonder how it would be like to be lying in that empty grave. The feeling of claustrophobia, intense fear of what is to come and the thought that there is never a way out.

In Islam, we were taught that the soul will be placed back into the body once it has been successfully buried and it will exist there till the end of times in a realm called the Alam Barzakh. So, I began to think about the many questions that would want to ask my late cousin and to at least have an idea of death before I truly die.

I would want to ask questions like:

What did you feel when you realised that you are dead?

What is the reality in that realm?

How are you being treated?

How do the angels Munkar & Nakir look like?

What will you be doing till the end of time?

Being a Muslim, most of these questions have already been answered but think about it, wouldn’t interviewing a person’s experience be so much more wonderful?

I spend a lot of my free time thinking about life and how I can make mine better. However, sometimes, I would think about death. Thinking about death has made me accept the fact that death will happen to anyone at any time and prepare myself that a sudden death of a loved one will not give me a tight slap of reality.

Death is inevitable no matter what faith or beliefs that we have. It also does not matter if we believe in a hereafter or the existence of the soul, death will still come to us and only then can we truly understand the nature of it.