Life is like the London Underground: fast, full of selfish people and gone within moments. My parents always told me that I was an extremely observant child growing up, I’d always pick up on the small things happening in a room and I’d come home and talk to them about it, blurting out private conversations I had overheard (Yes I totally was THAT child)!!
My parents were 1st and 2nd generation immigrants, they came from very little but grew up to become well respected members of the community. So me being the super-observant child that I was, whenever my parents were talking to friends and family and people in the community, I would always listen and pick up on small phrases and certain body language.
From around 10 years old, I could gauge a person by the way in which they spoke to my father. In my experience, it was mostly the ‘successful businessmen’ that had egos bigger than their pockets and massive superiority complexes too. I put successful in quotation marks because it was these very same individuals that measured others success based on their own. So to them, if your business didn’t make as much as theirs, if your income wasn’t as high, you weren’t successful. Looking back on it now, that was where I think the businessmen were wrong. Success is relative; you define it on your own terms, with your own pre-requisites and your own goals.
Underline that last sentence. Highlight it. Look in the mirror and repeat it to yourself- but mainly, believe it. When you start to believe it, your whole mindset shifts. Stop trying to compare your success with others. You are unique. You bring something so different to the table that LITERALLY NO ONE ELSE CAN BRING. I still have to remind myself of this from time to time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparisons and it’s such a toxic mindset to be in. I’m currently in University, I just completed my first year (all online but that’s a story for another day,) studying Business, Finance and Economics so yes, I’m surrounded by very talented individuals in a very competitive field which often results in me doubting my own ability.
Everyone is either interested in Investment banking, Asset Management, Consulting or Corporate Law. Spring weeks here, summer internships there – every man is for himself when it comes to applications and interviews. With these multiple insight weeks and internships comes the dreaded and most despised R-word. The elephant in the room. Rejection. No one likes mentioning it, no one likes admitting they have been rejected but in reality it happens to the best of us, in fact it happens a lot more than the flip side!
As a Muslim, we have books full of life lessons taught to us by our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him – PBUH.) One that always sticks out to me is a story of his horse losing a race. The Prophet PBUH had a horse that was the strongest, fastest horse of the entire tribe in Arabia and the horse often raced other horses and always came out on top. One day when The Prophet’s horse was racing another horse, it lost the race, and his disciples became disheartened at the fact, so The Prophet wanted to teach them a valuable life lesson and said to them: ‘Indeed the law of God is that nothing is uplifted in the world except that it too will be brought back down.’
To the Non-Muslim readers out there, this parable doesn’t just apply to Muslims, it’s relevant to everyone – people from all walks of life and all belief systems. There is a very well-known theory in statistics called ‘Regression to the Mean,’ which explains the tendency for scores to average out. It explains that no matter how extreme a group of scores maybe they always tend to fall back towards the average. Life follows a similar pattern. Life is not a straight line. Success is not a straight line. Motivation is not a straight line. They are all full of ups and downs, high highs and even lower lows. When something in life isn’t going your way, when the rejections seem never-ending, when you feel stuck with no direction of where you are headed next, remember this won’t last forever. Life is short and it passes by
quickly, so don’t dwindle in the sadness and fear the unknown, but be optimistic of the opportunities coming your way.
You see, it’s all about perspective: if you fixate on all the things going wrong in your life, all you will ever notice is the bad, instead focus on the opportunities around you and naturally the opportunities will appear. Life isn’t meant to be a utopian dream, so when you are in the midst of hardship, remember that this too will pass and life will eventually average back out. Just as the horse couldn’t win every race, just as the stock market doesn’t continuously rise, just as success is not a straight line, life is not either. The bad won’t last forever so don’t focus all your talent, time and energy dwelling on it, likewise the highs in life aren’t permanent either so enjoy them and appreciate them whilst you can. Life can’t stay perfect forever- so when hardships get you down, pick yourself up and fight harder and smarter than ever before.
Whenever I’m at a low point in life (and trust me I get them often) I ask myself ‘look at your life 5 years ago, what was it like? Now look at your life now, what is it like?’ That question gives me so much perspective; in 5 years my life looks worlds apart from what it was, so whatever it is I’m stressing about now, whatever it is that I am anxious about in this very moment, won’t matter in 5 years, and if anything, when I look back 5 years later, the very thing I was anxious and worried over, will probably make so much sense and everything will be put into perspective. So yes, right now in this moment, that job rejection, that failure, that heartbreak, may seem like the worst thing in the world, but in 5-10 years, when you are working a better job, building your own empire, and madly in love, and you look back to right now, you will be thankful for the rejection, for the heartbreak and the failure – because had it not been for all of that, you wouldn’t be the powerful and impactful individual that you have the potential to become.
This is as much a reminder to myself as it is to all of you reading: you are extremely talented and extremely unique, push yourself out of your comfort zone, challenge the way in which you think and explore different perspectives, expand your horizons and watch the possibilities become limitless.
‘Just when the caterpillar thought her life was over, she began to fly’
Wishing all you readers infinite success and blessings in your careers, futures and lives
Written by Aaliyah Patel