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  • Zubaidah Eusoff from ELEVEN

Twenty something, in twenty twenty something.

Photo by Muhammad Asyraaf Sajahan

Get it? If not, that’s exactly what it’s like. These years came to me before I could even take a step back to fully fathom what it meant to be seen in the world as an adult but in reality, I felt closer to a child, more in touch to the child in me than the adult. But just like every phase in this life, you take it on – cry all you want out front at the gate of the montessori because eventually, you’ll still end up in there; pants soiled and crying even more or happily engaged in water play, pouring water from one jug into another.

The first couple years of my twenties was such a rude but much needed awakening that the moment I was given a platform, I felt compelled to write about it. So here’s my PSA.

The twenties, in our decade, — as I would like to believe — is far from any other. We were left to fend for ourselves when an epidemic swept through the entire world. We have a platform, well multiple, to share every nitty gritty. But do we? We claim to break generational traumas. Do we? But one thing’s for sure, we are some of the greatest dreamers, the greatest of aspirers. And we don’t just dream, we put work into making it work. Even when no one sees. We are a generation of people who work hard for what we wish to see. Subjective? Yes. But I believe that I am surrounded by some of the hardest workers and most compassionate beings and so I say so with full conviction. We’re a generation of believers. And if you, my reader, have a gainsay against this, may you one day see the truth behind these.

The first thing my twenties taught me, is the importance of knowing that timelines exist, yes. But we’re all on different ones.

Entering university (this itself a notion of what I am writing about) we are surrounded by people from a multitude of backgrounds: older, younger, local, international, parents, spouses and more, you get the point. And inevitably, comparison welcomes itself into our minds, uninvited. Why am I not as successful? Why did he get accepted into a programme I’ve failed to get into multiple times? Why is she born into a family of wealth? Why do some people have it so easy? As much as I read self-help books that continuously reiterate the fact that we should count our blessings and be grateful for the things that we are given, it is inevitable. Statements like “be grateful”, “count your blessings” come and go on a daily. We scowl at these statements. “So cliché”. You know what? Extremely. But what I’m trying to say is, people who have it easy, that’s their test. And people who don’t, that’s their test. The importance of acknowledging that our very existence is a test, is integral to our daily function as humans and as Muslims. This concept is tied to our own personal timelines – tailor-made by the Greatest, the All-knowing. Where we are now, each and every one of us, it’s exactly where we’re supposed to be. And I say, take comfort in that.

Our caliph, the sahabah of Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, Umar ibn Al-Khattab (R.A) once said:

“My heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me, and that what misses me was never meant for me.” (Asad Meah, n.d)

Profound. Beautiful. All encompassing. So take your worries along with your grievances and chuck them away. One corner. Don’t touch.

Next, your people. Being in your twenties would mean that you have people that came from previous phases of your lives alongside those that you continually get to know as you live your days ahead of you. (Again, subjective but alhamdulillah for whoever from wherever we have in our lives.) Some that you talk to on a daily and share the smallest of details to and some who are on a ‘I-see-your-post-and-will-leave-a-like’ basis. But the most important message that I am trying to say is, it is so incredibly important to ensure that you have the right people around you. People who want to succeed with you; people who make you reflect on how you can do better as an individual. Being in your twenties, it is so easy to slip-up. And that is exactly why having the right people around you, coupled with a moral and belief system that should not be easily compromised, is indispensable. So. Important.

A hadith that I constantly remind myself of, that has also been drilled into my head by my beautiful mother, is that:

“The example of a good pious companion and an evil one is that of a person carrying musk and another blowing a pair of bellows. The one who is carrying musk will either give you some perfume as a present, or you will buy some from him, or you will get a good smell from him, but the one who is blowing a pair of bellows will either burn your clothes or you will get a bad smell from him.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book 67, Hadith No. 442)

She adds a touch of classic brown aunty and explains to me “if you’re around people who sell fish, you’ll smell like one. If you’re around someone who sells perfume, likewise.” This is profound because just like scent, influence isn’t something that you can deflect fully. May you be surrounded by people who have the heavens as their ultimate goal, ameen.

Talking about surrounding ourselves with people, I must emphasise as well the importance of being able to be alone. Spend time with yourself — lots of it. At the end of the day, it’s you, against everyone, against everything. It is only when you are alone that you are able to truly think, truly recuperate, truly breathe and pause. More than often we overlook the importance of being able to do these; we depend too much on the external factors to gain a sense of wholeness and the need to feel seen. We realise this only when (or if) these external factors rid of themselves, leaving us struggling to subsist

Lastly, that thing you’ve been wanting to do? Go do it. Work towards it. We live in a day and age where we have access to almost everything we want to gain access to — once again, a double-edged sword. You’ll never be as young as we are in this decade. Go save up for that trip that you want to go on. Go pitch that crazy business idea. Go take on that internship interview that you think you’re not good enough for. Go try that sport you’ve been thinking about. Go climb that ladder. Because you’ll never know, there might be a beautiful sunset up there waiting for you. You’ll never be in your twenties again, full of life, in this decade full of opportunities and potential.

Go, live. Bismillah, and go.


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