Tag Archives: social anxiety

My friend Fear and 2013

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

Assalam alaikum wr wb!

Man, it’s been a wild year huh?

Early January this year, I went to a cousin’s engagement. On our way back to Colombo, my family’s car got hit by two buses. That’s right. Not one. TWO.

Isn’t that wild?

Alhamdulillah, everyone walked away from that accident.

I got a good knock on the head, though, which resulted in a dramatic swelling of my face as the blood from my head injury fell down into my eye sockets.

The effect my face had on people was hilarious. I scared children and made women cry.

I look back on that incident and I have to say, not only am I grateful, I am terrifically happy.

As odd as it sounds, we couldn’t have chosen better timing and a better location to have a disaster. Our entire family was on that same road home.  From wherever they were, they all turned around and came back to aid my mom and dad.  I can say with utmost certainty; there are far worse places to have a mild concussion.

I can’t remember much of the 12 hours or so after the accident and even in the weeks after, as my brain recuperated, my short term memory was a bit wonky. My big brother (who specializes in emergency medicine) said there’s nothing to worry about; I probably felt drowsy.  Thinking back, waking up in the middle of conversations just adds to that hilarity of the situation.

But my parents were not that amused. They were fully conscious, terrified and anxious.

The capital-F Fear has lasted a bit too long. It’s been almost a year now. My father is still frightened to drive, thinking he fell asleep at the wheel that day. He tells me, “I’m too old to drive. I am too tired. I am too distracted. ” The Fear cripples him.

Why was I capital-H Happy? Why was he Afraid? Was it because I was unconscious? Was it because I was naive? Was it because I simply didn’t care?

Recently I have been quite fearful myself. A recent social engagement left me crabby and shaking.

I have been watching my ‘I am’ statements recently and found there is a shocking prevalence of a kind of self-smack talk. “I don’t like new people. I am not good with new people. I am not good with unfamiliar situations. I am a nervous person. I am a shy person.”

I thought of something else I’d learned recently.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become. My father always said that. And I think I am fine.

I’ve heard this many times, but honestly it’s only made sense now.

These fearful thoughts have probably become my character. A photographer once told me she was surprised that I am a comedian because I was so timid.

“Like a mouse?” I thought at the time. I wasn’t angry; I was just sad that my Fear was so evident. Still I managed to have a kick-butt photo shoot.

On the morning of that social gathering, I sat very still and quiet and listened to my thoughts.

I was frightened of other people. I thought they would hurt me. I thought they would prey on my vulnerability. I thought they would bully me.

Good Lord, where did these horrid thoughts come from?

I’m not going to blame anyone else. I’m not going to blame some monolithic culture for branding a tiny South East Asian woman with stereotypical qualities.

Wherever they came from, they must be stopped. Because I don’t want to ‘become’ frightened. I don’t want my destiny to be shrinking away in the corners of rooms, waiting for someone to notice me and being scared when they do.  Allah Subhaana Wa Ta’aala is my Protector and His world is too big and too beautiful Mashallah.

I’ve learned that my friend Fear doesn’t leave when asked. He doesn’t leave when yelled at. And he doesn’t budge, even if you tell him to go back where he came from.

I have started changing my thoughts consciously. I’ve started to turn “I am shy” to “I am hopeful”, “I am thoughtful”, “I am observant”, “I am peaceful”. Nothing wrong with not talking. When you listen you learn so much about so many new things. When you consciously listen, it takes a bit of hard work. You have to shelve your ego and give the other person the space to express themselves. I’m still trying but Alhamdulillah it’s a richly rewarding experience.

The day of the accident, I was happy because I wasn’t alone. That day and all the days after that, every time I woke up someone I loved was there. It was like the world’s best Facebook picture slideshow.

And the only person who was hurt was me and I knew it wasn’t that bad. You know when something inside you is changed forever and Alhamdulillah that didn’t happen that day.

That particular week, I was just grateful for every single silly little thing, from my parents to TV, from boiled eggs to pain medication, from hugs to the wind, to beautiful confusing Sri Lanka to lovely and infuriating Dubai.

Hopefully insha Allah in changing my thoughts, I will change my character. Hopefully insha Allah I will nurture peace, whether my friend Fear is with me or not.

That, more than anything, is my intention for 2013 insha Allah.

Have a blessed year. Have a blessed life insha Allah!

Wassalam and Fee Amanillah.

The Happy (and fully healed) Muslimah.

The root of all evil

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

Assalam alaikum wr wb,

I hate money.

I hate it because I want it and need it so badly.

Money buys things I couldn’t possibly get otherwise. Money causes decades-long rifts between family members. Money buys freedom and education. Money enslaves everyone.

But let’s not get metaphysical. Let’s get real. What is this blog post really about?

Simply put – I need a job. I don’t need a job. I’m skiving off my dear husband’s brilliance. I actually want a job. I feel like a waste of space and a waste of a college education.

Sure, I’m screenwriting. But I am wondering in real terms how much I’m benefiting people in this here initial stages between dream and cinematic dream.

I’m talking to people online. I’m making connections and giving support. I’m putting my energy into writing the very best screenplay I can, but I’m letting go of the outcome anyway. It’s okay if it’s horrible.  I’ll even be happy if it is, because a) I’ll know that I have the humility and the brains enough to recognize when something is bad and b) learning is fun.

It’s better than doing. Doing is terrifying.

This is why job applications are terrifying.

It’s the judgment thing. As someone recovering from social anxiety, the thought of a job interview is terrifying.

This is perhaps the only reason why I don’t want to apply for jobs. I don’t want to be judged and found wanting. I guess because I already find myself wanting. I would not like to have that opinion confirmed.

But this is part of being an adult. Being rejected. Over. And over. And over. Again. This part of life. This is part of my learning curve for failure.

This is part of faking it till I become it.

I care about the work I do, even if it isn’t screenwriting. I care about telling a good story, writing a good article, doing better than I did before.

That’s why it doesn’t work, it hurts so very bad.

I don’t think this is about money at all. I’ve written a couple of screenplays and am getting very excited about the feature I’m working on. But I’ve done nothing for money in the past 10 months.

That statement is sitting now in my chest and in my gut. With no emotional charge around it at all.

I feel fine about that.

Why then do I want a job? Why then do I need a job?

  1. Getting a salary or getting paid, like it or not, is a great psychological security blanket. It can only make my writing better.
  2. In this peculiar world economy, all our futures are uncertain. I want to be able to have an income if we find ourselves in a crisis.
  3. Working challenged me to think outside my own box. I met some weird and wonderful people and found I had a taste for weird and wonderful things. Educational and youth activism. Women’s rights. Art as emotional release. God knows what I’ll discover while doing my next job.
  4. If I’m not contributing to humanity, I am quite right in thinking myself useless. I want to give back to my community with my skills.

Is that reason enough? I think it is.

God’s love, peace and protection with you.

The Happy (and constantly searching) Muslimah

P.S. Happy birthday to me. I’m 26 today. Now to find a job. If you know anyone who needs an online writer, I’m your woman!