I’ve spent a good chunk of my life quitting – afraid of what others may say if I failed or if I made a mistake, if I didn’t do things the same way others would, or sometimes, if I made others look bad by doing something better than they did. I figured, why bother with taking all those risks? If I just make up some excuse, I’ll be alright and won’t be the laughing stock or the enemy of those around me. It just seemed safer that way. Little did I know that after spending years with that state of mind, I would be left feeling so unaccomplished and unsatisfied with myself that I would almost give up on living life itself, and would simply accept an existence for the sake of existing.

Perhaps it’s human nature, or something instilled in me specifically that needed to be excavated after years of living under a thick layer of guilt for the sake of others, but eventually I had had enough. It wasn’t until I started to feel sorry for myself that I realized that I was accepting a pathetic approach to life, and that I needed to change. I had two choices: give up completely or break through my comfort zone and get the happiness I know I deserved. To be honest, this is something I have to remind myself of every once in a while, even now, because it had become so natural to me to evade challenges and risk. Funny to hear that coming from an entrepreneur and artist, but I guess that deep down, I chose these career and life paths because they were the ones that compelled me to break through my shell and find my true strengths and life-purpose.

It’s funny, because at times, I would see these pictures of people lifting weights and working out, talking about how they were once living unhealthy and unhappy lives, and that one day they just decided that enough was enough, leading to them making these remarkable changes you would think were meant to be part of those fake before and after pictures you see on infomercials. I would look at these people, read their profiles online, watch their interviews and whatnot, and would be left feeling inspired to make a change in my own life. Then, just as quickly, I would realize that I had no idea how to actually make that change. The same applied towards those entrepreneurs you hear or read about, that became successful after working hard at their crafts and becoming the successes they aspired to become. I looked at all of these people around me that were getting things done while I sat here feeling sorry for myself that I was “trying” but wasn’t getting anywhere.

That’s when I realized two things:

  1. Everyone has his or her own time. Sure, some people may find something you struggle with to come easy, but you may find something they struggle with to come easy. So, instead of worrying about others and why things are working out for them instead of you, stop your complaining, embrace and enjoy what you have and where you are in life, and move forward. Do your part to acquire what you’re aspiring towards (with wisdom), and then put it aside in your mind and focus on the other things you can influence. When the time’s right for you, what’s meant for you will fall into place.
  2. You cannot just look at the end result of someone’s journey. To truly appreciate and learn from someone’s journey, and to be not only inspired but also motivated to do something with what you’ve learned through their success, you must take their entire journey into account. Many of us see the flowery and beautiful end results, and they shine so bright that we become blinded to the true and grimy struggle they had to go through to get to where they are. Be willing to rough it through the struggles of success, and recognize that hard work is a simple understatement to describe what it really takes to achieve your dreams. If you’re not willing to work THAT hard for it, you don’t want it bad enough, so first, make yourself want it more, then work your butt off to make it happen.

These thoughts and experiences helped me come to terms with my own self and my own journey. I realized that instead of quitting for the sake of others, or worrying about whether I’ll fail or succeed, I just needed to do my best in my own way to get what I want. I want to get into better shape, so instead of feeling sorry for myself for not enjoying or tolerating the same workouts my friends did to get in shape, I’m going to find my own path towards achieving my ideal. In this case, for example, I love to cook (if you’ve seen any of my Instagram pics, you’d know how much I love to adventure into the world of culinary arts), and so I use that strength and asset towards helping me get into shape. I also love martial arts and more hands-on activities like hiking, biking, fishing, and building things, and so I use those as my ways to stay active. Those are my starting challenge points, and when I’m ready, I’ll challenge myself to take it a step further and do more, insha Allah (God-willing). My point is, we all have things we enjoy, and there is no universal way to get everything done. Pave your own path and don’t stop till you get to your destination. Then, set a new goal and keeping paving. You don’t always have to know where every step you take towards that path will land. God will reveal those things to you as they come – you just have to be open to accepting the good from them and putting aside the negative thoughts from the whispers of Shaitaan (Satan) or those of the people around you. Your family and friends may mean well, but if their approach doesn’t work for you, it’s okay to steer clear – you don’t have time, and they probably don’t have interest in changing their entire selves just to accommodate your needs. Success and happiness are subjective, so why look to others to validate those things? Only you and God know what’s in your heart and what truly makes you happy, so keep that conversation between the two of you.

Photo credit: iyuphoto via Flickr