For most of my life, I lived with the mindset that in order for me to truly fall in love, I would have to be someone that others would want to love. I would have to build myself around the needs of another someone, and adjust my identity to accommodate hers. This was something that resonated in both the pursuit of marriage and the other relationships I held, including family and friends. If I were unhappy, I felt that it was because I wasn’t good enough. If the relationship was sour or went sour, it was because of my failures and no one else’s. Despite my efforts to be the best I could be in every way, and hearing praise and compliments from strangers that had only known me for a mere moment, I would constantly feel this sense of being insufficient in being worthy of anyone’s love. Sure, people have told me they loved me, or have said that they’d go to the ends of the Earth for me, but none have added action to their words. They claim love, but hesitate to hug me or to go out of their way for me for even the smallest of things. They claim to go to the ends of the Earth for me, but hide behind, “I’m really busy right now,” when I show any signs of human struggle and need. Even after all these years, and having learned that this isn’t the way to live and love, my heart has been engraved with the pen of guilt, saying, “You’re still not good enough. It’s still your fault. YOU are the one that failed THEM.” It will take time, effort, and most importantly faith to fill those engravings and make my heart whole again.

This has been a mindset that held me prisoner for most of my life. I didn’t think I was worthy of happiness because I was flawed. I felt that my not accomplishing things as was socially expected of me was a reflection of me being stupid and destined for nothing but the worst of lives. I felt like I was dead before I had even had a chance to live.

In the last few years, however, I have been at battle. I have been the David fighting the Goliath within me. I have been the social outcast with a drive to become an inspiration to those feeling low. I have been the man who makes a living from being happy, not just to be happy. And all of this has been open to ridicule and discouragement by those I once considered my loved ones, but who are now simply ones I love for the sake of Him and my heart.

In the process of these battles, I have and will place my greatest and most important loves first: God, the Prophet (SAW), and myself. Please and Love God, and others who matter will be pleased with you. Love the Prophet (SAW), and you will please God, will change and inspire lives, and will live a life of spiritual peace. Love myself, and I will be loving the Prophet (SAW), and will be pleasing God, and thus, will be happy because my heart will be pursuing serenity and peace through living for the sake of happiness in this life and the Next. This is the only way I now understand to be the path towards happiness, success, and freedom. When we allow the judgments, opinions, and statements of others to influence us, we become their puppets. And if they’re words or actions are hurtful or destructive, they will eat away at us until we are no more, unless we make a change and live for God and our own selves.

Fortunately, I have less than a handful of people I get love back from, but I still hold my reservations on their love. They know who they are because I make sure to let them know of it often, through direct words and actions, Alhamdulillah.

I no longer expect love from others, because I don’t want to live with disappoint. So now, I just work hard at loving. There’s a high chance I won’t get loved back. There’s a high chance I will push people away by the sincerity of my love, considering how rare it is for people to be sincere today. There’s a high chance I will never find someone who could love me back the same way I love them, because they fear they won’t be able to live up to it – though if they knew my story and my purpose, they would understand that I simply ask that they try their best (for THEIR OWN sake, and not just mine). But all of that will be worth it, because I will be doing what I love: loving people.

And who knows, maybe one day, if not in this life then for sure in the Next, Allah will bless me with a return on that love. Until then, and even afterwards, I won’t depend on the love of the creation – instead, I will live off of His Love.