Occasions like these always sucker me into making lists and reflections and deep self analysis, even though that’s something I should be doing year-round.
In 2012, I started the year off in the most disastrous way possible. I went to LA for vacation, went to Disneyland, went to the beach, basically numbed my brain and sold myself short to another person for a very, very cheap price.
In 2012, I made, and lost, an incredible friend. She was someone I indulged everything in, yet slowly I began to realise she brought out the worst in me, and showed me how to justify that to myself. She is the right friend for the wrong person; I am the wrong person.
In 2012, I met another person who convinced me it was okay to cry, it was okay to feel, it was okay to move on. That person has changed me every single day until this point, and I hope continues to do so for a very, very long time.
In 2012, I got into medical school. This also changed my life forever, though I can’t say whether this admission or the previous heartfelt encounter will mean more for me, in the long run. I know this meant more to my parents than it ever will to me, and I owe them that. At least. The gasp of disbelief from my mother that her dear and beloved daughter would stay close to her, the tears of my father for fulfilling his lifelong dream, all of these things made this year the best of my life.
In 2012, I suffered the greatest blow to my belief system that I’ve ever experienced. Everything was perfect: I was a med school candidate, I had the love and attention of my friends, I had the respect of the Muslim community, I had someone to confide in, and I felt hollow. I felt my belief was insincere and I questioned everything, absolutely everything. I ended most nights in tears, not because of any one person or thing, not because of stress or heartbreak or sadness, but because I didn’t know what I believed.
In 2012, I experienced the most spectacular Ramadan of my life. Spent in the company of loving family and absolutely irreplaceable friends, I dug deeper. I questioned, and I was answered. I asked, and I received. I cried, and I was contented. It was, and still is, a work in progress. But Ramadan allowed me to go from an empty, agnostic, inconsolable shell to a lifelong student of the religion, a questioner who seeks answers, and a rightly-guided heart. I hope.
In 2012, I reshaped my priorities. I came to terms with the fact that I will always have doubts about dogma and authority, and it’s up to me to find answers. I realised that this meant I’d have to spend many more hours than my fellow Muslims when it came to accepting simple concepts, and that meant I’d need to allot a certain amount of time. Incidentally, I realised med school doesn’t really take up a lot of time. I spent many more hours a week on my spiritual and religious endeavours than before, and much less on my schoolwork. I’ve been happy ever since.
I know I say this every year, but 2012 was truly the best year of my life. I learned an incredible amount about myself (both good and bad), about others (both good and bad), and accomplished something really cool. Here’s to each year continuing to get better and better.