So university is done. Everything you could have possibly studied has been studied, and all the extracurricular activities have been ticked off. Degree in hand, your future stares at you as a white, blank, neverending canvas. What will you fill it with? Which colours will you paint with? Then suddenly, you find yourself stuck in the mud: the unemployment trap. All the ideas, hopes, and dreams all spiral away because the inevitable has occurred — reality.
It is so easy to be pulled into negativity, pessimism, and sheer self-doubt in the globalised world we live in. It may seem that in the eras of great men and philosophers like Plato, Maimondies, Locke, and Marx, that there was plenty more room for discovery and consequently, more room for greatness. The lives that we lead now have seen technology revolutionise everything that many believe that man has reached the potential for all to be discovered and are intimidated and uninspired to find the greatness within themselves.
The truth is that there is still room for greatness to be achieved as the concept of greatness is relative to the times. There’s still a lot that that needs to be discovered and we don’t know that we just don’t know those things yet; discovery and greatness are limited by our perceptions of the world which are shaped by the limitations of our current knowledge. It’s only by continuing our efforts in pushing the boundaries that we learn new things, become innovative, and improve on our old ways.
A life lead in the shadow of mediocrity is not a life well-lived. Greatness is not solely defined by the impact you make on humanity, or scientific breakthroughs, or philosophical paradigms. Greatness is defined by you living your life to the best of your potential: to be the best you can conceivably be, and to keep working hard until failing becomes as easy a hurdle as walking. Greatness is the default outcome of never giving up. To keep trying and to keep fighting for your dreams requires courage and strength. It is a trait many have but fail to recognise.
My fellow peers and new graduates, unemployment is indeed demoralizing and demotivating. It has the ability to make you lose all the discipline or passion you had as a young student and slowly fill in the emptiness with regret, and pessimism. I was there. I have had my days where I completely doubted all that I had done and felt stuck in the same place. However, something then replaced that doubt and confusion. The Arabic word for it is tawakkul; the concept of sole reliance on Allah.
We barely know what we want in life. We are in this world so easily tangled in the webs of self-doubt. In my time of unemployment, I spent a lot of time reading, which I had not done for a long time. It gave me inspiration and polished my writing immensely. I would attend Islamic lectures weekly which helped me answer so many unanswered questions. It greatly strengthened my imaan (faith) which was faltering greatly.
I had time to work out and really look after my body after years of tearing it apart with my unhealthy lifestyle in London. And most importantly, I was given time to heal.
We are so easily able to look at a situation in a destructive way and complain about every circumstance we are put in. Yet we fail to distinguish what is a test and what is indeed a blessing in disguise. You need to always strengthen your soul, mind, and heart before you proceed into the different beautiful stages of your life to come, be it school, university, your career, marriage, children, and so on.
This time is a gift to you. It is “you time” before you are subjected to the real world out there. You are given an opportunity to get to know who you really are and to self-reflect on the person you wish to be and what exactly it is that you want from life. This time is so precious and so ridiculously important for when life throws rocks at you.
And lastly, say du’a (prayers). It is the only thing that stands between you and the dream life you want to have. The combination of du’a, tawakkul, patience, and optimism will go a long way and you will, inshaAllah, achieve all your goals and dreams and complementary to that will be greatness. Never stop believing in the greatness of the divine and the greatness within yourself.
Photos by David Shankbone CC and Tom Blackwell CC via Flickr.