Life Cycles: The Self-Reflection We All Need
By: Maryam Bargit (writing) & Zeynep Yıldırım (art)
I don’t know how I got here or what day it is. The thing is, the past few days, well, weeks stretched out into months, have bled into each other to the point that I can’t seem to discern one second from another. I’m stuck in this constant cycle of existing through reams of paperwork and laptop screens or online lessons via Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Still. I. Can’t. Break. Out. Of. It.
It’s like life is dragging me along and I’m just there for the ride, but I’m supposed to be taming the tide.
I don’t remember what it was like to just… be living. Breathing. Free.
And that’s what I see right in front of me…
With full consideration towards the modern ‘hustle culture’ we are all wrapped up in, I think it’s fair to say many of our lives are dictated by an inception of cycles with regards to social, academic, personal, and spiritual matters. I mean, don’t forget to answer your messages, complete the never-ending list of assignments due on the same day, the chores… Wait – have you set an alarm for Fajr? Remember, you need to stay awake after to attend that work meeting. Speaking of meetings, when were you supposed to be meeting with your friends again? Is it on the calendar? What about that subscription, did you confirm the payment? Wait – what were you supposed to be doing right now?
Finding a balance between them all is undoubtedly stress-inducing and even more so when we allow time to pass by without actually processing our experiences and relationships with others, inevitably transforming these ‘matters’ into pressures. Within a blink of an eye, we’ve embarked onto a new cycle: started a new year, lost old friends, perhaps family, or even a new job.
Through having not broken out of old cycles, we create new ones, more toxic than older ones, and it is in this disregard that we unknowingly manage to lug unwanted baggage into our future. We blindly bear our insecurities, despair, and negative energies from previous cycles into a fresh new chapter; tainting the white pages before we’ve given ourselves a rightful chance to start anew.
Life, as we know it, is not full of sunshine and rainbows, I mean, how can we possibly earn our places in the hereafter if it were? There’s nothing to celebrate if everything comes easily. But even still, we must remember that where there’s rain, there’s a rainbow; where there’s thorns, there’re roses; where there’s life, there’re lessons; and where there’s hardships, there’s ease. For us, self-reflection provides the chance to untangle ourselves from the thorns, seize the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and use the power of hindsight to comprehend the greater why. In other words, reflection enables us to break out of old cycles properly and remove ourselves from manifesting any sort of toxicity. Intrinsically, every cycle deals with an emotional side and staying out of tune with it until we are forced to address it is like opening a can of worms worsened at a time when you’re the least prepared to deal with it.
I’m not promising self-reflection will always be like taking a leisurely stroll in the park on a warm summer’s afternoon. We’ve all had experiences we want to shove as far away into the back of our conscience as humanly possible. Ones we’d do anything to forget, like the time I mistook a stranger for my brother and grabbed the chocolate bar from his hand (in my defence, it was a dark night) or the time my sister ran head-first into a glass door, believing it to be open (at least we were on holiday in a faraway country). Yet even in those experiences, there’s plenty to learn. Perhaps of patience and not jumping to conclusions, of responding instead of reacting, or maybe of just making sure we don’t miss our Specsavers’ appointments.
However, self-reflection can also offer us a spiritual cleanse from any negativity. To better ourselves as humans so whenever we do find ourselves in a rut, we can contemplate asking ourselves significant questions such as: what have I achieved through this experience? What am I the most proud of? Simultaneously, don’t be so hard on yourself – simply getting through a difficult time is enough to be considered an achievement, or what could I have done better? It can be a struggle to see personal flaws from your own perspective, so don’t be afraid to ask others for their opinions. Not only can we build our self-awareness, but we enable ourselves to mature into our best possible version, one the Almighty will be pleased with.
The next time you start afresh in whatever it is that you embark on, clear your mind, have faith in the Almighty about how everything which may happen will be according to His will, and reflect; reflect over your actions and sayings. It could be a simple thought at the end of the day before going to sleep, a sentence written in a journal every day, or reciting dhikr – remember it’s all in the little things.
Finally, before you proceed, I have but one request. Take a deep breath, one that you need. Remember you’re human, not a machine, and let yourself process all that has been.
Writing Copyright © 2021 Maryam Bargit
Art Copyright © 2021 Zeynep Yıldırım
About the Authors
Maryam is an eighteen-year-old college student who recently published her first poetry collection titled: Refuge. When she’s not writing, she often spends her time seeking knowledge and admiring the greater depths hidden within literature.
Zaynep is a freelance illustrator. She memorized the Quran at the age of seventeen and studied theology during her higher education. She taught the Quran at an islamic course for four years. Currently, she speaks at seminars about leading a holistic islamic lifestyle and understanding the Qur’an. She also runs a small business with her sister selling handmade products. She is a passionate artist and loves to read in her spare time.