Low Self Esteem & Social Media

I finally got myself into talking about self esteem issues. Ohkay so where do we start? Most girls suffer from low confidence because of body image. In my case it is about all the other things which are not at all related to makeup, looking externally beautiful and fashion. I  believe everyone is beautiful. I never believed in the stereotype for beauty that my Bangladeshi society has carefully mapped for a girl such as fair skin, slim (not skinny) and dressing in traditional Bengali clothes such as salwar kameez and saree in order for you to get married. I had no clue about that until last year when my friend’s mother carefully pointed out how a girl not wearing traditional Bangladeshi clothes prevents her from getting married. Now keep in mind I am not saying ‘Bengali’ because we are not North Eastern Indians, we are Bangladeshis and it’s a bit different even though they speak Sylheti. I honestly don’t care about how a man needs to be tall and have broad shoulders in order to be defined as ‘handsome’ in my community.

The other day I was telling one of my British friends that how one can’t expect a prince when they look like a pauper and she responded “What is wrong with that? I want someone tall for myself.” I by no means disrespect the look of a pauper but what I mean is you can’t expect your spouse to be dark, tall and slim when you are nothing like that. It made me release it is not just the Bengali community, it is every other community. There is something awfully wrong. For example a divorced woman finds it hard to get married in our Asian community because half her beauty has faded because she married once. My lovely childhood friend got married and I made a delicious tart for her. Now she had a grand wedding and everyone attended except me because I was away from home. One year of marriage and they got divorced. Now this girl, I kid you not is the perfect traditional definition of how a girl should be in our Bengali community. She can cook, clean, take care of others and basically do everything house related. She was also studying and she was someone who my Mom always compared me to and I obviously very proudly looked really vague compared to her. She is the kind of girl who follows the rules of society and in every way traditional as you can imagine. I on the other hand can make people happy as well as the same time question our society’s ethics and morals when it comes to defining beauty.

Now there is a buzz in the family for 6ft tall men. Wow. No matter what is your profession if you are 6ft tall, my family will pamper you not just my parents but my entire clan. They will literally feed you roshmolai (Hindi: Rasmalai). It is the wedding season so I see arranged marriages and as well as love happening all around me so you can imagine how much pressure is it on a girl who likes someone who is not 6ft or 5ft 9 inch? Yes, the pressure is real. Gone are the days when the beauty of girl only mattered, now a man’s height matters. One of my college friends said about this certain guy we were talking about and she said something which was offensive but true. She said “Who will marry him? He always drinks sugary drinks eventhough he is obese. Now girls also want handsome boys.” I was like “Wow.” I am probably too shy to even evaluate a man whether it is social media or offline. I am the most awkward person and I always tell my Father when a guy even greets me. Just to let them know if I get murdered who they should be looking for. You never know what a random street guy is capable of. You have to take precautions.

I don’t know why I turned out to be the person who has a lot of opinions. Hence, my mother makes sure that I don’t say anything beyond greeting in family gatherings in Bangladesh. She will just give me that look with her eyes which clearly indicates I need to leave the room as soon as possible.

You see they also define the characteristics you should have which makes you beautiful. What is the perfect definition of inner beauty? It is simple the upright moral character of our Prophet Muhammad sall Allaahu alayhi wa sallam. Therefore sometimes we need to take it easy. There is no point in being defensive. Let your actions do the talking. Walk the talk.

All these low self esteem issues comes from social media. We are exposed to everyone’s lives and somehow they seem to have a lot more fun than we are. We look at people with a caked face and we think “Wow! She is pretty. I wish I was like her.” We seem to live in an illusion of digital media where everything can be made to look better with a snapchat filter. You instantly feel happy when there is a flower crown on your head. So who is defining your definition of beauty? It is the people who you follow and ‘stalk’ on Instagram or snapchat. You are living in a bubble if you think they look perfect but actually everyone would like to look happy and gorgeous in their pictures. But you need to reflect if I take off all these makeup and glitter off my face will I be able to still face people with confidence? Can I greet guests in my house wearing nothing on my face? Is my confidence and my body image imprisoned in my concealer?

I had a very cute child who was a huge part of our family and she was dark. She used to tell us that she wants to wear makeup because in her family everyone calls her black: only her Dad says she is beautiful and imagine you are applying makeup for a 5 year old to boost her confidence to make her feel that if she applies powder and looks a shade lighter than her skin tone then everyone will consider her beautiful? My heart used to tear apart every time she would insist that we apply makeup on her. I don’t own a contour kit. Therefore I am out of the makeup game. A girl told me “You cover your face, what would you know?” Believe me women judge us more than men. We don’t dress up to compete with men, we put up a show to keep up with the women of our generation.

You can only look beautiful when you have confidence. You could be the most prettiest/ handsome person in your neighbourhood but if you are not satisfied with what Allaah has blessed you with, no one will be pleased with how you look. Everyone will try to put you down. Remember people don’t know your insecurities unless you point it out to them. Last year a lady told me “Sumaiya can you notice a difference in my nose?” I thought she might have fallen and she is asking if it looks okay so I responded “Yes it looks swollen.” She replied “I got a nose plastic surgery last week because I was not satisfied with how my nose looked.” I was dumbfounded because if she hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t notice it. Now I always stare at her nose. I can’t help it, I am sorry.

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Wear something yellow and beat the self esteem blues.

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Growing Up as an Emotional Person: My Most Embarrassing Story

I always felt either too much or nothing at all. Growing up I didn’t know how to have a good balance between things which were okay to be emotional about and things I should should let go. I always kept a diary to record everything. When I was 8 years old, my father snatched my diary while I was writing and he wasn’t too happy about what I wrote and he literally opened his mouth to express his shock and displeasure but I told him “It’s true isn’t it?” I always liked keeping a journal with me.

I had a diary since I could write. Therefore my father would always say “Why don’t you study English language in College?” I don’t like linguistics but I love creative writing. Although I felt when I follow so many rules of a language, it limits my flow of writing. I can’t write with my heart when in my mind, I know “This is incorrect.” I remember something that really touched me is what an author once said “Don’t focus on the grammatical rules because that is what the editor is for.”

Books were my escape. I used to read books in the shower pan because my Dad would be angry about me reading rather than sleeping on time. I would literally sit there and read. I remember when I was 12: my teacher snatched the book I was reading because I wasn’t concentrating in my Mathematics class.

The most embarrassing situation was when I was 9 years old and I had this pink Fulla notepad. I wrote there about a guy who I used to play with at the time and I tore the page 2; I crumbled it and threw it out of the kitchen window. The most unfortunate thing, it remained on the window stool. My father was like “What is that? Let me read that.” And I literally wanted to die of humiliation that day. I don’t exactly remember what I wrote but I remember to this day how it made me feel. I can still feel it. Hence, I would be open with my kids that they really wouldn’t be embarrassed to tell me anything. That day I came to realise writing about boys is a bad thing. I was stupid but that kid was rude and abusive. So I guess, I wasn’t that bad after all. I don’t think anything embarrassing that happened after that could beat that incident.

I think 2011 was when I moved to my first digital diary because I could just delete words with a tap. Then I kept a diary for 2012. 2013 is when I lost interest in writing. I started shutting down from everyone and I liked remaining out of everyone’s eyesight. I stopped reading. It was the most devastating year of my life. I hated myself and I was suffering from low self-esteem. I thought I was a plain loser. I would walk with my heads down because I was so ashamed of myself. The world devoured me that year. There were many reasons for it but I don’t have the courage to talk about them. I never liked giving an explanation of anything associated with me.

Looking back, I think the 15 year old managed it well without any wisdom or advice. In 2014 I had my ‘aha moment’, I changed completely and I gave 2015 the best of me. Nothing till now can top that year. I didn’t have any friends that year except the ones online. I was really happy with them and till to this day we keep in touch. The funny thing was when my parents thought I was making them up and they didn’t exist. Guess what? In 2016, I met one of them in real life because I moved closer to her. Sadly in 2017, she moved out of the country. This is Qadr, we accept it wholeheartedly. She was my first friend whose husband I saw in person and later, their child.

In 2017, my one piece of writing got me the third position in a talent competition in my college. I wish one day I can share with you and you would read without any pride or prejudice.

Fast forward 1 year and we are in 2018. I now know how not to let my feelings devour me. I am a stronger woman (although I believe 2012 me was the strongest). I am willing to learn: willing to try new things. I run away from arguments (although I participate in debates).

I would love to know how you have changed as a person over the years. Was there an aha moment in your life? How did you control your emotions as a child?

Is College For Me?

I really pushed myself to write this blog post because I am generally a very anxious person. I have been quite because I didn’t know how to react to so many people visiting this Blog. When I first started blogging, it was an escape from my mundane life. I was really passionate about Islam and I didn’t think the society I was brought up in was accepting and welcoming. I always thought my life is no ones business but soon people started commenting and I felt like when I wrote here, I was truly me. It was then called Blue Spirit Muslim and I later renamed it to S.J Wanders because I wanted it to be personal and someone who you can relate to.

I obviously am in College and that takes up most of my time because studying Early Childhood Education is a lot of work. I honestly wouldn’t do this course if I knew it required me to do practical things. I think I would be good with a book in the library. I am all about books but this field turned out to be something I truly feel passionate about. It wasn’t definitely something that was my goal growing up.

The truth is I never wanted go to College, I was more sort of a work person so I would do a lot of work for people for free and learn at my own pace. I didn’t prefer a rigid schedule or a curriculum that was limiting me to gain knowledge in other areas. However, it did work out for me Alhamdulillah.

Recently I completed a course in First Aid and Nutrition and I thought it was marvelous and I learned a lot that I couldn’t have learn in 3 hours College lectures. I volunteer often which makes me immensely happy because I can help people and meet folks who  I share similar interests with. So I have this mixed views of studying in an institution because there is so much I want to do and I just feel I am not able to because of the coursework and exams. Believe it or not, in 2 years this is the first time I am stress free: taking one day at a time. I really want to do a phD but fun fact I am already exhausted. I get super nervous for the next upcoming semester. I always prepare for the worst so when it happens I am like “Well, I imagined worse than this.”

9 Pure Souls and I

I have never written about them on the Blog so I feel like I need to express about them here. Last November, I was chosen to become a teacher for children aged 3-4 years old. I actually wanted to teach 2 years olds but my boss was like they are just going to bully me so she placed me in nursery 4. I was introduced to my first kid and his nickname is E. Now E is really adorable even when he cries and frowns like no joke. Allaahumma Baarik lahu. Most of my kids were Chinese with a minority of Malay. It took E two weeks to accept me in play. I still remember when he called me to play with him and that was one of my greatest moments because I finally was starting to make a place in his heart. One of the kids left early so it came down to 9 children. There were a handful. My job was to be a teacher and not a mother so I was very clear that I would never want to replace their mother. Therefore we would always talk about what their Daddy likes and what their Mommy likes. So I had AVR, Ran, Ayl, Way, Cell, Zaa, E, Hay and ET. I didn’t know you could love people equally but I love all of them differently because they have different characteristics and personalities. It is truly awe-inspiring to see them succeed at academics and non-academics areas at such a young age.

My last day of teaching AVR’s Mom said “Teacher Sumaiya, she always talks about you.” I stood like a statue because I was literally in tears and I did not want to cry in front of the children or anyone in the school. When I went inside, I was wiping tears and I realised children don’t know what is goodbye because 3-4 years olds are egocentric. Then on 16th March 2018 was my official last day when we went on a field trip and I was making sure they had their breakfast without spilling juice or food on their clothes because they didn’t bring additional clothes. That was one of my biggest concerns and one of the kids I told her “Come on lets go.” Then I noticed she opened her shoes while she sat in the canteen. So I had to make her wear the shoes and it clicked in my mind this is why my parents hate to travel with us. For the first time in my life, I felt the motherly duties because we were outside the school and it was a totally mind boggling experience. I wasn’t too sure if I want to be a mother so soon because my life goal until that day was to become a mother asap. It is alot of hassle to be travelling with kids and imagine if they are toddlers. Plus the toilets were not built child size so were the tables and chairs in the canteen and it really bothered me because the kids were having a hard time. I had to help them sit on the toilet seat and all the teachers did the same with the other kids. Ayl’s little sister came and she is amazing and adorable. Allaahumma baarik feeha. I just couldn’t get over the Mei Mei (little sister in Chinese).  Another reason my parents hate to travel with us is because we are big kids, we have alot of opinions and dislikes. Not really my parents would either travel with us or not at all. As a child our favourite spot to travel was Jeddah and obviously Makkah and Madinah are different because we are religiously connected to them. It reminded me of my childhood and I came to appreciate my parents alot more. I mean the amount of sacrifices they did for us, it is truly heartbreaking.

However, the bus was also not made for children, I wish I could turn everything into child size. Sometimes I had to stand up to make sure the children are sitting properly and are comfortable. The best thing is I didn’t fall on anyone in a moving bus: that would be the end of my career and worse it would be caught on camera.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed it Alhamdulillah. It was the best few months of my life and I spent with so many beautiful children. Basically, I didn’t eat them because obviously they are not edible and it is not professional to be kissing the kids all the time. We always hugged and we played hide and seek in the library. Yes, learning through play. I learned to spend my last day and my farewell day with them by not letting my emotions come in the way which was a huge lesson for me. You know sometimes we cannot enjoy the last moments with people or in a place because we are overcome my grief that we will be leaving forever, I didn’t let it affect me. I treated 16th March as any other day but I made sure I had lots of fun with them and let them know I am leaving for good. I told each one of them “I love you.” I expressed my love without sobbing and wrote good qualities about them.

So, here are some pictures to mark my last day with them. I hope to remember them forever because they were my first class who I taught in my life.

Thank you Teacher Den for the great experience and what you have taught me. Before I didn't want to teach English Language but you told me, it is one of my strengths. You have corrected me from the first week and you have been straight forward. I have never wanted to be a principal because of the ones I have seen but you have totally changed the definition of principal. You are the best principal I have ever met and you have formed a relationship with every child in your school and you even remember the number plates of all the students cars as well as your teacher. Miss J and I never thought we would be this fortunate and your passion towards teaching young learners is awe-inspiring. I have learned how to teach Montessori in creative ways from you and how to manipulate the lessons to suit the needs of children in the class. I have wanted to work in a diverse environment and you have provided just that. I have met the loves of my life here. You have also taught me how to be involved yet have an awareness of my surrounding. I am going to miss the children so much and the teachers. May Allaah bless them Aameen. The children are so precious. What a better way to end this journey than a field trip to a library. Hope you continue what you are doing and enjoy like you do because many people own schools but few people make a positive difference in the child's early years. I never wanted to be a teacher but after working with you I can say I am one. There is a long way to go for me in sha Allaah. #earlyyears #school #earlychildhoodeducation

A post shared by Teacher Sumaiya (@hastyteacher) on

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 2014-2015

I found some pictures of when I was once living in Riyadh and I almost forgot how much I explored Saudi Arabia back then.

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If you are wondering why I am not a big of pigeons. This is why.

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Fireworks on the 3rd night (2nd night in English Calendar) of Eid ul Adha. Enjoy the sparks of the fireworks falling. Location: King Abdul Aziz Park, Malaz, Riyadh, KSA

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The play of water fountain which this park is known for. You could see the splashes of droplets on my camera lens. Forgive me for that. Location: King Abdulaziz Park, Malaz, Riyadh, KSA

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That swimming pool though. Who wants to dive in? Location: Al Faisaliah Spa, Olaya,Riyadh, KSA

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Sitting arrangements to enjoy the Eid stage show. Location: Al Masmak Fort, Dhira, Riyadh, KSA

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On the morning of Eid ul Fitr 2014. Can you spot the honor guard parade for welcoming the Royal Family? They are wearing white uniform. Location: Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque, Dhira, Riyadh, KSA

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The city lights from the top floor of al Faisaliah Tower. Location: Al Faisaliah Tower, Olaya, Riyadh, KSA

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The inside of Al Faisaliah Spa by ESPA. Love the decor. Location: Al Faisaliah Spa, Riyadh, KSA

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Location: Al Faisaliah Tower, Riyadh, KSA

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SubhanAllaah the view! Location: Al Faisaliah Tower, Riyadh, KSA

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A bee in Riyadh. Incase you are wondering how bees rest here. They sleep on our keyboard.

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I believe taxidermy was done to these animals for study. Location: Prince Sultan Science Oasis, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh, KSA

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Prince Sultan Science Oasis. This is his museum. Due to weightlessness the body doesn’t stay on the ground in outer space.One thing that amazed me and my friends is that there was a picture of Prince Sultan praying in the spaceship when he was in space. His feet were fasten with belts so that they remain firm on the ground. Location: Prince Sultan Science Oasis, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh, KSA

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Al Yamamah Resort, Riyadh

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The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried. Object- A Dawat to store ink. During ancient times the ink prepared from minerals and soot was stored in a heavy brass ink pot traditionally known as Dawat. Location- Al Maskmak Museum, Dhira, Riyadh

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Object- A Pen case to store writing utensils in its end three cylindrical inkwells in various sizes. Location- Al Masmak Museum, Dhira, Riyadh

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Place: Al Masmak Fort, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Announcement Regarding Missing Posts

I have decided that I will take off some of the articles as I need further clarifications on them. Therefore until my doubts are cleared and everything is resolved, I am sorry they won’t be available for the time being. It is sad that some of the posts had a high number of views but I have decided to take them off the site for a few good reasons.

True Story of a Mother Struggling to Remain Firm on Tawheed

I come from a Sufi family where a lot of bidah and shirk is present. Alhamdulillah Allah guided me to the straight path and Alhamdulillah Allahumma Baarik I got married to a Salafi .

I started to relearn my Deen correctly from the correct sources Alhamdulillah and had the company of my dear husband who Masha Allah tabarak Allah is of a strong emaan and he patiently and kindly helped me always.

I used to do an internship at the hospital before my marriage and hence have seen suffering people. I could never go inside the pediatric icu as I have always loved babies and I couldn’t see that . I would sit outside as my colleagues went in .I would look at the board where the babies names were written and feel so bad for the parents .

Allah blessed us with a baby boy after a year and a half of our marriage ,I named him Ismail to this day that memory makes me cry. I had chosen that name for my son since I was in 10th. Ismail was very dear ,my first baby I cared for him a lot. When he was 7 and a half months old he was admitted in the hospital because he got seizures the doctor said nothing to worry we can go home tomorrow morning . I was sitting in the ward in the night looking at my baby sleeping then a Muslim lady came up and asked me what was wrong and all she left me saying looking at Ismail that he is possessed you need to put a taweez (amulet) for him she said no Medicine will help ,he will get worse .At that point I just ignored her but slowly it was seeping in after all I was raised in ahime where all this was so strongly practiced . Ismail’s health got worse, he was in ICU now ,when I sat outside and saw my Ismail’s name on the board I broke down crying and then I thought does Ismail need a taweez am I being arrogant and pushing my baby to death?

This though kept becoming stronger and stronger. All I had to do was tell my mom and she would get it for me I had to hide it from my husband, all this kept playing in my mind. Ismail was sick for a month and it had been a month since we saw him play or smile. One night I saw my husband and Ismail sleeping and thought it’s enough Ismail has suffered enough I will call my mom now and get the taweez. I started to cry and cry and I thought of all the sacrifices I had made to be on the haqq how I had wished a life of emaan for my Ismail, I told myself then no NO I will not do it, if Ismail is destined to die he will die on Tawheed I will never do shirk never, I cried profusely that night asked for Allah’s forgiveness and slept in the morning my husband woke me up in excitement and said look at Ismail .Ismail was sitting up smiling at both of us ,I cried and cried and hugged him, from that day on his health got better and better. The doctors has suspected anything for my baby paralysis , coma, death etc.. Subhanallah my Allah didn’t want to take my baby  He Subhanawatala only wanted to cleanse me of the shirk and wanted to clean my heart Subhanallah. I could have bore see myself or my husband in pain but Ismail was to dear ya Ustaza.Today my Ismail is 12 years old and healthy Alhamdulillah and is doing hifz Alhamdulillah.Allah’s Qadar even when we see it as hurting us is only and only for are good.

 

Disclaimer: This is shared by an anonymous Salafi mother to student of knowledge Zaynab Al Kateb after the end of her Usul Ath Thalatha 2018 classes and the names have been changed to keep her privacy.

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