My introverted Struggles

I just feel that recently I have been drifting further and further away from the deen. I’m not as proactive with praying my salah on time, i’m missing quite a few. I’m not reading the Qur’an as much as I used to but instead I feel this urge to integrate with the dunya, to make the most out of it, to build connections and to be seen as a good student so that doctors are more willing to teach me.

I never realised how importance social skills were. I thought that I was a good communicator, but the truth is, I can become so much better at it. There are times in life where we will need to have challenging discussions or negotiate problems with people who have different aims and interests to you. Even the best of communicators are bound to find these things difficult.

I am quite introverted. After spending a whole day of being in hospital, having to talk to lots of people – patients, my consultant, the other doctors in the team, nurses, HCAs, other students I might bump into – I usually go home feeling quite drained at the end of the day, not wanting to do any work. I’m not a fan of noisy environments either. I prefer to study and learn in quiet environments. It allows me to concentrate.

Recently I have been trying to learn more about how I can be more extroverted to make the most of my environment without compromising too much on my need for occasional solitude. I learnt when I was quite young that the ones who are most successful or are liked are the ones who are louder and more confident. So I tried to be that way. But every now and again, I get lazy and stop trying to be extroverted and retreat back into my shell like a tortoise.

My reading has taught me extroverts are usually more happy because they engage with people more. It has also taught me that it is ok to step out of my personality (in a chameleon like fashion) if it is in the pursuit of work that I love and feel passionate about. My desire is to be a better doctor and engage better with the people around me, so it is ok to adapt myself, my demeanour, smile more, be more friendly, charismatic, humorous, etc to make my patients and colleagues happy. As long as I do this with good intentions and then step back into my personality to enable myself to have that me-time that I need to recuperate.

I feel like I have been spending more of my time utilising the knowledge and expertise of these secular social scientists and psychologists who are more in tune with how the world functions today, rather than reading about the prophets, companions and scholars of the past, which is different to how I was previously. I sometimes feel that when I delve into the lives of the pious, I can’t really relate to it much and I feel like I can’t even act in that virtuous way within this society I live in where virtues are not valued and it is more about personality. 

Or if I ever do act more virtuous, I find myself not being able to be fully present in the environment around me because I’ll just constantly be judging others and judging myself for being around people who act in this way, when in fact, it probably isn’t really my fault. 

Turning to non-religious people for advice does make me feel guilty in some sort of way. I have put this expectation on myself that all the answers to my struggles should be in islamic literature. I feel I need to make some sort of deal with myself – that sometimes I will have to look at the work of non-religious people who have a greater insight into the world we are living in today. These people can provide better advice on how I can connect with the world around me. And I need to connect with the world around me, in order to make some meaningful differences to the world. So it’s ok to do that, as long as I do not compromise on what is halal and haram (permissible and non permissible). 

I can make my intention that I want to connect with the people around me for the sake of dawah, to show them that islam is the truth through my actions, my manners, my calm temperament, politeness and my virtues. I can make my intentions so that it is all for Allah’s sake and maybe I can even be rewarded for it inshaAllah.

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