Friday 14 May 2010

Reflections on Ambition and Work

Every now and again I have one of those moments when I look back over the last 10 or 12 years and think “What have I been doing?” “Where am I and where could I have been?” I wonder if the choices I made were the right ones and whether I should have had more patience or more courage.

Perhaps I moved jobs too quickly when I came back from maternity leave and got fed up when I found myself back to square one. Perhaps I lost my courage and took the easy way when I got married straight after graduating and never did my masters degree, but worked so that I could bring my beloved husband here (which made the decision to stop studying more than worth it – some exchanges are better in the long run). Perhaps I lost my nerve when it came to that interesting job which I knew I could do, but which left me fearful that it would steal more of my time, energy and attention away from my children.

Whatever the reason, I am where I am in my career; positive and hopeful some days, miserable and despondent on others. When I get like this, I start to dig deeper and ask myself why am I questioning my decisions and the fact that fate would have brought me to this point anyway? I start to think about what it was I originally craved even though I did not know it at the time – prestige, getting to the top of the career ladder, better pay and then when you look deeper what these point to – the opportunity to prove myself, the need to outdo everyone, the need to be respected and a bolster for my self-esteem, albeit a false one, because I have since realised that self-esteem comes not because of what you can do or have achieved, but regardless of these things.

Stopping and reflecting in this way makes me realise that the old rules no longer apply for me. I am a mother now and as such, my priorities are completely different. I am more comfortable in my own skin and care less and less about what other people think and accordingly have lost to a large extent the need to prove myself or beat anyone at anything. My reasons for doing things have changed. I no longer need promotion and money, but to know I have made the most of that day, that I have served someone in some small way, that I have learned something new and that I have not compromised my faith (great acts of good ness are the ideal, but sometimes in the world we live in today, just avoiding those things which are sinful is considerable in itself).

It’s no longer about career and promotion, but about finding your life’s work and about thinking about why Allah has put me here. It’s no longer about the big leaps across grades and positions, but about the small incremental steps towards something that holds genuine value. So now when I feel down on my job and start seeing all the people in higher grades acting as if they really believe in their own importance – I take one small step – I make sure that I have done one very small thing that will take me closer to my goals – whether it is buying one book to do some research, reading one chapter of it, writing my goal down and starting the planning or just sharing it with someone else and asking for help. Once I have done this, I know I have done enough for that day and don’t have to fret about where I am in life and what I have achieved.

1 comment:

  1. Ummsalihah, I love all your writing and musings, but I especially enjoy it when you write such honest, thoughtful, insightful nuggets of wisdom.

    Everyday I am bogged down with these same issues and beat myself up wondering "IF" only I did such-and-such or made a different decision then my life would have been so much better and more meaningful.

    I fail to realise that Taqdeer would have brought me back here (wherever)anyway.
    Now all I can do is to try do good no matter how small and not question my worth based upon someone else's evaluation.

    As has been said : "Too many people buy things they don't need, with money they don't have to impress people they don't even like."

    I hope you and your family are well. Shukran for continuing to blog. I know you were contemplating writing less often or stopping altogether.
    I would definitely have missed you.
    Take care.
    Love Farzana