First published in Women Today, December 2008
There are times when we feel that we have everything planned ahead and we are sure of what we are doing, but all the sudden we realize that we are actually lost. And when we are lost, suddenly everything around us seems not right and we start accumulating clutter; emotional clutter and physical clutter. But at the end of this cycle, there is hope to feel free from the clutter, to feel right on track again. And that is possible by simply deciding to.
I went through this cycle this year. I felt lost again. I thought I had my life planned the moment I started university. But I was lost again, more than ever. The last time I felt that lost was when I graduated from high school. At least back then I knew where I wanted to go and what to study. But after university I felt unsure of everything; of my degree, my job, the things I do. I felt out of place; I was thinking too much. Was this depression?
The problem is that if I say that I am depressed, people would not understand. Usually in a traditional conservative part of the Qatari society it is non-sense to be depressed. Not a lot of people would understand. I would probably hear these phrases: “ you don’t have any reason to be depressed, you have a good job, good family, good friends and a life that many would wish to have” or I would hear “ Just pray and ask for forgiveness, maybe you are distant from God”. Ok, thank you for your encouraging words, but they are not helping that much. I thought I shouldn’t depend on anyone but myself. But, what to do? How can I find myself again? How can I stop thinking too much? There is no clear reason for my feeling!
My emotional status started to materialize into piles of clutter on every corner in my room. It also affected my physical health; my appetite was going up and down. I would either eat too much or not eat at all.
I needed to get rid of all of this; to much clutter inside my mind and in my room and I needed to be healthy in body and mind. I didn’t know what to do for months. I thought I should keep myself busy by choosing a goal and dedicating myself to it. However, that by itself was difficult; I didn’t know what to choose as a goal. So I started thinking of simple short-term goals like learning a new thing. But that didn’t work either, because once the excitement of starting something new goes away, I would loose motivation and interest, get bored, quit and start something else. And that just added confusion to my list of clutter.
After few more months I think I found the solution; dedication + devotion = achieved goals = content. I simply had to stick to my goals and work hard to achieve them. It was hard but it was worth it at the end; I managed to do so many things. And for that achievement I felt happy with myself, that I was actually productive. Moreover, I realized that I shouldn’t do too many things at the same time; I should focus on few things that I wanted to do the most and make sure I devote myself to them. So I decided what I had to do exactly and asked myself what I wanted to get out of doing this thing. Keeping me busy and productive gave color to my life. I felt of use to myself and to the people around me.
I first started by removing all the clutter in my room. I actually felt light. Then I took a long hot shower, went out to buy some new books to read, passed by a language center to learn a new foreign language and registered at the gym. I also started teaching English for a lady in her late thirties who decided to finish high school. I felt happy that I was improving my life and helping someone to do so. What was important here is that I stuck to what I have started and never missed a class at the language center or at the gym or was behind in my reading. When I started thinking positively, positive things started to happen even at work.
So I believe that we have the power to create our lives and decide how it is going to be. We can either nag and complain and be negative or take action and be positive and try to deal with our problems the best way we can. So move now, get rid of that clutter!