My high school years were a handful. I was the short kid who loved novels and films. My novel English didn’t go well with coastal language norms of my peers, so a few got me. I had a close friend during the end who introduced me to the sport I love today — he was a class lower. I was a proper Introvert. I didn’t know what that was at the time.
It was graveyard lonely. And I could share none of it to anyone.
In university, nothing much changed until I met this guy in our prayer room one evening. He asked me and everyone present on a question he had and soon enough, it turned into a full blown discussion.
I marveled at how he captured everyone, bringing out emotions and invested opinions from them. It was everything that I didn’t have, and he made it seem almost effortless.
I had never seen anyone so enthusiastic and stable to everyone around them, regardless of what background they came from. I knew he was different. And from that day on, I followed him everywhere he went.
I watched him take 30 minutes where i spent five due to the people seeking to speak with him. I met his high status friends who always lit up when he joined in. I saw him chair organizations, interact with beacons of change and travel this country through passion and personality. He was amazing. And having an extrovert like him house I, the reserved introvert, still boggles my mind to date.
I’d like to think he saw something in me; the way he built my courage, dragged me to high profile meetings, pushed me to leadership beside him and everything else that my comfort zone could sue for life imprisonment.
So much so that it was when either of us is seen, people know that the other isn’t far behind.
Giving speeches and running youth groups by day, and talking about life, oceans and girls and what the Prophet aleyhi salaam said on choosing them until 1:32am in the mornings was it’s result. And I loved every second of it.
The hard part in all this for me though, is that he’s gone. Not dead of course but, taken by graduation, work, marriage and fatherhood. We don’t hang out as much as we used to and with every dawn of day, we grow further and further apart.
And I know he doesn’t mean for this to happen; he’s only one man. One that I am inconceivably grateful to.
Even so, I can’t help but miss our nights watching comedic movies together, or the adventures of battling 5 foot waves whilst helping a fisherman pull his sand-dug dhow into the tide. I can’t help but feel my highschool years unfold again. I can’t help but feel lonely again.
But then, a question hit the nerves of my heart and mind, is everyone we care about going to be with us forever? A butterfly inviting question this is…
I came to the realization that whether it’s our best friends, our families, our love, giving them the entirety of our emotions; of happiness, fulfillment, love, is being unfair to them as human beings.
Because apart from them not being telepathic, they have themselves to take care of. And if we struggle to determine our own feelings when we’re alone, how do we expect someone else, with their emotions, to do it for us?
Each one of us has scriptures of tales about how their family, friend or partner made them feel: betrayed, angry, unloved and more. But in every one of them, we placed our emotions in their hands and allowed them to do as they willed.
I allowed my high school to dictate the terms of my stay there, and every single ounce of painful memories I have of it.
Same thing happens with positive emotions.
I placed my happiness, fulfillment and appreciation into the hands of my bestie but as soon as he had to leave, I felt sad, lonely and betrayed.
We do this every single day not realizing that, as Angel Jibril aleyhi salaam puts it, ‘…As much as you love someone, know that one day you shall both leave each other…’ — everyone eventually, has to leave. And the only person you’re left with, is You.
If we don’t learn how to keep ourselves happy, fulfilled, how to love ourselves when no one is there to do it for us, how are we to survive this world of constant departure?
Whether be it religion, relationships or our social and financial lives, let the decision be based on who you are as a person. But we first have to sit down with ourselves and understand exactly who we are, our likes, dislikes, triggers, weaknesses and strengths. Then learn to accept ourselves and love that flawed soul we call us.
Because it’s the only person we spend the rest of our lives with. The least we can do is love them.
We shouldn’t be looking for people to complete us but rather, to complement us.
Everyone shall leave. So let them add to you and not take from you. It is no wonder that the people who are strongest for others, first learnt how to be the strongest for themselves.
This is not a story of pity, sadness or loneliness, but on of growth, stability and strength. My name is Abdulqadir Mahmoud and I believe my story can change the world. For it surely has changed mine. And it still is.