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Moving Forward: 10 Vital Lessons I Learned From the Past

Lessons Learned
4 min read

by Naila Sheikh

With the start of  a new year came the inevitable processes of self-reflection and creating resolutions. But before I could think of goals for 2016, I wanted to make sure I had gleaned as many lessons as I could from my past.

1. It is what it is; do not fret, do not dwell and whoever said to let it marinate (issues, topics, confrontations) was wrong.

Say it right there and then, but say it genuinely with grace, and with a certain sternness, depending on the level of seriousness.

2. Now that I’m in my thirties, as a mom, a wife, a daughter (in-law), feeling secure of my brownness and who I am, there is no need to explain myself beyond the obvious.

Whoever gets it, gets it. Who doesn’t? Leave it up to God.

3. It seems as though when a girl appears “bossy,” she is often shamed by others for not following the “norms” of feminity or the expected innocence that comes with it.

I say it’s BS.

Bossy? How about the consideration that she might have potential leadership skills. When a boy is ought to be vocal about his needs, it is seen as powerful and a girl can’t? Of course, the fine line exists in not overstepping moral values and keeping inclined to staying respectful—for both genders!

Go get ’em tigresses!

4. Be a lawyer.

No, not the kind where you consider law school (that’s if you want, of course and kudos to you) but the metaphorical ‘lawyer’ in which law school is the world right in front of you. Your life experiences, your interactions with people; the good and bad. Analyze scenarios (heck, even write them down), weigh the pros and cons, give yourself options on how to react given the personality trait you’re facing. Is your opposition stubborn, overly loving? Tolerant or impatient? Once you decide to BE a lawyer, that is when you start THINKING like one. So let it be, and then let it become.

5. Do not question yourself too much.

It is rather okay to keep on questioning your own behavior/actions for the sake of improving oneself, but don’t question yourself to the point of self-doubt. Been there, done that.

For example, in life, there are times when I feel that perhaps my words and thoughts shouldn’t have the exposure to social media as one is fearful of being judged. Luckily, my passion for sharing my thoughts and writings cannot be stopped even if I wanted to. This is who I am, it is inbred, it is innate. I love it. I live for it. Got a problem? Delete me, unfollow me.

6. You know when you think the best of people and romanticize life because you firmly believe in its goodness?

Good! Keep it up. But I would make a slight adjustment there sweetheart; keep on doing what you’re doing, be the best at it – however, also stay alert.

Alertness isn’t negative energy, it is survival. To stay alert is to dodge unnecessary complications in life that can emotionally drain us. Instead, use your time to BE the best person, let go (just a little bit) of thinking the best OF people, because by now you must know that humans are weak; they come with flaws and their own capacity for comprehension and handling situations.

It is okay. Don’t expect, just do the best YOU can.

7. We all seek to become financially secure in life but we often forget our emotional wellbeing in the process.

Become emotionally secure; invest your time in taking care of yourself. Even if that means some alone time. Contemplate (oh, how much I love that word). Relish the silence and clear your mind. Look up. Acknowledge the sky, the clouds – the entire universe is yours!

{In Islamic tradition, it is said that the Prophet Mohammad (may peace be upon him) would go into the desert, climb a mountain known as Mount Hira, and seclude himself from the world. While on the mountain, he would contemplate life and its meaning. In Christianity, contemplation refers to a content-free mind directed towards the awareness of God as a living reality.}

8. Stay silly.

Dance, laugh, make funny faces. In a world of devastating news headlines, we get sucked into the fear of living. What can one do? Empathize, count your blessings and try to steer away from skeptical thoughts. If nothing else, then current events should teach us to fully live our lives.

9. Be strong.

Once you’ve covered being emotionally strong, I say it’s an utmost necessity to also be physically healthy. Our emotional and physical beings are one entity; therefore, keeping strong physically protects our emotional drive.

10. Always have a hobby.

Even if you are indecisive of what you love, start experimenting. Be passionate about something else than the daily, mundane ordinary things. For instance, visit Home Depot. Take an interest in home improvement projects. It’s sexy, it’s useful, it is smart.

Happy 2016!

NailaNaila Sheikh resides with her husband and two kids in Houston, TX. Born and raised in Holland, she has a keen interest to keep up with the current affairs around the world. Her everyday life, apart from playing mommy, also consists of Food Blogging on her website: NailasKitchen.com.


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