Posted on Nov 02, 2014
I remember sitting through a lecture on self-identity, my first year of college. I clearly remember the professor saying “sometimes it takes years for people to figure out who they are.” I literally scoffed and thought to myself “who doesn’t know who they are or what their identity is? Ridiculous.” I thought for a split second about it and then left it alone. Now, 6 years later, I still remember that very moment and how much value that very phrase had in itself.
There are a lot of factors that make us think of ourselves in manners unspeakable to the world. I know this is a little cliché, but; the internal struggle is real. Life happens, and you are constantly tested, whether our Lord wants to test us with good tidings or hardship, we are always tested. This in itself is an assessment of your own struggles, faith, character and every being. This was definitely the case for me.
In reality, I faced a lot of obstacles, constantly tested one after another. Sometimes when it rained it poured. So what I did was create a world outside of reality via social media. Facebook was one my greatest tools yet the biggest perpetrator in my internal struggle. I used Facebook to mask a life I was ashamed of. I attempted to hide behind statuses, or happy pictures to show others; life is good. I was so caught up in showing others what I wanted them to think about my life that I forgot what life was really about. My goals were disarrayed. My dignity felt undone. First world problems, right? Wrong. These social media issues may come off as first world problems but in reality, these things aren't trivial.
My mother faces a severe illness, schizophrenia. I witnessed her transformation from completely normal to being exposed to a world unknown to the naked eye. I was scared, fascinated and sad for an extensive amount of time. As an adolescent, I was pressed to become more understanding of my surroundings, as if almost I had no choice. Of course, I had choices; my father, a very passive yet loving man, was and is extremely lenient and I had all the freedom in the world. I could’ve taken advantage of every moment and… I did. I didn’t use it for haram (anything prohibited), but I didn’t use it for halal (anything permissible) either. Looking back at it now; I wasted a lot of time.
During this time, I was constantly looking for an escape. I felt like life was always in shambles, that I could never catch a break subhanAllah. I even remember, last year uttering the words; “always one thing after another.” Astaghfirullah. In the meantime, I felt the need to portray an image that was “whole” and not as broken as how I felt in reality. I always had the urge to make something of myself; and when Facebook messages and notifications started to grow, so did my ego. Unfortunately, it was and is the sad truth. I thought if I could manipulate others to think I live this “glamorous” life, I can avoid being this “broken” small town girl. It's as if I was living a double life and it actually worked for a while - and I was ashamed that it worked.
I’m not trying to degrade such tools that can be utilized for good things. The picture I’m trying to depict for you is that in some sick way, in my head, I thought I was that girl on social media. When I met people, they asked about clothes, the latest fashion, music and most things I had no idea about because in reality I sincerely do not *care* about most of these things. I mentioned in my introduction I was a tomboy. I really am a care-free spirit. I have no attachment to material things but the person I was and still sometimes portray is this high-maintenance fashionista.
I became exhausted. Please do not misunderstand what I’m saying. I love a sense of style, not the latest clothing or branding but a good sense of style. I used to love good music but attempting to try to stop listening (real hard struggle there) and I want to discuss philosophical things with you. I am a woman at the end of the day and I love to dress up and play with makeup. When social media started taking that away from me, I felt I was in shackles. Now I had to deal with reality and its issues and then social media and those issues. What pictures I can take, where I can go etc. It took over a lot of my life for the sake of pleasing other people and sometimes, astaghfirullah, sometimes even making others envious. Truth be told, it wasn’t even about people as much as it was about “that person.” I know many of us do this, in relationships, friendships etc., and it sort of ruins us when we allow it to take so much control over us - which is why Islam is always about moderation.
This Ramadan, SubhanAllah, the All-Mighty sent me a clear-cut message. I knew what I was doing but I needed to hear it and see it for myself. When I realized this, I deactivated my Facebook, I took off almost all my photos from Instagram, I rarely update Twitter and no longer cared to even go on YouTube. I swear I felt the most peace. I never understood why, but being away from all these “distractions” gave me a sense of relief. I had to bring everything to a standstill to even understand; I wasn’t using it for the right reasons. I had to see for myself the world I was creating, I had to re-group and figure out what did/do I want to represent.
It is truly amazing how Allah (S) works. I’ve never been the type to lurk through others, (which shows how self-consumed I was) but I stopped being concerned about this outward appearance, and in return, Allah (S) bought me Melanie. I still have a desire to speak my voice and let others know of my struggles in the hopes that it’ll help others. I know a lot of the bloggers; I used to admire them a lot from afar without knowing a single ounce of their lives. It was an empty admiration. I want to be able to appreciate others the way I’d like to be appreciated. Every day I have to put my ego in check. Every day, I have to ask Allah (S) for forgiveness for things I don’t even realize I’m doing that are wrong. Every day, I am constantly trying to find a balance in between this world and the next.
For more, follow 'It Girl' Ruma on Instagram @amurvruma!