A lot of us have been living in our comfort zone for so long that we stop thinking that there’s anything beyond its perimeter. We’ve spoken a lot about being stuck in the rut, and not following our passions because they threaten to take us far away from the life of comfort we are used to living. But the moment you start doing crazy things in your life, you’ll realize that there’s more crazy things to do and the adrenaline or whatever rush you feel starts getting addictive.
Let me give you an example. A lot of people ask me if I regret dropping my job 1.5 years back (1.5 years?). With the bad economy, and the gloomy job prospects beyond Masdar Institute- extrapolating from the previous batch – I get that question a lot. On the outside, it looks a bit crazy, leaving a comfortable life (moneywise) for something that pays one-third and comes with all the disadvantages of being an outsider heavily pronounced (in the previous job, they tried to treat most people equally regardless of their backgrounds, please emphasize on the word ‘tried’).
So do I regret making that decision? The answer is no, all praise is due to Allah. When I made the decision it was well thought out, and I knew exactly why I was doing what I was doing. I was also preparing myself for the ‘fall’. Studying stories of people, one could see that failing after success is really hard. Like when someone’s used to living the high life and suddenly loses his income, it becomes really harder than someone who grew up in a poor household and is accustomed to living at a minimum. So the thing is, if tomorrow my parents decide to pack their bags and travel back to Africa, I would at least be prepared on one front, taking a financial fall because I have done it in 2010 and survived it alhamdullilah. Now of course, the issues of culture shock, settling down in a different environment, and dealing with social obligations are all things that would need to be considered, but at least on one front I’d be a bit prepared.
Second point is I need to make a huge confession. When I wanted to leave my job, there was a point when I wanted to just leave it to stay at home and work on my writings but I knew that there was no way my family would accept me sitting on my certificate, so going back to grad school was actually an indirect way of doing that. In my head I already had an idea that I might not get a job again after graduation, so I might end up staying at home, working on my writing – involuntarily. But that was back then, right now, I would like to do something useful with the knowledge that I’ve gained over the years – like teaching it and passing the torch on to the next generation, but making sure they don’t burn themselves with it.
Personally, I don’t want to have high expectations, because I’m tired of being disappointed in life, and you know how Zig Ziglar says, “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”
Some might find the tone of this note a bit pessimist, but I’m being a realist. A lot of people who have graduated are still at home, so again, I’m preparing myself for that by writing half-manuscripts that I would busy myself with en sha Allah if I get the time. I also try to 2a5ukh bel-asbaab by applying here and there, and seriously I don’t know where we’ll be a few months from now – whether we’ll be alive at all. The thing is just every time you start worrying about the future, remind yourself with aya 51 from surat – altawba.
So we started the talk with living within your comfort zone, and then moved to job prospects. How does it all converge? Review your life every once in a while. The moment you see that you’re becoming too stuck in your comfort zone and can’t seem to get out, welcome change – for better or worse – and see what you can do about that. Many people reading this could be in Masdar, worrying about their next step after graduation. Maybe they fear unemployment or not having money or not having a place to go to every morning. But whatever it is, it would be a change, a way of nudging you from your comfort zone so you can go out and do something different now that you have the time and/or don’t have the money. Take is one step at a time and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.