Advice: PhD and Life
Answered by: Nadrah Mustafa
Q: Assalam walaikum,
I am PhD student trying to graduate this summer and so have to be on my hooks instead I don’t have any interest or focus I should be having. I was offered a job so I want to finish the degree ASAP but this week I am finding hard to work with. I live alone in the US and have some good friends that I hangout with. One of this guy friend I was close with is in relationship which I got to know yesterday and I don’t know I am shattered with this news (I vaguely know the woman he is in relationship with and I am having unnecessary dreams about them). Maybe I was getting inclined towards him and I knew he was from other religion but I was showing, thinking and wanting more care than from a friend. Other thing that keeps lingering in my mind is other male friend, from other religion in my home country. We were in sort of relationship but then we told to the world we are best friends and he stopped showing, taking care of me than that use between us. I stopped calling or texting him from last 15 days but memories keep coming back (I blocked him on WhatsApp and it shatters me that in these fifteen days he never ever tried to contact me). I feel my want of care, love is making me do all this without taking into heed what I am receiving from people and building my expectations out of them, getting into Haram situation. I am glad that Allah SWT led me out of this Haram situation but I don’t know how to continue with my life, PhD and work. Please help me out.
A: Waalaikumsalaam warrahmatullahi wabarakattuh,
Firstly, jazakillah hair for reaching out to us. Self awareness and the ability to reach out is vital in healing and moving forward. I hope for the past few moments after this question was sent out, you are able to manoeuvre and manage things.
I am also glad to know that you have a healthy social life and good support system while being alone in the US. A good support system and social circle is one who helps you not only in good times, but also through bad times. While they facilitate to bring positive vibes, they may also help to decrease stressors in our lives. Good friends are the ones who are able to tell you when something is not good for you especially in times when our judgements are clouded. So I hope the social circle is maintained especially in times such as these.
A good support system also helps you to grow better everyday. This reminds me of a hadith:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘The example of a good pious companion and an evil one is that of a person carrying musk and another blowing a pair of bellows. The one who is carrying musk will either give you some perfume as a present, or you will buy some from him, or you will get a good smell from him, but the one who is blowing a pair of bellows will either burn your clothes or you will get a bad smell from him.” (Bukhari)
While being in a dilemma about the lingering thoughts and feelings you might have for your guy friends, recognise that whether or not they make positive changes for your self and well being.
Do they help you become a better person? Do they support you in whatever decisions that you make? Do they appreciate you without wanting to change you every bit?
At the end of the day, a good friend (or potential partner/spouse) helps you to grow into a better version of yourself, not the person he (she) expects you to be. And within this, a mutual respect and acceptance is present. A healthy relationship does not have expectations of each other. Instead, they accept and respect their differences and learn how to coexist and grow together.
While it is only human to want to be cared and loved for, choosing the right person to be loved and cherished by is detrimental. And to find the right person, it always starts with ourselves. We need to accept and love ourselves first. We need to recognise and appreciate ourselves first, before we are able to accept others fully into our lives.
Perhaps taking this time to focus on yourself first would be healthy. Focus on ways and means to be a better version of yourself through your PhD journey and work. Love, respect and accept yourself. Life follows through.
At the end of the day ask yourself this, would you want a sweet musk scent on your clothes or of faulty bellows?
Love and Light,