The other shoe, so to speak

Reading Dooce’s latest post today shook me because it captured exactly how I felt:

“A singular thought has followed me through my life, the thought that because there are other people in the world who don’t have it good as I do, other people who do not have a warm place to sleep or food to eat… I need to worry about something, anything. That I owe it to those who have a harder life. That because I am very lucky I need to suffer crippling anxiety to even things out a little bit. And of course, the exact opposite is true. I owe it to those who are not as lucky as I am to appreciate the hell out of my life, I know this fundamentally, I just can’t get around the guilt I experience almost every hour over the fact that my life is really good when so many in this world have lives full of ongoing tragedy, an overwhelming feeling that if I am not a stressed out mess everything will be taken away from me.

I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. For example, Kashif’s friends tease me about my redialing-Kashif-tendencies (i.e. redialing frequently if he didnt answer the first go around). I redial because my mind goes into worst case scenario mode. Until I hear his voice all I feel is the knot in my stomach growing with each redial as the other shoe slips further off the ledge in my mind’s eye.

I wait for the other shoe to drop because I feel that I am undeserving and unworthy of the good in my life. And I feel guilty. Yesterday, a professor congratulated me on my fellowship and mentioned another candidate at another school waiting to hear back. They had tried out for the same spot as me. I thought of how sad they would be that they didn’t get it. I felt so guilty my stomach hurt. Kashif looked at me like I’d been taking crazy pills. “Do you want it?” Well, yes. But I feel bad.

A lawyer at a firm who helped me prep for the interviews called to congratulate me and teased me “are you on cloud 9? are you just through the roof??” Why can’t I just enjoy a moment? Why must I apologize for it? Why must I feel guilty? Why can’t I just let the joy sweep me up and carry me on its wings for a brief moment instead of spending the time preoccupied about my unworthiness?

My fellowship enables me to help low income sick children with their educational access. I will fight for better services for them. I will educate their parents to advocate for their children. I will advocate to school boards to rethink their policies. I am doing this because I love children. Because I want to make social change. Because I want to give back to society. Because I want to please God. But aside from the selfless desires, its a prestigious fellowship and its a first for my school. Its not booko moolah but its booko prestige. That part brings out the guilt: Why did something so good happen to someone so undeserving? I feel guilty about helping sick kids?!

Dooce put me in a tailspin as words were attached to unspoken feelings in my heart. If you made it down this lengthy post…. thanks for listening.

22 thoughts on “The other shoe, so to speak”

  1. Aisha, don’t feel guilty!! You worked hard and you deserve this. This is a gift from God; and like you said in your post telling us about it — Alhamdulilah.Rasha


  2. Oh dear, I know exactly how you feel. You’re inspiring me to write about this. I love what Dooce said and she is so beyond right. But you and I for some reason cant get our brain around it. I dont know what advice to give you, since any advice I give you I have to take myself. But let me just tell you to give all credit to God for everything you’ve accomplished. He will love you for your humility and gratitude and give you more and more. And just like it makes you happy to see someone you love happy, God will be happy to see you happy. So be happy, for His sake, k? πŸ™‚


  3. Oh my goodness! Surly you don’t really think you are undeserving of this fellowship or all the other greatness in your life.I strongly believe that all the great things or successes any of us have are blessings, gifts. That we are to enjoy them, share them, be thankful for and appreciate them. But, above all, to use them very much in the manner you are. You are exactly the type person we need in positions of importance.Feeling bad for the person who missed the opportunity seems normal but feeling bad or guilty that it was YOU that got it, is sorta “crazy pillish” lol!!My word, please love it, enjoy it, work hard at it, be proud of it, at times even stress over it…..But NEVER feel guilty about it! πŸ™‚


  4. Rasha- thank you. Alhamdullilah. You are right. Thank you for the important reminder.Maleeha, wow. You and Rasha have given me a bit of a lightbulb moment. You are right. If I think of it like that it is better. I hope you will be able to think like that too πŸ™‚Mystic its true. But I feel far from arrogant about this…Mommybloggr, so you and and hubby are of the opinion that I might be consuming da crazy pill πŸ™‚ lol. Yeah. I dont know why I felt so bad. Its weird. And yes I need to see them as a gift. I need to appreciate it. Thats my problem. I certainly appreciate. HOWEVER…. I feel guilty about having it. Its bizarre. πŸ™‚ I’m working on it though. THanks for the perspective!


  5. Here’s a suggestion, tell your husband to treat you to a four course <>chocolate<> meal as a reward for getting the job – you will soon be on cloud 9 and be enjoying the moment guaranteed – chocolate has that effect on women I find πŸ˜›PS. Don’t think too much, just go ahead and soak yourself in the experience.


  6. <>Why did something so good happen to someone so undeserving?<>God created you to be intelligent, empathetic, and driven to serve Him through community. You are responding by rising to the occasion.Sometimes our gifts confuse us or we hurt inside at how much we feel for others – but that worry, compassion and teary eye is a sign of a healthy, open heart – a great mercy from God.You’re going to be wonderful insha-Allah.


  7. don’t blame yourself like that. put the thing this way, not all people can do something good for the society. only the blessed ones can. you are blessed. good luck.


  8. Salamaat,Mabrook on your fellowship. One way *not* to feel guilty is to remember ultimately God is Just. And there are more than enough blessings being showered upon all of humanity inspite of the wars, the suffering, the relative injustices we inflict on each other.It’s an awesome opportunity and responsibility on your part; May you succeed (in all dimensions) amin.


  9. Mezba thanks for the advice(s). First yes I need to soak it up and enjoy. Its really just an example, I do this with other things as well. Second, thanks for giving said suggestion to Kashif. I hope he is readnig!!!! ahem! πŸ™‚Baraka your vote of confidence in me means the world. Thanks sis.Aragorn, thank you :0) And the other person may find another avenue insh’allah. It just wasn’t meant to be for them. That is the same way ‘d console myself if I had not gotten it.Maliha, thanks! You are RIGHT. I need to not lose focus. This is given to me by Him. He has his reasons.Musicalchef, glad the reviews were helpful. I never know if ppl are reading it or not. Thanks for the feedbcakNermeen… oh no!!! am I passing on the guilt here???? Not good! CONGRATS on the NYC firm thing! πŸ™‚ Is this summer? I think you are a 2L now right? PLEASE dont feel guilty. Mash’allah!


  10. aisha, i feel the same way. it is written in the Qur’an that good and bad things happen in sine waves and we can all attest that is true. sometimes i think that i am preparing myself for the bad that in inevitably coming by thinking about it ahead of time. but, you and your readers are correct. we should rejoice in our happy times, but since we want to protect ourselves, we should pray to thank God for His Bounty. (I like what Maleeha said.)congrats on the honor and i believe you will do a good job to help those children. may Allah SWT bless you for it. ameen. (keep reciting surah nas and falaq)


  11. Aisha the real question here is not why do you feel so guilty. The real question here is why do you feel you are so unworthy of this blessing bestowed upon you? Hun you can’t let your insecurities take over and replace the happy happy joy joy feeling with guilt. I know how you feel in terms of being blessed when so many others are not. I’m the same way which is why I’ve chosen the path i’m on but to feel guilty? Awww hizell no!There is nothing to feel guilty about you’re using your “power” for good not evil. PS: I’ve emailed you a few times but it seems my optonline addy is on crack. I apologize if you didnt get the rest of the nice discussion we were having. Hit me up at my blog addy if you ever need me.


  12. Aisha,There are some emotions so complex that they aren’t easily described. When you can’t describe something that is so strongly felt it’s especially frustrating. It’s like water in your hands. You added flour to that water by seeking wisdom from others and by looking inward. Now that you can see more clearly what vexes you, you will be able to deal with it.Thanks for sharing it. As you know, we travel similar paths and anything that helps you to grow as a person, usually has the same affect on me.And I think this is a really good subject to have on your heart, to be dealing with, before hajj.


  13. Travis – “Bookoo” (pronounced boo-koo) means “a lot”. It comes from the French word, “beaucoup” meaning the same. (Sorry Aisha! I couldn’t help myself!)


  14. Rabia the Quran does mention that. Thanks for the reminder. And yes we should enjoy the good while its there. Mia…. yeah I dont question my path. And its incredible to me because this is EXACTLY what I wanted to do. I read my law school aplication and it talked about this type of work! But yeah I have to work on the insecurities πŸ™‚ AND I never got any emails after the last one I sent you. Was it about the movie?Travis welcome to the blog and thanks for the comment. I dont think its a good way to live, I’m trying to change this…. but as far booko. Its a silly word that I have probably misspelled and simply means “lots of”Tee, I’m glad that this is helping you too! And yes its strange how just finally talking about something thats weighed on me my whole life has sort of lifted the burden off of me!! By giving it a voice I’ve been able to see other perspectives and how other people handle similar feelings. Its been very helpful. TEe. Regarding Hajj. I AM reallllllllly sad. I found out yesterday we may not get our visa. They put a new quota system (though I think our agency is lying and this quota was always there) and on the list of “guarunteed visas” we are not on that list………. they will let us know prety much a week before we are going to leave whether or not we are going. I’m really disappointed.


  15. Aisha, never underestimate yourself, never sell yourself short. You deserve every bit of this blessing, this dream that YOU earned. I’ve never met you, but I know you just by reading about you. And I know that you are definitely ‘worthy’ of this (Masha’allah). Congratulations!


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