Question:

Dear MM,

Where to even start?

Okay, I'm 20 years old and feel like I have nothing to show for all the years I've been living.

I'm going nowhere in school, deen, the social spectrum, etc. I'm really conflicted. I try to make things better for myself. I try reading Qur'an daily, but it never comes together for me. I tried listening to lectures, but they don't ever affect me. I tried getting good grades, and studying hard but I suck in school. And I've tried applying for part time jobs, but nothing comes up. I don't even have my license as of yet. It's sad and embarrassing. 

My whole life feels like a sad joke.

“When am I gonna get it together”, I ask myself?

When will things begin to look up for me?

I don't know what do with myself. I'm depressed, lonely, and sad all the time. I'd like to get married to but I don't see that happening because I've got to finish school first, and no one's really been asking for my hand.

My life is crappy, and I don't know what to do. I feel like ending it, but know the consequence of that. I feel like everyone else around me has it together, and is happy. BUT me.

Help, please?

Jazakallah Khairan,

Trying to Get it Together

 

Answer:

Assalamo Alaikum,

I'm so glad that you reached out and asked for help.  It's natural to feel a bit lost, confused and overwhelmed in your early 20s.  These are the years of introspection, confusion & a lot of frustration.  I know that you feel like everything is falling apart around you.  Don't be discouraged for not achieving your goals-you are still very young.  I had classmates who were 65 in the master's program who were starting a new career!  Just remember that the past does not equal the present.  Just because you were not succeeding in the past doesn't mean you will always be that way.  Here are some pointers that will put you on the right track insha'Allah.

  1. Be aware of your self-talk – this is the internal dialogue that you have with yourself which is about 600 words a minute and usually 85% negative.   Stop saying so many negative things about yourself so that you can build the confidence to achieve your goals.  Only say things that will assist you and make you feel good about yourself.  There is no use in beating yourself up.  Please read my article on Muslim Matters on Being at Peace with Yourself where I go into more details about this subject.
  1. Ask empowering questions - so that your mind will search for answers. When you ask disempowering questions like:  Why do bad things happen to me?  Why me?  You start feeling depressed and discouraged. Ask powerful questions:
  • What is good about my situation?
  • What can I learn from this?
  • How can I make my life better?
  • What am I grateful for?
  1. Surround yourself with righteous friends – these friends will lift your spirit and provide you with support .  It sounds like you are experiencing some depression so it is vital that you get help from family and friends.  Don't withdraw and feel sorry for yourself.  Reach out and get Help!  Your friends can help assist you in your school work and possibly in finding the right job.  If you feel the depression is severe get help from a professional.
  2. Don't compare yourself to others – you have no idea what battles they may be fighting.
    Each time you compare, you are left feeling unhappy and anxious, depriving yourself from being aware of all the wonderful things  in your life

And He has raised you in ranks, some above others that He may test you in that which He has bestowed on you.  Surat Al-An'am 6:165

Look not with your eyes ambitiously at what We have bestowed on certain classes, nor grieve over them. Surat Al-Hijr 15:88

Narrated by Abu Hurairah the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Do not wish to be like anyone except two men:  A man whom Allāh has taught the Qurʾān and he recites it during the day and night and a man whom Allāh has given wealth and he spends it on charity.”

Another permissible comparison is looking at people who are much worse off than us in wealth and health.  By doing this you can instantly feel grateful and pacified.

  1. Set small attainable goals- don't get overwhelmed For instance, in order to get your license break down the task into small actions:  get driver's education book, study it, sign up for the class, take the class, sign up for the test , pass the test & then celebrate! If you break down your task it will be much easier for you to attain them without feeling overwhelmed.
  2. Put your trust in Allah & Trust His plan – things may not be happening at the rate that you would like, but there is wisdom in everything that is happening.  Trust the Master plan and keep your connection strong through prayer.  It may be more helpful to attend classes to strengthen your iman rather than just listening to lectures or reading Qur'an alone.  There is definitely strength in number.

 

19 Responses

  1. Muhammad

    I wish I could tell this brother/sister that this is very common to feel. I am 25 years old myself and I just started school. My friends have good jobs, some are married, some “look” like they have it all, etc. And I know for a fact those things are no where near to me because for 4-5 years I spent on/off in depression so couldn’t accomplish anything on my own. But experience and maturity has taught me that id never trade my position for anything else. Over the years I learned how trivial these things were and how much pressure I put on myself to do things rather than living enjoyably through the experience.

    I know I have years left in school, that it will also be years before I land any sort of job and perhaps years before I find a spouse…but if Allah is pleased with me why should I stress out?

    I wish this brother or sister the best. Stay strong and may Allah grant you happiness, contentment and peace in your heart and practical affairs.
    - Br Muhammad

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  2. Aly Balagamwala

    To my brother who asked this, you will see successful people around you, friends with better jobs, wives, lives, children, money, etc. Remember what you don’t see is the hard-to-deal with boss, the overspending wife, the empty feeling life, the spoilt children, the temptation of spending the money wrong, etc. The grass is always greener on the other side. But you know what, in reality the grass is as green as you water it. So start watering it, instead of looking across the fence.

    *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

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    • Halima

      *Sister. “No on’es been really asking for my hand.” (marriage) I highly doubt a brother would say that.

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      • abdurashid

        sister halima, don’t be obssessed with marriage. Mr. right man will come and ask your hand in marriage

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  3. Melanie

    InshAllah. it will get better for you. …But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not
    Surah Baraqa 216 This verse refers to jihad but honeslyt our whole life is a Jihad.

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  4. Bismillahfille

    As a young adult myself I experienced the same feelings and worries that you’re listing. All that cured me and would no doubt relieve you as well is to streghten your relationship with the One and Only that never lets you down. He is al-Muqeet, as Ibn al-Qayyim (ra) explained): “He is the Helper of all His creatures, and He responds to those who are desperate.” He is also Al-Fattaah (the Opener, the Reliever).

    If you had only one investment to do in your whole life is to invest in your heart. Because the prophet (saw) said: “There is in the body a clump of flesh – if it becomes good, the whole body becomes good and if it becomes bad, the whole body becomes bad. And indeed it is the heart.”

    That’s why I highly recommend you to read Yasmin Mogahed’s book entitled ” Reclaim you heart”.

    “Reclaim Your Heart is not just a self-help book. It is a manual about the journey of the heart in and out of the ocean of this life.”

    I Hope al-Jabbar (the One who is able to restore and mend what is broken) mends your heart and your relationship with Him. Ameen.

    Make the first step with the right intention and see how Al-Waddud ( The One who loves and is loved) will come to you with speed. (Hadith Qudsi narrated by Anas (may Allah be pleased with him), who narrated it from the Prophet (peace be upon him), who narrated that Allah, Glory be to Him, says:”If my servant draws near to Me a hand span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I come to him running.”)

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  5. Hidayath

    The article and comments have wonderful advice; I just wanted to add that if you’re basing your assertion of others around you having it together on social media, then know that a lot of social media is illusory. People naturally put their best foot forward on an image that they control. In reality everyone’s life is much more complicated. Each of us has unique challenges.

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  6. M.S.

    Salaamu aleykum

    May Allah guide you and all of us to the kheyr. Hopelessness is a deceptive trick of shaytan, and it is one of his favorite methods because it makes people think that there is no hope in life. What a shameless liar he is!

    Anyways, I want to share with you some personal practical activities. Hopefully you can incorporate a few into your life.

    (By the way, you are only 20 years old. May Allah protect you. However, don’t be hard on yourself…many people don’t reflect or gauge how things are going in their lives until it is too late. AlhamdulilAllah, you are still young, and you noticed a few things here and there, but trust me when I tell you this, it is not the end of the world. You are going to be okay inshaAllah. Put your trust in Allah, like sister Haleh advised you. Every person goes through a few “down-moments” in life. It is what makes life interesting and gives you the chance to correct the course of your navigation. Your “moment” is happening now at 20 years of age, consider yourself lucky!)

    Ok back to the activities.

    Heeeere we go:

    Activity #1: Pray the Salat on time. And after each prayer, remain seated for a few minutes and make the recommended Adhkar. Don’t take this lightly or complain that you don’t have time, just try and do it, inshaAllah you will feel good. (A good source to learn Adhkar from is the small booklet titled “Hisnul Muslim” – Fortress of The Muslim)

    Activity #2: Once a day, make dua for someone you know and maybe even other people that you don’t know. After prayers or when you have one of those thoughts with a down-moment in it, make dua for someone else. For example, say “O Allah, give cure to the sick in my community”. Or say, “O Allah, have mercy on my parents & grand-parents, uncles & aunts”.

    Activity #3: Exercise for 25 – 30 mins on a daily basis. Join a ladies’ gym if you can. If you cannot get to a gym, at least make time to exercise. Go walking. Don’t be dormant. Do crunches or sit-ups in your living room if you can. Play a yoga DVD and get going. No matter what, find a way to break a sweat and make it a daily activity.

    Activity #4: In your leisure time, read a book. Completely cut-out (or minimize) TV time and Internet browsing. Its summer time, pick a book topic you are not familiar with, or a biography of someone you admire or heard about, or find an article or read trade magazines on something in your college curriculum. Devote and make your leisure time about yourself, by enriching your view about the world, expanding your knowledge and/or your vocabulary, and not about watching others on TV passively.

    Activity #5: Fast a few days in each month. (Mondays & Thursdays; middle of the month 13th, 14th, 15th were all recommended by the Prophet, salalAllahu aleyhi wa salim). There are many spiritual (and health) benefits to fasting.

    Activity #6: Keep reciting the Quran. And read the English translation to mix things up occasionally. (Shaytan already hates the fact that you do read Quran, so he tries to make it look like it is a hopeless activity with no “happy” reward. Now, let me say it again……shaytan is a big fat liar! May Allah protect us all from his whispers and his misguidance.) In the hadith it is narrated that every letter you read in the Quran has a reward, and that reward will be multiplied by ten. And the ones who struggle, stammering and stumbling in reciting due to difficulties they have, will have twice the reward. That is awesome!

    May Allah protect you, guide us all, and reward us with Jannatul-Firdaus al-‘Alaa.

    Wa salaamu aleykum

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    • Other Thoughts

      As Salamu Alaikum,

      Some additional thoughts to the great advice offered by M.S.

      1. Watch what you eat! Your diet definitely affects your mood. Cut out sugars, wheat except whole wheat, fast food and processed foods in general.

      2. Try to spend in the way of Allah. If you don’t have money, perhaps give items, or spend time volunteering? I have found spending in the way of Allah to be a tremendous source of blessing in my life.

      3. Smile! Even if you don’t feel like it, or are feeling down. Recalling a happy memory or something funny will help. It is the sunnah of the Prophet (s) :D and will definitely help improve your mood.

      May Allah bless you tremendously!

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    • Balooh

      What great advice, may Allah reward you.

      We all feel like this sometimes, it’s a part of growing up and a part of life in general. There will always be times in our lives that we will feel as though we are falling apart. Know you are not alone and remember to open up to someone, otherwise it can become burdening all too quickly.

      I know some people (including myself) mask pain, because the illusion of happiness brings out happiness in others which in return is very rewarding. N sooner or later the illusion becomes reality, after hardship there is always ease. Allah knows all that is in our hearts and the invisible battles we fight, He is all seeing and He is what we live for at the end of the day.

      Things will get easier. May Allah’s peace and blessings be with us all and may our trials be easy for us to endure.

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  7. FS

    Assalamualaikum Sister,

    Alhamdulillah, I agree with Haleh Banani and all comments above. Most of us have been in this phase (feeling lost and under-achieved), but how we navigate from here can make all the changes.

    If I may add, you need a good listener; Allah is the best listener ever. Have a journal. Talk to someone successful and helpful at the same time. Highlight your target and be excited to achieve it.

    May Allah ease and guide us all.

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  8. M

    I am in my 20′s and I can totally relate to what you’re feeling. Feeling depressed and lonely have become way too common for youth now days. Trust me sister you are not alone here. With so many high expectations from family and the society it’s very easy to feel this way.

    But remember as long as Allah is pleased with you, you’re good. And Allah doesn’t care if you have a great career or if you are high on the social ladder, as long as you are a good person He will love you. So just hang on, things will change eventually, inshaAllah.

    I know it might sometimes feels like that you are the only one having a hard time but there are always people who have less than you do (and I am not talking about the people dying of hunger somewhere in the world, there are sometimes people in your own social circle who are going through a lot, you just don’t know about it), so always remember everyone in your prayers.

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  9. Habib

    I am 32 years old and I feel like that all the time

    I know that society tells us that we need to be “happy”

    But I have realized that its easier to be “grateful” instead

    Being happy all the time, is virtually impossible in my opinion.

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  10. Mustapha

    Salam sister and salam to all my bros and sisters in Islam.
    What you are going through is test from Allah. Being testes means allah loves you. Ask only allah whatever you wish, beg allah loud, he will answer you dua inshaa allah. When you ask allah put your trust in him and be certain that allah will answer you. Im talking from experience. When ever I ask for something I get it sooner or later. Also be patient. Further do not look what few have, look what 90% people dont have. Elhamdo lilah you have sight hearing. You can walk you talk and write and you have a pc and abd phone maybe more. So many dont have what u have. And if what you have is not making happy then give it away and see the result. Last remeber to do good deeds. May allah grant you health happiness.

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  11. umabdullah

    Situations that involve depression can be solved among other means(all the tips given sound great) with ruqya.

    Praying salah on time/dua/Quran/adhkar/charity/umrah all is part of ruqya. Drink zamzam if you can.

    Recite baqarah every 3 days and stick to your morning and evening adhkar. These will fight off your depression and grant you clarity inshallah. These adhkar are incredibly important. Istighfar is a cause for increasing rizq so increase istighfar. Seek refuge from depression and inability. Recite *la hawla wa la quwata illa billa* and salam on the prophet alot daily.

    Allah is the Only one in control. So reach out to Him.

    Ask Allah for guidance and listen to tafseer or read tafseer daily. Think of ones who are in a worse position and ask Allah to include you among the righteous and grateful

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  12. Lu Lah

    I am nearing 30, and i can relate to everything you said. The only difference is that on top of being a complete failure in life i am also unattractive, unintelligent and disabled. I have been rejected so many times that I have developed anxiety and fear. I become panicked whenever I have to go outside or talk to people, so, I hide in my house most of the time with the exception of when i have to pay bills. There isnt a day that passes that I wonder if I am ever going to have the things i so desire. when i run into the people I use to go to school with, they go out of their way to make a mean comment about my life and worse, discreetly blame my disability. I have thought of suicide twice and wished many times that I would die. Sorry about my English, its just another one of my many failures. Please make dua for me that Allah grants me strength.

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    • M.S.

      Salaamu aleykum Lu Lah

      I am not a counselor, but I have seen a few things in life, so let me share a few tidbits. First of all, I ask Allah to shower you with His mercy and change things around for you.

      So, from what I see in your post, your command of the English language is very good; you seem to have good sentence structure and prose. You seem very alert and your description of the way things are going in your young life is heedful. Are you reading the same post I am reading that you wrote, because I don’t see a failure, at all.

      However, I am sorry if I sound harsh and I hate to sugar coat this to you but frankly speaking, you should stop thinking about what other people do. Don’t go through your young life seeking the approval of people, or their love. Neither of those things will benefit you. The ‘big ELEPHANT’ sitting in the living room of your life, is whether Allah, azah wa jal is pleased with you, your words and your actions. Ask yourself each day, whether what you are doing is pleasing or displeasing to Allah. Are your daily routines and your actions pleasing to Allah, azah wa jal? Ask yourself, are you on the right track in life? In life, there will always be people who are nasty, rude, or those who might mock you about a disability you had no control over. You can’t control what other people do, but you can control how you act & react. It is a choice, do you react by raising your chin high and walking straight, or do you shrink into a ball and cry your eyes out. Don’t ask yourself, why others hate you? It is not you, or your being, or the way you look that makes them hate you. Hate is an evil choice they made on their own. And Shaytan tempts them and deludes them further into being arrogant towards others. Whenever you are mocked or teased, brush your shoulder off, and have certainty, no one can take away an iota of what Allah has given you in this life and what is in your destiny, and neither can anyone give you an iota of anything that Allah has kept away from you. Love Allah, have hope in His mercy and fear Him alone. A few bullies of ‘the school-yard variety’ should not distract you from having a purpose in life. Make your own goals in life, strife towards those goals and enjoying every moment of it. I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who once said, “No one can make you feel inferior, without your consent”. Don’t consent.

      Concerning love & approval of others, listen to the advice of the Prophet, salal Allahu aleyhi wa salim. These two hadiths are two of my most favorite. Compiled by Imam Al-Nawawi, rahimuhulAllah, in his 40-Hadith & Hadith Qudsi book. InshaAllah, I hope it benefits all of us and we earn the Love of Allah.

      - On the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah, salal Allahu aleyhi wa salim, said:

      “If Allah has loves a servant [of His] He calls Jibreel, aleyhi salaam, and says: I love So-and-so, therefore love him. He (the Prophet, salal Allahu aleyhi wa salim) said: So Jibreel loves him. Then he (Jibreel) calls out in heaven, saying: Allah loves so and so, therefore love him. And the inhabitants of heaven love him. He (the Prophet, salal Allahu aleyhi wa salim) said: Then acceptance is established for him on earth. And if Allah has abhorred a servant [of His], He calls Jibreel and says: I abhor So-and-so, therefore abhor him. So Jibreel abhors him. Then Jibreel calls out to the inhabitants of heaven: Allah abhors So-and-so, therefore abhor him. He (the Prophet, salal Allahu aleyhi salim) said: So they abhor him, and abhorrence is established for him on earth.” (It was related by Muslim. It was also by al-Bukhari, Malik, and at-Tirmidhi).

      - On the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allah, salal Allahu aleyhi wa salim, said:

      “Verily Allah has said: ‘Whosoever shows enmity to a Wali (friend) of mine, then I have declared war against him. And my servant does not draw near to me with anything more loved to me than the religious duties I have obligated upon him. And my servant continues to draw near to me with Nafil (supererogatory; extra) deeds until I Love him. When I Love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to seek refuge with Me, I would surely grant him refuge.” (It was related by al-Bukhari.)

      Wa salaamu aleykum

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