The Summer Break Series: Eyes(Heart) Wide Open.

The final installment of The Summer Break Series must of course be the overall reflection of my life and experience in Miri for the past 10-weeks. I gave myself a few days to mull in afterthoughts as opposed to jumping right in and even now, I’m not entirely sure if I am able to encapsulate everything in an entry justly. I’ve met and spoken to a number of people with whom I’ve also expressed my sentiments enough to time and again, realize more insights.

I will first and foremost say that in the 2 months I was there, 1.5 months spent bitching and the other 0.5 month spent getting a few hard hits, enjoying the remaining days, overall reflection and getting out of the funk were absolutely necessary. I’m a little ashamed of how I behaved and the things I have said out loud, I admit, but above all I accept that they were all part and parcel of the learning and growing experience.

What frustrated me the most about living in Miri in the beginning was the inaccessibility, the difficulty to be mobile, escalated by the facts that I don’t drive and do not have a vehicle. They were escalated tenfold by the general attitude of the locals – the too-easily-at-ease, the slowness of a small-town, the nonexistent buzz. They rubbed me in all of the wrong ways that week after week, I rebelled and my frustration continued to grow. However, at the same time this took place, I’d also engaged in plentiful side and night-life activities – mostly dinner dates – with the new faces I had gotten to know. The different stories shared, the different lives lived and finally at week 9, in the dark and quiet of my rented room: how extremely privileged I truly, sincerely am.

It’s one of those revelations which are deeply moving; the sort that shakes you to your core, compelling – no, forcing – you to question your life thus far.

All this while, I thought I knew the world, believing that my bubble burst at 18 and thus I’d stepped into the Real World … only to realize what took place was I moved from one bubble to another. The world I thought I knew? Looking back at it now, I don’t even know what it actually was and what exactly were the things I thought I knew because for instance, the racial segregation and discrimination I experienced at 18 and thought was murderous? That was in fact, only a fraction of the sort other people experience on a daily basis for the past 3 to 4 years in their respective settings.

I thought I knew my community, my people, my setting for instance – only to realize that I was sorely mistaken. The opportunities I have been given put me  on a different spectrum than them, already my life more or less elevated because I have choices. City girl choices, one might say. Too much of a good thing, another might reckon. Whatever it may be – I have choices. What more, Alhamdulillah I am not financially stricken, have an amazing support system and my choices are as vast and limitless at this point as nothing and no one else. My worries and frustrations in the past – what were they? Were they all that they were? So trivial, so insignificant. I don’t even know where to begin to decipher the gravity of how incredibly blessed I am.

I’ve learned more than a few things, but the ones I’ll remember would definitely be two things: 1) to always remain humble and 2) to know that regardless how great one becomes or how rich one is – the enrichment of one’s soul is what determines the sort of person one is. I can be big, I can go the distance – but what do they all matter if I remain blind to the woes of another, unsympathetic and phony, thinking I am superior because of my background? I’m only half the person I could be then and more than that, really what shame. I hope I won’t forget this.

Miri, you’ve been a most humbling experience and I sincerely credit this amazing soul- and life-changing change to every single person whom I have had the great pleasure of meeting and crossing path with, however brief the encounters were. Will there be a Miri v2.0? Only time will tell. Regardless though, I’ve learned the greatest lessons – enough to move, change and inspire who I currently am and the person I hope to be. Moving forward, there is no way to undo and pretend I did not see the things I did, the revelations that gutted me. Internal and self-progress from here on out must be those which reflect the humbling experiences gained in this short stint.

Thank you, Miri, for the life lessons. What an enriching experience you’ve been, who could’ve guessed!

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