How Do I Deal With the Overwhelming Responsibilities and Lack of Achievements in My Life?

Question:  I am a 30-year-old woman. I’m juggling looking for a job, finishing school, learning Arabic and fiqh, helping my grandparents, taking care of the household as the only unmarried child still living at home, finding a prospective husband, and trying to socialize with sisters because I am an introvert. I also want my husband to be my best friend because I never had good friends, but I also feel these “standards” that I have aren’t sustainable nor fair towards a husband. I don’t know where to begin nor what to do. I went and talked to a non-Muslim psychologist a few times, but she didn’t help much. Life is passing by, and I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.

Answer:

Assalamu alaykum,

Thank you for your question. Dear sister, I empathize with your frustration and your feelings of being overwhelmed. Please take a step back and remember why you are on this Earth and where you are heading.

It’s all worship

My teacher’s teacher told him that everything that we do in this life to support ourselves, from the things we do for fun to the things that we do to maintain existence, is all worship. If you intend Allah behind your studies, looking for a job, searching for a husband, and even eating and sleeping, you will be rewarded for it eternally. Please turn your focus onto this remember that all roads lead to Allah and strive for the presence of heart with Him. You have accomplished something as a believer, but the Devil wants you to believe that you haven’t; seek refuge from him.

Turn to Allah

Because all paths lead to Allah, you want to channel your feelings and stress into dua’ to Him. Supplicate to Him to send you the best for you in the best time and in the best way. Trust in that completely. Know that whatever you are going through now was written before you were born, and your best course of action is gratitude. Allah tells us, “And ˹remember˺ when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more. But if you are ungrateful, surely My punishment is severe.’” [Qur’an, 14:7]

Also, ponder this hadith and realize that patience is key. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The supplication of every one of you is granted if he does not grow impatient and says: I supplicated, but it was not granted.“ [Musim]

Getting things done

The best way to get things done is to list what you need to do, short-term goals, long-term goals. I also recommend you read the book “Getting Things Done“ by David Allen. Ensure that your plate is not too full, and feel free to say no if you are unable to help someone. Plan out your day and do what you say you will do. Ensure you allow time for self-care (such as journaling), rest, healthy meals, and exercise. There is no point in burning yourself out.

Socializing is very important because our religion is social. People need each other, they support and encourage each other, and even their worship and good deeds have more value when done together. Continue to stay in touch with the right, positive, religious people and don’t just work on being blunt or open, but work on developing good Islamic etiquette.

The value of time

Finally, contemplate this piece of advice from Imam al-Ghazali: “Your time should not be without any structure, such that you occupy yourself arbitrarily with whatever comes along. Rather, you must take account of yourself and order your worship during the day and the night, assigning to each period of time an activity that must not be neglected nor replaced by another activity. By this ordering of time, the blessing in time will show itself. A person who leaves himself without a plan as animals do, not knowing what he is to do at any given moment, will spend most of his time fruitlessly.

Your time is your life, and your life is your capital: by it, you make your trade, and by it, you will reach the eternal bounties in the proximity of Allah. Every single breath of yours is a priceless jewel because it is irreplaceable; once it is gone, there is no return for it. So do not be like fools who rejoice each day as their wealth increases while their lives decrease.

What good is there in wealth that increases while one’s lifespan decreases? Do not rejoice except in an increase of knowledge or an increase of good works. Truly they are your two friends who will accompany you in your grave, when your spouse, your wealth, your children, and your friends remain behind“.

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

 

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.