Thursday, 29 September 2016

Mediocrity, Brilliance.

I am plagued with self-doubt these days. 

I began my third year of university this week, and I have already had emotional breakdown number one. This is definitely a new record for me. I was a month into my second semester last year before I cracked on the second floor of silent study, utterly overwhelmed and exhausted by the amount of information I was attempting to pack into my brain, and completely terrified of failure. I cried silently, briefly, into my hijab, and hoped those working on the desks around me wouldn't notice. 

This year, I lasted a day. 

I can narrow the reasons down to a few things:

1) With third year comes a lot of pressure. This is the final chance I have to try and shift the balance of my grades and achieve a first class degree. Right now I'm a solid 2:1, and I will most likely stay a 2:1. But I believe in miracles, and I'm working and praying so hard for this one. 

2) My dissertation. This, of course ties in with reason number one but the idea of an independent project of this proportion which could make or break my degree is terrifying. I need it to be perfect so bad, and thus, before I've written a word of it I am already afraid of failing it, a fear which is holding me back from beginning. Classic self-destruction. 

3) This summer I began writing my first proper novel. I'm so in love with the idea and where I hope it will lead and if it ever gets published the good I hope it will do for girls like me. And though I'm not the fastest or the most consistent of writers, progress has been steady and I'm almost 10,000 words in. But then yesterday, I attended my first seminar of the creative writing module I signed up for this semester, and all it took was a few other students reading aloud a page or two of the creative task we had been set for my self-belief to smash. Which tells me that it clearly wasn't very strong in the first place if I allow myself to shrink the moment I come across writer's who are seemingly better at me at doing what I love most in the world. 

4) The internet. I love it, of course. Instagram is probably my favourite social media platform, mainly thanks to bookstagram. The community is so kind, so friendly, so welcoming, so intelligent, and so wonderfully unafraid to scream their opinions. I also love reading the many many many blogs I follow, and discovering wonderful new artists, poets, and writers. But, I feel (and in all honesty, I have felt this for the past few years) that there are so many around me achieving great things while I am stuck at a standstill. Whether that achievement be a beautiful blog with a great following, or a poet, much younger than myself having their work published again and again. Or a bookstagram account with 50k followers. Or a writer, who's work is undeniably better than mine. We're told not to compare ourselves with others, but I literally cannot help it and it fills me with self-doubt to the point that I often consider giving up. But I don't, I can't. I literally cannot stop doing whatever it is I do. Whether I'm a great writer or not, I could never give it up. Who would I be without it? Not myself, that much is certain. Every day of my life is spent reading and writing, and I know with every fibre of my being that I was meant to write, to create pieces of art, and share it with the world. 

I used to post short pieces of prose and poetry on Instagram. But I haven't written any, let alone shared it online in almost six months. The few times I've sat and tried to come up with something I've hit a very hard and sharp brick wall.

I think, without realising it, I lost myself a little in the past six months. Which is ironic because I thought I was doing just fine, great even. But it takes constructive criticism and a cold harsh run in with reality to realise that of course you're going to feel great when you're living in a warm comfortable private little bubble. But life isn't spent in a bubble, and if I want to achieve my goals I need to step out of it, and work so much harder. 

Last night, as I sat mid break-down I texted one of my best friends, and told her a little about my day. We spoke of the crippling self-doubt that plagued me and I said: "I feel like I'm mediocre at everything I love, I can never seem to attain brilliance." 

It sounds pathetic, I know.


I crave brilliance. I want the work I produce to be of the highest quality. I refuse to settle for anything less. 

Which kind of sort of (not really) leads me back to the point of this post. My blog has not been very personal for the past year, which is a choice I made when I realised my deeply personal thoughts, and feelings were OUT THERE for the world to see and completely freaked out. But, I've felt such a barrier between me and the written word lately that I just wanted to take a step back... and write. No rules, no blog-promoting quirks. Just me, turning my thoughts into words. 

Until next time, friends.

(featuring selfie I took two days ago on the first day of uni as my mum rushed to drop me off at the station so I could start my 45 minute commute. I was, of course running late, naturally.)


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Alliyah. My heart goes out to you for what you're feeling. I guess, it's a gross comfort that we're all going through the same thing so you're not exactly alone. But at the same time, I know you're going to get through it and it's going to make you a tougher person who has learnt more about herself this year.

    I always internalise my anxieties because voicing them to anyone scares me even more but I also quietly worry about my blog and whether I'll ever be able to publish. It's the trying that counts. And believing you can deal with a day at a time that helps. It's past 12 here and they say humans grow more sentimental late into night so you should know this comment is heartfelt and sincere.

    1. Rima, I really appreciate your sincerity :') Our dreams are big and sometimes the space between us and the accomplishment of those dreams feels to wide, too frightening. But if that's what we really want then we have to keep going! Like you said, we have to take it a day at time, and inshaAllah each day will bring us closer to our final goal.

  2. Wow, I'm impressed by your honest and open account of your inner strife. I'm sure everybody can relate to this fear of mediocrity at some point in their lives, whichever line of work they may be in. As a fellow third year I sure can. But everybody travels at a different pace and our destinations aren't all the same either. You mustn't become disheartened. I truly believe that you can do anything you put your mind to. As human beings we have this great ability to surprise ourselves, when we surpass our own expectations. You must have heard the quote "if you're dreams don't scare you they aren't big enough".

    It's a brave thing putting yourself in the limelight to be seen and critiqued. But I really believe that by doing so you can be the catalyst that encourages others like us to do the same. And let them know that they aren't alone. Which is, at the end of the day, all anybody wants. To be a part of something. I wish you luck in all your endeavours, keep going! :)

    1. Thank you so much for this wonderful and deeply encouraging comment, it made me smile sincerely. :)


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