It may be a dream afraid of waking up, or it may be a dream coming to realization in the next morning.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Art of Accepting Your Friends

First of all, a disclaimer for all of you who read this entry. I will be using, as my lecturer used to describe, "bombastic" words because right now I am learning the words that are common in Graduate Record Examination (GRE). I believe remembering them by using them in contexts and sentences are more effective than blind memorizing. And I'm sorry if some of these words are not used correctly. I highlight these words in case you are also interested to know what those words are.

So, this week I would like to expatiate on the issue of friendship, again. I was pondering on the question: How do you unexceptionably accept your friends? We are humans and humans err. We are all conceded with the fact that each one of us is fraught with weaknesses. Not one weakness, but sundry weaknesses. Each one of us has a way of galling others, be it talking too much, being egoic, being indifferent to birthdays, grudging, and so on. I, for one, has been very sentient of my own and my friends' foibles and faulty nature. The thing is, I have been noticing something pronounced about myself, that is I am vigilant and very sensitive to the faults of others. I know it's not good.

So, I was thinking, if they could annoy me in a way, I must have my own way nettling them. Therefore, if they could assent to the way I am, why can't I do the same to them? It is the art of accepting your friends as the way they are. The trick is, how do you modulate your emotions from getting waxed from the annoying behavior that they do, if they do it? Especially when you are close to someone, noticing an irritating behavior can be inevitable. To be honest, I don't have the answer. You can find a lot of tips, exhortation, opinions and so on, but at the end of the day, what you have to do is to really make it as a facile practice and stop flouting every one friendship that you have in your life. I am still a fledgling friend, I am still learning the art.

This entry is just purely to remind me myself and everyone out there on one of the ways to find joy in your friendships with others. I hope it's useful to you to a certain magnitude.

Meaning of the words:

Ponder - think
Unexceptionably - generally acceptable
Err - to make mistake
Conceded - to be given with something (usually unpleasant)
Fraught - filled with
Sundry - several, many
Galling - annoying
Egoic - self-centered,
Grudging - stingy
Sentient - sensitive
Foibles - weaknesses
Pronounced - very noticeable
Nettling - annoying
Assent - accept
Modulate - regulate
Waxed - increased
Exhortation - advices
Facile - accomplished
Flouting - rejecting
Fledgling - unexperienced and still learning
Magnitude - extent

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Meaning of Serenity

How do you define serenity? How do you differentiate serenity from happiness? How do you achieve a state of serenity within your inner psyche?

These questions might be what many of you (and me obviously, or I wouldn't write this entry) have been asking your whole life. Different persons have the different kinds of views on how an individual can achieve a stable state of serenity. Serenity is the state, for me, where you know everything happens for a reason and that you can achieve acceptance without giving up. I don't know about you, but I get my definition of serenity from this old-timey Islamic song that I have been listening to since years ago.

Basically, this song's basic gist is that in every condition, we need to exercise humility.

When you feel difficult, you are not nerve-stricken...
When you're poor, you're still grateful...
When you're sick, you're not restless...
When you're rich, you're generous...
When you're in power, you're trustworthy...
When you're successful, you don't forget...
When you're healthy, you don't abandon God...

The best line that I have been amazed over and over is this one,

"Serenity is when you can understand the art of God's work..."

The point of this line is, many of us blame the Higher Power whenever they are in distress. In some worse cases, they even abandon their religion because they're losing their faith toward God. But, how many of us who could actually understand how in all these challenging processes, God has provided us with a bigger life meaning? How many realize that God has drawn a life journey for us to embark so we can reach to the final destination with a happy ending? It's true, God's work is an art and just like any art, it has to be appreciated, and it has to be understood.

So, if you feel unhappy, submit yourself to God and see what He has in store for you. Discover and explore life and find out what God has kept for you. Everything happens for a reason, and no matter how much of a cliché this sentence is, it's still true. Start appreciating the substance of it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Friendship Is Earned, Truly

So, I used to write an entry on friendship before, and I defined friendship as more than a person you meet casually. Friendship is emotional and it should have emotional component. I have thought about it lately and I can't help but wonder if friendships are predestined life courses. Of course as a Muslim, I believe that everything that happens in this life is a fate, and there must also be our own hands to contribute to the direction of the fate. But are friendships more "fate" than "efforts"?

I have a dear friend at USM who had been in a best-friendship with a certain person in our class. They had been together being best friends for more than five years and that should count for something right? But a particular issue that happened several weeks ago made them far apart, and now just two acquaintances who say hi to each other on the street. How could this happen? My friend asked. "We've been together in so many ups and downs. We knew about each others' good and bad. But only now, when we love each other, care about each other, then we have to have our friendship demoted to a lower status?"

As a close friend to this person, I am certain that she is not a person who likes to make enemies, nor does she like to even have a minor conflict. She is very kind and compassionate. But when she is given a chance of an opportunity that her ex-best friend was dying to get a shot for, everything changed.

You see, my point is, my friend was a hard worker when it comes to friendship. She loves her friends and she cares about her friends (note: friends, not acquaintances), and she considers them, especially her best friends as her own family. But still, fate intervenes and has to cut them apart. This happened a lot in my life too. I had a bunch of best friends in my previous universities but now, we barely contacted each other through Facebook (although in my case, it was mostly my fault and their fault equally). What does this mean?

Perhaps it means, we're not in total control of the friendships in our life. They are, no matter how much effort we put in, still a subject of fate. We can't predict the future of even the strongest friendship there is, even more the ones that just bloom. So, what should we do in the event of this? So, appreciate the friends you have now.  We very frequently take some of them for granted and only when we lose them, then we realize how much they mean to us. But it's too late. Still, make effort to make your friends feel like they're a part of your lives, hoping that when you do that, fate (I hope by now, you understand by "fate," I mean God) knows that your effort should be worth your friendship.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When Can You Be Truly Self-Determined?

One of the values social workers are taught to hold strongly is self-determination. It is a principle that tells the practitioners that their clients have the right to not be forced into deciding or acting anything. Clients of social work, or any other fields, should have the freedom to choose "their own economic, social, and cultural development" (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, n.d., para. 2). Note the word "development." What does it entail then? In social work practice, the outcome of services should preferably be social functioning. Hence, the logical conclusion we can see here is that, one of the social work values is people's right to determine their own ways of developing that promote their own social functioning.

If you read one of my entries lately titled, "Sometimes, We're Trying So Hard Not to Be Judgmental" where I argued that every social worker should be able to exercise a healthy degree of "judgmental capacity" for certain service advantages. But this seems to oppose one of the dear values abovementioned, self-determination. What I can argue further is that, self-determination comes after social functioning. It means the clinets have the capacity to know what's best for them in order to decide for themselves. I'm sure you'll agree that we don't apply self-determination on children and mentally-challenged individuals right? I don't intend to compare certain clients to being childish or mentally challenged, but we're not perfect, we can't know everything. Until we're trained to be be knowledgeable on certain issues, we can't fully be sure if what we decide or act upon is the best thing we do. 

For example, a young highschool leaver is trying to decide which college is the best for him. Can you be confident in telling that this young man has the capacity to decide what is best for him without knowing a discernible amount of knowledge on colleges and universities in his place? If we're to fully practice the notion of self-determination, we'll just let this man decide and be the decision good or bad for him, we shall not judge. 

But for me, of course you, as a social worker, have to educate this young man on the issue. Not just about colleges, but as a scientific practitioner, you have to be able to see the options that are the best for him psychologically and socially. Some social work academicians would argue that after educating, then the choice if up to the client. But for me, as an advocate for the client, we do not just defend his rights if threatened by other parties, we defend his own social functioning too if threatened by "his own self." But of course before all this, we have to be scientifically and personally sure that some options are the best for the young man, and that these options are also the conclusion of his own opinions and feedback too. 

Social workers are not working for the clients, they're working with the clients. They're not the clients' slaves, but their partners. So as much as the clients' opinions are valuable and should be taken into account, the social workers' are too.