When I moved recently, I had one project in mind – rebuilding myself, from scratch, building strong bonds with a new community.
As with planning for any professional project, I went about making a SWOT Analysis for myself. The Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats I would play with.
One of my biggest strengths I believe I have is loyalty. I am loyal to the people I hold close to me. I don’t abandon any people in my life when it becomes less convenient. I keep their secrets, I vouch for them, and I take care of them behind their backs. I work for them. I don’t leave people when it is of little personal benefit.
Once I accept a responsibility, I fulfill it no matter what, and at whatever cost to myself. I am a fulfill-er. I do procrastinate, but in the end, I get the job done, aberrations aside.
I am usually open about how I feel. I am not miserly in praise when I like something, and I am not scathing in criticism when I dislike something. For the people I like, I ignore their weaknesses and focus on their strengths.
I have reason to believe, trust and stay positive that God is on my side. I pray regularly, I recite the Qur’an. I do well, otherwise – for instance, I prayed Tahajjud for the past two consecutive nights even though it meant I had to wake up as early as 3am. I feel like God answers me.
As a friend, I am the best Qur’an buddy I know of, that anybody could have. I know there’s very few people out there who would talk, or would naturally like to talk and discuss Surahs we read and like in daily conversations. My general Islamic knowledge, especially Islamic history is certainly above average. It depends on the person about how important this cause is for them.
I make few demands of people, but always do right by people. I seek to help, please and reduce the pain of others. I seem as kind to others, overwhelmingly. I once saw a quote circulating on social media – walk away from anything that does not serve you, grows you or makes you happy. I was startled by how different I am. I snickered at how selfish the quote was. Why does it always have to be about me? Do we serve others, help them grow, or try to make them happy? Doesn’t happiness come with making others smile?
Sure enough, I’ve had a few crushes that crumbled for one reason or another, but I have never had a girlfriend. I have a largely clean slate.
I have almost always treated women with much respect and courtesy.
I am happy. And it’s contagious. This strength was tarnished more recently, but it has usually been true.
I am quick to apologize, and quick to forgive, and focus on being on good terms with everyone. “I’m sorry, I was wrong” comes easy to me, because I disregard my ego, unlike many others. It comes with a related weakness.
I am not bad at all, professionally. I do well at work. I have a Graduate Degree and have active plans to pursue another one.
My initial shyness. I am slow to warm up to people. Too often, I miss making connections because people sometimes mistake my shyness for coldness.
I am vulnerable to exploitation because I have an inability to say “no” to any request for help. It comes with a related threat.
I may be quick to forgive, and quick to apologize, but when I perceive maltreatment from someone, I make the connection and references to the past where I was wronged. Which means, I may be quick to forgive externally, but that doesn’t mean the past doesn’t linger at the back of my mind. Perhaps, I am never able to forget past misgivings.
When I have a problem with someone, I do not share it with them, and instead, keep bottling it up for a long period of time. At some point, in very rare scenarios, I allow it to increase too much in pressure, enough that my anger shows up which in the past has made me say and do things which I regret later.
I have a free run, a free hand to shape myself in a new society the way I want. So far, if anything, people have a very good impression of me.
I have two different cousins who only ever call me when there is a Computer problem that he and she need help with. I had half a dozen other friends who remembered me only when they needed help with their homework. I have other co-workers who called upon me only when they needed assistance. It can sometimes deflate and demotivate my desire to be my helpful self.
Of similar effect is the threat of being taken for granted. My loyalty implies that I’m always around for many people, so I am sometimes taken for granted. Or I’m used as a tool, that is put away once it is no longer needed, to be recalled when needed, or put away when it has outlived its utility.
Some of my more recent past a couple of months ago threatens to affect how I behave with the people now in my life, and threatens to remove some of my strengths from me. I already saw it happen when I noticed signs of a misogynist orientation. I see it happen when I turn down invitations from aunties because of a general dislike of them. I have generally been cold to girls in the community I live in, because I always suspect their intentions when they get friendly with me, after what happened in the recent past.
What do I envision? A happy, active member of a happy, thriving community. If the way things are progressing now are any sign, I’m on track. My next responsibility would be to work on my weaknesses and address the threats.