Saturday, 16 November 2013

Moving On--- (the right way)

Last week I left my comms officer job at the Somali Relief and Development Forum after eight months. In the run up to my leaving, I didn't have a phone, I had de-activated my twitter and I'd cut myself off from almost everyone I knew. Needless to say, I felt pretty lost- and as ever, as though I was living life in some kind of dream (not mine).

The last week was hard, in so many ways. It was hard knowing that I'd be walking away from everything (yet again) Over the years, I've mastered the art of walking away from everything, but this time I knew it would be different. I felt like I would not only be leaving behind my job and the people I'd come to know and love, but I'd also be leaving behind a myriad of certainties that I had carefully formed and held on to for years, from ideas on what it means to have faith, to be committed and unyieldingly steadfast---- to the unravelling of more concrete aspirations, namely my long held (and one and only) plan to open an orphanage in Lahore. Life is strange, so strange. Often we get everything we want and need in life, everything we ask for only to realise that maybe what we had asked for, wasn't what we wanted at all; that maybe we  had been wrong all along. But I guess that's life, a series of trials and errors, and its these trials and errors that shape our character, that make us who we are. 

So yeah, leaving SRDF was hard. It was really hard knowing that I wouldn't be around much longer--- I was apprehensive at the prospect of facing yet another unknown future, I was worried that I'd lose touch with all the people I was connected to through SRDF; I was scared I'd lose my love and passion for Somalia, for all things Somali; from hawash tea, to saying wallahi too much, to putting way too much sugar in everything, to feeling like I knew the world just that little bit better, by being connected to a community that on the face of it, wasn't mine. I was scared I would disappear and never go back again, like I have done countless times in countless places. But more than anything, I was scared of goodbyes. I was scared of saying goodbye and maybe that's why I distanced myself from everyone I worked with the weeks before I left. I would be sad to leave, though relieved in so many ways--- I would be glad to just be me again-- to be free. And I knew, deep down -I knew-, the time had come for me to move on.... sometimes you just know and you just have to be courageous enough to follow through, to follow your heart, however much of a challenge that may be. 

It was a really hard decision to make to leave SRDF. In fact of the great number of jobs I've had over the years, this was the hardest. For the first time in a long while I felt like I was doing something worthwhile, and though my journey at SRDF had been a struggle, more so as I was going through so much on a personal level throughout, it had been a learning experience like no other. And of all the jobs I've had, of all the friends I've made, nothing has or will (and I really believe this) come close to SRDF. Through SRDF I met some of those who I now consider my closest and dearest friends, I met some truly inspiring and wonderful people, people who have really helped me grow in ways I don't think they'll ever understand, I didn't want to lose that.

-and so....- 

And so... these are just a few of the reasons why I was dreading my last day, and though I had been anticipating it for so long, when it actually arrived it almost didn't feel real. I didn't know what to expect, how to act, or react---- In fact, I was incredibly tempted to just give it a miss, to not go in. I don't like goodbyes, my life has consisted of a long drawn out series or (non series) of them. I've almost always given them a miss, or botched them  up. And when it comes to jobs, I've never left properly. I've always somehow managed to screw things up, I've always ended up disappearing with no closure or sense of peace or achievement. I've been trying to break this habit for a while, and so I knew I had to go in. It was a really hard week emotionally and physically too, I was feeling drained and run-down and wanted nothing more than to disappear...

Long story short, on my last night (after an regular day at work) I somehow ended up walking into a restaurant, only to find a whole table of my closest friends and colleagues smiling up at me. SURPRISE!! My colleague Samra handed me a bunch of yellow tulips and some chocolates and I accepted with a grin on my face and a much sought after sense of peace in my heart. I don't think I ever felt so blessed. Life is weird, with no phone, no real way of contacting anyone-- the people I most wanted to see came together to celebrate the closing of a chapter and the opening of a new one. I'd never felt so humbled (or confounded!) Apparently my colleague and friend randomly bumped into each other at a Somali Week event and had planned 'operation passion flower' ever since. Call it fate. Call it whatever, I was just so moved and humbled and I felt like the happiest person in the whole world. In life wherever I go, I always seem to cross paths with the most wonderful people. I'll miss working at SRDF but more than that I'll miss my SRDF family. I'll miss Samra, Emanuela, Fathia, Tanya, Mohamud and Ayanle; each of these individuals are so special and I feel truly privileged to have met them. God bless and may we find ways of staying in each others lives, though our paths may diverge for a time. I'm not very good at speeches, at least not in person. I'm not very good at saying the things I want to say at the times I want to say them, and so here it is- everything I want to say: I love you guys, I'm so grateful to you. And thank you so so so much. (somehow I hope you read this)

(p.s the prelude to this post has been sitting in my drafts for three years, -have only now managed to publish it- Goodbye Stranger)