Why it’s important to put yourself out there

Salaam!

Long time no blog (InshaAllah that won’t be my opening sentence for much longer)!

The Perlas del Islam project started as my senior thesis in Spanish. I was awarded the Rocks Fellowship to travel across the country, collecting narratives regarding reversion in the Latino Muslim community.

At the beginning, I had a laser-focused vision for how I wanted things to go. I would present at academic symposiums, publish a paper – do all the “formal” means of presenting things. I toggled with the idea of sharing my work in a more social kind of setting, and uploaded one (yes one) video to YouTube without looking back.

Back in March, Juan Galvan (yes, Juan Galvan- author of Latino Muslims: Our Journeys to Islam) searched for #LatinoMuslims on YouTube. And he found my video there. From there, he reached out to me on Facebook and we scheduled a phone call. The project that I thought I somehow “failed” at, because I didn’t produce something publishable by the end of a calendar year, was not that at all. It’s a lifelong project. This is lifelong work. And you never know who is watching you, or who may be inspired just by catching a whiff of what you’re doing.

This post is not necessarily for my audience, but more so for me, a permission slip to go on the field trip of a lifetime. Please remember that:

  1. You are allowed to rebrand yourself, or your content at any time.

Don’t let anybody put you into a box of what you “should” be doing. What is your area of expertise? Where do you want to be?

And in the event that you do feel you are in a box: who better to climb out of that box, than your own self? (cue: Cinderella by The Cheetah Girls). Who better to realize that the very walls which are encasing you are not tangible?

2. You are allowed to change, grow, and progress.

You have to grow to get better. And that’s uncomfortable for sure. And maybe the end product of your efforts will be a lot different from the initial input… which leads me to my last point.

3. You might not know what the ending point is in your journey.

As many wise Instagram posts and middle-school posters have said: “the destination is the journey”, “comparison is the thief of joy”, and my favorite, Islamic reference: “Musa (as (aleyhi salam (peace be upon him))) did not know that Allah was going to part the sea. He just knew that Allah wasn’t going to leave him behind”.

Your life trajectory, your favorite foods, your culture even – are always in a constant state of flux. The sooner that you can accept this, the sooner you can start to truly be present, and really thrive along your journey(s).

To be completely honest – I don’t have any of these facts figured out. I think I have these realizations in bursts at times. This is a burst I’m hoping stays solidified as I’m writing now.

All this to say~

Perlas del Islam will be a space for “Pearls of Islam”. People. Experiences. Reflections. Stories. Media. Things that are pearls in their own respect, or relate to Islam directly or loosely. So be on the lookout for more diverse content not limited to just my work on Latino Muslims. So bismillah. On this day I start the first day of my second year of medical school, and on this day the second phase of this blog begins, too.

Wa Salaam,

~ Nichola

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