There are a lot of different little memories that come to mind when I think of Ramadan. There are memories of some of the best days and some of the most challenging. So I thought I'd share a story from my first Ramadan that always makes me laugh.
As I mentioned before in a previous post, I converted to Islam during Ramadan in 2016. That said, everything about fasting and being Muslim was still very foreign to me. I put a lot of weight into having a successful Ramadan because I felt that it would be a clear indicator for me as to how I would handle other challenges ahead. I don't know if that was the right or wrong way to look at it at the time, but regardless I was determined to have a truly successful Ramadan.
I don't think of myself as a very competitive person, but every now and again a sliver of competitiveness comes bursting out. Usually it's not competing with another person, but rather proving to myself that I can in fact do this thing that could prove to be challenging. So in a way, I only really get truly competitive with myself.
So during my first Ramadan, I was determined to prove to myself that I could do this thing. Fasting seemed so daunting to me. While the few Muslims I had around me at the time reassured me to take it in stride and not be too hard on myself if I find it challenging, I was determined to power through. And for the most part, everything was going great.
Until one day...
As I do with every other Ramadan, I had an alarm set for the morning to wake up before the sun started to rise so I could eat suhoor and drink some water. I'm not sure if I was just extra tired that day or if I accidentally turned my alarm off when I meant to hit snooze or what happened, but all I know is I woke up to the sound of the call to prayer on my phone for the fajr prayer.
That meant that I missed waking up for suhoor. I missed it completely.
It took me a beat in my groggy state to recognize that it was the call to prayer I was hearing and NOT my suhoor alarm. Once I realized it, I broke down crying. (Yes, this may seem like a ridiculously silly overreaction, but this isn't the first time I've had a reaction like this in a groggy state. When I was 13 and had my appendix taken out, the anesthesiologist told me to count to three as they were putting me to sleep. When I woke up in recovery, I realized I never made it to 3 and I was so upset with myself. My mind is a silly place sometimes.) I felt that I had failed. I was so upset with myself and so worked up with myself because I was trying so hard to do everything just right. I was trying to hard to be successful.
My mind was racing about what to do. All of this was so new and foreign to me. What did people do in these situations?
After sitting in bed and crying for a few minutes, I decided that I was not about to give up without even trying. See, like I said, I get competitive with myself. At the very least, I could try. If it became too hard, I would stop fasting part way through the day. But I needed to at least try.
Once it was decided that I was going to try, then I frantically tried to calm myself down. There was no way I was going to waste precious hydration on tears! I needed to pull myself together.
I wound up surprising myself that day. I managed to make it through the whole day fasting and didn't really feel too different from any other day of fasting. (To be fair, I did eat and drink plenty the evening prior. So it was only adding a few extra hours on to a regular day of fasting.) If memory serves, I was extra tired that day and may have napped after work until it was time to eat. But in general, I managed to stick it through and make myself proud.
Since then, there have been a couple of times that I've had the same thing happen. I sleep through my alarm and wake up to my phone going off for the fajr prayer. The only difference now is that I don't have a complete meltdown when it happens. Now I have proven to myself that I am strong enough and I can do it. And I can always look back on that morning and laugh to myself at the emotional roller coaster that took place so quickly in such a short amount of time so early in the morning.