25. Opportunites Right Ahead

“Even when opportunity knocks, a man still has to get up off his seat and open the door.”

I am a firm believer of chasing hungrily after my dreams and thus far, alhamdulillah, I can proudly say that I have had no regrets. Sure, life had occasionally threw me some pretty tough balls and diverted my paths here and there, but through that, I’ve also learnt that flexibility is key in this journey. Some of my close friends have called me a go-getter, a risk-taker and well, a pretty darn hardheaded woman. But that’s not the point. Sorry, I’ve digressed.

Right, so I was inspired to write this entry particularly because of an incident that happened yesterday. (I’ve not written in a while, so this has really got to be something huge!)

I had attended a lecture and one of the most unexpected opportunity was presented to me. You see, I have a bad habit as an undergraduate whereby I tend to skip lectures at whim. There are days when I don’t feel like attending lectures, so I don’t. I’ve always been able to catch up so I guessed I’ve developed a bit of complacency there. Drats. Anyway, today, I prepped myself up to attend the lecture and thoroughly enjoyed the 1.5 hours when the lecturer showed a movie “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” about a mental institution. It was only after the movie, just as everybody was leaving the lecture theatre did my lecturer announce if anyone who can speak Malay was keen to help him out.

(To sidetrack a bit here, a fact here: the number of Malays, or Malay-speaking, Psychology major undergraduates, in NUS is pathetic. There are only, what, 3 of us in my batch? We need more people in here man!)

So anyway, when my lecturer asked that question, I was looking to see if anyone was going to approach him. None did. So here’s what’s going on in my head, “Should I go for it? Yes? No? I’ve got time. Why not?” I eventually stood up and made my way to him, and with the biggest smile, said, “Hello Prof. I can speak Malay!”

And this, was his reply (word for word baby, I can remember!)

“Great! Would you be interested to be my translator for a Malay patient? It’s a simple job, I just need you to help me translate for a man coming from Brunei. They’re coming down for a psychiatric assessment. It’s a bit last minute though, it’s tomorrow. Can you make it?”

Newsflash: this is one of THE most exciting proposals you can make to a Psych major. To be given the opportunity to actually be an integral part of an actual psychiatric assessment/therapy, that is just beyond awesome!

I obviously enthusiastically agreed! But here’s the thing that I caught myself thinking after walking away: What if I hadn’t actually taken up the opportunity earlier? Notice that he didn’t specify the actual proposal earlier? He just mentioned he needed help. So many if-s crossed my mind. What if I hadn’t bothered to attend lecture today? What if I hadn’t thought it was necessary to offer my help? What if I had thought it was too trivial? Would I have left the lecture hall like everybody else and not taken up the offer?

It made me realise that sometimes, the opportunities that are presented to us are not clearly labeled as opportunities. More often than not, they’re presented as something completely trivial or simple, that we fail to appreciate the opportunities that are just waiting to spring out. Or to look it another way, opportunities are the things that we make out of the things presented to us. We create our own opportunities for success, for self-growth, for learning, out of the life that we’re living.

If we can learn to change our mindsets to take everything we’re going through as an opportunity, then wouldn’t that be life-changing? All the problems, all the challenges, all the good fortune that we encounter in our everyday lives. All of these are God’s gift in helping us to grow into better persons. We only need to learn to take every single thing and action in our lives as purposeful.

I was truly mindblown by this reminder.

Sometimes we don’t understand that there is a reason for everything that happens. We question, we doubt and we challenge. I guess that’s when we need to take a step back, breathe, and have faith. You’ll never know just when, things will turn out in your favour. At the end of the day, as you look back, you’ll realise that everything had turned out the way it was supposed to be.

And at the end of the day, remember too that

“Whoever puts his trust in Allah; He will be enough for him.” (65:3)

So, hang in there. Learn to listen. Opportunity could be knocking at your door very softly. (:

Alrighty then. I’m off to the appointment now! May this be a blessed and beneficial first time experience! Bismillah! 🙂

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