Ramadan in Lockdown

Learn from every moment and invest in the things you love. It will pay off!

All of us have experienced emotional distress with varying degrees during lockdown.  Some of us have experienced what was worse than physical distancing, as “social distancing” was “literal” (as we translators say) and not an option.  For people observing the month of Ramadan, the lockdown was extremely challenging, unconventional, and hard to grasp.  For the first time, you are not having the first iftar of the month with family, mosques are closed, you’re not chasing bakers for pastries and Ramadan desserts, and for me… I had my first-ever lonely sohour meal with no one at the table… Shocking!

With all of these draining circumstances, let me tell you how I turned that snowball of debilitating depression into a positivity boost that gave me the busiest and most productive month since the beginning of this year!

Education motivates you. Professional development helps you set the tone for the entire year

With lockdown and teleworking, I managed to get some time-off and book a few days for online training and a virtual conference.  And what can be better than a conference where you get a chance to hear from Chris Durban, Corinne McKay, and other talented professional experts who gave excellent presentations on the translation profession!

My first day of Ramadan was the final day of the BP 20 Conference for translators and interpreters.  The sessions were carefully tailored by expert speakers to suit the current circumstance: they focused so much on utilizing this slowdown to boost business, enhance marketing skills, and find more ways to have trustworthy collaborators.  With that strong boost, I managed to rank my priorities for the month in order to brainstorm for a successful year ahead. 

Identify weaknesses and do more to enhance your skills

With teleworking, I found remote interpreting trainings very tempting. I signed up for two trainings by Maha El-Metwally, a certified conference interpreter and a trainer. Maha’s trainings were truly eye-opening, refreshing, and gave me innovative ideas and suggestions to improve the working environment.  The main takeaways I had from Maha’s trainings: always practice, always check new devices that might help your professional career, and always check how you brand yourself as an interpreter.  I loved the “ping-pong” expression that Maha used to describe the work of some consecutive interpreters (which I relate to, especially in personal / official meetings). Her trainings opened new doors for me to explore how I can hone the skill and earn the title professionally 😉 More practice!  And definitely more trainings with Maha 😊

Work on your secret project!

A great recipe for success is to do what you love no matter what time it is. You’ll find the time for it, and people might hate you for it.  I like how Elizabeth Gilbert portrayed passions as a secret affair in her “Big Magic.” It is worth spending the time on what you love.  I also started journaling as a healthy habit to remind myself with the priorities that I have built around my passions.  I reminded myself to spend enough time on the website, to pay attention to my inbox, my relationship with clients, and my relationship with team members too.  For me, jotting down some ideas helped me gain more focus and made me feel very comfortable about my translation platform.

When working on your secret project, make sure you have the right people to consult.  Watch out for your own feelings. You might be resistant to harsh opinions.  Relax and take a step back, and benefit from constructive feedback.  

Volunteerism is key for happiness!

Volunteerism gave me a great sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Over almost three years, I have been honored to continue working with my colleagues at the American Translators Association’s Arabic language division to manage the division’s social media accounts.  Unlike the past two years, I learned more about social media management and I kept a busy schedule while learning new skills.  I joined the division’s leadership council and we (the members) held several fun and fruitful meetings to brainstorm on messaging, design, and creative ways to grow our digital presence. I dedicated some time on a daily basis to try my hand at simple creative design, read more about effective social media calendars, and explore ways to engage audiences online.  Volunteerism made me experience a very fascinating area that I haven’t explored before!  Two years ago, my perception about social media management was merely scheduling posts, but now I enjoy designing them! I enjoy analyzing our audiences’ patterns and interests.  I’m learning every day and I feel happier and more confident about the tasks I have in mind.  Analytics don’t scare me anymore!

Family is still the solution for everything!

Depending where you are around the world, the first day of Ramadan down the street might make you laugh! But that wasn’t the case on the first day of Ramadan this year. It was quiet, terribly quiet. With all the emotional distress I’ve been through the first week of Ramadan, I found video calls with family very comforting and really enjoyable. I had dozens of coffees with them as we chatted and laughed.  My family helped me survive.

I prayed

I prayed for the loved ones, I prayed for those who distanced me, I prayed for those who left our world, and I prayed a lot that this will pass.  I didn’t watch TV series. I didn’t watch re-runs. I broke up with Netflix.  I used all the free time I could get for praying.

I didn’t cook

I decided not to worry about the things that I’m not good at, and that’s it…

Invest in what you love

My Ramadan in lockdown was still beautiful, and I made it through with family, colleagues, friends, books, work, and faith.  I hope your Ramadan was successful, joyful, and restorative. For all of you who are still under lockdown, full or partial curfew, or limited working hours, I wish you a prosperous year ahead. Learn from every free moment and invest in the things you love. It will pay off!