Are you a young female in your teens or early 20s? And if you are - do you have 10 minutes to spare?
If yes, grab your favorite cookies and munch them as you read this post I wrote specially for you girls. I'm turning 30 in a few weeks time, and as the date nears, I want to reflect on my life in the last 20 years and share with you girls what I've learned along the way.
There are many things I wish I knew upfront (now that I'm 30!) and I want to pen them down here as a form of reflection and in my effort to be a better parent myself. You may not be able to relate to everything here for everyone's growing up journey is different but here are eight lessons I learned and observed from 13 going 30.
1. Love Yourself Before Loving Others
Everyone in this world is deserving of love, and you are most deserving of your own love.
Love yourself not because you are with the right guy, or because you are within the "it" group of friends, but love yourself because you are worth of loving regardless of all that. You were carried for 9 months and your mother went through great pain just to see you in this world - because you're worth it even before life happens. And that's exactly how you should carry your self worth from then on. You will go through pitfalls and you will face disappointment, but don't resort to drugs and short term cure. Love yourself enough to get up everyday and make things better, because you deserve better.
2. Now Is Not the Time To Get Lovesick
Oh, how many of us girls went through this phase. Young love that gets us all giddy inside just thinking of him. You feel incomplete not having him around, and family holiday feels a little stale because you keep thinking about him and when you will see him next.
Does life feels incomplete without him around? STOP - now is not the time to get lovesick.
Firstly, your family should always comes first. If this guy is making you less involved with your family, take a step back. Your family is the one who have loved you, and will continue to love you and have your back 20 years down the road. That boy who's been calling you every night? He might not even remember your name 5 years down the road. Learn to feel happy from within without the need to depend on another person's presence and more importantly, value the time you have with your family because they are the proven gem.
Your capability to provide undying love for your soulmate? Save them for after marriage, you will need a whole dose of that to keep your marriage going hehe. So many people go through rain and fire to get married, only to end up in an unhappy marriage - exhausted and questioning themselves if their struggles were even worth it to begin with. Don't exhaust your love bank now, save for the future when you need it most and more importantly, when he is most deserving of it.
3. Find and Follow Your Passion
Don't let anyone (even your parents) dictate what you should be. Yes, parents love us and they only want what's best for us. But even our parents do not know what is best for us 10 - 15 years down the road. Things change, and rapidly so these days.
Learn to know what excites you and more importantly recognise your inner strengths. Take on what others have to say, but don't let their expectations cloud your mind and mute your interest.
Girls, you are capable of creating jobs that are not even out there in the market yet. Don't let voices dictate you because there is no particular occupation that can determine success. But a passion pursued with the right talent can surely go places!
4. No One is Too Cool or Too Young to Learn About Religion
When I was growing up, I had the perception that religion does not go hand in hand with the youthful spirit to enjoy life and live my life to the fullest. I reached a point where I was growing more distant from my religion. I wasn't proud of it and if only I could turn back time, I will tell my young self how mistaken I was!
Firstly, it doesn't matter if you're a Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or even Atheist - you're never too young to get to know your religion, and even that of others. Islam in particular has a rich history of kids embracing Islam (Ali r.a. embraced and championed Islam at the mere age of 10!).
Secondly, don't let your judgment on religion be based on what is told unto you, but explore it yourself. Start from a blank slate - learn from sources and not from hearsay. You will be surprised to discover that truth sometimes, is far from social norms.
I can't speak for all religion but I know for a fact that Islam is here for all mankind, so whether you're an introvert or extrovert, whether you're a punk or a fashionista - there is a place for you in our religion.
Ask questions, but don't just stop there - seek answers. If you're a Muslim, don't be a Muslim by birth, be a Muslim by choice. Slowly you will liberate yourself from social expectations and be content in knowing that every improvement you made, no matter how slow and small, weighs heavily in the eyes of Allah - and only that truly matters.
5. Yes You're Young, but You're Never Too Young
"Oh I'm too young to think about this!" Too young to start earning, to young to go to talks, or career booths or talk to adults. No guys, you're never too young for any of those! Talk to people, even if they're so much older than you.
Yes, it can mean moving outside your comfort zone, it may mean talking to someone who speaks fire when you're used to water, it may mean talking about something you're completely unfamiliar of but let it be. Be comfortable with differences and new things because you may never know what you want to be until you discover it. Talk to people and go on discovery mode. "I choose this degree because my parents want me to" is overrated. The real question to ask is, do you know what you want?
You can make life happens the way you want it, but you need to seek knowledge and it's never too early to start. Learn from young so you can get excited earlier, plan earlier, and ultimately be successful earlier.
6. Nobody Understands Me
Yup, been there and done that. Locked myself way too many times in the room and vent out in my Diary (the 6th volume, no less hehe) about how unfair life is and how my parents never understand me.
See, the harsh reality is - people are not obliged to understand you. It is not their duty to comprehend what is in your mind and how you want to be treated. Only communication will enhance their understanding and the only person who has control over that communication is you.
Don't lock yourself, or stray away from your family when you feel misunderstood. Verbalise. Talk, reason out and listen. Writing in your diary and keeping it all to yourself can only go so far. Eventually, you will still need to communicate with them. Communication is the building block to a healthy relationship, not just with your family but with everyone else as well. So start early and communicate.
7. Social Media is not all Fun and Play
You know how you would go through your answers thoroughly before submitting something to your teacher? Well in social media (even the private ones), your "submission" will not just reach one person, it will reach hundreds, if not thousands or more - so choose your pictures and content wisely. Like teachers, your audience too are keeping scores.
It's easy to vent in Social Media and to feel smart pouring out our beliefs in the name of Freedom of Speech but there are etiquettes in all that we do. If you have strong opinions about something, feel free to relay them on your Facebook account but remember in any world that we're in, everyone carries a certain level of dignity and slashing their dignity in public will only show the uglier side of us and not them. Be mindful in how you want to portray yourself to the world and if you have a personal problem with one person, go back to point number 6: Communicate (with that person, not with the rest of the world)
8. I Can't Wait to Grow Up!
Ahh...my personal favorite, and I saved this for last! I was so guilty of this, I can't even.
I was 12 when I started planning what my 16th Birthday Bash should look like. Trying to flaunt my elder sisters' dresses with a body that is not quite there yet. And before I knew it, I'm turning 30 this year, and guysss who exactly in their 30 says I can't wait to be 40? LOL.
As you grow older you will realise that it is not about what age or phase of life we're in, but it is about what we make of our life (at any point of time) that matters. Don't let your best moment be the future (or even the past). Let it be now. Live in the moment.
I enjoyed my adolescent years, in fact maybe a little too much but would I trade my role as a mother to be a teenager all over again? Not in a million years. I love my life now and I will continue to love it more with each passing day because going back to point number 1, I strive to be better each day because I deserve better...and girls, so do you ❤