The most difficult part of thinking about my teenage self is wondering what advice I would give her. Now that’ve reached adulthood, there are a few things I’d like to say—but I often waver between offering lessons to that younger version of myself or letting her go entirely.
Truth is, I wouldn’t change a thing about my past. Cliché as it may be, it’s what made me who I am. I’ve ruminated on every little fragment of my teenage years, and each year bought about an experience, a thought, a mantra, or a belief that has either remained or transformed.
The things I’d tell my teenage self aren’t things I wish I’d done. They’re just the lessons I’ve learned along the way and words of reassurance. If I were to talk to 15-year-old me, this is what I’d tell her:
You’ll tolerate the Muslim guilt, but won’t give into it.
Being raised in a restrictive environment and a culture where shaming runs rampant—it’s only natural to grow up conditioned to associate feelings of guilt and anxiety with minuscule actions like answering a friend’s phone call in front of your parents. And as you get older, guilt becomes attached to every step of dating. Yet, by the time you turn 25, everyone will ask where your husband is. So, yes. Keep on dating.
Your parents’ instincts about your friends were mostly right
Every friend my mom didn’t like wound up doing me dirty.
You didn’t miss out on anything all those times your parents didn’t let you go to parties.
Tolerate the FOMO.
Working hard will actually pay off
This isn’t just due to my own experiences; everyone I know who dedicated time to their goals is in a great place both professionally and personally. One thing I can attest to, is that it feels great to realise that all that time spent working towards a goal was worth it.
Continue trusting your own intuitions
It’ll always be questionable, but the more you see great results, the more you’ll learn to trust it.
Photo by Kevin Laminto