Sunday, 5 May 2013

Dear 16 year old me...

Image courtesy of red-boots.blogspot.com
Sometimes I wonder back to when I was 16 and think about all the mistakes I've made, all the things that I've learnt since then and all the changes to my expectations of life and everything it threw at me. This is some advice to my (14 to) 16 year old self.

Although all I haven't always faced my challenges in the right way or made the best decisions I feel that, like most people, those wrong turns in life have taught me and moulded me into who I am today.

At 14-16 I went through the rock chick/emo phase, yes, not many people would believe that if they met me today. But I went through my teenage years being stuck between not 2, but 3 cultures. I had friends and society that influenced me in one way and my parents that pulled me in another way. I was British and wanted to dress that way, I listened to western music and wanted to fit in with my western friends (as much as I told myself that I didn't, I guess looking back on it I did), and you can't blame someone who was born and brought up in this culture not to be influenced by it. My parents who were not very practising at the time wanted me to be more cultured (by cultured I mean stay true to my Asian roots) but also wanted me to practise Islam. At that age I had not studied the deen except memorise enough surah's to pray my salah and learn to read the Quran, I had heard the stories of the prophets pbut (not always correct or accurate). So in all this confusion and not being able to find my identity for myself, I rebelled.

What advice would I give to my teenage self?

Don't worry it all turns out ok in the end. A lot of the time we think that the situation we're in is going to be forever, but as with all things in life it passes, including the teenage spots and bullies. I would also have liked to reassure myself that I will eventually find my inner self, that I will be happy and content with life at some point, but to understand happiness I had to go through the sadness.

Even though at times I think my parents went about teaching me life's lessons in the wrong way, truth is, the moral of what they were trying to teach was correct and I should have given them a lot more credit for what they did for me. I would also advise myself to be more open with my mum, at age 16 I would never speak to my parents about how I felt or what was going on in my life because I always felt they wouldn't understand and that they'd judge me or jump to conclusions. Now I know my mum and know that she isn't the bad guy, in fact she's been through it all (although in a different country and different era) she knows what I'm going through. I used to think they restricted me so much because they just didn't want me to be happy and they didn't trust me, but now I know they just wanted me to be happy in the long term and that it wasn't so much about not trusting me it was more about not trusting the shaytaan and the paths he could lead me down. I would tell myself that instead of fighting them I should try to speak to them and show them through actions that I was going to be ok and they didn't need to worry.

I would tell myself that I would come across hardships of death and life threatening illnesses of loved ones but I need to hold tight to Allah and know that He will get me through it.

I would advise myself to make friends with the right sort of people who will make me a better person and not be so naive to think that I was strong enough not be influenced by anyone. Not to be so easily trusting and know sometimes even those closest to you will stab you in the back, but not to worry about other people but concentrate on myself and know Allah will take care of them. Think long term and fall for actions not words. Not everyone has your best interest at heart, what seems good at the time isn't always good. People will let you down and it will upset you but that's the nature of people, don't rely on them, don't get too attached and rely totally on Allah, Who wont let you down.

When I was younger I was really head strong, stubborn and passionate, which I still am, but at that time I used it all in the wrong way, I would get angry quickly and make views about people heard, I'd shout and scream when bottling it up just got too much. Now I've learnt to vent my anger or frustration differently, I would advise myself to control the way I spoke to people because out of everything in my whole life the only thing I regret is the way I spoke to people or the things I said because those are the only things I can't take back and I pray that they and Allah forgive me.

I often felt that I was ugly, people (family members) made fun of my complexion because I wasn't as fair as I was when I was a child or as fair as my really fair sisters, I had teenage spots and horrible hair (which my mum never let me do anything with except tie up in a pony tail), was really skinny (literally could not put on any weight no matter how much I tried) and had braces for 3 years (which sucked big time!). I would tell myself to stop caring about what other people thought of me because although I hated the way I looked there were people out there who were much worse off. I would tell myself to just be happy with the way Allah made me and that I was still growing and things (including my looks) will change.

The biggest advice I would give to myself is (even though I didn't get why I needed to or what it was about) I needed to pray, because eventually if I kept up the prayer everything would fall into place and my heart would be at ease.

So that's my insecurities laid bare, some which reside with me a little bit, but majority which I have worked through and learnt to deal with.

Decisions good or bad, I know I had to go through it all to be where I am now, alhamdulillah happy and content with the way things are going. Life isn't over (yet) and I know things will continue to change but I'm happy knowing for a fact that Allah is the best of planners and He has a plan for me, I just need to take it easy.

I asked iHijabi facebookers 'What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?' and here is their response:

Najmah: "Be happy! Enjoy your youth... And always remember death"

Mohammed: "Don't take chemistry, you don't really want to be a dentist. And you aren't actually half as clever as you think you are."

Aisha: "Even if i gave myself advice, i feel that i HAD to go through this (what I'm going through) to make me learn and see the wisdom"

Shuhena: "Don't trust anyone, have faith in Allah and trust him only... Be silent if u have nothing good to say and control your temper"

Sehrish: "Allah (swt) has it all planned out for you just be patient!"

Amina "Don't b naive n think that every1's genuinely nice n wishes you well.
dont hold silly little grudges, but then again it comes with the territory."

Nazneen: "There is nothing wrong with your body!be grateful bcoz its only going to get worse after uv had the kids!!"   

Emran: "Tell yourself. That growing up sucks, being an adult saps the happiness out of you. Immaturity is the root of happiness, so don't let go trying to look older than you are"

Candace: "You deserve kindness and love."

Zubeda: " Listen to mum or else you'll regret it later. But agree with Aisha above"

Nayeema: "Avoid hanging around with the wrong crowd but hang around with the good crowd."

Shelina: "Shouldn't have chopped your hair off so much & have it thinned out. Mother knows best ! It's a scary world out there."

Maisha: "be urself...enjoy ur moment...don't try growing up too fast just be ur age...cz tomorrow will cum and today will be history... (and dats exactly wat i did! !!!)"

Mitha "Dnt do crack!! Lol.. (Joke)"

The Original Artist..: "Probably would have done more sports, would have chosen a different uni, been less vocal, otherwise Alhumdullilah." 

So can you relate to any of this? What advice would you give to your 16 year old self? 

If you're 16 (or under) and reading this, just take some comfort in knowing you'll get through it inshaAllah, we all did alhmadulillah.


  1. wow this is a really interesting post. I went through an emo/punk phase too!
    Don't care what other people think is something I'd definitely tell my teenage self.

    Tahira x