Dear Young Syahmun,
As you progress in life, you will be exposed to so many experiences and situations. There are numerous times that you will find yourselves in a pickle, and having a hard time to decide what is best for you. But regardless the failures, heartbreaks, and setbacks, you will live a fulfilling life (well, you just turned 40 last month, so at least up until 40).
Unfortunately, you will not necessarily achieve everything that you may have wanted, but I promise, you will create your own #herstory. One, that is uniquely yours. And to help you along, here are some of my advice for you.
Know that you matter
When you’re seven, you’ll face one of your biggest bullies in life. She will tell you awful things about yourself but through it all, you will realize that your self-worth is so much more than skin colour or popularity. You will learn to stand up for yourself, and speak up for your rights. (And, when you’re older, you will also stand up for others and advocate for their rights).
Compassion conquers all
The following year, by Allah’s grace, you will be friends with her. You will find out that she has a difficult life, and her angst is simply reflections of her frustrations. At eight, you will learn that everyone is fighting their own battles, and our mama is right, when she tells us to always be kind, especially to those who need it most (and sometimes, this even includes yourself).
Keep your ego in check
You’re going to experience a lot of amazing things but always remember to be humble and be grateful. Take every opportunity to always listen and learn from others. Everyone that comes into our life brings us lessons to learn.
Patience is a virtue
Sometimes we have to take longer paths to our destinations. Setbacks are common. But everything will work out. Remember, this applies to everything in our lives – meeting our Mr Man, conceiving our boys (Yes! You have two kind & handsome ones!), losing weight post-partum, our career shifts, building our house and our future. Out of a habit, we tend to ‘force’ things to happen. My advice to you now, slow down and be patient. Have faith and trust the process.
Practice gracious avoidance.
One of things that you will learn in life is that some people need to be loved from afar. It’s not because that they’re bad or we are too good for them. But sometimes, there are people with certain behaviours that make it unhealthy for us to continue being too close to them. Don’t let them be in your head space far too long. You deserve the peace. This is a tough one for us and we struggle on this many times. But remember, practice makes perfect.
Eat, Rest and Think Well
Just a few days after you turned forty, you will experience a huge health scare which will remind you to be for more attentive to your health and well-being. You will learn to guard your work – life balance fiercely, to say no as necessary and practice the recommended healthy lifestyle. You will also appreciate your rest time & do regular exercise more. I strongly encourage you to practice this sooner.
Read. Read. Read
You will like to read books… a lot of them. Books are magic! You like books so much that you enjoy giving them as gifts to others. Surround yourself with people who love to read. The benefits are stupendous.
Lastly, family comes first. Your career will definitely take off, but please don’t get too caught up. Make time to drop in at our parents’ often, and ask how they are doing. Show up for the birthday parties, majlis doa selamats and whatnots. Spend good and quality time with your children. They need you more than your work. Stop to chit chat with the aunties and uncles, as well as your cousins, when you see them at functions, (or anywhere really) because you never know it may be the last time you see them. I learnt this in a hard way and I want you to understand, family is a priority.
That should sum it all up. I love you and I hope you will learn to be compassionate to yourself sooner than I did. And hey, you will grow to be one of the women leading the way, in more ways that you can imagine. Take good care of yourself!
Ps. If I know myself well, I know that you probably won’t take all these advices to heart, but at least I hope you will practice what is useful for you, and the rest, well…. just keep them, in view.
Syahmun from Future