Letter to a Teen or Two

Im not writing this letter to yell at you or to tell you what to do or anything like that. I’m writing this because I’ve been through being 16 and 17 and 18 and so on and whether you know it or not now, life is a cycle and the same kinds of things happen throughout every generation. Even the people that are surrounding you guys today are the same types of people that surround everyone. The different experiences that we all have depend on who we are or were in that same circle of people.

Anyways enough with the philosophizing. Im writing this letter to let you guys know what I’ve learned about life and my parents over the years. When I turned 20, I wrote the same letter to my 16 year old self. At that time, I read an article about a journalist who had just died and one of his most famous works was a letter he wrote to his 16 year old self. Maybe one day I’ll show you that letter and maybe when you’re older inshallah ya rab, you can write that same letter to yourself and you will realize what a baby you really are at just 16.

The truth is, no matter how old you think you are, or how many life experiences you think you’ve gone through, for the most part – at least for you two – sixteen is tiny. At sixteen you have no legal rights, except maybe to start learning how to drive (which many parents across America would argue is still too young). But to start learning to drive is just that, a START to a right you will one day have. At sixteen you are not legal to buy alcohol, you are not legal to enter any clubs, you are not legally an adult, and you are not even legal to buy cigarettes. At least here in the USA. At 16 you are still sitting in class rooms while teachers drill you with information you may never use, and at 16 you still cry over circles of friends who are fighting over popularity that will never go beyond the 4 walls of your high school. Not just you two, EVERY 16 year old.

Unless, of course, life really starts happening. What I mean by that is, all the problems you feel are huge are not life problems. They’re high school problems. Problems that, whether you like it or not, will disappear in a mere 2 years-time. Life problems for a 16 year old, is to come home and find your father lying unconscious on the ground of his bedroom. Life problems is to lose your dad at 16. That was Khalo’s 16 year old problem. I’m not trying to depress you. I’m trying to give you perspective. What I mean by that is I’m trying to show you things from another light. Because while you are living in your life, somewhere across the universe is someone who is the same age, has the same birthday and maybe has the same name as you, and they are living a very different life. In Khalo’s situation, maybe a Ali who was 16 and was born August 28, 1985 was living in Germany and just made the football team but his parents wanted him to take his SATs the same day as the tournament instead so he couldn’t join the team. At 16, it’s very easy to feel that things are the end of the world, that a mountain of stress and sadness just seems to want to follow you around. With a little bit of perspective, we can change all that.

You guys are not wrong for feeling how you feel, because most people feel what you feel. I felt what you felt. When I moved to a different school at 13, for me I felt like I broke up with my first love. I was ripped apart from my friends that I had since I was 6 years old. In my mind, they made their high school memories without me. They graduated together, without me. The hyperness, silly times, sleep overs, pig outs, sports teams, lunch times hanging out with the older seniors (because one of my friends brothers was a senior), EVERYTHING was over for me, but they still had it. When I think about it now, it still feels sad to me because I actually DID have a group of friends that I really loved and they loved me. We lived in our own bubble and I really had a blast hanging out with them every time. 13 years old was my first time feeling depression. But you know what got me through that? My family. I didn’t have a twin sister to cry to and Dina at 10 was such a cute bubbly girl. She took all the things that happened and just went with the flow. I’m a different person and I feel things x10, so when I would cry, I would cry to my parents even though it was THEM that did this to me. Sometimes I blamed them of course, but I blamed them to their face. And do you know what they would say to me every time? Every time their number 1 priority was to reassure me. Even though I was only 13 and I was wrong. I thought it was the end of the world but they saw clearer. Because of course, age, and because of wisdom. How wise can you be as a teenager when most teenagers have never even seen real life.

If you rewind back to me moving schools, 1 year later, all my friends that I loved so dearly moved away anyways. None of them graduated together, funny enough, and they never even kept in touch with each other. The school fell apart after I left and that’s why everyone left as well, and Mama and Baba saw that. I wanted to be with my friends, but they were thinking of my future. The school lost its accreditation with the USA while I was still going there. That means that it wasn’t even recognized by American Universities. It gained it back but subhanAllah how it works, I was meant to move schools. How were we supposed to know it would gain it back, and to find out that was the case and to keep your kid there? That’s the parent that doesn’t care.

What I’m saying is, Mama and Baba are ALWAYS looking out for you. ALWAYS. Just because something makes you sad or happy doesn’t mean that’s the right or wrong thing? And just because Mama and Baba are doing the thing that makes you sad, doesn’t mean they don’t feel with you even if they know they’re right. That year I moved to Conti, I remember one incident where I was listening to a John Mayer CD. I was in my room and the door was closed a little and I was sitting on your bed Dania. I was looking at my 6th grade year book and I felt my heart like breaking because I missed it so much. I couldn’t look at it anymore so I closed the book and I felt like I was gonna cry so I sat up facing the door so I could go put the year book away and closed my eyes and tried to keep taking deep breaths so I wouldn’t cry. The second I did that, Mama came out of her room to go downstairs and she saw me through my door because it wasn’t closed all the way. I probably looked so weird sitting with my eyes closed so Mama came to my room and sat on the other bed and asked me what I was doing. At that time, our room still had 2 beds like Dania’s and that little straw bed side table used to be in between them. I just told her nothing because I didn’t want to cry. The music was still playing and Mama saw the yearbook in my hand and she saw my eyes start to water. All of a sudden she goes, I’m gonna break that CD! And she opened the CD player and took out my CD like she was gonna break it. We were sitting facing each other so I stood up and snatched the CD from her hand and burst out crying and I felt like I was literally crying out all my sadness and I yelled at her and told her ITS NOT THE CD I JUST MISS MY FRIENDS I MISS MY SCHOOL AND I MISS MY OLD LIFE!! Then Mama grabbed my neck and pulled me down and started hugging me and started crying with me. We were both just sitting there crying and mama was just hugging me.

Every day after that I would come home and cry and Mama would promise me that one day she knew it, I was gonna come home and tell her thank you for moving schools. When I found out all my friends left anyways and I made my new friends at Conti and I went to camp in England and LOVED IT, that’s exactly what happened. Mama can’t tell the future, but she sees clearer like I said. She’s wiser because she has lived and seen so much. That’s how she knew. Baba the whole time never stopped telling me that if I wanted to go back to my old school I could if I just give Conti a try. SubhanAllah although I got sad often that year, seeing that they really wanted my happiness really meant a lot and helped me a lot. If you think about things you will see it too believe me. Enjoying your holiday or your ‘life’ right now is possible, but we all have to work hard to achieve our future happiness as well, and Mama and Baba are basically spoon feeding it to you guys.

Do you guys think that Mama and Baba wouldn’t build you palaces on water if they could? Do you guys not think that Mama and Baba are doing the best they can with what they have? While we cry over the current situation, they cry over the next 10 years and figuring out how to make you the happiest you can be in your ENTIRE life. And they do cry for you, I’ve seen them BOTH cry for you guys.

I just want you to #1 have perspective for your own happiness and #2 after you have that perspective, appreciate what Mama and Baba do for all of us. You can appreciate them in the way you treat them. You will see that your reward with Allah for the way you treat your parents, is priceless. He’ll put happiness in your heart when there’s nothing in your life making you happy. Believe me, I’ve felt it when I was all alone in my room in England hundreds of miles from anyone I loved or even knew. I felt that happiness and that same second I emailed Mama and Baba and told them that they must have been Radyeen 3layi because for some reason I felt a burst of happiness and content-ness. Think about things. Really think about things through all the emotion you are feeling. You’ll find the beautiful seed that Mama and Baba have planted for your future. Be excited because you haven’t even started your life yet. And work a little because your efforts are what’s feeding that seed to help it grow into more than you could ever dream of. I LOVE YOU GUYS! We all do <3

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