The biggest thing I have learned now that I am on the wrong side of 40 is that no one has it all no matter what your perception of that person is. Life just doesn’t work like that.
If I could just explain that to my younger 21-year-old self. I would tell that young Muslim girl that education and hard work is the best weapon she will have ever have in the many battles life will throw at her. To also take the time to look at what truly makes her happy before choosing which career path to take because she really could do anything.
There will be nothing that lasts the test of time like her university degree. The friends, the clothes, the money would all come and go but no one can take her education from her. It would be the thing that lets her stand up after every fall. It’s the badge of honour in front of her children when they say, what do you even know mum?!
She needs to understand negative situations are tests from Allah to make her even stronger. To truly believe everything happens for a reason. Also know that these tests are life lessons and without them she wouldn’t appreciate the good times. I would tell her to enjoy every second of her time living at home with her mum and dad. Those are the truly carefree days with life’s troubles being shouldered by them.
Opportunities to travel that come her way, should be grabbed with both hands. To go on as many adventures as possible and to make Hajj a priority before marriage. When your older and have kids and a mortgage, that opportunity becomes more difficult to take advantage of.
I wish she could see that getting married young isn’t the gateway to the world and more like a gated garden. The garden would flourish with beautiful children but the gates to the world would be closed with responsibility and accountability. When different suitors come knocking for her hand in marriage, to choose with her head and not her heart. Be careful to ignore money, status and family name as all of those things can be temporary. To go into marriage on an equal basis and set the ground rules on day one.
Appreciate that the world is full of people with different agendas and not all have her best interests at heart. Be more willing to say no and to set boundaries. There is nothing wrong with putting herself first. Not to worry so much about what others think or about what they are doing. We just make different choices and that’s ok. Those with perfect lives and endless money, struggle with health. Those with perfect kids, have abusive husbands. Successful careers can come at the cost of a stable family life. No one truly knows the secrets of people’s lives. Allah tests people in different ways.
Finally, and most importantly of all, I would tell her to enjoy the journey and be kind to herself. Everything will fall into place at the right time. Allah has the perfect plan and perfect timing even if she doesn’t know it yet.
What would you say to your younger 21-year old self? What advice would you give to your daughter?