Higher Power by Hawra’a Khalfan

Letter to my sixteen year old self:

Don’t let the world drag you down. Don’t let anybody tell you what you are and what you aren’t. Your mother spent years calling you beautiful, don’t let society tell you otherwise. No, she isn’t crazy. (And no, a donkey is not a gazelle in his mother’s eyes.) Moms aren’t blind, they just see the beauty in you that you haven’t learned to see yet. She’s building you up in a society that is dragging you down. You owe that woman your strength as a woman later on in life. 

Listen to your dad. In hindsight, he always had your best interest at heart. I know it’s not something you thought you’d ever say about him because “he’s the devil in disguise”. But trust me, listen to him. Even when he grounded you, or took away your phone, or even stopped talking to you until you learned your lesson. Just listen. He isn’t your enemy. He would fight the world to make you happy. He just doesn’t know how to express that love in the way you need him to. One day you’ll come to that realization. And yes, his belly will get bigger later on.

You will never regret being there for your family, but you will regret putting your friends before them. Always be there for them, even if you have “better things to do”. See them. Spend time with them. There will come a day when they’re scattered all over the world and you’re going to miss having a full noisy house. You’ll miss hearing your sisters fight, and your brothers playing football, or wrestling in the living room. (They’ll actually never grow out of that, by the way.)

Don’t jump from friend to friend. Friendship is about quality, not quantity. You’ll end up surrounded with fifty empty cells when things are smooth in your life, but you’ll always wonder where they are when you’re down. Friends show their true colors in times of weakness. The friends who disappointed you at this age, will keep disappointing. The friend who showed up at your house (almost) daily will eventually throw you a bachelorette party. (MSN messenger wasn’t a waste of time, your socially awkward self made lifelong friends thanks to it.)

You won’t always be shy, so you should shake that out of you now. Don’t second guess every move you make because you’re surrounded by rich kids. Their money means nothing. They’ll always have their nice things, but they’ll never go through those experiences that made you stronger than they will ever be in the future. A decade later, your life will be richer than many of theirs. And no, I am not referring to all the shiny things you’ll have.

You haven’t met “the one” yet. I know you’re convinced he’s that guy you were into at sixteen. But he’s not. The man you’ll marry is a godsend. He’s thoughtful, kind, smart as hell, and your love for him will be stronger than any emotion you’ll ever experience before him. You’ll fall in love with him so fast, you’ll convince yourself that he’s a figment of your imagination for a while.

Stop obsessing with the death of your mother, she’s a fighter; she always has been. I’m writing this a decade later, and she’s still fighting. The more you think about her dying, the worse your nightmares will get. Stop thinking about it, she’s a champion. You and your five siblings will always be the reason she’s in that boxing rink to begin with, and you’ll always be the reason she leaves a warrior. You’ll always see the universe in her eyes, and she’ll live in this world vicariously through yours. Her spirit will always live through the six of you.

There are many flaws you have that you don’t see yet, and you’re going to go through many experiences that will highlight them for you. You’re going to make many mistakes, but it’s fine. You’re going to hurt, but it’s fine. You’re going to break down, and have to build your life up with your bare scarred fingertips, but it’s fine. You’ll be glad you made those mistakes when you’re older. You’ll be glad when you come out a warrior one day, just like your mother.

Always speak your mind. You’ll never feel whole until you learn this.

Never stop writing- it’s the one thing that will always be there for you. You’ll have a year or two when you have a dry pen spell. It’s fine. Go back to it. It is your creative compass. It is the only way you can unleash your thoughts and grow. One day you’ll read your writing on stage. I know, it sounds terrifying to you. But one day, you’ll actually look forward to performing your poetry. One day, you’ll actively work towards it happening for you. One day, you’ll feel a world of spirits rushing through you, when you’re exhilarating your words into the cosmos.

Mom was right, if you don’t work on your posture you’re going to end up with a back problem. I know it sounds so “lame” but do it. It’ll save you many sleepless nights later. Sleep. Eat well. Take care of yourself. When you’re a teenager it seems that you can abuse your body and it’ll be fine. Sleep deprivation isn’t that big a deal, is it? No, you don’t just eat healthy to lose weight. Eat healthy to fuel your body with good energy. I know KFC is great, but trust me- at this rate you’re going to lose half your hair, have pimples, and fight to lose that excess weight.

Stop ignoring problems until they’re so much harder to fix. (Refer to the paragraph above.)

Don’t turn into a hoarder, it’s okay to throw away your notebooks from university. There’s a huge difference between being sentimental and being a hoarder. I know it’s hard to part with some of your “valued” possessions, but trust me, you’ll live.

Failure is good. Fail once, twice, thrice. Fail as many times as necessary. Failure is only truly failure if you give up afterwards. Everyone fails, just make sure your failures strengthen you for tomorrow. Focus your passion, that’s all you’ll ever need to succeed.

Mom isn’t crazy, your intuition matters. Follow it. Listen to it. Be connected to a sense of spirituality that you’re not physically aware of. It’s not “stupid” to be spiritual. It’s stupid to assume there is no higher power out there in the universe. Follow your heart. When you have a bad feeling about doing something; don’t do it. Trust me, this will save you from many awkward situations.

Don’t rush growing up. Embrace every moment at school and university. Embrace your growth period. No, you don’t need to rush and “get a job quickly”. It’s fine to be broke for a period of your life. You’ll grow to realize that even when you have the money to buy everything you want, you’ll come to the conclusion that it’s wiser to spend your money on experiences (travelling the world), than on things. Things break, your personal growth and happiness is always the best investment.

And lastly, please please stop dying your hair. It will never look as good as your natural hair color. Your genes built you up this way for a reason. Embrace it. Love it. Seriously. Please. You’re the reason i’m balding.

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