I love January as everything feels new to me, new year, new age, and new beginning … I just celebrated my birthday and let’s see for how many more years I enjoy adding a candle to my birthday cake! For now, I am still enjoying it and I feel wiser each year…
I always reflect back and review my year around this month, to ensure that I am on the right track. This year, I felt that I am moving towards the second phase of my life. I am now more concerned about leaving a legacy and having an impact on this world. I decided to write a letter to my 16 year old self, 20 life lessons, one for each year… I think you can guess my age now! :-)
I broke down the letter into two articles as it was very long, I am sharing the first part with you in this one.
This is an emotional article and it brought up many memories, I am grateful for being able to share it with you and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.
Dear 16 year old Mona,
Hello, I am writing to you from the future, 20 years from today to share some of the lessons I have learned so far. I know that your biggest concern in life is whether you are going to become an ‘Architect’ or a ‘Computer Engineer’ and you believe that your future depends entirely on this decision… Well, you’re not gonna become either of those and you’ll be just fine..
You will instead find out about entrepreneurship later on, even though no one gave you that option at school! The times are changing though and your 6 year old son … (hmmm, yeah, you’ll have two gorgeous sons!) …. is learning about running a business and he has way more options for his future than you ever did. This proves that the world is improving and you are a part of this movement …
A lot has happened in these 20 years, you lived in two new countries, travelled to many others, met amazing people, made mistakes, learned from them, built your own life from scratch, started a family, started businesses and went through lots of ups and downs, and that’s what makes you who you are ..
Now let’s talk about what I’ve learned, ready? Here we go ...
1. You are only in competition with one person and that’s Yourself!
I know this is hard to believe, you are living in a society that is built on competition. In order for you to win, someone else must lose. Your entire school system encourages you to be the top student and beat others.
It has been drummed into you since kindergarten that you must be the first in your class, but the sooner you realize that there is more to life than always being number one, the more enjoyable life will become. The only person you are competing with is Mona. The “grade anxiety” that you are feeling now does not serve you. The knowledge that you gain is more important than the grades you attain.
Do your best to be better than your yesterday and grow constantly. Play your own game and never compare yourself with others, let them play their own game and help them to reach their finish line whenever you can.
2. People love Drama
That’s the reason celebrities’ lives, the Media, News, Hollywood, Bollywood, you name it … do so well … actually, let me rephrase that: Your ‘Mind’ craves drama, for its existence. It needs to be engaged all the time and it creates drama for you to talk to you constantly.
Am I losing you? Ok, let me rephrase that again!
Your mind will never be content with where you are now, it will constantly want to compare you to the people around you; sometimes your mind will trick you into feeling that everyone around you is more beautiful, smarter, and more successful than you, and at other times, it tricks you into thinking that you are better than some nationalities, races or other people in general.
Don’t get trapped in this game, love yourself for who you are including your flaws and imperfections. Be aware that it is your Ego that brings these feelings on, learn to master it. You are the one in control, not the other way round.
3. People will disappoint you and break your heart
And that’s OK .. You’ll be fine .. You will learn to depend on no one but yourself. You will learn that your power is within and it does not depend on anyone or anything.
I want you to look at everyone as a teacher in your life. They are each there to make you grow and teach you something. They might annoy you to teach you patience, drive you crazy to teach you empathy and break your heart, to teach you love, unconditionally.
They are playing the ‘bad guy’ role to teach you something. Learn your lesson and move on. Do not keep any hate, shame or revenge in your heart. Your heart is not designed to hold on to these emotions, let them go … Not for the sake of others, but for yourself. That doesn’t mean you should compromise on your values, not at all. I will talk about that later ..
You will also break hearts and that will become your biggest regret in life. You learn to be very careful with other people’s feelings and that when they give you their heart, it’s a precious gift that needs to be taken care of.
4. Value inner beauty more than outer beauty
Take a good care of your outer beauty, it’s important. But your inner beauty is even more important. Your outer beauty attracts people to you for a short period of time. It’s your inner beauty that makes them stay in your life and enjoy your company. More importantly, you’ll enjoy your own company a lot more.
Make sure that people that you are in touch with the most value inner beauty as well. Keep them when you find them.
5. Be kind to animals and the planet
Don’t let your Superior Ego think that all the beings on the planet earth are there to serve you. Be connected with everything and be kind to planet earth, save it for your children and their children. Reduce your carbon footprint and be a responsible being.
6. Eat well
Don’t eat to be full, eat to take care of your body and give it the energy that it needs. You will become Vegan and you will enjoy eating a plant-based diet. I know you may be scared by now and probably don’t want to continue reading this letter, but hey, you’ll enjoy it. I promise you! :-)
Look at food as a source of Energy. Don’t count calories. Does that bite give you energy or does your body need to expend more energy to digest that food?
Thank you for staying away from all the fad diets, they don’t respect you and your body. Eat well and energize yourself.
7. Failing doesn’t make you a failure
Failing is not a bad thing. Strange? I know … You don’t have to always win, you actually learn more when you fail, you become stronger which makes you win even more the next time you try.
Your life won’t only be a list of successes, you will fail from time to time and you will get used to it. You will learn and get back on your feet again. You are not a failure, unless you quit and stop trying. I can write for hours about the importance of ‘stamina' and ‘persistence’. These two together will make you achieve the impossible and they will take you to places you have never imagined. Never give up, take it one step at a time.
Embrace your failings, learn quickly and move on.
8. You will only truly appreciate your parents when you become a parent yourself
I told you that you’ll have two kids, and they will change your life. You will understand the meaning of sacrifice, empathy, patience, love and joy at a much deeper level. You will be responsible for the life of two angels and you will be shocked and grateful to have been given this opportunity.
They will test you to your core. They will become your biggest concern and you will be wiling to give anything, even your own life, for their happiness.
You will appreciate your parents more. They devoted their life to raise you.
9. Learn to master your thoughts and quiet your mind
I talked about your Ego earlier. Now I want you to master your thoughts and learn to quiet your mind. You will be in charge of your life when you control your thoughts. Learn to quiet your mind, not by shutting it down in front of a TV or a video game, but by meditating and practicing mindfulness.
This is a simple step, and a very hard skill to master. This alone can change your life when you learn it and it’s a constant practice to be aware of your thoughts.
10. Respect your values
I promised you to talk about values in depth. These are your north stars in life. Identify the things that matter to you the most in life and dedicate most of your time nurturing those values. Never compromise on your values, if you do, you will feel something shake inside of you, trust that feeling.
I’ve shared many things with you, let me give you a break to think about these 10 points and I will share the last 10 points with you next week …
Thank you for reading my letter till the end, each of these lessons brought up emotions and memories, I thought of people who were a part of my journey, some have left and some are still there and I am grateful to have them in my life, including you. :-)
I’m looking forward to talking to you live on Thursday, January 11th at 11:30 am GST/UAE. Join my page and I will see you soon!