30 lessons I learned in 30 years

Welcome to my survival guide, put together after years of experiences.
Published 15 Dec, 2022 10:40am

The thriving 30-year-old has, with utmost faith and valiance, conquered battles aplenty in the past three decades of her trail-blazing existence. You think you may know her, but there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye.

On a frosty winter night, quite typical for Toronto, I cozied up on the couch, enveloped by the warmth of my self-care sanctuary — the revered ‘Kitaabistan’ library lounge. Piece by piece, a treasured memoir reel of the past three decades began to unwind. The miraculous highs known far and wide and plummeting lows veiled by choice in all their magnificent glory and melancholic glum, memories unraveled before my eyes.

My twenties were undeniably ‘roaring’, perhaps someday I may tell my tale for the world to know whilst settled under a canopied sky embedded with stars before a crackling bonfire, engulfed by its golden glow and immersed in the serenity of a desert. However, right now I am penning down with all my heart and soul a survival guide for strained souls.

1. Heartbreaks are inevitable

The only One who will not break your heart is the One who created it.

2. Tyrants will be accounted for in the hereafter and justice will prevail

While the heart shatters as darkness triumphs over light and justice has seemingly waned, remember, battles may be lost in this world but a dawn will eventually emerge and justice will be served.

3. Observing the joy of others should not provoke envy

The abundant miracles of Allah are distributed as per His divine wisdom, no creation is deprived of His generosity. Therefore, the miracles and milestones of another’s life should reinstate hope in the glorious manifestations of fate.

4. Inconveniences of life and emotional turmoil are the root of fate’s plot twists

We are the authors of our story; however, we tend to forget that Allah is the editor Who tweaks the plot and its characters. Therefore, if a chapter emerges which is unappealing, sorrowful or traumatic, know that the Editor has tweaked your kismet for a miraculous ‘happily ever after’ to manifest!

5. Introspect, humanise and humble yourself

Our being is merely a speck of dust in The Almighty’s universe. To judge others is solely for Him to do.

6. Beware of vanity for it can provoke fate

Our blessings reflect Allah’s divine mercy, therefore, being excessively proud of something that is not wholly ours is sheer ignorance. Never forget that fate can turn a pauper into a princess and a princess into a pauper.

7. Do not trade the temporary world for the eternal hereafter for it is blatant foolishness

The Creator observes His creation whilst kismet tests them with tempting opportunities of attaining fame, fortune and love immorally. For a believer, it requires immense spiritual strength to refuse such opportunities. Despite thoughts of ‘falling behind’ in this world plaguing you, remind yourself that it is the hereafter where your status shall be decreed as elevated.

8. The Creator must be prioritised over the creation

The love for another which extends beyond the love we have for our Creator brings nothing but pain. The love for another which bridges our soul closer towards our Creator will bring eternal glory.

9. Prioritisation of spiritual alignment results in conquered battles of the conscience

The story of Yusuf and Zulekha enlightens us as such — from riches to rags one’s kismet must plummet for the soul to discover the eternal love that is solely dedicated to our Creator. Only then will the human love we had desired be bestowed upon us as a divine gift.

10. Testimonials of love are validated by behavior, efforts and actions

If the heart whispers that you may have crossed paths with ‘the one’, be mindful of their actions. The answer lies there. They will respect your individuality, validate your emotions and mindfully love you in accordance with your love language.

11. You’re always the main character of your own story

Notice how the ‘main character’ of a plot observes the second leads’ love story unravel flawlessly from the sidelines — until their very own plot twist manifests and suddenly, the emergence of their love story is the one which leads the narrative. The universe will align what is meant for you as per divine wisdom, once you are ready to receive it.

12. The greatest act of self-love is the willingness to unlearn and relearn

A thin border exists between self-love and narcissism — be mindful not to cross it and hinder your personal growth as an individual.

13. There is no obligation to finish what you started

Love yourself enough to holler ‘NEXT!’ and move on when anything clashes with your vibe. Be it a friendship, relationship, job venture or even a book. If it is not to your liking move forward. Protect and mindfully invest your energies.

14. Relationship statuses do not define the purposefulness of our existence

Refrain from dwelling in the persistent misery of a past relationship, settling for less in fear of remaining single and being anxious about the future of whether your path will cross ‘the one’.

15. Embrace your single status, celebrate the many dimensions of life

‘Happily married’ or ‘miserably single’ are not the only two categories individuals are to be queasily boxed into. Attaining companionship should merely be the complementary caramel syrup topped upon the chocolate fudge cake that is your life. The remaining cake is for you to bake and devour to your heart’s content!

16. Refrain from toxic positivity, drop your guard and reclaim power through vulnerability

Share the battles of life which you tirelessly strive to conquer. We are all in it together, after all. Join one another’s battalion and combat life in solidarity.

17. Stop making excuses for negative behavioral patterns; toxic traits seldom change

You are not obligated to maintain relationships with people who are emotionally abusive; no matter who they are, the time frame of relationship or history you share. If such individuals gaslight your decision to put your mental and emotional wellbeing first, simply reply, “Apologies if my world isn’t revolving around you, because it is too busy revolving around me!”

18. A phoenix is not doubtful of their resilience

The courage you seek is already embedded within your soul. Halt. Ponder the past and acknowledge all the battles you valiantly conquered whilst rising from the ashes, time and time again.

19. Personal definitions of success are more significant than the opinions of others

Do not undermine the milestones you have strived to attain by indulging in self-doubt, regardless of whether or not society labels it to be a ‘success’. You are the hero/heroine of your own story, never let anyone else tell you otherwise.

20. It is okay to not be okay and that too unapologetically

Just as our physical health can deteriorate, our mental health can too, it is normal. After all, is our mind not a part of our body? There is no shame in acknowledging our internal turmoil. Experience, endure and express — the last of the three is what aids in both the coping and healing process.

21. Unashamedly breakdown

Warriors too need time off too — if needed, shutdown and disconnect. Be distant with family and friends, cancel plans and sleep in, skip the skincare regimen, down Nutella sandwiches — do what will bring your body, mind and soul comfort. It is completely okay to break the rules sometimes. Do not force the healing process of loss and grief — it is a journey, not a race.

22. Oversharing brews unnecessary conflict

As we are urged to ‘share’ our lives on social media, remember that you are not obligated to share details of your life which cause discomfort. Be it milestones, career achievements or personal insecurities. If you want to maintain privacy either on social media or real time, it is your choice to make.

23. Sisterhoods are a force to be reckoned with

Establishing a sisterhood within domestic, professional and political spheres is the foundation of women empowerment. Stand in solidarity regardless of differences in faith, ethnicity or socio-economic background and become one entity advocating for our womanhood at the forefront hand in hand.

24. Superficial beauty standards prevent women from shattering glass ceilings

Women do not require unsolicited validation for their appearance. Consciously converse with one another without obsessively bringing forth appearance and body image. There is much more to honour about yourself such as intellect, talent and flair. Do not succumb to gnawing insecurities and refuse to believe that your self-worth is defined by physical attributes because beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and skin tones.

25. Do not silence the protective whisperings of your guardian angel

Women are not always overtly emotional. Our sense of discomfort is valid and must never be dismissed. Instincts and intuition are what empower us.

26. There is no such thing as being ‘too strong’ for a woman

If your life’s battle scars intimidate a particular individual into feeling inferior, that is not your insecurity to tend to. You are a warrior. Take pride in the battles valiantly conquered. Never turn down the notch of your courage and nerve merely to make someone comfortable.

27. As women, we take our bodies for granted whilst menstruating and robotically ‘go on’

Give yourself a break during the cycle. If cravings kick in — indulge, stay home and cancel plans to do absolutely nothing, postpone work meetings if possible, slack on chores. Do so without guilt because women’s health, matters.

28. A woman’s choice of clothes does not represent how empowered she is

A woman can be empowered while wearing a pair of jeans and T-shirt just as much as she can be empowered in a shalwar kameez with a dupatta.

29. To empower one another, celebrate rather than compete

It is vital for women to celebrate one another with the same fervor as they acknowledge the achievements and milestones of men. We must reform the problematic practice of women observing one another as competition and focus on becoming a team rather than one another’s opposition.

30. Setting boundaries now avoids power struggles later

At the beginning of any relationship, be it a friendship, marriage or professional relationship, set boundaries to establish desired dynamics.

Unconsciously, all our lives we are fixated on ‘perfection’. We seek happiness in the form of phases of life or milestones to be attained in a certain order to sigh a breath of relief and say “Life is finally perfect!” However, that statement seldom seems to be true because life as we know it is anything but perfect — it is haphazard.

The key to unlocking happiness is realising the beauty in life’s glorious chaos and consciously practice gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon us, most of which we have not even uttered a prayer for.

Romanticise those moments, the fractions of time which intricately entwine to create a wholesome life. When ‘the end’ of a certain chapter comes, a sense of pride will rightfully radiate, honouring the hardships courageously conquered, unconditional kindness practiced and offered to humanity without prejudice, above all fulfilling the duty to both your heart and soul. With these lessons that I have learned in my 30 years, I now stride into the new decade.

Hello my thirties, are you ready for me? I certainly am for you!