October is always a month of reflection for me. Growing up, I really started disliking my birthday, but as the years went by, I realised this wasn’t a sustainable way to live life because birthdays come by whether you want it to or not, so it was in my best interests to find a way to love it again. And so, in true Ayesha fashion, I had to give it a new meaning. Instead of a birthday celebration, I decided to make it a month of gratitude. Throughout the course of October, I do a mental inventory of sorts of all the people who have had some kind of impact on me over the course of the last year, and I take some time out to make sure that they know I am grateful for their existence in my life. For a lot of the people I’ve already been in touch with, they are unsure how the little time they’ve spent in my life has had a profound enough impact to receive an expression of gratitude, but the honest truth is – the quality of the time spent with a person means far more than the quantity of that time; one good month spent with a person who benefits your soul means far more than an entire lifetime with someone who, though you might love, doesn’t really have any good to bring to your life.
In keeping with my theme of gratitude and reflection during this month, I have accumulated 24 lessons to share before I turn 24. I hope that they will be as insightful to you as they have been for me (in hindsight anyway).
- You will not always like the people you love, and that’s okay. Give yourself, and them, the time and space to breathe. You will find your way back to each other.
- Water is truly the elite adult drink. Drink more of it.
- You can trust in God all you want, but if you don’t put in the work yourself, it will be of no use.
- Home isn’t always four walls and a door. Sometimes it’s two arms and a heartbeat waiting to welcome you back to yourself.
- You are who you are today as a result of the people and experiences that made a difference in your life, good or bad. We do not come to life on our own, and we do not become shaped on our own.
- That said, you must remind yourself that you are the only fixed constant in your life. Extend some care from time to time.
- This is the only time you will have no commitments – chase those dreams in every way you can, even if it means you can’t engage in the same things you once used to.
- Be grateful, always, in all ways.
- Fix your relationship with food. Learn what are your limitations, but also learn how much your body needs to keep it going for the day.
- Don’t let the world convince you that your soulmate must always be a singular or romantic in nature. You will sometimes come across people who radiate like the moon and bring a light into your life that is both gentle and revolutionary – hold onto them. They belong with you in the purest possible form because you inspire each other to be the best version of yourself.
- The greatest shackles we need to free ourselves from are the ones in our own mind. You can only do this by letting yourself believe that there is a world out there that exists outside of you.
- In the same way the sun breaks through the darkest of clouds, you have the strength to be the shining light that guides you through the most difficult of days.
- Love, with reckless abandon. The walls and emotional filters you put up do more damage than good.
- There will always be a mountain to climb. Just be sure you let yourself stop and take in the view when you reach each peak.
- That moment you experience emotional and/or spiritual intimacy with the right people, you will realise just how important it is for survival.
- Stop looking at the mirror – it isn’t a true reflection of you. A better way to know how you really look is to see yourself reflected in the things and people around you – the people you love, the job you do, the book you enjoy, the circles you socialise in, etc.
- If people must leave your life, allow them to do so with grace. Give them their dues and love them anyway, your prayers will reach them whether you are together or apart. Love doesn’t diminish with distance, it simply falls silent.
- The things you post/access online will be your legacy. Post in a way that if you were to die in the next minute, people would still be able to benefit from you and remember to send a prayer for you.
- Always be willing to make a change within your own self before you set out to change the world. You will find that this, in itself, is revolutionary.
- Learn your love language. It will help you understand that not everyone expresses love in the same way as you do, but everyone has a language, and everyone loves. You just have to be willing to read between the lines.
- The honest to God truth is, there is no such thing as financial stability. So, chase that dream. Marry that love of your life. Move to that country. Study that thing. Work that small job. At the end of the day, money will come and go – purify and renew your intentions consistently and watch how abundant even the smallest amount can be.
- There is no such thing as a right time or a wrong time. There is simply this moment. Do what you need to do to bring peace to your soul.
- The people who deserve your love and truly love you in return will still do so even if you need to place some boundaries between yourselves and them. They will understand that sometimes to flourish, one must change their environment.
- And last but not least, do not neglect your own self. You have been so skillfully crafted by God to be the best of stature [see Qur’ān, 95], and it is no mistake that you are able to carry both the light and the dark within yourself in the same way the sun and the moon can exist together. Take heart in the fact that today, you are alive, and you, are entirely a blessing sent from above.
I take this moment to thank you all for continuing to support me through my good days and bad. You are under no obligation to exist in my life, and yet, you choose to do so, and for that, I am entirely grateful.