1. Always, always, always be kind. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. The world is a miserable place as it is, you don't need to add to the misery. You were not raised to view the world with suspicion, to walk through life with your fists raised but with open arms and an open heart.
2. Be grateful. Say Alhamdullilah.
3. Put yourself first – your needs are important and they matter. You did not spend all that time mending yourself only to rip your skin open all over again.
4. Do what makes you happy - chase your dreams, the only way to be successful is to live a life filled with joy and passion.
5. There will be bad days but you will get through them (chocolate always helps)
6. Learn to ignore the part of your brain that spews nothing but self-hatred. You don’t need it. Come to terms with your anxiety - you cannot always control external affairs but you can control your own thoughts.
7. Nothing good ever comes out of feeling sorry for yourself.
8. Pettiness, hatred, holding grudges gets you nowhere, all it does is weigh you down. Let it go, it's not worth it.
9. Grieving is a long and tedious process, let yourself grieve. Let the anger, the sadness, the frustration come. Let yourself hurt because that’s the only way you can become whole again. The wounds will heal, all it takes is a little bit of time.
10. DRINK LOTS OF WATER AND MOISTURIZE REGULARLY!!!!
11. All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Let go of the fear that is holding you back from living the kind of life you want to live.
12. Pay attention. Be aware. Be present. Don’t photograph a sunset but take it in, live in the moment. Life is in a constant state of flux, hang on to every single second because before you know it they’ll be gone.
13. Being vulnerable is not a bad thing.
14. It is not possible to live a life without any regrets. Nothing is perfect in life, you just have to decide which imperfections you can live with; the regret is inevitable.
15. Prayer changes things.
16. Be kind to your parents, give them hugs, spend time with them, that’s all they want from you. Sometimes you’re too busy growing up to realize that they’re growing old too.
17. No decision made after 2am is a good decision (trust me on this one)
18. Be nice to people but don't force it. Don't be too focused on leaving your mark– people like me aren’t remembered but no matter what – your feet have still walked on these carpeted floors and fingers skirted across these wooden desks. Please remind yourself that what your hair looks like on a Sunday morning doesn’t matter, no one remembers class presentations and one day your nervous tremors will stop.
19. I have not yet learned 19 things. It takes time to learn from the mistakes you make and I’ve got plenty of learning and growing left to do still.
The moments leading up to my graduation ceremony were extremely visceral. It was a feeling that couldn’t be identified – only expressed through physical sensations. The uncomfortable pressure on my bladder. The sandpaper dryness of my mouth. The trail of goosebumps rising up on my arms. The softness of my robes against my skin. My legs shook ever so slightly as I stood, patiently queued by the side of the stage, waiting for my name to be called out. The staccato burst of the mike, my name a soft slow whisper sliding down my back. My movements were almost robotic as I strode up the stairs, shook hands with my head mistress, posed for a photograph. My brain running on autopilot as I went through the motions, trying to appear dignified as my hat tipped precariously further and further off my head.
And then it was over.
I couldn’t shake the smile that had bloomed across my face. I would miss it, the little things – walking into form to find a lanky figure slumped at his desk, snoring ever so gently. Ms. N reading our names of the register in a voice that seemed too chirpy for 8am Sunday mornings and a wide, cheery smile. Walking through the FC on the way to class and seeing Young and Bishop talking animatedly in their glass offices. Rushing past a row of lockers on my way to class and being greeted by the sleepy morning sun filling the corridor with shards of rainbows. Chats over cups of coffee with Inseya in our little booth at the corner of the FC. The comforting sight of Hallatt's head bent over her laptop. I’d miss the routine of it – waking up at 6am every morning and going to classes, seeing familiar faces, walking down familiar hallways. The deadlines, the exams and the anguish all gave me a sense of purpose. Now I have nothing but long hours and books to fill the emptiness left behind by classes and friends and teachers and deadlines. I miss the person I had grown to become at Wellington. From someone who was afraid to put her hand up in class, I grew into someone who loves the sound of her own voice, who gets told off for chatting in class. There’s no connection quite like bonding with kids from your history class all awake at 3am studying for a test or finishing off notes, of moaning about TOK and Extended Essay or going through the trials and tribulations of having a terrible teacher, together as a class.
The emotions surrounding me floated around like tethered balloons - the joy, anticipation and eagerness given off by my fellow students was palatable. The graduating class of 2017, we were all bound in an intricate way that we didn’t yet understand, maybe we never will but it was there and I felt it. And I was glad to have been a part of it, to be in a room full of future artists, writers, journalists, musicians, entrepreneurs, doctors and felt like I belonged. We were all part of a jigsaw puzzle, we had spent the last few years trying to put ourselves together, find out where we belonged and today as we stood on that stage, we could finally see exactly where we fit.
February was bright, crisp mornings.
Waking up to the sound of Amma humming Nazia Hassan songs under her breath as she assembles sandwiches for lunch. Listening to Ubeer’s clumsy footsteps making their way to the bathroom; the sound of running water as she washes the layer of sleep off her skin.
Pulling back the covers and stepping onto the floor, feeling the familiar cold seep through my body.
February was grey days, the joy of walking past a window in the stair well on the way to Spanish class and finding it covered in rain. The rivulets blurring the world outside, muting it so that everything- the traffic, the buzz of the coffee machines, the cacophony of whispering voices in the FC – was blanketed by the rain knocking against the window pane.
Seeing everything slick with raindrops, the trees becoming green again and thinking – yes, yes this is new beginnings.
Falling asleep to the sound of thunder, dreaming of a city that does not hide from the thunder at its door because the thunder in its bones out roars everything. A city where raindrops are greeted like lost lovers, with outstretched palms, smiling faces and tender kisses. Baarish.
February was dancing in the rain with my friends, jumping in puddles – the rain seeping in through my socks so achingly familiar.
February was also cold shoulders, foreign stares from familiar faces, pauses pregnant with words left unsaid. New habits. The loss of a cherished presence leaving behind phantom pains – muscle remembers what the mind forgets. This pain too will become habitual.
February taught me to survive.
Now, onwards we March.