An open letter to my 28-year-old self

​Dear 28-year-old Alya,

Usually little kids do this to themselves for when they’ll be 18, but since 8-year-old Alya forgot to leave any words for 18-year-old Alya, I think it’s best if I write something to 28-year-old Alya. I don’t know how am I supposed to start this, Hello adult Alya. How are you doing by yourself? I wonder if anyone will still care as much for you at 28. Do you still remember all the friends you had at high school? Beijing? Cairdeas? The debate team? But let’s leave that for later.

Are you still breathing the haze of Malaysian air? You promised yourself to get out of this stupid country years ago! A reminder, when you were 18, in 10 years you wanted to be a graduate (most probably journalism) at New York University or maybe LSE or maybe UCLA or Imperial College of London or UCB or I don’t know, 18-year-old Alya is really ambitious but she’s not doing well in school as she expected she would be a few years back. And remember how you REALLLYYYY wanted to pursue pre-uni at Limkokwing University for no significant reason. And how bad you wanted to be an Axiata’s scholar, but at this time you’re still not Axiata’s worthy. And you also wanted to debate for your university. I wonder if you’ve already achieved this by now – at 2027? If not, I wonder what other choices you decided to make in the future? I guess it’s for me to find out.

But seriously Alya, at the very least at the age of 28, you should already be a master cook, very fashionable, well-known, won a big debate tournament, have clear skin and be at least 2 inches taller. MUST.

If you ever lose hope, please do remember that hopeless teenage Alya is always determined to do anything she wants (although she is not capable of it). So in any situations that you feel like giving up and stepping down, remember that your 18 year old self would not allow it. Your 18 year old self would sure, cry but she won’t stay back down. Therefore, no matter what happens, please remember to sit up straight and stand tall.

You know adult Alya, at 18 Ibu has always been mentioning about your wedding “10 years later”. But 18 year old you didn’t want to get married. She wanted to be the next Christiane Amanpour – handling global case studies and being rich and pretty and all. I wonder if you’ve already found “the one” by then. OMG WHAT IF YOU’RE ALREADY MARRIED????? WHAT IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A CHILD?????? oihugytfrdeswszxfcvbnjmkjgy. I can’t digest you (or in this case, myself) getting married at an early age. I get that you don’t want to settle down, and if you’re not ready, don’t allow yourself to get pushed by responsibilities (I think it’s already clear that by now in 2017 Ibu expects a grandchild in 10 years and she also mentioned that Tok Mek wants to see you have a child before she goes I don’t get la Mothers let me enjoy life and be freeeeee) and I think it’s okay to let Aiman get hitched first. I don’t know about you, adult Alya. But that’s what your 18 year old self thinks.

Speaking about love, I have a feeling that you would find someone who loves you back as much as you love him (or if you decided to be gay then, HER) please don’t lose yourself when you find love. 18 year old Alya had enough. You have to thank me for falling for people at teenage years, I bet you’d already be so resilient and smart you won’t ever get heartbroken anymore. You are very very welcome, Miss/Mrs. But in this case, I so far haven’t regret any choices I made, in fact, I’m proud of it. Please publish a book about poems and feelings and shit if you haven’t done it yet.

Don’t forget to always be nice to everyone. Even if people are extremely mean to you, we both know that you still have temper problems every now and then, do remember that the best of mankind are the ones who can control their anger. Everyone deserves to be treated nicely, you deserve to be treated nicely as well. So treat people in the way that you would like to be treated. And never forget the people who would always have your back.

I know that you’ll be extremely busy, adult Alya, you’re already busy at the age of 18. However, never forget your roots; who you are, your family, and where you came from. You are your family’s biggest hope. Between us, I bet that Ibu and Ayah will be disappointed in you every now and then. Your values will never tally to theirs, You may choose to drop a few things in order to pursue others, nevertheless, always respect Ibu and Ayah. Never forget to contact them and ask how they’re doing. Ask for their forgiveness and try your best to be an Anak Solehah, for them. So I guess partying til 4 a.m. and that short skirt is something worth leaving for their sake. They don’t have much time, and they’ll always remind you of death and hell and heaven which will occasionally irritate you. Worst case scenario if you think you’re mad at them for not agreeing with your ways, do know that they took the difficult obligation to raise you well, so at the very least, take the obligation to be a good child. Try not to raise your voice to them and don’t talk back to Abah when he’s angry even though he’ll be silenced anyway if you do. Laugh with them and visit them regularly. Take care of Ibu and Ayah if they fall sick. Like it or not, they’re getting old, treasure the moments as long as they’re still available.

Also, I think Aiman will be 26 in 10 years? Aiman is very stubborn so please be patient with him and don’t forget to constantly give advice to him and cheer him up. He’s lazy and he constantly wants attention, don’t let Ibu worry too much about him. And Adam will be 18. He’ll be fine and survive well, I think he’d be the better son, apart from being so fragile. I hope you don’t drift apart any further with him. Your siblings are annoying, and will probably stay annoying til the end, but no matter what they’re the very few who’d take a bullet for you. And also the very few who you’d take a bullet for. Always make sure you help them if they have any trouble.

Most importantly, never forget your religion. I know you like all these liberal shit (at the very least 18-year-old you likes them) and sometimes you don’t agree with some Islamic interpretations by local ustazs and all, but it isn’t an excuse not to practice Islam. No matter where you are in this world. This may sound so conservative and religious and superstitious and surreal, but if you never miss your prayers and read the quran and follow the teachings you’ll always be the winner you want to be in the end. Have faith. Have lots of it. I hope you’ve already considered in trying to change close minded mindsets of Malay Muslims by now – assuming it’s possible, although it’s a difficult task. I know you can do it.

Last but not least, whatever your choices are, I hope it will always lead to eternal happiness. I trust you to do that. And no matter what your decision is, I hope you can still be true to yourself.

With love,
18-year-old Alya
9th February 2017, on your 18th birthday.


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