Love, Life Stories

20 years from now, does failure still sting?

Wondering if you'll have a mid-life crisis? If you ever do, don't look like you are.

A few days ago, on my Facebook feed, I saw a post about my upcoming 10 year high school reunion. Yep, I’m that old already.

It was alarming that 10 years had passed by so quickly – especially when I think and feel like high school was just the other day. The belief that you don’t feel your age is so true. The adults were right on that.

In the span of a few short days, I had to think of 30 years of my life – when I’ve not even lived that long.

Cue existential crisis.

My first thoughts were about the movie Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Even though I was a teen in the time of MSN Messenger, social media took off  in my late teens, so concocting any elaborate or ridiculous story would never work.

I remember when I saw that movie. I was a teenager and thought no way would I be like Romy and Michele, but it turns out that, yeah, I felt very much like how they felt about life after high school – like they were playing catch up, compared to their peers. That life was nothing like they expected – and they felt unfulfilled and defeated. But they did have great friends in each other who understood and felt the same. So that’s pretty much where I’m at.

Twenty years ago from now, you felt like you’d been slapped by life, because it wasn’t anything like you thought it would be. You’ve been reeling from it actually. But the thing is, just because things didn’t pan out like you thought they would, doesn’t mean that’s life is not great. Things are happening the way they should. So, stop trying to plan things so much and go with the flow, like you already know.

Feeling that you’ve been let down because your life didn’t go according to your plan is not something that’s new to you at all. You think that because you didn’t get what you thought you deserved was something bad, but some tears later, you have gotten clarity and acceptance.

You are more than the sum of the expectations and aspirations you had for yourself.  Be gentle with yourself for your mistakes and shortcomings.

And failures.

1.  I hope you’ve learned how to balance life’s uncertainties like this panda. If there still are pandas. 

a panda is climbing

Especially when you’re feeling like you can’t take a step forward but are too scared or fed up of where you are. Or when life’s curveballs have you doing this weird balancing dance. Which is hilarious since your balance is not that great.  Trust that you have it in you to take that leap. Take a chance. Take many chances.


2. I hope you recover from falls just as quickly.

a cute panda is playing    a cute panda is playing

I hope you learned to never let your circumstances define you though they shaped and impacted you. If you did, remember that they shouldn’t. I also hope that you learned to pick yourself yourself up quickly and walk that ish off after landing on your face.


3. I hope you haven’t lived your life in the way society has dictated.

a woman in classic style may be she is a wizard

You tried to fit into the conventional mold when you simply didn’t have to. You’ve never been ordinary. The typical things other people did never phased you while you were a teen – and when you got to your twenties, you realized it still didn’t phase you. Trying to fit in when you don’t is actually doing you more harm than good.


4. I hope you’ve never given up.

a muslim girl who is praying with red background

Even in the darkest of hours. When things don’t go your way. When things do or are better than your expectations. When you’ve felt crushed by the world and are filled with despair, grief and helplessness. I pray you’ve held on, regardless.


5. I hope you look forward. Be hopeful. Always.

a muslim girl in hijab holding flowers

May your hijab be still on fleek. Be a cool middle aged person and somebody who has finally gotten the hang of this adult thing and has stayed hilarious. I hope you never stop being you, in all your fabulous-ness. You got what you needed, not always what you wanted. And you’re so much better of a person because of it it. ALL of it.

Realize and recognize that you’re enough. Find contentment. Find peace. I hope you embody, live up to, and are a fully actualized Saffiyya.

  • Saffiyya Mohammed

    Caribbean woman but not by your preconceived notions; there’s a Trini everywhere so I’m the one here. As the Senior Community Editor for The Tempest, she knows two things for sure: writing can change the world, and if you have a story to tell, you owe it to yourself to share it. Born and bred island girl, she’s contemplating the next destination for her adventure while also being a bibliophile, writer, and planeteer.