Hey, Laila – yeah, you. I know your name is pretty common but I’m talking to you (although your mom told you that you were the only Laila growing up, which continues to be a slight sore point with you, even now). It’s you, ten years ago, which means you’re now in your best years of life (unless technology has brought human health forward and your best years have yet to come). I’ve got some advice for you. Now, listen.
I hope you take the time to process the things you’re doing – and doing well – these days.
I get it. Time is finite, and there are only so many hours in the day. The reality is, though, that you don’t deserve to wear yourself out. Not even for the things you love the most. There’s a certain thing called self-care, and while we’re still working on mastering that now, in our 20s, I desperately hope you’ve gotten the full hang of it in your thirties. Otherwise, it’s time to take a step back and get that situation under control.
I’m serious. Having sleepless nights over your projects and family issues isn’t a sign of progress, it’s a sign that you need to take a step back and re-assess what’s going on here.
I hope you never lost your love for ruining your heels in the grass.
Your friends tease you on this topic right now, but we’re stubborn and continue to ruin our heels (oh, the shoe repair costs) by wandering through grass and dirt. You’ve even destroyed your flats rock-climbing through the ravines of a park; so adamant are you on doing what you want. Don’t ever lose that. I hope you’re still taking time to sit out in the sun, and have done a better job than you’re doing now in getting outside and in the dirt. It’s one of the few things that re-energizes you truly.
Plus, a heel that’s broken because you’ve been climbing a hill doesn’t matter as much as getting to the top of that hill and feeling like a beast.
I hope you’re still taking the risks and doing things people don’t expect of you.
People have an uncanny ability to put you into boxes that you don’t really fit in. Hell, we all do it, because that’s easier than recognizing that we’re fluid individuals, subject to our own quirks, changes and opportunities. The problem you’ve faced all your life, though, is how people underestimate you – and right now, in your twenties, you’re learning to move out of that space and stop caring about what others think. I hope it’s the norm for you not to give a thought to those around you as you pursue that needs to be done, and that listening to your gut is the norm now, rather than the thing you do in the middle of the night, unsure of any other option.
I hope you’ve stopped underestimating yourself.
There’s a certain power that comes when you truly know who you are and what you stand for, but society’s constantly fighting against that. Even now, we know there isn’t time to mess around with what we can offer to the world – but as a minority and a woman, that’s something the world fights to hold us back from. You’d better have fought through that. I know it can be hard some days, when you just feel exhausted and that giving in is better than fighting.
But there’s a reason you’re doing this, and it’s more than you. It’s for an entire generation of women that come around and after you. And you need to remember that.
I hope family is still as important as it is to you now.
This is so self-explanatory. I don’t think I need to devote very much to it. Your family has had your back during moments you didn’t believe anyone else would understand. The incredibly long, complex history your family holds within you has defined the very paths you’ve taken now, in your twenties, and I hope your relationships are as tight-knit and complicated as they are now when you’re in your thirties.