This post is inspired by an article I recently read in British Vogue on Victoria Beckham and the letter she wrote to her 18 year old self (Link here). It made me think about me at 18 and the journey that life has brought me since, 10 years after.
Welcome to America. You just celebrated your 18th birthday in the U.S, where you were born, and where you have always wanted to visit but never did. Growing up, all of your friends around you have gone overseas for family vacations but you yourself, who was born American by an American father won’t get to go back until you turn 16. Thankfully for your parents’ smarts and their willingness to be civil and unemotional about raising the both of you and your sister, you are here now. And, little did you know that you will be here for another 10 years and counting.
You had no clue how everything worked; instead you were grateful to have your sister with you to help show the ropes around here. First things first, you needed to get a job. You walked to the mall about half a mile away from your 1-bedroom apartment that you shared with your sister, and started asking around if they were hiring. You eventually got hired at a clothing store, thanks to your sister’s friend who helped set you up with an interview there and started working about 2 days a week. You knew English, you speak it very well in Malaysia, but people over here had a hard time understanding you, and that’s when your confidence dropped – significantly. You wanted so badly to FIT in but you were the pariah; Regardless, you were excited to be here. Your sister and friend were there and boy, they showed you around. They took you to places you had never seen and brought you to try new foods you yet to try and you, are, okay.
A week into being in the States, you get a phone call from your mother. It was the day your SPM (Malaysian standardized test) results came out, and you were at the beach with your sister and her friend. “How did I do? Did I screw up again like I did for my PMR?”, were the thoughts running through your mind as you answered the call. “Aza, I am so proud of you, honey. 6 A’s & 3 B’s”. Wow! You did it! You didn’t make her cry. You could’ve tried harder for the straight As but you didn’t try that hard because you knew you were coming to the States for college and that SPM will be irrelevant. But, you did your mama proud.
On college, you didn’t register for school right away but you started studying for your SATs as soon as you settled in. You knew you needed it to get accepted into university but you knew nothing about it. You studied anyway, and you sat for your exam. It was one of the longest exams you had to sit through and this was your first American high school experience as the test was taken place in a local high school. You applied into two schools; University of South Florida & University Tampa and got..rejected. You were heartbroken, because you thought you did pretty well on the test. You are even more confused now. So, you went to a junior college in the area and took a placement test, and of course you got in. It was a nice college, you were far away from home, so anything at that point worked. You get registered for classes, you get your books and you get a phone call. “Hi, is this Azieza? I am calling from University of Tampa and wanted to let you know that you have been accepted but you need to finish up your application process and get registered in time for the semester. You applied a little after our deadline, that’s why we sent you the rejection letter but we could actually work you in this semester..”, but you denied them, because, it was too much work and you’re all set with another school. Anyways, you did very well at SPC, graduated with a 3.9 CGPA score, all the while working a full-time job, no more at the mall. You joined an honor society in college and started making some friends whom some you still keep in contact with. You made time for stuff like that because you loved school and you wanted to be successful and you weren’t worried because you know you will make it. You will get your degree, you will manage your life and you will get your dream job. And let me tell you, you will get all these things!! You don’t know yet what is in store for you.
On family, you missed your family back home in Malaysia, you missed your friends, but most of all, you missed your mother. But, as much as you missed her, you loved being all alone with your sister as adults. You will get belly button piercings together, you will share literally everything with each other; cellphone, car, bed, clothes, makeup, friends, you will both get your eyebrows waxed razor thin, and you will eat a lot of fast food (LOL), you have never been so close to one another, and you both will fight less. -Yep! You read that! The sister you grew up with whom you fought often times as children, will become one of your best friends. Together you both will figure out this life as a pair, and share your grievances and joys as a pair. If she was happy, so are you. You will get to spend time with your father, after all, you moved to Florida to be with him. Dad wasn’t the same anymore, he was sick. It would be difficult for you to understand how it got to that point, but you accepted it and you loved your dad no less. If I could rewind the time, I would tell you to spend more time with him; but there is no way to rewrite your fate and you will one day lose him to an illness and it’ll come to you as a surprise.
Azieza, enjoy this time of your life; you have nothing to worry about. If I could tell you one thing, it is to be confident and to never lose your voice. Learn to step-up to defend yourself; when it comes to love, when it comes to your career, and when it comes to happiness. Life has just about to begin for you and you are in for quite the ride. Your innocence and naïveté will open your eyes to some painstaking experiences but you will take big lessons from them all. Your passion for keeping others around you happy will one day bite you in the butt when you start to realize that you haven’t done anything for yourself. Your world would shake & stir, and you will literally lose your mind but remember the power of prayer, the power of positive thoughts and the power of your mind. You are an awesome person, and sometimes along the way you’ll hear that you are not, and your heart will break. But that is why you’re you and that’s when you have to put your two feet down, and let everyone know that you are not doing anything wrong, and that you are just living YOUR life.
Your 28 year old self.