A Letter to My Teen Self: On Having Faith and Making The Best of Teen Years
Psychologists have identified teen years to be a period of rapid growth and development – from physical to cognitive. It is a phase which ushers in maturity with its many responsibilities and choices. An early American psychologist, G.Stanley Hall called adolescence a time of ‘storm and stress’.
A time of storm indeed, I agree!
Looking back to those stormy years, here’s what I have to say to my teen self and every teen out there (I was there many years ago and I feel your struggles) braving it through your own storm. Hang in there and remain patient… better days lie ahead in sha Allah.
Count each storm as a new learning experience.
As salam ‘alaykum wa Rahmatullah,
Teen years are here at last!
Those years you craved for in your secret thoughts, dreams and imagination. You are now a big girl (hmmn… young lady I mean) and crossing that bridge that will lead you into womanhood. It is an exciting time indeed – with enough time and energy for fun, fashion, friends and more.
You will still love and care about your family but errrrm, you may not really have much time to spend with them as before. Your friends come first and second. And sometimes even third.
It is an exciting and exceptional phase of life, cherish it. For the coming years will be none like these. Life will get busier, responsibilities will fall upon you and accountability will increase in various areas of your life.
You will experience new feelings, emotions and challenges. You will struggle to discover the deeper meanings of concepts like faith, identity and values. You will walk and stumble through embarrassing moments – flash bulb moments and self discovery ones.
That’s teen life!
Sometimes it will feel like things can’t get any better or worse with the fun, hormones, laughter, attention and the clique things you fall into – you name it. But its only a phase and it will come to an end.
It is mostly sweet and edgy but sometimes bitter and rough.
Time for Building a Solid Foundation
Dearest Meena, walk the steps of your teen years with compassion and humility for you will look to those years as one of the best opportunities you have to build a strong identity, remain steadfast on your belief, speak up for the truth, nurture yourself and start building your ‘self excellence’ muscles.
It is also a great time for upholding virtues and morals – no such thing as white lies, back chatting and cursing. No ganging up for or against other groups, worrying about how others view you, feeling burdened about the past and getting drawn into dangerous peer groups.
Your teen years are best for building the foundation of a sound Islamic identity, developing character strengths and forming rewarding relationships.
It is a time to try & try again even when you fail.
A time to stumble, rise, grow and excel.
A time to accept you are a novice and stop pretending.
A time to nurture your heart and body with good intention.
A time to master skills and self will for sure.
A time to nourish your soul and keep it pure.
A time to win against your nafs –
The secret path to your innermost desires and temptations.
It doesn’t take a lot to trigger the nafs into action, from a gaze to simple speech to touch and thoughts. Guard your nafs and find peace, comfort and closeness to the One true source of tranquillity and peace.
Just as you learned to crawl, then stand and walk so will you fail, fall and stumble then grow and develop into a youth who is a beloved slave of Allah (swt). With a voice that keeps the shayateen far away and sparkles eeman in the hearts of those who hear it.
Do not be in a haste for everything will unfold according to the will of Allah (swt). He (swt) told us that he created us in phases and surely, teen years are an important part of those phases.
On Finding Calm and Clarity in Life
Calm, clarity, contentment and fulfilment comes from knowing Allah (swt) and submitting to Him alone.
”Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah . Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” (Ar-Ra’d, 13:28)
Islam is a complete way of life and holds the recipe for happiness and success in life. Through correct understanding and practice of Islam, you will build strong faith and find peace and happiness along with calm and clarity. You can achieve this through:
- Upholding tawheed through a pure intention, affirmation and aligned actions.
- Fulfilling all acts of worship with a sincere intention, following Qur’an and sunnah and seeking constant purification.
- Seeking Allah’s Pleasure by having consciousness of Him, submitting to Him in all matters (big and small) and aligning your lifestyle to His commands.
On Being Yourself
Look inside of you and reflect on the pure fitrah within. Seek acceptance and belonging from Allah (swt), not from friends, peers or celebrities.
Be yourself no matter what. Do not imitate the sinners and disbelievers. Do not compare yourself with others except in competition for good deeds. Its actually c.o.o.l to be unique and different from others in a pure way.
Examine yourself, your companions and your environment. Know that it’s time to make a firm commitment to your Islamic values and morals and align these with your future goals and aspirations.
You are not too young to think and plan wisely for your future. Start planning so you can match your lifestyle to the one true fitrah.
On Preparing for a Suitable Career
Take time to discover your strengths and unique talents and what matters to you most in life.
Then think about how can you make use of these strengths, build on them even further and grow them into a future career – something pleasing to Allah (swt), elevating your ranks among His slaves and giving you pleasure and good feeling of accomplishment.
Constantly seek Allah’s guidance; do not fall into ”my friend this – so I must too”. If you are in disagreement with your parents about your future career choice, find time to sit with them and listen to their fears and concerns. Make Allah’s pleasure you number one concern, while making sure you can benefit yourself and the Ummah with your career choice.
Make jannah part of your career goal even as you strive to take decisions and make choices for your future.
Seek halaal and settle for nothing less. Allah (swt) is pure and loves only pure things. No matter how much you make or how much success you attain, it will be useless if it isn’t halaal and pleasing to Allah (swt).
Speak to those in your field of interest to learn more about what the career entails and what educational requirements and level of commitment and skills are required. Do your best and strive to be the best.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, ”Verily Allah has prescribed ihsan (proficiency, perfection) in all things.(Muslim)
On Being Modest
Many of your pals in school and in the neighbourhood may dress in ways that are not appropriate – don’t be a copy act. Dress to please Allah (swt) alone, guarding your awrah, speech and actions.
Fear Allah (swt) and serve Him as though you see Him even though you do not. For He surely sees you.
On Enhancing Your Creativity
Use your time for productive work – avoid mindless chatter and hot gist, browsing the Internet to pass time, gossiping, indecent talk and more. You can have fun with your righteous pals, while safeguarding your identity, personality and spirituality.
Try your hand on new skills, hobbies and courses to see which resonates with you the most.
On Making the Right Connections
Its soooo easy to fall into the wrong company of friends. Don’t fall for ‘cool trends’ that involve free mixing, drugs, smoking, drinking, porn and sex/ sext.
Be strong, courageous and unique in the face of trials, temptations and peer pressure. Say no to haraam and anything that will take you further away from Allah’s love. You don’t need to have a boyfriend or girlfriend to be cool and complete. You don’t need a non mahram to tell you how beautiful you look.
Aim for the trends of Jannah bound people and try to develop them. Try to be so cool that you will earn Allah’s love and His angels will love you and mention your name in the heavens. What can be cooler than that?
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “If Allah loves a person, He calls Gabriel, saying, ‘Allah loves so and so, O Gabriel love him’ So Gabriel would love him and then would make an announcement in the Heavens: ‘Allah has loved so and-so therefore you should love him also.’ So all the dwellers of the Heavens would love him, and then he is granted the pleasure of the people on the earth.” (Bukhari)
I know this is a lot of information to digest in one sitting, so I will give you some simple rules to get you started.
Simple Rules for Making The Best of Teen Years
1. Before you do anything always check and renew your intention – make it pure and sincere.
2. Ask Allah (swt) for His help, guidance and blessing in all that you do.
3. Keep learning about Islam and authentic teachings from Qur’an and sunnah.
4. Be yourself, do not be copy cat.
5. Be bold, confident and to say NO to sins and immorality.
6. Uphold your Islamic identity in the face of choices, changes and challenges.
7. Allah (swt) created you and He knows what’s best for you – turn to Him always.
8. Lower your gaze, dress modestly and be proud to be a Muslim.
9. Try to do your work with excellence, zeal and commitment.
10. Try to build productive habits and contribute meaningfully to your community.
11. Try to forgive yourself and others just as you want Allah (swt) to forgive you.
12. Devote your time to those deeds that will weigh heavy on your scale of good deeds.
13. Keep your heart and soul nourished by reciting, reflecting and taking lessons from the Qur’an and sunnah.
14. Choose your friends carefully, pick righteous ones to help you stay accountable and move you towards your jannah goals .
15. Ask Allah (swt) to help you through your affairs and to overcome your struggles whether they are emotional conflicts, stressful transitions, fears, anger, regret, guilt, frustration or identity crisis.
Keep your faith strong and try making the best of your teen years by focusing on your spirituality, improving your personality and forming blessed relationships.
It won’t always be easy but your teen years are what you make of it.
In later years, you will look back with smiles and fond memories on how much your sacrifice for building strong faith has paid off as you keep achieving victory with your goals – one after the other in sha Allah.
Wondering where to begin?
Start with a sincere intention today and keep going – don’t look back.
Are you making the best of your teen years? How do you plan to start today?
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