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Assalamu Alaikum (peace be with you),
This post was inspired by Kate Elizabeth Conner’s post on her Lily Pads blog titled ten things I want to tell teenage girls . I thought it was a great way of getting a positive message across to young people and I also read her husbands post titled dear boys and her friends post ten things I want to tell teenage boys / young men .
As a result of the above I decided to create my own list of ten things that I want to tell young people. I think all us bloggers should create our own lists that can be read and used by young people (and parents of young people) for their benefit.
My list is derived primarily from my own experience of dealing and working with young people. It is in no way an exhaustive list. You may add your own thoughts and advice to this list via the comments section.
Please have a read and share with friends, family, colleagues, young people etc if you find it to be of benefit.
Ten things that I want to tell young people (in no particular order):
1. Set Goals in Life – Set yourself targets in life and strive hard to meet them. See it as a challenge, like wanting to get to the next level on a computer game or wanting to win the next football match. Make sure the targets are SMART and set targets for all spheres of your life including school life, work life, religious life, social life and all other facets of the complicated lives that we lead. Ask yourself where you would like to see yourself in 5/10/15 years time and work towards achieving those things that you want in life, both worldly and other worldly. Continually review your goals updating them as necessary.
2. Be the Best – Be the best in everything that you do. Set yourself targets and exceed those targets. Go that extra mile, work that extra hard, put in that extra effort as all of these things will bear fruit in the long-run. Don’t limit this to just studies, work, sport etc but also include this in your relationships with others. Be the best son/daughter that you can be, be the best sister/brother that anyone can have, be the best student in the class and so on. Aim to be the best in everything that you do.
3. Continuous Improvement – Strive to be better today than you were yesterday and aim to continually improve yourself every day. This can be in small things such as trying to learn something new everyday whether that be a skill or a useful piece of information or some knowledge that will help you in your life. Businesses are always looking for efficiencies in there way of working and trying to continually improve their business performance to increase revenue and profits. We as individuals can do the same and we should aim to have no two days alike but that the next day is always better than the one that went before. We will not always be successful in everything that we set out to do, however, the key is to learn lessons from where we have failed or made mistakes and make changes to improve ourselves for the better.
4. Give up on the Laziness, Complacency and Procrastination – If you don’t know what these words mean, then go look them up! You will have learnt something new. So many young people are just so lazy to do anything for themselves. They can sit at home all day on the TV and the Web or stay out all day (and even nights) with their friends yet when it comes to studying, getting a job, or doing something positive they have to be continually pushed and shoved. Laziness, complacency and procrastination are a recipe for failure. Kick the habit and get up and do SOMETHING with your life and be SOMEONE in your life.
5. Change is possible – I meet a lot of young people who think that they can’t change and that they are stuck in whatever circumstances that they find themselves in. If you find yourself facing a brick wall, climb over it and move on, don’t just hold you’re head and cry about it. Change is possible. Just look back at history and see the amazing people that have turned their lives around. Change doesn’t have to be big, a lot of times it’s the little changes that have the biggest impacts, e.g. if you always put things back in their proper place, there is no need to tidy the room at the end of the week/month. Change is possible. Change yourself and change the world around you and if you’re stuck for some inspiration then read the Autobiography of Malcolm X (or any other person in history that inspires action in you).
6. Get out and about – Experience the world around you, go out of your area/manor/ yard (or whatever else you want to call it) and out of your comfort zone. There is so much more to life than just hanging around estate corners chilling with your ‘fam’. Go out, meet new people, and see the beautiful world that God has created for us to live and experience. Don’t just waste your life doing nothing but go out and do something and make a difference in the world.
7. Be yourself and Be proud – Know who you are and be that person that you want to be deep within yourself. Don’t let society, peers, the media etc tell you who or what you ‘should’ be. You are an individual and you are unique. You were not made to be someone else, you were meant to be you. So be yourself and be proud of who you are. If you’re still finding yourself, than that’s fine, because this is a very personal path and it can take time to find out who you are sometimes. Something that will help you greatly is to learn about your parents, grand parents and ancestors and see who they were and what they achieved. Knowing your past and history will help you in finding yourself. Whatever you do, don’t be a clone in a society that wants everyone to wear the same clothes, listen to the same music, eat the same foods, play the same sports etc. God has made you unique, God has made you beautiful, God has made you who you are. Be yourself and be proud of it.
8. Respect your elders – Many of the young people today see and treat their elders with contempt. They complain of the elders not understanding them and coming from a completely different era to that in which they are living. There will be differences, obviously, but despite our differences we must have the utmost respect for our elders. They came before us and they have experienced the same (if not more) hardships than that faced by us. They have the benefit of time and experience behind them. Celebrate the difference (between the youth and the elders) and learn from their experience and wisdoms. Young people are naive and when they reach the age of the elders, they realise the wisdoms behind why they were told to do what they were told and why they were given the advice that they were given. Be ahead of the game and listen to the elders and you may see that you get a lot further in life than those who think they know what they’re doing and then end up messing everything up in the long-run. Even if you don’t agree with them or take their advice, show them respect by virtue of their age, and love and care for them. Help them with carrying the groceries home, if you have elderly relatives or neighbours – visit them, help them fill in benefits forms, give them a lift to the doctors – there are so many little things that we can do to help our elders, and believe me they will love and appreciate you for it and pray for you from the bottom of their hearts.
9. Read, Read, Read – One of the first things that I tell young people when I am giving them advice is to read. Read, and read a variety of stuff including fiction, non-fiction, articles, text books and so on. Reading can open up whole new worlds and introduce you to new ideas and concepts. It will expand your understanding of the world and broaden your horizons. It may be hard at first to get into the habit because of all the technological advancement with the TV, internet, computer games and electronic media that have us distracted with no time to spare for anything else, but it’s important to make time for reading. At the very least, try to read a book a month, and if possible a book a week. Trust me – get yourself into some good books and you’ll thank me for it in years to come. Reading and literature has been the backbone of all civilised peoples and it is an art that is quickly being lost in this super fast paced world that we live.
10. What will you be remembered for – Last but not least, think about what you want to be remembered for once you have passed the life of this world and moved into the abode of the hereafter. It is sad that we constantly hear about the passing away of people in our family circles, in the news and in the media etc but this doesn’t make us think about the fact that one day we will have to pass away as well. What is it that we want to be remembered for? What are we going to leave behind? What will be my legacy? Again this is a very personal journey and everyone will have their own part to play on this global stage where we are all actors. But have a think about the legacy and history that you wish to leave behind and what you would like people to remember you by and drive your life towards that end. A good exercise to do is to complete your own obituary or get a friend or someone to do one for you and see what is said about you. You may be surprised at what you read.
And there you have it, my list of ten things that I want to tell young people. There was one other point that I wanted to add to the above about ‘getting a job’ (as there is a chronic unemployment that is plaguing young people in this country) but I have decided to dedicate an entire post to that topic in the future insha-Allah (God willing).
Finally I would like to thank Sister Fareena for brining Kate’s original post to my attention through her Facebook post.
As always, happy to receive your advice and comments on the above.