Graduate of Chinese Studies from the University of Sheffield
Dear Younger Amal Lara,
It’s now 2013 and you’re on the brink of turning 16. One thing that I want to say from the start is that you’re entire young life is going to be proving people wrong time and time again. At this moment in your young teenage life your mental health is at an all time low. Being on the reduced school timetable makes you feel like you’ll be in this low energy anxious mood for the rest of your life. I know from a young age you’ve realised the education system you’re stuck in isn’t designed for students with learning difficulties such as dyspraxia and dyslexia. Your father’s ignorance and constant pressure to achieve high grades at GCSE’s is only the start of your difficult
relationship that one day you decide put on an eternal pause to protect your mental health. You may not realise it right now but your mum had and always 100% wholeheartedly will be in your corner. She maybe not be very neurotypical either but you will become eternally grateful for her perspicacious insights into life’s problems. Not too soon after you will develop the skill yourself that will serve you more than you can imagine. However in the meantime, I know the kids in your class may pick on you because you’re different. Social cues don’t come so easily and being
overweight significantly damaging your sensitive disposition. Those experiences may stay with you for the rest of your life but they will also give you life lessons that will help you grow. That boy you’re pining over now will be a shadow of a memory and the heartbreak you experience with him will only help with potential romances and avoiding numerous potential disasters.
“Society will embed the idea that only by comparing yourself to others will you be able to define yourself but know you are valued and loved just for you.”
What may seem like a weakness now will develop into compassion and understanding that in only a few short years the people you care about will love and appreciate you for. Despite all obstacles you’re interest in languages and sense of travel will result in embarking on a Chinese Studies degree that will include a rollercoaster of a year abroad. In your time at university you will encounter professors who believe they’re doing the right thing but have faith in your convictions while being perfectly polite will get you through many a disagreement. Who you are as a person and your values will be refined during and defined by university. That temper you inherited from your Arab grandmother may also get you into a pickle every now and then. With that in mind please choose your battles wisely you only have a certain amount of energy so be careful how you expend it. Please be wary of the people you hang out with during university make sure they
appreciate rather than just tolerate you. To finish, please just be kind and patient to yourself. Because you end up doing the one-thing teachers and even your parents never thought could do looking at you at 15 years old… going to university! When you get there you will discover that there is so much more out there than your small Home Counties town could ever offer and it was worth the wait.