Remona Aly
Thursday 16 June 2022 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

What I’d say to my younger self

Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2, Zoe Ball Breakfast Show
What I’d say to my younger self

What I’d say to my younger self (script):

I sometimes get the urge to look through old photos, mainly to judge how godawful I looked when I was an early teen. There’s one of me in a reject jumper, mismatching baggy trousers and thick glasses. Another was of me a few years later, when I was ready for a transformation. An opportunity arose when I was to attend an awards ceremony at a London university granting bursaries to sixth formers, and to my amazement I was one of them. 

It was my time to shine. I was now 16 and felt like a grown woman, and as I breezed through Tammy Girl to get my new outfit, my eye fell on a pair of brown hold ups which I decided to wear under my skirt for the finishing touch. The day of the ceremony arrived, and as my name was called out, I felt something go. PING. Desperately trying to remain cool, I took a step forward. PING went the other side. I shuffled across the stage in front of a crowded amphitheatre as my alleged hold ups decided to travel south towards my ankles. 

There are many moments I’ve wanted to delete from my past, times I wished I’d made a different call. But I’ve reflected on how your entire life can be an invitation – to explore possibilities, to make mistakes, to evolve. 

I’ve been asked, what would you say to your younger self? My answer now would be: absolutely nothing. 

I would not tell her that things will get tough, nor that she’ll get through them. The uncertainty, the tests, even the embarrassments are what shape us. My wrong turns have opened a door I would never have seen, my fears have led to risks I would never have taken. I reckon we grow through our doubts and our unread destinies, as they take us to write the next lines in our ever changing story. 

The American Muslim author and speaker, Yasmin Mogahed, said, “Know that transformation sometimes begins with a fall. So never curse the fall.”

So, I wouldn’t tell my 16, 20 or 26 year old self a thing, for no other reason than, let her be, let her learn, and let her hold ups fall around her ankles.