But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


Almost exactly six years ago was when I got moved into a class where I barely knew anyone. Naturally, I nearly got into an anxiety attack about who I'll be sitting next to. However, one of my previous classmates was moved to the same class as well, and she very graciously agreed when I asked for us to sit together. Lo and behold, this marked the beginning of a fateful and life-changing relationship based on messy desks, coloured pens and overactive minds.

Just months later, we got bored in an Islamic class and began sorting our classmates into the four different Hogwarts houses. We fantasized each of them, blow their best traits out of proportion, theorizing decisions that justified the house they were in. Soon after, this snowballed into different realms that existed only between our minds and our private conversations.

For years that ensued, we had delved into many different scenarios and alternate realities - I've lost count of how many - and boy, were we obsessed. We incorporated them into our English essay homework, we created outfits for them, we put together playlists because they should have soundtracks that we didn't get to have in the real world. You can find random facts about each others characters written in our notebooks, between reminders of yesterday's homework and next week's presentation. We couldn't stop. We would always have a new name for everybody. It got to the point where we were overflowing with excitement, we managed to pull in an unsuspecting friend who was overwhelmed at first but supportive in the end. We included our crushes in ideal scenarios. We subtly let them know; by asking them what colour snowboarding outfit they would like or which motorbike they'd prefer, for no apparent reason. Despite the dozens that we came up with, I always somehow come back to our Hogwarts world. One where we are a fantasized version of ourselves, built upon what we want to be, but still retaining some of our biggest flaws and endearing traits. We tried to make them believable but ideal at the same time. It's a fine line, and we're still trying to figure out how to make that possible, but it's getting better.

I caricatured myself as Jezebel Addams, a sarcastic and snarky character who share my own insecurities. I wasn't even aware of the negative connotations that came with that name; I had heard it from an old Ricky Martin song during my childhood and I thought it sounded cool. Plus, it's the name of a princess, innit? Initially, I had intended for her to be a role model, especially she isn't too far-fetched from my own person. But when I was 17, she became an alter ego. I started doing things because "that's what Jez would do". When things started to become heavy and overwhelming, I dove into my Hogwarts world and imagine further situations on how she would interact with all the characters I created. Jez became a medicine and an escape. At this point, it's been three years since my friend and I started this journey, and it was still what would consume our conversations.

But soon after, I entered university. I had no time to remember my own name, let alone visit Jezebel. Distance between my friend and I grew just as much as our physical distance, and there was nothing we can do about it. We stopped talking, and the doors to our realms slowly sealed shut. It's been over a year since I remembered any of our characters. Incidentally, it's also been one of my darkest years. Is this a coincidence?

Now, I'm midway between 21 and 22, I recently stumbled back and I found myself in awe. Here, let me paint you a picture.

Imagine a Narnia scenario where you open an ordinary wardrobe but instead, you find giant oak doors with ancient carvings, not unlike the one from Thranduil's castle of Mirkwood. It's dusty, it hasn't been open in decades, but you know this is home. You brush your fingers along the vines engraved into it. At your familiar touch, the door begins to unlock, giant mechanisms spin to unlock this impenetrable entrance. Today, you're greeted by a dirt pathway in a green forest, sunlight peeking through the dense canopy of trees above. A couple of feet from where you're standing, the pathway forks into multiple directions that lead to differently shaped doors, but not so much that they don't match each other. Patches of small purple and yellow flowers grow along the pathways. Nothing marks the pathway, no form of signage exists, but you know exactly where each door leads to. If you go to your far right, it's a wooden door with a porthole, an entrance to Poseidon's cabin in Camp Half-Blood. If you go to second from your left, you'll end up in the horror movie set. Straight up ahead are slightly grander doors, and that leads you to Hogwarts.  Some pathways lead you nowhere, reminding you that there's always room to explore. In here, the sun and moon and winds listen to your heart; it's always the perfect time of day, the perfect temperature, the perfect smell. Sometimes the birds sing, sometimes you can hear the distant sea. It's always welcoming; it's always home. I miss it a lot.

What a world we have built. Despite the trauma and heartache and rock bottoms we've experienced, this is proof that we still have beauty in our souls. This is one place that will never change. Find solace in yourself; 16 year old Aishah and Amanda would've cried over Haagen Dasz knowing we need it now more than ever. I think we were more wholesome than we gave ourselves credit for.


Some days,  - most days, in fact - I'm happy. I can't imagine myself on any other path in life and I have made peace with any and all mistakes I've ever committed in the past. I'm twenty and I'm learning so many things. I'm absolutely content with mediocrity, because if you average amongst the best of the best, can you really complain?

Some days, I'm aware of how much I know and how good I am at what I do. I realise how much potential I must've shown for my university to offer me a place and for my sponsoring body to offer me a scholarship. I must've made some form of impact. I can't ask for better lecturers and facilitators. In fact, I dread leaving this campus because it's just so perfect. But I'm also excited to be in Highfield, because can you imagine what kind of nerd labs await me there?

Some days, I'm excited for third and fourth year projects. What kind of fiction can I possibly bring to life? I can be a Big Hero 6 in my own right. I'm just so excited to learn what this course has to offer me. I want these four years to stretch two folds, maybe three. I want to do my masters and my phd in this university. Why? Because why not? The company is great, the environment is great, the reputation is great, the people are great, the opportunities that await are even greater.

Some days, I want to intern at Intel. I want to be a part of something big - and I'm going to do it. I'm confident that if I study a little bit harder, I can be on parr with the rest of my classmates. I can code my own labs, I can ace interviews with internship bodies, I can analyse circuits in a heartbeat. I'm confident that with a bit more effort, ELEC1206 could easily be my best subject. And maybe one day, I'll be able to speak some Mandarin, Korean, French, and maybe read cyrillic.

Some days, I aspire to be my friends. To be as cool and collected, smart and meticulous, adorable and charismatic, athletic and driven, intelligent and laid-back. One day, I'll come to love myself and I'll be on the pedestal with them instead of being on the ground. I crack jokes and believe that I am significant, I belong here, amongst the socially awkward, in this badly lit laboratory, trying to figure out phasor analysis and dielectric materials. I mean, where else would I be?

Some days, I'm present and ambitious and proud and confident and happy.

Today is not one of those days.


December just started a couple of days ago, and right now, in this moment, everything in your life is right. But why do you feel so empty sometimes?

There are days when you miss college, having Jigs as your roommate, watching Friends on your hard-drive during every dinner, nasi goreng made available for dinner everyday, feeling like you're actually good at something, feeling somewhat significant. Then, there are days when you miss high school, being so loved and accepted, calling people up and being in a movie theatre with them within the next 2 hours, Starbucks being the norm after classes, rolling with your crew, being an absolute nutter and that's okay.

But those days are gone. You're a different person now. You're still you, but in a different way. You think differently of the same things, your opinions and priorities in life have changed. Look at your life now. You're studying the exact course you ruled out first, you're listening to old songs simply because they bring you back and not because you'd give them a second listen today, you shamelessly sit in the front row whenever possible, you don't beg to be friends with people who don't obviously need you anymore. You're a changed person. You've grown, you've learnt.

Maybe having Jigs to come home to and complain about class about nice, maybe being able to ring Von up from across the highway was convenient, maybe sipping a Starbucks twice a week was a necessity to feel cool. Maybe all of these things were necessary to you at the time, something you needed, but not anymore. Have you ever thought about that? Maybe having another year of rooming with Jigs would've ended badly, or you wouldn't realise how much you truly appreciated each other's company. Maybe you wouldn't realise how much you took Von for granted, and deep talks in your car in the middle of the night wouldn't sound as appealing as it does now. Maybe you would decline a Starbucks in a heartbeat now because who the fuck has the money for that. See how you wouldn't do the same things in the same way if you were to do it again? It's necessary, my dear. It was necessary. But not anymore.

It's okay to miss your friends sometimes, and frankly, I'm sure they appreciate being missed from time to time too. It's okay to dwell on the past, because you had one hell of a time with your friends. You had such great memories that no camera can ever capture and no mugger can ever rob you of. It's okay to compare your situation now to how you were before, because it's only natural. But you must never let yourself be absorbed by it.

I know how you feel. You're swamped with an overwhelming amount of studies and assignments, you drown amongst your classmates, your closest friend in university makes you feel really small, you don't really get talked to, your cooking skills is too bad for your own tongue, and you think nobody really likes you, because why would they? I know exactly how you feel. It's a tough life. You feel outcasted for no apparent reason but for all the obvious reasons. You have absolutely no confidence in your abilities, especially when people on the next bench are wiring things up fifty times faster than you are and your lab partner have carried you for coding ever since paired work started. You're absolutely terrified of switching partners for design week, because what the fuck can you contribute to anyone else in this class? You're the lowest of them all, you know the least, you're the least committed and passionate and when everyone says they have no idea what they're doing, you internally wince because they still can't compare to how much you have no idea what you're doing. And as if that's not enough, how can you even maintain a scholarship if you can barely pass a test?

Darling, these can be toxic thoughts. I know you've heard this before, and I know you've experienced it for yourself to know, but these kind of thoughts are the exact kind that keep you up at night and rob you of your CGPA. As hard as it may seem, you need to believe in yourself. You've seen it yourself. You're capable of so much more than you think you are. You've proven that. Remember how proud you were that you managed to pull up your AS Chemistry by 2 grades? Sure, other people could carry it to the end, but did any of them pull up their chemistry by 2 grades? I don't think so. You think you're so mediocre, but you can't be any more wrong. You're so special. The only thing is that it's in a hidden way. Why else would your friends love you so much and stick by you for so long? And maybe if you are mediocre in your academics, you're in the number one school in the entirety of the United Kingdom for your course. So you may be average, but you're an average of the best. Isn't that enough for you? You made mistakes in your life, and maybe you come across as disinterested and awkward to people, but those who are patient enough to stay until the adorable comes out, those are the people who deserve to see you adorable. The rest of them? Well, that's too bad. They're missing out. As for your scholarship, you know you only need a bit more effort, just a tad more, and you'll be able to breezily pull through. You know it. I know you do.

You're so happy now. In so many ways, you couldn't have made better decisions. You made leap of faiths, made decisions that rests solely on your shoulders, but look how well they turned out. Your'e doing the very course that you ruled out the first thing you knew what university degrees are, 4 years ago. But you can't imagine yourself doing anything else because this course and this university and this campus is just so perfect, it fits your soul the way a velvet glove fits a royal's hand. You're so incredible, but you're the only one standing in your way. Maybe you can't always code optional work, but you can code.

Aishah, please. You're always going to be greater than you think. Please believe me. Please.

Now, get some sleep and get some work done tomorrow. Not because deadlines dictate your life right now, but because you love this course with all your heart.

You're doing fine. You really, really are.


University is starting in less than 3 weeks, and college ended a little over 3 months ago. But a hell of a lot of events has happened within the last few months that is worthy of reflecting over.

When I got rejected by a scholarship awarding body at the very last stage, I was upset for weeks. When you stopped replying my texts, I was sad and angry that I lost you. When my gut feelings came true and I didn't get the straight As I needed - wanted -, my heart sank. When a scholarship did arrive at my doorstep provided I changed courses, I shed tears for the first time in months.

Despite all this distress, each time the feeling passes, I find that I'll myself "Well, I got over that waaaay quicker than I thought I would".  The next time something upsetting happens, I'll try to remind myself how fast the last one went by. I may not believe it at the time, but I'l believe it when I get over it way quicker than I thought I would.

This isn't just applicable to things, but people too. I've lost contact with so many people from college. A couple of them I was heartbroken about at first, but not anymore. I reason myself by saying that I've done my part, but they haven't done theirs, and if they're not interested, then why should you? I mean, you can't say I didn't try. I did. I've texted them to ask what's up, to ask out for a lunch, to start a conversation, but either they don't reply or I'm not important enough for them to get back to me. Why should I bother with someone who blueticks me but had a

In a way, it's been bothering me a little bit though.


We start with stars in our eyes
We start believing that we belong
But every sun doesn't rise
And nobody tells you where you went wrong


When you've fallen in a forest, and there's nobody around
Do you ever really crash or even make a sound?
1: A song you like with a colour in the title 
Little White Lies - One Direction

2: A song you like with a number in the title
7 Years - Lukas Graham

3: A song that reminds you of summertime
Kids In Love - Mayday Parade

4: A song that reminds you of someone you would rather forget about

5: A song that needs to be played LOUD 
Knee Socks - Arctic Monkeys

6: A song that makes you want to dance 
Shut Up And Dance - Walk The Moon

7: A song to drive to 
Changing Of The Seasons - Two Door Cinema Club

8: A song about drugs or alcohol 
Electric Feel (Cover) - Preston Pohl

9: A song that makes you happy 
Dead Man Walking - Jon Bellion

10: A song that makes you sad
 Fast Car - Tracy Chapman

11: A song that you never get tired of 
I Must Be Dreaming - The Maine

12: A song from your preteen years 
Fall For You - Secondhand Serenade
13: One of your favorite 80’s songs 
Jessie's Girl - Bruce Springfield

14: A song that you would love played at your wedding
Cambridge, 1963 - Theory Of Everything OST

15: A song that is a cover by another artist 
Somebody That I Used To Know (Cover ft. Vic Fuentes) - Mayday Parade

16: One of your favorite classical songs
Habanera - Carmen

17: A song that would sing a duet with on karaoke
679 - Fetty Wap

18: A song from the year that you were born
 Name - The Goo Goo Dolls

19: A song that makes you think about life 
All Star - Smash Mouth

20: A song that has many meanings to you 

21: A favorite song with a person’s name in the title
Samson - Regina Spektor

22: A song that moves you forward
Move Alone - The All-American Rejects, It Ends Tonight - The All-American Rejects

23: A song that you think everybody should listen to
Here - Alessia Cara (to understand how I feel)

24: A song by a band you wish were still together

25: A song by an artist no longer living 
I Want To Break Free - Queen

26: A song that makes you want to fall in love
The Longest Time - Billy Joel, Not Walking Away - Emily Hearn

27: A song that breaks your heart 
Georgia - Vance Joy, Danny, Dakota & The Wishing Well - A Silent Film

28: A song by an artist with a voice that you love
You Make It Real - James Morrison

29: A song that you remember from your childhood
Swear It Again - Westlife
30: A song that reminds you of yourself
What A Catch, Donnie - Fall Out Boy, I'm Yours - Alessia Cara

31: A song others won't expect you to like
A Little Piece Of Heaven - Avenged Sevenfold

32: A song you play when you're angry
Phoenix - Fall Out Boy

33: A song that reminds you of the person you love
Idfc - Blackbear, Gravity - Eden

34: A song you put as your ringtone
Gospel - MarchFourth Marching Band (Monsters University Theme)

35: A song that puts you to sleep
The Parting Glass - Ed Sheeran, Cherry Wine - Hozier



This is the year you realise that only change is permanent.

That's both a wonderful and terrifying thing to grasp.
But you have it in you.
You know you do.



"Not everything is supposed to become something beautiful and long-lasting. Sometimes people come into your life to show you what is right and what is wrong, to show you who you can be, to teach you to love yourself, to make you feel better for a little while, or to just be someone to walk with at night and spill your life to. Not everyone is going to stay forever, and we still have to keep on going and thank them for what they’ve given us."


the stars lean down to kiss you
and I lie awake and miss you;
pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere.

I'll forget the world that I knew -
but I swear I won't forget you.


Sometimes, I need to remind myself that just because happy times have gone so far back into my past doesn't mean they aren't coming my way.

This was a song that kept me through a significantly but not particularly dark time in my life.
I need to listen to it more often than I do.

Be the person you needed when you were younger.