Saying goodbye to my 20s and my birthday wish to all my young hopefuls.
Today I will be saying goodbye to my 20′s. It has never been so clear to me that time is indeed real, and what you do with your time is crucial.
I remember when I turned 20.. actually, I don’t. My memories are blurry when I was young, solely because I choose not to care, because I was 20 and I thought I had all the time in the world. All I knew was that I was young, I was healthy, I cared only about spending time with my boyfriend (I was determined to get married to him at the age of 21), and that I have to submit my assignment to my legal professor by Monday. Mediocre, and lazy- that was me. At 20, I had no idea that at 9.9 years later I would be in the kitchen of my apartment in the heart of Los Angeles, and writing this, with you in mind. Also at 20, I went to my first indie band rock show, and that changed EVERYTHING. And so, my life lessons began..
At 21, I decided I didn’t want to settle down so soon, I wasn’t ready. I went to an entirely different direction, went into music and discovered that my whole childhood of loving music and singing wasn’t a scam, and I started writing songs of my own.
Me at 20
22 (2008) was when I learned about dignity. I walked into my first record label meeting, sitting across a man, leaning back in his corporate chair telling me I will not go far in the music industry if I 1) kept my headscarves on 2) sang my English songs. I said no thank you, and proceeded to (with my little knowledge of Company law that I learned in school) start my own company called Yuna Room Records, with my 22 year old cousin, Wawa. We still run this company today. Also this year, I got interviewed for the very first time by my favorite music magazine at the time, Junk, by my all time fav person today, Didi Ramlan.
Young Yuna with bandmates Efry, Paan, Adil.
22 was also when I learned that quality is key. I wrote a song called Dan Sebenarnya, and was willing to let the rough recording of it live forever. Turns out I was wrong, radio wouldn’t play my music because of the crappy quality. I went to get a RM1000(about USD$200) loan from my dad, went to a professional recording studio, to record an EP so the radios will stop saying no to my song.
My bedroom in university. You can see my passion for photography and a photo of me performing my first show with a guitar on the wall, and my law notes sprawled across the table as I stay up studying.
23 (2009) I learned how to manage my financials. I received my first royalty paycheck in the mail, and when I opened it I had to sit down and made sure if it was meant for me, and remember thinking if I deserved all of it. Dan Sebenarnya EP was being downloaded almost 100,000 times a month, my first paycheck was almost RM30k. Too much. I paid off my dad’s loan, split it with my bandmates who helped recording it in the studio with me, and started my savings account and learned how to pay tax. I also graduated from legal studies this year.
With friends from law school. Already you can tell I’m out of place.
24 (2010) I learned that even if I thought I worked really hard for something, second place is a good place to be. I competed in my first national tv music award show performing my song, and lost to a very talented young man who I am now close friends with Aizat Amdan. Sometimes you have to know that some things are just not meant for you. That night, I didn’t get an award, but I got a wonderful friend that I can depend on forever. 2 years later, I got an award that was taken away from me, but because of this incident, I had already learned how to not care so much about awards. Awards do not define you. I also graduated this year, earning my degree in legal studies. Finally!
25. (2011) I learned to take a leap of faith. I went to America with a small bag and a big dream. I was a shy foreigner, I was alone and I was a little bit scared. But, I knew that if I don’t start talking, I will not go anywhere. Being awkward and shy is a waste of time, I learned. The more you want to talk to people, the more respectful you are, the more you will learn.
I learned that you are the only person who can sabotage yourself. When people say you can’t, the only person who can prove them wrong is yourself.
Pharell and I, 2011.
My very first apartment in Los Angeles. I remember every dollar i made from work was to pay for this rent.. I ate a lot of instant noodles and shopped at dollar stores. My furnitures (and one piano that I still have) were all hand-me-downs from my friend, Niles (now a big time DJ, KSHMR!)
26. (2012) I learned how to travel and perform at the same time. I was in different cities everyday, performing every night. Something I didn’t know I could do. I saw people from all races showing up at my show, a diversity and I learned to loved them all, something I didn’t know existed. All my ignorance and stereotypes melted away just from traveling across America. I also learned about loyalty, and the meaning of friendship. Didi, Faiz, Lincoln formed this experience together with me and I will never forget it.
Faiz, Didi and Lincoln, us on the road, across the country for a month in 2012.
27.(2013) I learned about the REAL treasures in life. That your parents are the true treasure that you will never find anywhere else, at any point of your life. That breaking their hearts is never an option for as long as you live.
My last moments with my late grandfather. I miss him so much.
28.(2014) I learned that money is not everything. You can make millions, but you can’t buy happiness. Money will not save lives. I tried my best to save my uncle or my grandfather from their sickness with whatever money I had, and I lost this battle. God saves lives, and he takes them at His will. You can plan, but He is the best planner.
I learned that fame is not everything. You can have millions of followers, a few friends who thinks you’re awesome, but you can still feel very alone. Being liked, or dislike, does not give you infinite happiness. I also learned the horrible truth that for some, fame and money is everything.Time is the best gift you can give to your loved ones.
I learned that physical beauty of a person means nothing. We are all flawed. I am flawed. I learned how to see people’s hearts and hoping that my heart is worth seeing. I learned that being in love is not everything. I learned how to piece myself back together slowly after someone has broken every fragile part of me. I learned that the person you spend your time with can either bring the best out of you, or unleash a monster inside of you. People come into your life to teach you valuable lessons, and you have to learn from it. I learned that if you lose someone, it doesn’t mean its because you’re not worth it. It just means you’re growing. How you rise above this, will be your life’s best victory.
29,(2015-today) this is my favorite year. I learned to let go, and learned to realize that if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love someone else. I learned that I was not entirely healthy, and decided to take care of myself better before it’s too late.
I learned that you can find love in the calmness of being in someone’s presence. Never disrupt that calmness. ‘Don’t be an idiot’, I tell myself, ‘Don’t screw this up!’
I learned to stop caring what people have to say about me, because of the simple reason being- they have no clue what’s going on. They don’t deserve a space in my thought process. I learned about having the courage to be me. I learned the hard way, that there are givers, and takers. There are people who are here to take advantage of me and use me, and I have to walk away from them. I learned to shut doors to people who sees life in a negative way without any second guesses. I learned how to say no when people try to take away the best qualities that I’ve taken all these years to shape. I learned how to sever ties with people who drain my energy. I learned how to fight for my identity. I learned how to fight for my life and the lives of people that I care about. Most importantly, after all these years of thinking I should be this and that, I want this, I want that, .. blablabla. I learned one important thing - its not about me. It’s about how can I contribute to make the world a better place.
Al-fatihah for Aina.
On my 30th birthday, I don’t need gifts. I just wish for my young fans to not waste their time. Know that your time is yours, but it’s not yours. If you are in your 20′s, spend your time wisely. Go have fun, you’re young, but don’t forget to contribute your energy, you’re young. Time flies, but take your time learning. Make mistakes, but learn from them. Don’t try to grow up too fast, stay in your zone and be present as much as you can. Remember, you are so much more than what people say about you. People rush you into doing things.. but ask yourself what do YOU want? Go and live life fully, learn as much as you can. Achieve greatness and bring out greatness in others as well. Be aware of whats happening in the world, not just yours. Learn to see whats on the other side, and try not to settle in what your setup has been set up for you.
Be woke. Be intelligent. Be there for the people who need you. Keep your head up and be confident, but know when to keep your head down and be humble. Never underestimate what your heart tells you. It’s okay to be wrong, its okay to fail and know that you are flawed, and life will prove this to you again and again. Know that you will rise, again and again. Being flawless comes after you learned that you can accept your flaws and not giving up doing something beautiful for the world.
Happy birthday to me and to you, here’s to us, who will see today as Day 1.
01.Joe Hisaishi - The Dragon Boy - NORTH WIND. 02.MGMT - Electric Feel (Justice Remix) - REFORMAT. 03.No More Kings - Robots Don’t Cry - REJECTION. 04. Vampire Weekend - Giving Up The Gun - BROTHER. 05.Kill La Kill OST - Uzu Sanageyama - SWORDPLAY. 06. Daft Punk - Aerodynamic - OMNIC. 07. Bruce Lee Remix - Be Water My Friend - TRAINING. 08.Transistor - We All Become - RIFT. 09.DJ Okawari - Bluebird Story (feat. Jumelles) - WANDER. 10. Zedd - Shave It Up - MISSION. 11.Mind.In.A.Box - Machine Run - STRUGGLE. 12.Daft Punk ft. Justice - (Robot Rock/Genesis) - MASTERY. 13. No More Kings - Umbrella - INSIGHT. 14. Mind.In.A.Box - Redefined - ACCEPTANCE. 15.Studio Killers - In Tokyo - PLAYBOY. 16. Nujabes - Luv(Sic.) Pt. 2 - TEACHER. 17.Joe Hisaishi - It’s Hard Work - MEDITATION. 18. Kou Otani - The Farthest Land - NEPAL. 19.The Leisure Society - Our Hearts Burn Like Damp Matches - OVERWATCH. 20.Lisa Miskovsky - Still Alive - HANZO.
“Babe, you don’t even like coffee.” Your friend was finally able to visit you at University for the day, and you had taken her to your favorite little cafe hangout.
“Well, Meghan, it’s a good thing I don’t order coffee then isn’t it?” She rolled her eyes as you took a sip of your smoothie, and shifted in the padded armchair you had claimed as yours.
“I swear, if you hang out at this coffee shop any more, they’ll have to make you a personalized bench.” It was your turn to roll your eyes as you shifted your attention back to Meghan,
“I’m sorry if-” she interrupted you with a practiced, exuberant tone.
“-oh yes, please tell me again about the ambiance of the place.” You simply chuckled with your friend as she continued to imitate you and your love for this cafe,
“The warmth, the pleasant background noise of the other people that is there - but not too loud because it’s just hipster enough to have a small crowd but it’s no Starbucks.” You tried to shush your friend through your giggles, as she continued to get louder, and more enthusiastic with her imitation of you.
“- How it smells ever so slightly like cinnamon, -”
“- and has muffins that are to die for.”
“- and don’t even get me started on the music-” at that point she had gotten loud enough for people to start looking. There was even another regular you had seen before, sitting by the order counter, who turned away from his laptop to look your way, sliding one of his large headphones off of his right ear.
You kind of smiled apologetically to everyone else in the cafe, keeping your hand over Meghan’s mouth, before speaking to her quietly.
“I’m sorry if I like this place!” You removed your hand from her mouth as she giggled at you with an eyebrow raised. You sat in silence for a moment before you felt the need to defend yourself.
“I mean, whoever makes the playlists here is my long lost best friend!” That was the cue for Meg to roll her eyes and take a long drink from her coffee,
“No seriously, It’s like when you are driving somewhere, and you can’t turn the car off until that one song is over because you simply can’t cut off good music Meghan. You just can’t!” You shook your head, as you closed your eyes and listened to the mix playing the background at the moment,
“Every time I go to leave they just seem to play the exact song I want to hear again. Either that or something I had never heard before, but instantly love!” Your eyes opened again as you turned back to Meghan,
“Do know how much new music I have discovered just sitting here listening to these mixes? I mean, sometimes I swear I could kiss whoever comes up with those playlists-”
“That’s it.” Meg abruptly stood from their corner, leaving her drink on the side table next to her arm chair,
“Meg? Meghan.” Your tone started as confused, and then became almost worried and stern as she headed toward the counter, as your eyes bugged out in worry as what your adventurous friend could be up to.
“Excuse me?” One of the baristas turned to speak with Meghan, who had a polite smile on her face. You didn’t hear what he asked as you quickly weaves between patrons to get to her side, and try and stop her from doing something mortifying.
“Oh no, nothing is wrong with my drink, I just had kind of a random question; which one of your co-workers is the one in charge of your playlist?”
The barista laughed,
“Oh! Actually, he doesn’t work here. It’s a friend of mine that makes all our mixes.”
“Well, my friend over there is like, next to in love with hi-” you got to her in time to interrupt,
“Oh my goodness Meghan! That’s not true-” when she was set on something though, she was near impossible to stop.
“-it’s literally all she talks about. How perfect the mixes are,-”
“-How she wishes she could steal their iPod,-”
“-she actually just said-”
“Don’t you dare.” At this point you could feel your ears flaming, and you couldn’t look anyone in the eye, your focus switching from the barista’s name tag that read ‘Luke,’ in slightly faded blue sharpie, a rainbow Lisa Frank kitten sticker in the bottom right hand corner, to your shoes, the ceiling and back.
The barista bit his lip trying not to laugh at the two friends bickering from the counter across from him,
“I’m just helping you out my dear.” Meg patted you on the shoulder in a slightly condescending manner before turning back to Luke,
“She just said that she wants to ki-”
“I did not!” You hastily interrupted her, until a new voice came into the conversation from behind you.
“I think you did dovey, I heard it myself.” You spun around so quickly you had to grasp Meghan’s arm so you wouldn’t fall over. You heard Luke chuckle behind you and say,
“This is my friend Ashton. He makes all our mixes, and is the nightly DJ for the university radio station.”
There stood the other regular that you had noticed, but never spoken to before. He had abandoned his large headphones at his table with his laptop, his hands settling into the pockets of his jacket, before looking at you, and cracking probably the largest smile you’ve ever seen in your life.
You felt Meghan nudge you a little forward, before she stepped toward the counter herself, and struck up a conversation with Luke about something random, like where he had gotten lip piercing done.
“If I had known you were such a big fan, I would have just made you a mix, and then gotten the guts to talk to you a long time ago.”
You were pretty positive your face was on fire.
“You…you’ve seen me before?” He looked almost sheepish as he ran his fingers through his hair,
“I mean…you’re here almost as often as I am dove.” It was your turn to sheepishly scuff your feet against the linoleum, trying to regulate the temperature of your face.
“Do you maybe, wanna join me?” You looked up to see tilt his head back to his table, his smile turning into a teasing smirk,
“I’ll even buy you a coffee and give you a sneak at next week’s mix, if you’d like.” He jerked his thumb backwards to the table. You returned his smile and said,
“Actually, I don’t like coffee. Make it a smoothie, and you’ve got a deal.”
I will be
completely honest, sometimes I hated going to Las Vegas to do shows. Sometimes
I just wanted to stay at home and relax and actually go to bed, instead of
travelling there to play a show and travel back, all in one night really. What
made it more difficult is the fact that I went to bed quite late anyways,
mostly after Taylor did, and then she would be up early to either go to the gym
or the studio and we wouldn’t actually really see each other awake for a couple
of days, especially if she stayed at her place because I wasn’t around. I missed her, and the stupid Vegas shows meant
that I wouldn’t see her even more.