I once listened to a story on This American Life about a mother who was dying of cancer and wrote her daughter a letter for every birthday. WARNING: If you listen to it make sure you are not on a run like I was…sobbing and snotting yourself as you try and trot is not easy. She wrote the letters so even after she passed she could stay in her daugther’s life and offer her wisdom and encouragement. However, it actually turned out to be a crutch and a very painful thing in the daughter’s life, but the mother had the best of intentions. Don’t they all.
It got me to thinking, though. What if I wrote a letter to my daughter. As a 25 year old, what would I say? What would I want her to know? Would I actually give it to her one of these days?
I actually don’t plan on having kids until I’m 32-ish. I want to see how this letter holds up. Would I change anything? Would I still want her to read it one day? So here I go, a letter to my theoretical girl who will (one day, all too soon) turn into a woman.
Maybe I will give it to her. Perhaps I won’t. Stick with me, and you shall find out 😉 Like 7 years from now… OK, here we go.
I’m just 26 writing a letter to you who is yet to be conceived either in mind or spirit. I’m curious to see if my words to you will change by the time your tiny voice rings out.
I have learned a few truths that have yet to fail me.
Ultimately… be kind, be confident, be humble, be genuine, and be anything you want to be.
Let me elaborate.
Be kind. The people who act like they are better than you have nothing on you. They are empty. Remember that you are in control of your actions and you do not need to anything you don’t want to do. Your character is all you can really hold onto a the end of the day. Build it. Smile at homeless people, talk to strangers (don’t get in their cars obviously), and volunteer. People who are somebody, don’t let you know they are somebody. It’s the ones who gloat about themselves that you have to watch out for. People who say they are rich, are (in fact) not rich. The truly wealthy people keep their materialism to a minimum. Listen to your gut. If it says that a guy or girl is bad for you, they are. Never lose that magic. Your heart is going to be broken a lot. People will try and take advantage of your kindess. It is good for you. It will teach you so much. Try not to give too much of your heart away. And if you do, grow it back again. It can always grow back. And remember, there’s always therapy.
Be confident. Work for respect. Never assume you are owed anything. Stand up for yourself and for those who cannot. You live in a world that needs female leaders. Be one in a small way or large way, but be one. Tina Fey really sums up this one for me. Also, listen to her audio book “Bossy Pants.”
Be humble. Remember that material possessions are impertinent and a burden. Do not go in debt. Never owe anyone money–this is your freedom. Do not give it away to Amex or Visa. Pick your battles; not all are worth fighting. Never feel inferior to men and learn self-defense. Learn everything about the women and men who have fought (and are still fighting for) our equality.
Be genuine. Care about the world around you. Be an advocate. Tell your story and never be afraid to show how much you care. It can go a long way. Crazy people may attract themselves to you because of your nature, brush them off and keep being you. Learn from them and take notes to avoid them in the future. But above all, be genuine.
Be anything you want to be. Go to school for whatever you want (you will be paying for it). But go to school. Make all kinds of art and commit to the ones that make you the happiest.
p.s. daughter: Do not have sex until you are at least 19. Mostly wait. These young guys don’t know what they are doing, and you will be severely disappointed. Know everything about it before you do it…I will teach you. You will most likely want to before then, but resist the temptation and you will never regret it. If someone EVER assaults you, speak out. Take your power back. Be a voice. You are still beautiful and worthy–no one can ever take that from you.
p.p.s. Respect your father. He is a great man. A man with integrity and love abound. He is something you can always talk to. He is a man who we can all learn something from. He is patient, unlike me.
Your father and I will both teach you how to conquer the world. But ultimately, be a good person and you will go further than far; be happier than the happiest.
I will always support you. We will always be here for you.
I love you more than love,