Hey sweet daughter of mine! Do you know what’s funny? It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was almost six, learning how to read, tie my own shoes, and do a cartwheel. (I never learned that last thing. It’s so fun to watch you accomplish things I never figured out how to do!) I see so much of myself in you, and yet I also appreciate your uniqueness. You’re braver than I was at your age – more creative and colorful. And yet – I’m your mama – and I know you have struggles. I see you wrestle with some of the same fears that have haunted me all my life. Sometimes I still feel like that little girl inside. But time is teaching me lessons, and here are some things I want you to know.
It’s okay to take up space. So much of my life has been about trying to take up less space. I thought if I was just smaller – physically and emotionally – I would somehow better serve the world around me. I learned to count my calories, say ‘I’m sorry’ even when it wasn’t my fault, keep my feelings to myself, and be polite when I should have been firm. I knew what the world wanted from me and tried to stay within those bounds. But you know what I’m learning? It’s okay to take up space, to sometimes color outside the normal lines, and not to look exactly like everybody else. It’s okay to be hungry and thirsty – for food and drink, for knowledge and wisdom, and for a life of adventure. It’s okay to be complicated; every human is. You have permission to be yourself, because only then will you know what it feels like to be loved for you are and not for someone you’re pretending to be. So learn to disappoint people who would rather you keep up a facade than be the unique individual God intentionally created. Say no when you have to, eat those carbs, and always be honest with others about where you stand. This is your one life to live as only you can; don’t worry so much about what others think.
You also have permission to feel. This doesn’t mean you should vent your every frustration or be abrasive when you feel like it. The more you season your words with grace and love, the more influence you’ll have. But it does mean not to let anyone tell you it’s not okay to feel sad. Sometimes, life calls for lament. If something breaks your heart, it’s okay to mourn. Don’t worry if everyone doesn’t understand why you’re sad; sometimes we have to carry a burden other people aren’t meant to carry. But listen to your feelings. If something makes you angry, it’s okay to speak up. You are entitled to an opinion. It’s also okay to be happy and sing, laugh and be loud! You are not silly, even if feeling big feelings may cause others to roll their eyes. Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn, always making room in your life for your own feelings and the feelings of others too.
Finally, we girls? We’re all on the same team. Remember that we all basically want the same things – to live our lives as best we can, and to be loved for who we are. Don’t be jealous of another girl’s brains, beauty or talent; build other girls up instead. Life is not a competition. We are all so much more similar than we are different. Every girl asks herself the same question: “Am I okay?” So be the girl who lets other girls know they’re okay. See their effort, and praise them for it. Remind yourself that we all cannot be center-stage at once. You may be in the spotlight for a while, but then it will be someone else’s turn. Don’t give up on a dream when you see someone else doing it better. Keep doing the best you can and encourage other girls to do the same thing. Life is not a race to see who can get to the top first; it’s a gift. Let’s cheer each other on!
My girl, the world needs you. The best thing you can offer it is your thoughts, your feelings, your perspective, and your gifts. I will do my very best to model this for you, and know that I will always be in your corner, no matter what. One of my greatest joys in life is watching you unfold into the person you were meant to be. Do it bravely, darling! You were made for this.