To my daughter,
Happy International Women’s Day, my darling.
You are growing up in an exciting time where the tide is changing, where your voice counts more than ever before and where boundaries are being tested every day for the better. Each day there are women, whose footsteps you walk in, leading the way for change, and I do not doubt that you will soon be leading your own way, too.
To celebrate the strong young woman you are growing into, here are five things I want you to know for sure:
1. You can ALWAYS say “no”
No matter what choices you make, no matter what situations you find yourself in – you can always say no. Always. Even though at times it may test me as your mother, I want you to feel comfortable saying “no” whenever you need. Don’t feel compelled to justify the reasons behind why, either. No means no. And no matter what happens, I will be there for you, backing you – 100 percent without question.
2. What you like does not define who you are
Let me tell you right now: there’s no such thing as ‘boy’ things or ‘girl’ things. They’re all just things. You can like whatever you like, and that doesn’t change who you are. Follow your interests and pursue your passions unapologetically with ferocity; they don’t define you so don’t allow them to constrain you either.
3. Your emotions do not make you weak
In a world where society seems to throw the ’emotional’ label onto girls like it’s an insult or a put-down, I hope that you own your emotions and honour them, too. Whether that’s anger, frustration, sadness, joy or loneliness – they are all valid, and you should never feel ashamed for feeling what you feel. Being in touch with your emotions in a world that seems intent on silencing anything uncomfortable or difficult to deal with is a powerful tool for you to wield and treasure.
4. The most important people in your life love you for your quirks and flaws, not in spite of them
If you ever feel like you have to put aside certain parts of your personality for the benefit of others – I’m going to tell you right now, those people are not your people. The people in your life who matter the most are the ones who see you during your weakest, weirdest and most vulnerable moments – and love you all the more for them. Anyone who makes you feel as though you are hard to love is not worth having in your life.
5. Never apologise for your intelligence
Be proud of the way your brain works, because it is unique and extraordinary. You don’t have to apologise for your intellect, just like you wouldn’t apologise for being beautiful or athletic. If people only compliment you on your beauty, then they only see a portion of what you have to offer.
Remember, there are always going to be people who say you can’t do things, or that you shouldn’t. Don’t listen to those people. They don’t know you, and they don’t know how capable you are.
It is my wish that you proudly dance to your own rhythm, be proud of your intelligence, honour all of your emotions, don’t ever pigeon-hole yourself based on your interests and know for sure that your voice counts, every single time.
This post was originally published on 11 October 2018