Growing up can be so hard, and sometimes it can feel like the world is against you. When you feel like that, please remember what I am telling you today:
1. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t – ever, for anyone. Be yourself, because you are a reflection of all my hopes and dreams for you. When you don’t think you are good enough, remember that I have always thought you were better than good enough, and you are the exact person I had always dreamed of having for a daughter.
2. Forgive. Holding on to hatred and anger will eat away at the kindness you have in your soul. Don’t let it.
3. Walk away instead. If someone has hurt you, forgive them. But that doesn’t mean you have to let them back in to hurt you again. Sometimes you have to just walk away from the people who will hurt you. Don’t ever let people be mean to you. Sometimes that is going to be really, really hard – but there will be times when you just need to get away from those people. And when you do, remember that there are always people out there who have your back as you are walking away, and who truly care about you.
4. Act silly. Don’t ever let people tell you to stop acting silly.
5. There will be times when friends will be mean. That’s what girls do to each other – I don’t know why, but girls can be very cruel, even those girls who are your best friends today. It doesn’t make it right, but be prepared for those days when you feel like all of your friends are leaving you out, or are talking about you behind your back. Don’t let them make you feel like a third wheel, or that you don’t belong with them. If they want to act like that, then they aren’t very good friends. Find new ones. They will grow up. And it does get better. But for now, just remember how it feels and try your best to not be one of those girls. And, those days when you feel all alone, remember that you aren’t. There are always people who do care about you – you just need to sit down and remind yourself who they are.
6. Always stick up for your sister. While friends will come and go in your life, your siblings are the ones who will always be there no matter what you do. They are the ones you will be the meanest to over the years, the ones you will take for granted – but they will always be the ones still standing beside you when you feel like there is no one else and the whole world is against you.
7. Don’t let anyone ever tell you your dreams are too big. Just dream big, and believe you can do it. Some dreams will come true, and some won’t. But, always have dreams, and when one comes true, or one falls through, find another dream to go after! When you stop dreaming, you stop living.
8. Always know that you are beautiful. Don’t compare yourself to girls in magazines or on TV. That isn’t real. They have these things called photoshop, editing, lighting – whatever else they can use to make themselves appear that way. And, those skinny girls with no curves don’t look beautiful – they look hungry. Everyone has days when they feel like the ugliest woman on the face of the earth – that is just one of the downsides of being a woman. Someday, you will find someone who will make you feel beautiful even on your ugliest days. Don’t waste your time worrying about that pimple, that extra weight, the hair that won’t go just right……remember that you are a part of me, and when you don’t believe that you are beautiful, you break a little piece of my heart.
9. Be kind. If there was only one thing I could tell you to do in your life – it would be to always be kind to everyone you meet. Everyone has a story, and everyone deserves to be treated kindly. Be that person who does the little things that can lift someone’s spirits when they are feeling down. Be the one who always has a smile for others, even when they don’t look happy themselves. Make it a habit when you walk out the door to always be kind – even to strangers. You never know when that one kind word or gesture will be the thing that makes a difference in someone else’s day – or even their life.
10. Always remember that there is nothing more important than family. Your family were the first ones to race to the hospital to meet you when you were born. They cried tears of happiness when they held you for the first time. They have watched you grow – played with you as a child, taken the time to go to events that were important to you, held you when you were sick, made fun memories with you as you grew up, always loving you and wanting you to only be happy. Don’t forget these people who have been so important to you as a child.
When you go through those teenage years, and you don’t want to take the time to sit at home with your parents, hang out with your aunts and uncles, or go spend an afternoon at your grandparents, remember when I tell you that someday, you would trade everything you have for just a few moments more with those same people. While you are going through these years, and finding your way in the world, these are the people who will be sitting back and wishing only the best things for you, always loving you even while you make mistakes. Remember when I told you before to walk away from the ones who will hurt you, to know that there are always people who care? These are those people – your family are the ones who have always had your back no matter what. They have loved you without condition. They are also the ones who you will, someday, wish with every fiber of your being, that you could have just one more minute with.
11. Don’t be afraid to try new things, even if they scare you. You might be surprised at just how much you enjoy, and even may be very good at something new.
12. Never take your health for granted. Go for your yearly physicals when you get older. Right now, you are young and still feel you are invincible. Someday, that will change. Don’t be afraid that they might find something – because it is worse if they don’t. You know how important this is to me, because if I hadn’t gone for my yearly physicals, the fight I had with breast cancer could have been much, much worse.
13. Help those who need it. Always lend a hand to those who are less fortunate than you. Never think that you are better than anyone else just because you have been more fortunate to have the basic necessities of life. You don’t know their story, so you can’t judge. Just be willing to help as and when you can. And do it without looking down on them. Remember when I have always told you to “never look down on someone unless you are helping them up.” (I think Jesse Jackson said that….)
14. And, never take what you have for granted. Don’t think you should always be having the best brand names, or the newest fads. You have been blessed with a family who loves you, a home full of laughter and warmth, and most of the basic necessities of life. We have worked hard to make sure you have always had what you needed. You don’t need all of those fancy clothes and high tech gadgets to be like all of your friends. If you want those, you can work and make the money to buy them yourself so you can appreciate them a little more.
15. Take responsibility. If you have done something wrong, admit it and say you are sorry. Don’t be one of those people who go through life feeling like they are always the victim, and who never have to take any blame for any wrong doing. You will have friends who are like that, who will lie, who will blame everything on you and not take responsibility for anything ever being their fault. Don’t be that person. Be the one who always says sorry when you know it is needed. And, if they can’t forgive you and admit to some of the fault being their own, then again….find new friends.
16. Someday, in the not so distant future, you will go through your teenage years. And, when you get there, everything in your life is going to feel upside down. You will want to spend more time with your friends, and do more things away from home. Try to be patient with me when I have a hard time letting go. Remember that to me, you are still that little girl I held in my arms as a baby. You are still the little girl who needs her mom to lay with her to go to sleep. In my heart, that little girl is still there, and it won’t be easy for me to watch you grow up. I will always be proud of who you are, and who you are becoming, but please remember how hard it is to let that little girl take those first steps towards being a woman. Those days when you are mad at me for not letting you do something with your friends, and you tell me you hate me – because I know you don’t believe it right now, but there will be times those words will come out of your mouth – try to remember that I just want to do what is best for you. Sometimes I will make mistakes, but I am doing my best to help you grow into a woman who will be strong, confident and happy. And someday, you will desperately wish you could take those words back.
You won’t be able to understand how true these words are until you have a little girl of your own someday, and you have to sit back and watch her take those first steps towards independence. You will worry that everything you have done until now has been wrong, that you haven’t taught her well, that maybe you should have done something different. You will have to sit back and let her learn, let her get hurt, all without being able to run to her and make the hurt go away every time. You will have to watch while she struggles to find her way in the world, and you will only be able to hold on to a small hope that maybe you have helped to shape her into a girl who will grow to become an amazing woman, who will someday be able to do the same for her kids.
I could go on and on, and maybe someday I will add some more things to this list. These are just some things I want you to know right now, and I hope you can learn a little bit from them today.
Know that me and daddy will always love you. Sometimes we won’t be very cool, and some days we will have to discipline you – making you believe we don’t care about you. Just believe me when I say that we do, and that everything we do IS because we love you so much.