In my journey as a parent, watching you grow I have realized that children learn so much every moment. And in the process of our children growing up, us parents revisit important lessons that we knew existed but now see in an entirely different light.
Among the many revelations that I stumble upon on a daily basis the major one has been that I can never control your existence (neither do I wish to) or the way life shall unfold for you. I often struggle with the idea of being a single parent to a girl in a world full of sexism, violence, rape apologia, racism, apathy and so many more evils.
When I ponder about your future, I can’t help but wonder how you’ll adapt to social pressures, maneuver stereotypes, rise above difficult circumstances to build for yourself a life that’s driven by your dreams, whatever they may be.
All I wish is to gift you these presents that might help you sift through the unimportant to become the best version of yourself:
Be you: I wish you follow your heart at every step in life to be who you were born to be. I’ll be your guide, helping you get access to a variety of resources, letting you explore your hidden strengths. However, the decision of what you become in life will always rest with you. Be what you feel you want to be in every cell of your system, never worrying about the tradition or social norms. Don’t spend your precious life being what others want you to be. Remember, your calling can always change with time and you can choose to be more than one thing at the same time.
Be kind and respectful: Begin with yourself, and then extend kindness and respect to the world. Leave no opportunity to treat yourself as an important person. We all are complicated beings and have the power to be powerful without being aggressive, delicate without being weak and kind without showing it off. Girls can be beautiful while being strong, bold, brilliant and incredible all at one time or as life demands them to be. Make sure you support other girls and don’t judge or demean them.
Be social but don’t let the society dictate to you who you ought to be: Don’t let societal stereotypes dictate what you eat (or not), wear (or not) or how you should behave. Let no one tell you “you ________ because you are a girl.” Let kindness and common sense be your driving forces. But let it be only you who decide what you do with your body. Be guided by your values but do not be tied down by them. Listen to other people’s opinions but don’t let them limit you. The opinions of others don’t need to be your reality.
Be fair: Don’t judge anyone by their skin color, culture, age, gender, race, beliefs or any other qualifier. Believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. Be open, have a clear mind and gift yourself opportunity to outshine your past achievements. People are not mind-readers, don’t assume; tell them what’s on your mind because communication is the key to everything. I promise I might disagree with what you say but I will always hear you out before making my point.
Be aware: Read a lot. Not just books but everything you can get a hold of because knowledge is power. The easiest mode of gaining knowledge is reading about things to lengths we desire. Engage in thoughtful discourse. The more time and energy you spend acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control you will have over your life.
Be curious: Don’t give up your quest to learn. Seek answers. Question everything. Look beyond the obvious. Be guided by your vision but let your intuition have a word. Go places, be adventurous, be brave but take risks within reason. Yes, there are differences between different people, different cultures. But those differences are to be celebrated, not resented.
Celebrate your tenacity but practice adaptability: My precious, your tenacity is priceless. Use it wisely to stand your ground. However, always remember that in every situation, a little more willingness to know more than we already do can help change the situation in a big way. Never be afraid to share your story. Don’t let your vulnerability, fear of looking stupid or making mistakes curb your voice.
Be open to change: Change is an essential part of life, happening every moment, even now. Accepting change ensures we are never stuck in our past or our failures because future is where our focus ought to be. Life changes and so can you. Move on; grow up to be the better version of who you are. Believe me; you have the ability to change the world in both large and small ways.
Be comfortable in your own skin: Love yourself; appreciate your wholeness instead of picking out minor flaws. Remind yourself how amazing you are. Cherish your strengths; take good care of your body. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are weak because you are a girl. Remember, your gender does not define you. Your dress size is just another number on the label. Choose comfortable shoes. Never believe that high heels make you look powerful or attractive, all they gift is a bad posture and painful feet.
Be positive but never be complacent: The world is rife with anger, hatred, violence, pain, cynicism and entitlement. Always carry a ray of hope and positivity so that you can fill your heart with happiness in the troubled times. Struggles and challenges in life are inevitable but staying optimistic makes the journey a lot more bearable. Remember, your generation has its struggles carved out to fight for. Never ever feel complacent with the freedom you enjoy because there are still many girls denied the very basics in life.
I am wrapping these gifts in my unconditional love, sealed with the glue of confidence and adorned with the bright ribbon of faith that tomorrow shall be brighter and better than today in every way because together we are going to build it on the foundation of hope I laid the day you tiptoed into my life.
With lots of love,