I’ve been thinking a lot about my future lately.
Last year, I think many of us had a hard time thinking about what the future might look like. I was scared. I didn’t know if my loved ones — my immunocompromised dad especially — would even have a future.
But now, there’s a shred of hope. A vaccine on the way.
And now, I’m writing letters to my future daughter.
Here is why I wrote this letter.
I have been writing a lot of feminist think pieces lately. The more that I write about the ingrained, patriarchal systems that hurt women, the more that my eyes are opened.
And it made me think about the women coming up behind me.
Who knows if I am even going to have a daughter. I may wind up with a boys-only house. I may just have a house full of dogs. But if I do have a daughter, I want to prepare her for this crazy the way that only another woman can.
These are a few things I would want my daughter to know. These are things I want my little cousins to know. These are things I wish I would have known.
I want you to be a good listener.
I want you to pay attention. I hope you’re really inquisitive about the world and ask big questions. Listening can be a superpower. It’s the getting quiet that can really allow you to learn.
There are lots of things you can learn from other people when you listen.
You can learn from your teachers. You can learn from your parents. You can learn from your best friend’s big sister. I hope you soak up all of these things like a sponge, all of these lessons that people want to pass on to you, and then you get to decide.
You get to listen, and then choose what to do with all that listening.
Absorb the information that people are passing on to you, and then decide if it’s true or not for you. Just because something is true for your dad or your mom or your teacher, does not mean it’s true for you.
But I hope that you trust yourself first.
The world is going to bombard you with all kinds of weapons it will use to try and control you. It will tell you that you should play small. It will tell you that you should be small. It will tell you to stay in your lane.
Before you let the world mold you, I hope you mold yourself.
Remember that the quiet is your friend. Before you jump into your day, before you put on that school uniform, before you put on that pencil skirt, spend your morning in quiet. Meditate. Tap into that inner wisdom that’s inside of you.
You have to know yourself because if you don’t, the world will tell you who you are.
Glennon Doyle says it this way:
“This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.”
I want you to treat your body well.
You will not know what to do with your body sometimes. You will think that diets are a good idea. You will believe that certain foods are “good” and that some are “bad.” You may try to control or fix or shrink your body.
I hope you love your body exactly how it is right now.
It’s completely normal and completely beautiful and totally okay for your body to grow and change and stretch. You don’t need to hide under big sweaters. You don’t need to shrink down to the size of your friends.
I hope that you treat your body with love.
Move your body in ways that you enjoy. Eat foods that make you feel good and don’t ration them. Take pictures with your friends and don’t be afraid to eat a piece of pizza at a party. Life is short. It’s really really short. And I don’t want you to pour all of your time into manipulating your beautiful body.
But I don’t want you to believe the lies culture tells you about your body.
I hope you’ll learn the difference between treating your body well and what culture tells you a “good” body looks like. I hope by the time that you are growing up, you will see women of all shapes and sizes and colors on the covers of magazines.
I hope your world looks a lot different than mine did.
When I was in high school, I believed that my body was too big. Now, as a woman in my thirties, I am much bigger, and it hurts to look back at those high school photos.
Wanting your body to be smaller is a trap.
You will never be small enough. Someone will always be smaller. The world will tell you that it’s never enough. I was never going to be supermodel small. Genetically, I have hips and boobs and as much as I wanted to manipulate that, I couldn’t.
I learned to love myself just this way. And I hope you learn that much earlier than I did.
I want you to follow your dreams and believe in yourself.
Your dreams are so important and I hope that you believe that you are capable of making them happen. I hope you know that you have a purpose in this life and you have these dreams for a reason. I believe in you.
Never let anyone shrink your dreams.
You will hear things like:
- “It’s impossible to make money doing ___.”
- “Are you sure you know how to do ___?”
- “My friend tried to do ___, and she lost a lot of money.”
Don’t share your dreams with people who cannot be trusted with them. Find other big dreamers. Find like-minded people and support each other to the top.
Then, watch as those who didn’t believe in you quickly change their minds.
But I want you to know that you are allowed to take your time getting there.
There are so many times where I feel like, “Man, I should be farther along by now.” I wish I were a full-time author right now. I sometimes think I’ve “missed” my moment.
But the truth is that I am in the exact timeline that I need to be in.
Who says that I’m behind? Random strangers on the internet? And I’m letting them dictate a timeline to me?
Toni Morrison published for the first time at 40. Was she too late?
Mark Twain published for the first time at 41. Was he too late?
Raymond Chandler published his first novel at 44. Was he too late?
You are allowed to take as much time as you need.
Enjoy the process, love. Have fun dreaming and planning and building your dream a little at a time. You are not too late.
Women are not your competition.
The world will tell you that there is not enough to go around. You’ll walk into corporate offices and see a small number of women in high-earning roles and think that they are scarce.
We have to lift each other up.
The truth that the world does not want you to know is that there is enough to go around. You don’t need to compete. You just need to show up.
As Glennon Doyle says:
“Our culture was built upon and benefits from the control of women. The way power justifies controlling a group is by conditioning the masses to believe that the group cannot be trusted. So the campaign to convince us to mistrust women begins early and comes from everywhere.”
Life is not always easy for a woman, but I see progress on the rise. I see change. I’m watching women waking up, looking around, and detangling all the lies we have been told.
I hope the world is better for you. And if it isn’t, I hope you change it.