I found this letter in my journal. It was originally addressed to my younger sisters, and I hope that they read it, but I think that it could help other people too. I hope that it does.
It is hard to be a girl, it’s true. It is hard to be a person, I think. I remember being 14, 15, 19. I remember the pain of my first breakup at 14, my second at 15, my more-than-third-but-arguably-much-more-important-because-it-taught-me-self-worth at 19.
You are strong, intelligent, funny, charming, resourceful, talented, capable people. There is not a lot that you can’t do, and I want you to remember that when shit gets hard.
Because it will. That is the nature of life; it is good, but it is hard, and knowing that you are a valuable, worthy person goes a long way to help you push through those times.
Know that you are worthy of love and respect, and that no one has the right to treat you poorly. NO ONE. Know that you have the power to walk away from those who you treat you with anything less than dignity. They aren’t worthy of your time. This includes friends, lovers, family, co-workers, etc. Know that you do not have to accept harassment of any kind, that you do not have to give in just because a boy (or girl or adult) says so. Know that you have the right to control your own body and do what you please with it. Don’t let people call you a slut or a tease or a prude or any number of things that are none of their business. Your worth as a person has nothing to do with how many people you have or have not slept with.
Know that you have a voice, and you have the right to use it. That you have the right to be heard. When you have something to say, say it. Don’t fall back and let other people talk over you. Don’t let someone else take the credit for what you just said. Let your words be heard. Stand up and say, “I am here. I said that. I have an opinion.”
Know, too, that your opinion is not necessarily fact, and that free speech does not exempt you from the consequences of speaking. Be prepared to defend what you believe, and to eat it when you are wrong. Be open to other people’s perspectives. This is a delicate balancing act that few people, myself included, seem capable of achieving, but it’s important that you keep trying.
Understand that following your dreams is not a selfish act, that feeding the fire in your soul benefits the world with its light. Don’t let anyone else tell you that your dreams aren’t worth pursuing, or that you should be more reasonable. Forget caution and overthinking things and stepping carefully in the footsteps that society has laid out for you. Follow your own path; if it happens to coincide with societal expectations, okay, but if not, fuck it, and go out there with a machete to bushwhack a new path.
Don’t stress about being the best or getting the highest grades. Worry about being true to yourself, putting in your best effort, and treating people right. Remember that you are both deeply fortunate and not the center of the universe; help people when you can.
Life is excruciatingly long and heartbreakingly short. I want you to soak up every beautiful, garbage moment of it. I want you to live the best life possible. I could not have been blessed with better sisters.
Cry when you need to cry, stick up for yourself when necessary, pursue your dreams, and be kind. You are worthy and you are loved.
All my love.