Letter to my daughters – a basic toolkit for an enriching life
My Dear Daughters,
At the tender ages of eight and 10, I expect you’ll roll your eyes and ignore my words of wisdom, gleaned as they are, from years of personal experience. I imagine you’re thinking, “What does she know?” Perhaps you believe I’m too old to “get” you or understand the difficulties you face. I can assure you I know; I’ve been where you are and recall having similar thoughts about my family.
Perhaps the more relevant question for you to ask is, “What doesn’t she know?” You probably believe I cannot possibly understand or relate to the stories you share about your experiences today. However, remember this one thing. I’ve been a child too, I’ve experienced more than you can imagine, and have accumulated some essential life lessons. I will share just a few examples for you.
Never be afraid to express your innermost thoughts and feelings
Expressing innermost thoughts and feelings includes three of the most powerful words, “I love you.” I haven’t had the easiest time learning this lesson. In fact, until you came along, I had awful trouble expressing any feelings. You have shown me I can say these powerful words, even when they make me squirm inside. Above all, know that “I love you,” and similar thoughts and feelings, are worthy of sharing.
Life can be challenging, so turn mistakes into opportunities
My life has thrown a generous share of ups and downs, with hard times and tricky situations to navigate. I’ve made big mistakes. I’ve figuratively beaten myself up, treated myself as the enemy and believed myself to be unworthy of forgiveness or understanding. Inability for self-compassion, self-love and self-respect has been one of my most significant downfalls.
If you haven’t already figured this out, mistakes happen daily, some big, some small. We all make errors at school, have lapses of judgment as we grow older, and make a hash of some important life decisions. This is a reality; striving for perfection is not. Perfection is unattainable and striving for it only deepens frustration. You will make what might seem like monumental mistakes in your lifetime. Such mistakes will be inevitable in nature but never disastrous. This is because when we turn mistakes around and look at them as opportunities to learn, grow, and move forward, they magically lose their destructive power. Never look back in regret. What’s done is done; move on.
You are not a doormat, so stamp out self-doubt
If I could rewrite my life script, I’d do so without hesitation. The unnecessary worrying about the opinions of others would become a foreign concept. Other people’s approval is over-rated and expecting it, or hoping for it, only leads to a deep and lingering sense of inadequacy and anxiety. Choose your friends wisely and always stand up for yourself and your convictions. Do not let people push you into a corner or waste your precious time with unsolicited advice. You are not a doormat; you are a person with your own thoughts and feelings. Do yourself a favour, put self-doubt to bed, and believe that you have much important knowledge too.
Manage your baggage
Accept the emotional baggage you collect along your journey. We all have baggage; some of us have picked up more than others. Remember, this “baggage” can never define you if you handle it properly; then, it merely strengthens your resilience and, ultimately, your character. A word of caution about this so-called “baggage.” Don’t stash it away, don’t hide it from others and don’t pretend it’s not real. When ignored or suppressed, such baggage tends to multiply and become excessive. It can overtake your life, pull you down, and make it hard to get back up. A better way of managing such baggage is to unpack it as soon as you collect it. Deal with it and, figuratively, throw it off a cliff. Many people are ready to help you do this; I’ve found many people to help me, and you can, too.
When opportunities arise, take the view, “Why not me?”
Don’t sit back, looking on in envy, when opportunity arises. You’ll wish you had taken action. If you want something in life, make it happen; work hard, and get it. You can; you can, you can! Use your strengths to your advantage and transform your weaknesses into an opportunity to shine. Aim for the sky, not for anything less, but be sure that what you are doing is genuinely for you. Find that a passion that excites you, and run with it; why not make it your empire?
I wonder what I would be doing today if I had followed this advice that I share with you today. Maybe I could’ve been a mathematician, a noted artist, or perhaps I’d have published several books featuring my photographic work, and they’d be now sitting on coffee tables and book stands worldwide. This is the beauty of hindsight – it allows us to see what could have been. All is not lost, however. Flexibility and growth allow us to bring about change, a change in mindset, to our career or our life’s direction. It’s never too late. I hope you can reflect on what I’ve achieved, the people who have benefited, and my legacy.
Give your body the love it deserves
Give your amazing body the respect and love it deserves. Pause, and think of everything your body does for you. Avoid perfect body talk, the reckless and dangerous diets. The “perfect body,” doesn’t exist. So long as your body is strong and functioning, it’s exactly what you need. Nurture it, provide everything it needs, but never deny or abuse it.
Remember this is your only body for your lifetime.
Enjoy being a child – go outside and explore
Lastly, enjoy being a kid for as long as you can! Soon, you’ll be working or studying hard to achieve a career goal. You’ll have bills to pay. Sound like fun? If I could wish one thing for you right now, it would be to put the iPads down and switch the TV off. Go outside and see what the world has to offer. Climb trees, ride your bike, nag me to take you somewhere “cool”. In 20 years, you’ll wish you had. Don’t wait; enjoy your childhood now.
And one more thing
Remember this one last thing: I am forever looking over you, from near or far. You can always feel safe, loved, brave and kind. I’ll always be proud of who you are. I hope I have done my job encouraging you to follow your heart’s desires and dreams.
Your life is just beginning. Be fearless and live your life with no regrets.
Do you know how much I love you? Of course, you do!
Lots of love (times infinity as we would say),
Your forever loving, doting and proud old mumma.