I set out this week to write a letter to my daughter, something she could possibly read in the coming years. But I decided instead to address the letter to my younger self — hoping that as my daughter embarks on the wild experiences of this world, a piece of this may resonate in some way. And if not, may it at least remind us, as women, that we can live a life of chances, fun, expression and truth — without apologizing along the way.
We’re all young and wild at some point and you’ll certainly have your fun. You’ll end up in situations between the “I know everything, but nothing at all” ages of 16 to 22 and will wonder later in life how you managed to escape any seriously negative outcomes.
There was the back of that van at the Warped Tour, thinking you were just there to get VIP passes; the club in Cabo San Lucas where that one famous musician demanded sexual favors to stay at his party (let the record show, you left — and stole his vodka). You went clubbing in Boston and turned around in time to catch a creeper slip something in your drink.
This world is an incredible place that should be discovered. But it’s also incredibly scary. Lose yourself in those fun but ill-advised adventures. But know you’re strong enough to walk away before something silly turns sinister. Should one of those decisions leave lasting consequences, find the strength to forgive yourself, even if no one else does.
Listen to your gut. It is always right. Dance on the table, but watch your drink. Don’t go home with the guy (or girl) the first night you meet. Make out in the bar or even a bathroom stall, but please keep your pants on. Carry mace and know how to throw a solid punch. Be kind, but not naïve. And if you’re not laughing until your belly hurts, you need to find new people.
Navigate your relationships with an open mind and heart. Never be afraid to love because you’re afraid to hurt. Don’t stay because you fear being alone. And don’t stop looking until you find your best friend. Life is long and you’ll need someone who gets every weird little piece of you.
Most importantly, be your own person. This will be especially hard in your teenage years. Girls will not be nice. Don’t try to be friends with people who make you feel badly.
Tell the truth and move on. Lies will always catch up with you.
When you have children, you’ll feel grateful to have grown up before the Internet ruled our lives, when your parents felt safe sending you and your brothers outside with simple instructions to be home by dark.
You’ll be scared out of your mind to raise these children in a world of cyberbullying, political divide, racial hostility, school shootings and a universal expectation of unattainable perfection.
You won’t do everything perfectly, but frankly, my darling, perfection is quite boring.
Your future self