I am a single 23 year old; I am so far away from having children, the idea is straight-up fictional. To be honest, I don’t even know if I want kids; the idea of having kids right now makes me want to throw up. All that said, I was thinking about if I ever had a daughter—what lessons would I teach her so that she could grow into a strong, independent woman? After reading so many tweets and articles about #YesAllWomen and #HeForShe, I began to think about the world we live in, what we teach our daughters as opposed to what we teach our sons.
Here are some points I came up with. Who knows, maybe I will never have a daughter. Then I’ll teach my nieces, or my friends’ daughters, or my little cousins, these lessons that are important for all women. Maybe, we need a reminder of this advice from time to time.
1. Confidence is the most important thing.
You can do whatever you want in this life, as long as you believe you can. The second you doubt yourself is the second you will fail. Having faith in yourself is the single most important thing in the world.
2. Being Self Conscious isn’t going to help you.
I don’t know when or where I picked up being self-conscious, but I will tell you it isn’t fun to be riddled with self doubt your whole life. This goes hand in hand with number one, and I wrote it twice because it is that important. You need to love yourself, no questions asked.
3. Be Involved.
I don’t care what you’re involved in. It can be sports or music or dance- just find something. And not just clubs in high school, but life! Don’t be passive in your own life. It isn’t worth it.
4. You will never be a Barbie.
This is a lesson that took me a long, long time to understand. While I wasn’t the type of girl that played with Barbies, I still knew the expectations of what a woman should look like. I will never be as skinny as some of the women in the media, and I know that. You, my dear fictional daughter have my genes, so I’m guessing it’s the same for you.
5. Just because you’re not a Barbie doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful.
Seriously, blond hair plus blue eyes doesn’t equal beauty. It might take years for you to love your hair (I’m assuming you’ll have my luscious curls), but your locks are amazing. It took me years to love my hair, but it’s worth it, it sets us apart. You’ll probably have my childbearing hips, don’t spend your life hating them-embrace them. You will never be perfect, but you will be beautiful.
6. You don’t need a significant other to make you happy.
Sure, let’s say love is great and whatever, but that’s if it’s actually love. There are a lot of people who settle for shitty people just because they are lonely. I never ever want you to do that. You are a strong independent woman who don’t need no man, or woman for that matter. But I mean hey if you do find someone who makes you happy by all means. But promise me you won’t be one of those girls whose whole life is determined by what one person thinks of you.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others.
There will always be someone better or prettier or smarter; comparing yourself to others is just going to be a let down. You know who you should be comparing yourself to? You. That’s it. Strive to be the best you imaginable-that’s all you can do.
8. Go find your own life.
I promise to never compare my life to yours. Where I am at 23 is not where you will be at 23. You can follow in my footsteps, but I want you to have your own life.
9. Don’t judge people.
You don’t know what struggle they have been through. You don’t know their lives or where they have been. Just because someone has fallen on hard times doesn’t make them any different from you, besides some bad luck.
10. To receive much, you must give much.
I learned this through my years in my sorority; it is easily the most important lesson I have ever learned. Take this one as literally as possible. Give your all in everything you do and you will get the world in return. Give your time, give your talents, give whatever you can-I promise it will be worth it.
11. Go see the world.
Your grandma never gave me this advice; she still doesn’t have a passport. I know she worries about me when I travel, but it’s important to see more of the world than just the small bubble we have created. Some of the most important lessons I have learned have not been in America. There is a whole world out there: go explore it.
12. You will have shitty friends.
There will be bad people in your life. Not everyone is as awesome as us. Let’s be real, it’s not statistically possible. There are people might try to take advantage of your kind heart. You have to know when to stand up for yourself. Not everyone will respect you, like you, understand your sense of humor, or be nice to you-unfortunately, it’s a part of life. After a while, you will be able to notice who is a crappy person before they hurt you. I know it sucks, but it’s trial and error.
13. Crying is okay.
This one Grandma never said out loud, but always showed me. If you know anything about Grandma Cheryl, it’s that she is one emotional woman. I don’t like to cry in front of people, I never have. It has taken me most of my life to realize that being vulnerable is a part of life. If you have to cry, go cry. Feel your emotions—that’s what they are there for. Don’t ever feel like by not crying, you’re strong. Sometimes crying is the strongest thing you can do.
14. Don’t give up.
I don’t care what you’re doing, but you are not quitting. You don’t want to play soccer anymore? You bet your ass you’re going to finish out that season. If you give your word that you’re going to do something, you are going to see it through. Quitting is for the weak. You are not weak. Sometimes, it isn’t even the most talented who prevail and reach their goals– it is the persistent.
15. Just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean you can’t do something.
I always hated hearing this. I still do. You can do anything in this world; don’t let anyone stop you because you’re a girl.
16. Wear whatever you want.
Don’t ever be afraid to wear something because it looks like “you wanted it.” People might say things about how short your skirt is, or about spaghetti straps (if that’s still a thing), but screw them. If you can handle what some jerks are going to say and stand up for yourself, you deserve to wear whatever you want.
17. Don’t take any shit.
Always stand up for yourself. Never let anyone push you around. I didn’t raise a girl without a backbone.
18. Just because your crush doesn’t like you back, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.
Crushes can suck if they don’t work out in your favor. Most times they won’t. Honestly if they don’t like you back, forget them. You’re an amazing kid, you’ll find someone-you have time.
19. Dream big.
If you don’t dream big, what’s the point? Like I said, you can do anything you put your mind to. Put it to something that matters. Don’t dream for mediocrity-be afraid of it. Go big or go home. Sometimes you can’t go home, so you have to go big.
20. Building relationships is the most important thing in the world.
If you don’t have people who love you at the end of the day, what does it even matter? I’m not talking just romantic love; I’m talking about your family and friends. That being said, don’t shut people out when you think you found “the one”. Every single relationship you have is important, not just the romantic one, remember that.
21. Failing is okay.
You will fail, probably too many times to count. But with each and every time you fail, you will be that much closer to succeeding. The only time you truly fail is when you give up. And like I said, never give up.
22. Don’t settle.
This should be used in every single aspect of your life. Don’t settle for being second string. Don’t settle with a significant other that treats you like shit. Don’t settle for mediocrity. You never need to lower your standards. Aim high and eventually you’ll get want you want.
23. Through your endurance, you will gain your soul.
You are probably going to go through some hard times, and you’ll feel like the world is ending-it isn’t. You have to go through hell to get to heaven. Just believe that the struggle is worth it. Know that the universe will only give you things you can handle, even when you think you can’t. You’ll get through it-I promise.