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I Will Teach My Daughter Bravery, Not Perfection

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daughter, mother and daughter, mother and daughter smiling, to my future daughter
Shari Sirotnak

Women are taught to be kind, to be loving, to be patient and gentle and sweet. We are taught to be considerate, to be polite, to treat people the way we want to be treated, to care.

We are taught to be strong, to be smart, to somehow be enough but not too much, forgiving but not weak, make sacrifices but not be selfless, be invested but not fixers when it comes to the men we love or let in.

There are so many expectations, so many rules, so many shoes to fill. There are so many instructions put upon us from a young age—telling us how to act, to feel, to be—what it means to be a ‘good woman,’ a ‘godly woman,’ a ‘strong woman,’ a ‘wise woman,’ a ‘worthy woman.’ As if we are somehow not already worthy. As if love and respect are things we earn, rather than deserve.

In a world that’s speaking so loudly to both men and women alike, in a world where perfection is the focus, where flawlessness is the ideal, the utmost, the best, I will raise my daughter differently. I will teach her not to care about skin, about bodies, about who or what society tells her to be.

Instead of encouraging her to be everything, instead of pushing her to reach this ultimate state of being, I will teach her to be brave. I will teach her to make her own rules. I will teach her how to make goals that only she can reach.

I will teach her to make her own expectations, and shatter them.

I will teach my daughter that’s what important is not how she adapts to fit a mold, is not how she becomes a woman in the shape or definition of the world, is not how she squeezes herself to fit someone else’s ideas, thoughts, or expectations.

I will teach my daughter that only she can define the person she wants to be—whether that’s soft, or loud, or tender, or gentle, or wild, or bright, or careful, or a mix of everything in-between.

I will teach my daughter that it’s not important to be perfect, to have everything together, to know where she’s going or exactly who she is on every step of the journey. I will encourage her to make mistakes, to fall down, to love and feel and be whoever the hell she wants to be. I will teach her not to be afraid of her power, of her heart, of her mind. I will teach her to be messy and brave.

Because finding who she is will not happen if she’s scared of the sound of her own voice. If she’s too nervous to stand for what she believes in. If she’s hesitant, hoping to be flawless rather than flawed.

If she’s so focused on being a perfect person, on shaping herself to match the world’s definition of a woman, if she’s searching for her worth in magazines and movie screens, thinking that beauty is all there is—she’ll never understand the strength, the uniqueness, the power she has within herself.

She will never discover her potential if she isn’t brave.

So I will teach her to be brave. To step forward. To stand, to fight, to feel. I will teach her that true beauty comes from being vulnerable, from being real, from letting who she is and what she thinks shine before any physical attribute.

I will teach her that perfection is overrated, that trying to be ‘ideal’ is exhausting. That being authentic is desirable and she doesn’t need to be any more or any less than the worthy woman she already is, and is becoming with every breath.

I will teach her to push back against boundaries, to flex her muscles, to learn and speak her truth. I will teach her to try, and fail, and fall down, and pick herself back up again. I will teach her that she is strong.

And I will watch with tears in my eyes as she blooms. TC mark

Marisa Donnelly

Marisa is a writer, poet, & producer. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

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