My dear oldest daughter,
Your struggles have weighed heavily on my mind for the past several weeks. I couldn’t put into words how much your swimsuit insecurities gutted me during the last days of summer. You’re too young, too amazing, too full of potential to be weighed down by such worry.
You are so, so very good. Those voices in your head telling you you’re not, they are WRONG…completely and utterly wrong. You can bet the more they try to tell you that, the more they are lying. For some reason, those nasty voices know just how to obliterate the self confidence in the very best of girls destined for better. They’ve been homing in on this particular skill for eons.
How I wish I had the courage when I was younger to put myself out there like you do. How I wish you could know the insecurities you are dealing with are so similar to girls who’ve become women you admire most. How I hope you come to understand this very well kept secret: Those crushing insecurities have the ability to make us more powerful if we refuse to let them destroy us.
Right now you are going through so much. You’re dealing with relocating to an unknown destination. While it feels like most of your friends have already emotionally said goodbye, I assure you they love you. Saying goodbye is just really hard and closing off is sometimes what makes those goodbyes bearable.
Given that you expect only the best of yourself, you are dealing with the pressure of fulfilling those expectations. Although it’s hard to be kind to ourselves sometimes because we get a front row view of our own greatest weaknesses, we must be gentle. You would never expect perfection from anyone else, why not cut yourself some slack?
It is because of these thoughts and feelings that I have created a new project dedicated to you and all the other teenage girls out there who just need to know they’re enough. Because you are very much more than just ‘enough’.
In the beginning of gathering material for this project, I spoke with several men and women who expressed willingness to help. Our favorite foodie-law enforcement officer-deep thinking father shared some very good advice. Knowing you and your ability to see through flimsy effort, he suggested I create this project like I would a stool. Every stool needs three legs. Each leg needs to be sturdy enough to hold up the project otherwise its integrity is questionable.
This makes sense.
And so, I present to you, my dear girl, ‘Letters to My 15 Year Old Self’. These letters were created by women who love you. They understand so much of what you are going through. They’ve been where you are and as an ultimate benefit of reaching out and relating to someone going through the trenches, they’ve discovered the therapeutic benefit of lifting another above the weariness that comes with the territory.
In celebration of the month of October, the month we celebrate the strength of so many women, I bring you this gift. It’s a celebration of the woman you are about to become.
Tonight, I present the first leg of the stool: I challenged myself to be brave in the way I challenged you to be for your swimming party.
I haven’t worn a swimsuit in public in years…at least without it being covered up by a sundress of some sort. When you think about it, this is ridiculous. Swimming becomes very difficult when you’re wearing a dress so I decided to ditch the dress at a recent party and actually swim rather than watching from the sidelines.
It made me realize that I can’t expect you to go out and be brave if I won’t do it. It reminded me of a weird thing about life. If you don’t squelch those dissenting voices in your head, they come back and yell louder. Sometimes, they make you forget to be brave. I should have learned to ignore them a long time ago. On this night, I finally did and YOU gave me the courage to do it.
So here’s my offering to you my girl. You’re not alone. You never will be. I’m so so lucky to be one of the ones who gets to remind you of that.