To My Goddaughters and Every Young Woman in the World,
As someone who is older and somewhat wiser, I want you to know that women like your mother, sister, aunt, teacher, and others who you look up to are working every day to make this world a better, brighter, and more accepting place for you. As we, and countless women you may never meet, strive to make sure that you get the pay you deserve for the work you will one day do and fight to protect your voice and your basic rights, it's our job to make sure you know a little more about this world so that you know exactly how you want to change it.
When it's time to stand up for matters that concern you and your fellow sisters, know that your voice will not only be welcomed, but necessary.
Some will tell you that because you are a woman, the rules will be different for you. One day you'll discover that your gender will hold you to a list of expectations that you didn't create, but that you should follow without protest. This may shock you, and if you're like me, this may upset you. But never let this be something that silences you. You should know that your talents, skills, and abilities have nothing to do with your gender, and that one of the best aspects of womanhood is that it allows you to offer a different perspective, especially if you ever find yourself speaking on behalf of your sisters. Being a woman can even feel like a superpower, and when it's time to stand up for matters that concern you and your fellow sisters, know that your voice will not only be welcomed, but necessary.
Some will tell you that there's only one way to be a woman. When you're young, it will be silent, like rarely seeing dolls that share your darker skin tone, hair texture, and facial features. With time, it may grow louder with advertisements and scores of data, surveys, and research that all echo the idea that who you are will simply not be enough. Others may even try to capitalize on this in hopes that you'll be insecure, but you should know that you were born enough. How you decide to carry yourself, from the clothes you wear to how you do your hair, will always be the "right" way to do so, so long as it makes you feel comfortable and makes you feel like your version of beautiful. Love every aspect of yourself as much as you can, and always remember that there's someone, somewhere, who wants exactly what you have.
There will be many times when you will feel like you need to have all of the answers at once. You will have to make decisions about friends, school, and work that will seem like they are your entire world, and in that moment, they may very well be. This will be scary and could make you feel a little lost, but it's something we've all gone through. You should know that even when you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, you have to make decisions that are true to you. Trust your judgment with everything you have, and you will always be OK with any choice you make. Study what interests you, not because others say you should, but because you can't imagine spending years of your life learning about anything else. And if you decide that you want to learn something else instead, it's perfectly OK to change your course. Be friends with people who inspire you to try more, do more, and be more, but be OK with letting friends go when your friendship brings more pain than joy. Work hard and often, but always strive to do work that serves you and your interests. Remember that just because you may have to give an answer about something one day doesn't mean you can't change your mind at any moment. When it comes to your life, you always have the final say.
You can always do a little more than you think is possible.
You will feel as if the problems of the world are too much for one person to bear, and you may find yourself questioning how you can make a difference. You should know that just by caring, you have already begun to put change in motion. No one person can solve the big issues we all face, but any effort you put into making a difference will get us all closer to a better tomorrow. You can never care too much, so work hard to find something that you want to change about the world around you. Throughout your life, you will meet people who have more than you, and even more people who have less than you, and you should try to help those who need it most as often as you can.
As you grow from kids to teenagers and from teenagers to adults, I hope you remember that you can always do a little more than you think is possible. Find strength in the things that scare you and always trust that little voice inside, even if in the beginning that little voice is from someone a little older and somewhat wiser reminding you that she has your back.