In honour of International Women’s Day, these are just some of the things I’d like my daughter, and all other little girls, to know about life:
- Always be yourself
People will try to label you and fit you into all sorts of boxes. Sometimes you will want nothing more than just to fit in and be like everyone else but to be truly happy, you must always listen to your heart and do what feels right for you, not what others say is right. Never start believing the labels people give you, for they will only limit you and make you unhappy. Continue to live with an open mind and an open heart and believe that everything is possible. Believe in magic, always have fun and never listen to people who tell you what you should and shouldn’t believe in because you are perfectly able to make up your own mind.
- Ignore all limitations and focus on opportunities
Because you are a girl, some people will tell you that your life will be hard. You can choose to believe that but I’d hope that you choose to see the world as full of possibilities; a world where you can do, be and get whatever you want if you choose to believe so. Be completely oblivious to the limitations you hear people talking about and just do what you want to do and believe that there are no limitations you can’t overcome. Ignore all the rules, have dessert before dinner and wear opaque tights in July; spend your savings on a round the world trip, not on a house deposit and take the job that makes you happy today, not the one that looks good on your CV in few years’ time. And remember that you know you’re doing something special that’s worth doing when people start saying things like ‘you can’t do that… but what about your career…, you’re too old….’
- Never get attached to material things
Material things are fun; you should always enjoy them and never feel guilty for having them. Life is short so shop ‘till you drop and have fun. However, if you need things to make you happy or if you think having things makes you in any way better than some people (or not having something makes you less worthy than others), life is always going to be hard, you’ll never have enough and you’ll certainly never be truly happy because – quite frankly – you’ll be a spoilt brat! You must find happiness inside, be truly grateful for everything you have, always give with an open heart and do not hold on to things. The more you give, the more you get and the less importance you place on material things, the more you’ll have.
- Your most important goal in life is to be happy
The goal in life is not to get a degree, not to get (what the society would call) a good job, not to get married, have kids or anything others will tell you, but to do what makes you happy. What is the point in life if you’re not happy? What is the point in working if it doesn’t make you happy?
Do not make sensible choices; never be realistic. Don’t study what people say is important or what leads to a good career, study what you are truly interested in and remember that formal education is totally overrated; your whole life is an education and the world around you is your best teacher, go explore it. And know that you can always change your mind, you can have many careers and it’s never too late to change directions.
- Never sacrifice your happiness for anyone
Because you’re a woman, you might be led to believe that you need to make sacrifices in relationships. There are times when you have to compromise but you should never ever sacrifice your happiness.
Always put your happiness first, if you don’t do it, no one else will. Never excuse a partner’s behaviour with ‘that’s just the way men are’ or any other nonsense you’ll hear countless women say almost daily. Know that you deserve better – every woman does – and you have every right to ask for it. Make no apologies for wanting to be treated with nothing but respect and always respect yourself enough to walk away from those who do not respect you, no matter who they are or how hard it is.
- Do not be a victim
There will be times when it is very tempting to blame others for your misery and become a victim of your circumstances. There is no situation that cannot be turned into a positive, no situation where you cannot claim your power back, take responsibility and change things, start again. To not be a victim means you sometimes have to make difficult decision. Never let fear stop you, embrace the difficult times and know that it is through these times that we grow stronger and after every struggle you reach a new level of happiness that you did not even know existed.
- Love yourself
Above everything else, you must always continue to love yourself totally unconditionally, like you do now. There will be times when you’ll find it hard to love yourself but always remember inside you’re still that little four year old girl who is so happy she skips everywhere, who looks in the mirror and declares ‘I look gorgeous’, who is proud of her big belly and loves to sing loudly. Never forget that little girl and never let anyone tell you you’re nothing less than perfect and worthy of all the love and good in the world. When you love yourself, unconditionally like a little child does, all the above will be much easier.