International Women’s Day – A Letter to my 16 year old self

Inspired by an interview on BBC News on International Women’s Day with Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel where they talked about their book ‘WE – a manifesto for modern women’. Gillian talked about how she wrote a letter to her 16 year old self… I thought I might do the same…

Dear me,

International Women's Day

International Women’s Day – A Letter to my 16 year old self

There is a world out there which you will love, and which will love you. It is bright, and colourful, and it is safe. You don’t have to hide from it, come out from under your bedsheets, from your TV flickering in the corner, step into it and smell it. It will wake you up and you will want to explore it forever.

There are people out there who you will love, and who will love you. Not everyone will love you, no matter how hard you try, so don’t try too hard, you are just too different, and that’s ok.  Feel really free to LOVE the people you connect with and who connect with you as these will be your lifelong friends and companions.

Don’t be too tough. A hard shell is protective, but it’s uncomfortable to carry around and live within. Try walking in the other direction if a predator alarms you, towards a more positive attractive thing. Don’t hide behind an invisible shield which will only serve in restricting you.

You don’t have to be like the rest of your family, you are different. Accept that, and accept that they are different from you. Regardless of how much you like each other, or don’t, they will always be your sibling and there will always be love.

Don’t blame your parents for everything. They did their best with what they had, and you will do the same. Remember the love; the lullabies, the comfort, the bingo on the pier.

You don’t have to drink to enjoy yourself. You don’t have to drink to escape. Climbing a mountain, doing some yoga on a beach at dawn, or watching a face you love in the sunshine. All of these things are the best moments of being, they don’t involve escape, they involve being completely present.

Don’t let others drag you down. Some people will drain your energy, your fun and your life. Don’t feel attached to them. Wish them all the best, hope they can find their own path, then meander away to sunnier climates.

Don’t worry that you didn’t quite get the whole school thing. Maybe you’re just not ready or right for it. Keep your eyes open, and follow that which resonates and interests you, follow your passions and your dreams, then really be in that, that will be your success.

You don’t have to fear. It’s sad but true it will hold you back. See the amazing opportunities around you and have a go. Doesn’t matter how good you are, have fun in the throwing yourself in, be playful with the idea of making a fool of yourself. Laugh at yourself.

No-one is looking at your hot sweaty face in cross-country. And if they are, who cares, it’s the face of an athlete who has exerted themselves with strength and passion, rather than worrying if their hair is out of place. Worrying if your hair is out of place will stop you living free and happy.

You are not fat. Yes it’s true you could help yourself by doing some exercise, but because it makes you feel fit, and strong and alive; then you will enjoy your own body which is really rather fun.

There are sunsets to be watched. Watch them with people you love but don’t be afraid of watching them on your own, in peace, with yourself. Don’t be afraid of yourself, you have a lot to learn. You will walk down some knotty paths, you will reach some dead-ends, you will crash, you will take some u-bends, and reach some heavy slumps. Don’t beat yourself up about it, respect the journey and ALWAYS follow the path that you KNOW feels right, the air is fresher here and you will be able to breathe more easily.

Love people who are good and kind. That you can trust. Who care. Who look after you when you need it, who support you quietly but fiercely, and who love to dance with you, or love to watch you dance to your own tune.

Listen to yourself. You are wise, and you will become even wiser. You understand you, you are your own best friend. Don’t punish and judge yourself – let others do that and leave them to get on with it whilst you go to the beach.

Work hard, play hard, but don’t forget to nourish yourself and rest in-between.

Let go. Let go of fear, let go of judgment, let go of what others think of you, including your family and those who say they are friends and partners but are not. Let go of worrying about doing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing, liking the wrong thing, the wrong music, the wrong clothes, and just live.

Love yourself, your life, your quirks, your opportunities, your mistakes, your corrections, your choice and your freedom. Uncover your blankets, switch off your TV, take a walk on your own lovely distinct two feet, and Be Free.

All My Love

Jackie x

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It commemorates the movement for women’s rights. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

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