Dear 13 year old girl,
I am writing to you from several years down the road, but really not so far from where you are now. I am writing to give you hope and maybe another perspective. From a Millennial to a Generation Z-er,
I want to tell you that yes, despite what you may be thinking, you will make it through high school. I want to tell you that it is possible to avoid drama by refusing to instigate or perpetuate it. That it is possible to choose not to date anyone because you are still figuring out who you are and what you are all about. It is possible to define beauty on your own terms and create your own fashion. It is possible to find strength and acceptance from within yourself, rather than so desperately try to find it in others. It is possible to work hard for what you want. It is possible to be successful in math and science disciplines even though they are often referred to as male-dominated professions.
If you are a part of a faith community, it is possible and necessary that you lead there in your own unique way. It is possible to choose not to sleep with someone who does not care deeply and intimately for you. It is possible that if you do, you can heal and that you are not and will never be less than whole. It is possible, nay probable, that you will make mistakes and that you will recover from them.
It is possible that you begin understanding the ideals of feminism and live into them. It is possible that you will change your world with love, acceptance, and equality. It is possible to find friends and mentors to trust and that these folks will create a space for you to be exactly who you are. It is possible that you will find a group of people who will not run away when you are going through difficult and uncertain times. It is possible that you will experience heartbreak, and oh baby, it will hurt, but soon, a new day will come and you will find new life, new growth, and maybe even new love.
It is possible that you will feel that your worth is tied to your success and that if you fail, you are by default, a failure… this is not and will never be true. You will have colleagues who call you names and subject you to their own insecurities by trying to elicit yours, you will have doubts about whether you are smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough– this type of scarcity culture will engulf you if you let it. It is possible that you may decide that cutting yourself or starving yourself is the only way to have control over a world that seems completely out of your control. All of these things are possible, but listen to me when I say…
You are beautiful. Your spirit and your resolve. Your smile is stunning. And we need you. We need your voice as a woman, we need your laugh, we need your hands to work for peace and for equality. We need your faith to show us the way.
There is a day when you will feel comfortable in your own skin. There is a day when you will be celebrated for who you are. There is a day when the future of the church will rest in your hands.
And my prayer is that this day I speak of, is not far away, but that it is here with us, now.
Be strong, dear girl of 13 years. I am so grateful for you. I’m rooting for you. And I’m asking you to believe your voice matters.