A Letter to My Sisters: Our Value is Not Based on Clicks. ~ Kaitlin Daddona

Via Kaitlin Daddonaon Feb 27, 2014

girl phone teen instagram text cell

To my sisters, 12 and 16; the two most amazing girls I’ve ever known.

One, a quirky container filled with strength and assertiveness, the other, a shy and talented soul living in a shell of beauty.

Our brother and I sat together in a small Boston bar over a couple of beers today. We talked about our old cross country team and the downfall of Justin Bieber and we made fun of Mom and Dad’s habits. We laughed a lot and we smiled, but when the conversation turned into one about you two, our faces fell serious.

We live in a time when everything is shared and nothing is private.

We post pictures of the new clothing we buy and the meals we have for lunch. We publish photos of our smiling faces and caption them with inspiring quotes and meaningful lyrics. And once these images are out in the world, we wait. And we wait. And we wait.

Our brother and I recognize your desire for likes and retweets and comments—they provide a certain kind of validation that real life human interaction cannot. There is something about hundreds of double taps on a picture that feels better than a conversation with a friend. There is something about reading a stranger’s comment about how shiny your hair looks that feels better than being face to face with someone you love.

I told our brother that I felt every inch of your yearning for compliments and flattery, for only months ago, when I would starve myself (not only of food, but of pride and respect), the days always ended with an Instagram photo of me in a sports bra. I would sit by my phone, waiting for a ding or a ring or a vibration that told me that someone loved me.

These social outlets allow us to post pictures in which our teeth look the whitest they could ever look. They give us the opportunity to brag about the schools we go to and the jobs we have. To share only our wittiest and funniest and deepest thoughts.

Sisters, I’m with you on this. I’ll claim over and over again that I post simply to update the people in my life, to connect with my friends, to support myself in my effort to become a great yoga instructor. But the truth is, I’ll be ecstatic when cute men like my photos and you can be sure as hell I’ll delete those photos if they don’t.

textingThis desire we have for superficial acceptance is no longer a desire—it’s a need… a natural need in which we count on what people think (whether we know these people or not, whether they live next door or across the world).

It has all become a giant competition without purpose.

But, my beautiful sisters, regardless of whether you have photo documentation, beyond the screens, everything you do has purpose. The way you can pick up an instrument and play with your heart; the shine in your eyes when you taste a delicious smoothie; the songs you choose to play in the car rides to the beach.

Sisters, you’re young.

You’re still searching for who you are and developing who you want to be. No matter how many times I tell you, “You are loved. You are worthy,” you will not feel loved. You will not feel worthy.

The two of you will probably continue to post and seek this validation.

You lust after positive feedback to see where you fit. You’ll wait for the likes and keep track of your number of followers. You’ll be disappointed when a photo of you doesn’t reach a certain level of affirmation.

But I pray that you realize that the emptiness that lies on the other side is just that. These things can’t determine our self-worth, nor should they be able to. Enjoy your life beyond your phones and the tweets and the filters and the links. Sip in every breath of air with the feeling that even without perfectly posed selfies, you are noticed.

Post less. Dream more. Be proud of who you are and what you’re doing without the urge to share for Likes.

As you continue to grow into incredible young women, you’ll face the pressures of what it means to be great and accepted many, many times. You’ll cry and hate and curse and scream. You’ll have your hearts broken. And when all of this happens you’ll look externally for a sign that everything is okay. You’ll want to turn to the boy you love so he can assure you that you’re beautiful. You’ll be tempted to stare at your computer screen, waiting for a stranger on a message board to tell you you’re perfect.

Before you do this, I hope that you’ll have the courage to feel the strength inside of yourself. The beating of your heart underneath your skin and the slow and steady movement of your breath will inspire you to remember that your value can’t be based upon the number of anonymous clicks of approval you get.

Feel from the very core of your own being, my sisters, that you are worthy; you are loved.

Forever and always,

Your big sister.

 

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Editor: Cat Beekmans

Photo: Dursun Aras/Pixoto,  christopher frier brown/Flickr

About Kaitlin Daddona

Kaitlin Daddona is a student and member of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at Boston University, and will commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force upon her graduation in 2014. She is also a yoga instructor based in Boston, MA and Long Island, NY. To reach Kaitlin, you may email her, visit her Instagram page, find her on Facebook or visit her website.
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14 Responses to “A Letter to My Sisters: Our Value is Not Based on Clicks. ~ Kaitlin Daddona”

  1. Laura Kate Gibson says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. Wise words. I came across it just as I was feeling disappointed about the number of clicks I had on my elephant journal pieces. Excellent timing. I'm sure your sisters will appreciate as much as I did. Thank you.

  2. Lauren says:

    Your sisters are lucky to have you. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Kaitlin, Wow. I know you are proud of this article without me (a stranger) telling you how wonderful it is. Because it was written from your heart, with brutal, loving honesty. That’s the best feeling of all – and it happens before even putting it out into the World for all to read. Your beautiful Soul knows. Like Lauren said, your sisters (and your brother) are lucky to have you. Thanks for sharing!

  4. AnneSophie says:

    Walking the path of Beauty dear one and leading it for your sisters, very touching bless your hearts <3<3

  5. Mary Cutler says:

    Kaitlin I recently stopped at the Giving Room for juices and subsequently learned that you are now a Yoga teacher. Like a proud momma I shared with Paula that I had been your principal at Southold. Honestly, I was incredibly impressed but I certainly wasn't surprised. Yoga is just that combination of athletics and inward thought that I would expect you to embrace and eventually master. Now I come across this beautiful article and I remember your intelligence and learn about your wonderful insight as well. Your message is a strong one and it applies to your sisters but it also applies to all of us who no matter what seek some sort of validation from others rather than working on liking ourselves first and foremost . Kaitlin goes without saying, I'm proud of you and wish you happiness.

  6. Paula says:

    So wonderful to hear from Mary Cutler (above). I must admit, any conversation about Kaitlin at The Giving Room is like an absolute love fest. I have had the most amazing privilege of working with Kaitlin and being her yoga student. Kaitlin's wisdom is beyond her years. She is an insightful old soul who embodies the principles of yoga. I have been taught many important lessons by Kaitlin and I am grateful for that. It is so sweet to read this blog sharing Kaitlin's absolute love for her wonderful little sisters. They are blessed little reflections of light and love. Thank you Kaitlin.

  7. Beautiful piece and a good reminder for myself (or anyone nowadays) to live your life through your own eyes and heart rather than through a smartphone screen. On the other end of the spectrum, hopefully your sisters can find through technology inspirational pieces like this. Even just reading through your comments, a beautiful story was told!

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