Dear Daughter: I am writing you some advice about sex and relationships.
I guess I could repeat what I was taught. Instead, I will tell you what I wish I’d heard.
You are beautiful. You are important. You are powerful.
1. You are beautiful.
To hell with fear of yourself. To hell with embarrassment. You are woman, my daughter: strong, impassioned, smart, soulful, protector of small lives, keeper of the flirtatious laugh, golden-haired princess of the House of Books. You are beautiful, and you should own your life.
Because you are beautiful—from the beginning it has been my highest hope that you would seek the voice of your own heart, to understand that its voice matters, and to never, ever smother it with someone else’s misplaced sense of shame.
Because you are beautiful, I’ll never be upset with you for wanting a relationship, a romance, a kiss, a fling, a sharing of sexuality with a man or woman. These things all belong to you.
Because you are beautiful, it is not my job to tell you no, but to teach you how to use that word yourself. To make you understand that you have a right to use this word, to dole it out as you see fit. To help you discern what a healthy “yes” entails.
Because you are beautiful, you should not have sex because you are fed some crappy explanation of “what girlfriends do” or other lameness. Like: “If you love me, you will forego your own instincts and wants and needs and comfort and do whatever-the-f*ck your partner suggests.”
Because you are beautiful, and beautiful does not suffer such foolishness.
Because you are beautiful, you have a right to a lover who understands and practices the concept of clear-cut, affirmative consent.
Because you are beautiful, you were not made to sit in a tower waiting for any prince to show up and take you away to an undisclosed castle location.
You were made to move in the world, to find your own music and set your feet to dancing. And while you are dancing, dear, look around, listen and see not simply who is there, nor who can keep up with you but who honors the beauty you are spinning by yourself.
Because you are beautiful, you choose yourself a consort who shows he is worthy of you, and you decide what “worthy” means. He or she need not be your “forever,” but it should be someone who genuinely brings you joy.
And if there is no one there, just yet, who seems worthy? Keep spinning; keep moving. Maybe you’ve not reached that part of your dance yet. You are beautiful and you deserve someone who sees that.
2. You are important.
Your soul matters. Your dreams matter. You are capable of crafting good and sensible goals for yourself. Want to change the world for the better? Yes, of course you do.
Because you are important, you mustn’t let anyone ever make you feel guilty about who you are or what you like to do.
Unless you are actually doing something destructive like deserting a child or snorting cocaine or robbing banks, your partner should be a source of support and encouragement.
Because you are important, and your life’s path may entwine with another’s for a while (maybe, even, for a long while) but ultimately, the path is still your own.
And in the end, you alone will bear the responsibility of shaping your story.
Now there are people out there who might try to call you selfish for chasing your dreams. These will get jealous of your job, your time with friends or your time by yourself. “Don’t you love me?” They might say, over and over again—these are clues that this person is not worthy of you.
Because you are important, you need to know that real love isn’t about possessing someone.
Real love will never make you feel bad about doing something good.
Real love, on the contrary, is absolute freedom. You’ll find yourself bursting with happiness for your partner whenever he is joyful—even if his interests are not necessarily yours, the thrill of seeing him happy will be delightful to you—and yes, he should feel the same way about you. .
Because you are important, you have an absolute right to expect this from a partner.
It is not selfish at all. It is the essence of love and you are important enough to deserve that.
3. You are powerful.
Daughter, you hold in your own hands the keys to your destiny.
Love. Love well.
I have told you already that you are entitled to dignity, honor and respect, because you are beautiful and because you are important. Yet even with this knowledge, you will almost certainly make some mistakes. Some large, regrettable and painful mistakes.
But because you are powerful, you need not settle in those errors.
Because you are powerful, you need not stay stuck. You need not be miserable. You need not lie in fear or loneliness, mourning for what could have been.
Because you are powerful, even when things seem dismal and hopeless, you have the ability to effect change.
Because you are powerful, call out the mistake for what it is, accept the lessons learned, and ride out brave and victorious to start over.
Dear daughter, I know very well how frightening it is, to think of leaving a relationship which is comfortable or at least familiar, if not happy. You might find yourself embattled by a hundred dreadful worries: about finances, housing, gossip, legal matters or the crush of being suddenly alone.
But you, child, are powerful.
And if you find your relationship does not serve you—that is, if it does not help you grow as a person, if it is hindering your greater causes in life, if it is endangering you or those in your care—you must have the courage to remember your true nature.
Do not forget: You are beautiful! You are important!
And because you are powerful, you must fly, my daughter. You must fly like the wind, as swift and as far as you can.
There is no shame in this sort of running. None. It is the very heart of courage!
You, my daughter—my brave one, my sweet rebel, my lion-hearted girl—you have the blood of warriors in your veins! You are powerful enough to get out, if you need to.
You are beautiful. You are important. You are powerful.
Ride forth, daughter and live your great adventure.
I hope you fall in love with your best friend.
I hope you always love yourself. I hope wherever you go, it’s where you want to be—and if not, I hope you have the courage to seize the wheel and right your course.
May it mostly all be wonderful, may it mostly all be sweet, may it mostly all be filled with love and laughter, may it mostly all be dazzling.
And even if it’s not, I’ll be here for you, always, because I love you.
Author: Katie-Anne Laulumets
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock