I wrote a letter to my 23 year old daughter on International Women’s Day to offer her some sage advice from an older, wiser woman who has been round the block a few times and got the scars and the wrinkly skin to prove it. Now it’s three years later and she’s moved out of the family home and I can’t protect her anymore. She and her friends are sadly well aware of feeling unsafe walking the streets of London after the horrific kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard and other young women. Additionally the war in the Ukraine is filling our hearts with dread and sadness. Their bravery is astounding, but the whole situation is shocking and reminds us that life is fragile, nothing is permanent and all we can do is send supplies and donations and hope for swift ending.
First of all, it goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyway) that you’ve already turned out to be an incredible young woman with so much to offer the world. I’m very proud of your take on the world and the loyalty you offer to your friends and family. I’m proud that you decided to change direction during lockdown and now have an MA in Clinical Psychology and are following your true direction. Mental health has gone through the roof in the last few years and you will be part of that support network.
“Live, Laugh, Love” has always been my slightly cheesy motto, but it works.
Remain true to yourself, but be flexible sometimes so that you can bend a little in the wind, like bamboo when required.
Be happy and enjoy the ride, whether it’s a rollercoaster moment or a roundabout moment – you need to have a bit of both.
Find out what it is that you love and do more of it.
Don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t worry too much, life can be messy, so go with the flow (although it might be good to occasionally tidy your room).
Stay relaxed and never stop believing in truth, grace and kindness. Even when sometimes you might be let down by other people.
Holding your friends close is an important part of being a woman. You will need each other on your life journey, so don’t let them go too far. They will fly in and out of your life at various times depending on what else is going on for them. Forgive them for the times they’re not there for you, usually it’s because they will have their own shit going on. That’s fine. You will do the same. Walk in other people’s shoes when you can, be generous of spirit and don’t judge. Be interested in everyone and everything. Expand your mind. Keep learning. READ. Try and have close male and female friends of all ages, young and old. Age is so irrelevant in life, it’s an open mind and humour that keeps you ageless.
Be brave. Stand up for what you believe in. Stick to your morals. Listen to your heart and always be mindful of your gut instinct.
It’s OK to make mistakes, it’s how you deal with them that matters and always remember to be kind.
I’m not sure it’s possible to “have it all,” you will one day need to decide on your priorities, but for now, you have a great job and a lovely new boyfriend. If you want children, don’t leave it too late, because getting pregnant isn’t always easy and bringing up children is exhausting when you’re old. But then again, it’s your choice and nothing to do with me.
The easy path in life is not always the route you should be taking. Sometimes it’s the overgrown, more difficult journey that needs to be attempted; to walk, skip, jump, fly, stumble, fall and get back up again.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Feeling vulnerable and scared sometimes is natural.
Learn to sit with yourself and be comfortable in your own beautiful skin. Enjoy your own company. When you know yourself well it’s a good time to find someone to share your life with who you love and who loves you, understands you and compliments you. It takes a lot to know a person. To understand the man and at the same time the boy he once was, who still needs to be held sometimes. Say what you think. Communicate. Discuss. Argue. Make up. Be totally honest with yourself and then (gently) find a way to impart that information. It’s the only way to move forward in a relationship and avoid losing your own voice. Learn to compromise when required. Ultimately make each other laugh. From experience, I would recommend that you try to maintain your financial independence, even when you decide you want to share everything with someone else.
Failure is part of life’s rich tapestry and dealing with it by picking yourself up and dusting yourself off helps you grow into a more rounded person. It also invariably ends up looking more like success over time.
Enjoy life’s pleasures; food, wine, sex – but not to excess and generally the key is to allow it all to feel good, but not out of your control. Don’t think too much about it all – your body is good at telling you when it doesn’t like something (as we all know from those Sunday’s spent on the sofa watching Friends). Don’t mix your drinks on a night out and always keep your wits about you. Despite the world being a generally friendly place, when you’re out at night, remember the rule “no one gets left behind” and always be careful getting home.
You know that I will always be here for you, even though we don’t see each other every day now. You don’t need me to carry you on my shoulders any more, you have such an exciting life ahead you, I hope you love every minute of it. Try to enjoy the present time and not be too obsessed with the future. It all goes so quickly!
Big love on International Women’s Day to you and every other woman out there and for all the amazing men in your lives too.