A little note to my girls.. including a few things I'm still learning myself..
Be yourself and try not to worry what others think
It's actually a lot harder than it sounds, and it takes years to realise who you really are. As you grow up you'll work out more and more what you like and what you don't, where your skills lie and what really and genuinely excites you. Trust your own instincts and never be afraid to politely say no - learning to say no is actually a more valuable lesson than you may realise. To ignore what others may think about you is something you have to learn - often (and I say this kindly ..) they won't actually be concerned with whatever you're doing anyway.
You are made of tough stuff
As I've always told you, women are *tough*. You are stronger, tougher and more resilient than you are led to believe - know that and use it. Don't let anyone take advantage of you and always stand up for yourself. Champion other women too, the sisterhood is important.
Experiences matter more than things
The world is geared to make you believe you need this, that and the other. You don't. Prioritise spending your money on experiences, not things. Dinner with friends, a trip away, going on a course to learn a new skill.. all these things will make you feel more invigorated than a designer thing ever will. Of course it's OK to spend on little luxuries here and there; just get the balance right. Remember to take quiet time to yourself, appreciate the joys of reading and the thousands of little doors books open, and get outside and into nature as often as you can. Say yes to new experiences and keep an open mind - you may find a new passion when you least expect it.
Have good manners and be nice
It's so true that good manners cost nothing and count for everything. Say please and thank you every time it's appropriate. Be polite, be kind, be patient. If others aren't behaving nicely, realise that it's often more their own issues than anything you've done (of course, sometimes it might be you - be aware of your own behaviour too!) Everyone is fighting their own little battles behind the scenes and you may never know what they are - treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Little kindnesses go a long way. Just be a *good* person, basically.
Work hard and save money
Try and find a job that combines something you're good at with something you enjoy. You don't need to aim for university and it's fine to take time to work out what you want to do. To have a career is to play the long game, don't be concerned with people who seem to 'overtake' you; just make sure you consistently work hard towards your *own* goals. Comparison is the thief of joy. There will always be someone who wants to tell you how well they're doing or how much they earn.. look inwards to look forwards and work out your own aspirations; don't be concerned with the boasters. Save as much as you can afford - savings are insurance - but also treat yourself when you can.
You don't have to fall into traditional gender rolls
Find a partner who believes in full equality and who splits the boring household stuff down the middle and will treat your potential daughters and sons equally. Girls are tough and boys can show emotion. And of course if you want to have time at home raising a family and having a traditional dynamic that is completely *your* call - just make sure the balance of your life is your choice not your default.
You don't *need* to move through life in the order of X, Y, Z..
Of course there are wonderful benefits and joys to marriage and children, but you don't have to do either if it's not for you. You don't have to marry or even settle down, and you don't have to procreate. You are enough in yourself and how your future looks is your choice.
They don't need to be career-definining skills or anything particularly impressive.. but learn skills that will serve you well. An instrument, a language and a sport is a good place to start. Learn to drive (and change a tyre), learn how to properly clean your home, pitch a tent and camp, learn to cook, how to change a plug, how to manage your money from month to month.. (also find a good party trick and a signature dance move. I never did either and I would have loved them..)
You don't have to look or behave 'like a girl'
Just because you're a girl (and will one day be a woman) you don't owe anything to the world. You don't *need* to have long hair, wear make up, look feminine, or behave 'like a girl' (in fact, if anyone says 'that's not very ladylike' you have my full permission to flip them the middle finger).. you can be whoever, do whatever and look however you want, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Sometimes you'll mess up and that's OK
Bad and difficult things happen along the way, it's how you deal with them that counts. You learn from mistakes and each mistake is a little lesson. Everyone messes up sometimes. Stay calm, try and stay rational.. it's never the end of the world and what feels like the worst thing that's ever happened will one day feel OK. If you need to apologise to someone, do it sooner rather than later and be sincere. Take responsibility for yourself.
Exercise and love your body
You only have one - take care of it. Exercise for and look after your mind as well as your body. Don't aspire to be thin, focus on being strong and having the stamina to help carry yourself through life. It's ok to let things slide here and there - life is for living and not for restricting yourself. Your shape is your own, embrace it and marvel at what your body can do. Enjoy cooking, eating and dining out - good food is one of life's great pleasures.
Do things for others
It's a big world out there and you are luckier than you realise. The world is a very harsh place for many. Be compassionate and be aware of issues outside of your own bubble. Give and do what you can for those who need a little more. It's OK to be angry at the state of the world if you channel that anger into doing good. Be passionate and CARE. Be tolerant. Vote.
Make good friendships
Your closest friends should be people who make you feel the most *you*. You should feel comfortable around them, and like you can fully be yourself. Don't settle for anyone who makes you feel inferior or make you feel you're compromising who you are. Look after your friendships and care deeply for your friends.
Put yourself out there
Act like your most confident self and you will become that person. Confidence isn't easy and isn't always comfortable, but *shy bairns get nowt* and if you don't put yourself out there you'll never know what might have been. Be a good conversationalist and listen more than you speak. Learn from others. Stand up and speak clearly to make your voice heard. Don't be too shy to be proud of your skills and accomplishments but don't be a dick about it either. Always challenge yourself.
Live a balanced life
Work hard, but take time for yourself. If you have a partner, do interesting things without them too. Log on *and* switch off. If you go on to have a family make sure you have time to remember who you were before they came along. Be sensible *and* silly. Life is too short to spend time ironing all your clothes, save ironing for weddings and events. Same sentiment goes for washing your hair every day; dry shampoo is your friend. Exercise and eat well but don't be afraid to sack it off for wine and chips now and then. Watch trash TV and read great books. Spend time dancing and singing until you lose your voice but enjoy the peace of the great outdoors too. Create AND consume.