It’s been more than three months since my last little letter to you. Not long ago though, you checked off your first quarter of your third year of life. You’ve become more verbal and more stubborn, if that’s even possible.You’re hilarious, compassionate and a never ending fountain of imagination. You are clearer every day about what you want (and don’t want) and I can see you becoming more and more the person that you are born to be.
I want to talk to you about responsibility, about what it means to be responsible for yourself. It’s something that I’m only learning now, as an adult woman. Something that I wish I had heard when I was a younger woman. Something that I wish I had truly understood long before now. Being truly responsible for yourself is perhaps one of your biggest tasks in your life, because without being truly responsible for yourself you can never truly be responsible for anyone else.
You have to put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping those around you.
Being responsible for yourself is a hell of a lot bigger than just knowing how to cook yourself a meal or do your own laundry, in fact, those are probably the least important things and things I’d be really happy if you learned last in the list. Being responsible for yourself means that you take responsibility not only for your own energy but for the energy that you allow in your space. It means that you demand that the people who tell you that they love you, love you for your mind, not just your body. It means that you do not use your body as currency to trade for financial security or intimacy that is nothing more than a band aid for any wounds you are harbouring.
Respecting yourself means to refuse other people the power to do your thinking for you, instead you must have the initiative to seek the information you need to create your own independent thoughts and the courage to stand by them, even if other people challenge you. Have the courage to be different, if that is who you are, the greatest people in the world began by being different. Every great idea starts with one thought, every great innovation comes from one person pushing against the norm. Allow yourself the opportunity to be different, it’s a gift. Being responsible for yourself means to not be afraid to be the odd one out, there will always be people who will stand next to you. I will always be one of them. Even when you feel alone, remember, you are not. It’s a big wide world out there, with lots and lots of different people with different thoughts and ideas. It’s not our difference that sets us apart. It’s what we do with that difference that defines us.
Being responsible for yourself means to have the open heart to listen to the voices that speak a different language to yours and to hear their stories. Being responsible for yourself means to take the information you gather and to decide, for yourself, what to do with it. Being responsible for yourself means being able to protect your heart just enough, whilst still allowing it to be open to the world.
Being responsible for yourself as a young woman, and later as an adult woman, means to refuse to sell your abilities short. Women are easily slapped with labels, but those labels only matter if you let them, they only stick if you don’t brush them off. Never sell yourself short because our society tells you that you should. Being responsible for yourself means that you don’t play it safe, that you don’t have to choose love over work, or children over career, or a kitchen over a day labouring in a garden or a day standing up in court. Unless you want to.
Being responsible for yourself means that you never, ever let a man (or a woman) define who you are in your life. It means that you don’t get married or pregnant to “save” a relationship, because you think it’s what will make someone love you the way you deserve to be loved. Insist on meaningful relationships, even if they take you a lifetime to find. You are better off with strong friends than with a lover who doesn’t respect who you are.
There is a distinct difference between a life lived consciously with active purpose and a life lived passively, allowing other people to define the path that you take. Don’t be passive my love, not with your heart and not with your mind… it breeds great regret and you deserve much more than that. You deserve to give yourself much more than that.
Once you have mastered the ability to be responsible for yourself you can truly be responsible for other people. For children. For friends. For lovers. Once you know your own worth, not only in your own heart but also your worth within your community, your worth within your family… can you then truly value the worth of other people. And other people are the most valuable thing in the world. Never, ever disregard another human being. Everyone has something to offer. Everyone deserves forgiveness. Everyone deserves a second chance to be heard.
Connection is everything. The way you connect with the world and with the people around you, is everything. Very little else truly matters. Your connections have the power to change the world.
I’m learning now, and I’m really hoping that as I learn in my late 20s I can teach you, my child, all the things I wish I had known a life time ago… and we can grow into strong, compassionate, passionate women together over the years. Women who are as responsible for our own triumphs (and mistakes) as we are responsible for our family, and our friends, and our world.
I love you.