Recently my oldest, my beast, turned 16.
That’s driving age, thinking about college age, preparing to be all grown up age. When I think back to who I was, or thought I was going to be at 16, I don’t know that I had any concept of the life I had before me. All the things that I would go through, the friends that would change, or the reality of that all grown-upness. Those crazy fun college memories, the lessons life would teach me. That was a distant possibility to a girl living in the Grove. (aka: the hood!)
I wish I’d had more of the friends I do now, the levelheaded mature friends. The middle-aged (gulp.) ones that see past where you’ve been and instead empower all that they know you are.
The independent, strong friends…who remind me of who I still want to be, even at my age.
That show women have a choice, and a voice…the power to do what we want when we want…if we are calm, and think things through.
That you can be your own boss and you can walk your own path.
That you’re not defined by your mistakes, and can actually grow to be even more wise and stronger because of them. Ones that tell me that mistakes don’t derail your dreams, sweet girl, but instead, just give you a more creative, scenic route, to get you there.
The friends that help you see that strong women aren’t your competition, that Jesus loves you, and that your parents are actually way more right than they are wrong.
Luckily, I am surrounded by women who teach me these messages. Some of have been in my beast’s life for a few years, some for all 16. Some are family, some are practically family. Knowing that she’d never listen to these messages from me, no matter how great our relationship is, I reached out to the amazing women in my life. From the one that was in the room with me when I delivered to the ones I call now to lament her high school teenage angst with…I reached out.
I asked them to write her a letter. A “What you wish you knew at 16” letter…and to seal it up in a self-addressed stamped envelope and mail it to my girl. On the first of each month (and a few extras for “bad” days”!) she’ll choose one, not knowing who it’s from, and read their words of wisdom. The incomparable Emily Turner (owner of RaiderDoodles) hand decorated each envelope. They are incredible! Each one is different and special. The beast has opened each one so carefully, she wants to save the artistic envelopes too! Look at these!
We’re a few months in now, and while each one has made me cry, they are also already heavily creased from her rereads. The words they shared have already made an impact. They are all directed to her in this stage of her life…and have varied from a bulleted list to four pages of “you’re incredible, you’re amazing and here’s what you do when you don’t feel that way”.
They’re beautiful. They’re heartfelt. They’re what I ALSO wish I’d known at 16.
I am so thankful for the powerful, strong women in my life. Not just for me, however, but for the love and the guidance they’re now sharing with my beast.
Value the people in your world, from your IRL relationships to those you know online. You never know when you’ll have an opportunity to grow and learn from what they have to offer.