going on 17

Happy Birthday Allie!

You mentioned it when you visited Austria.

Sixteen going on seventeen.

Remember when we listened to The Sound of Music soundtrack all the time? I haven’t seen that cd in forever. I doubt Jamie took it to college…..maybe, though……

It’s hard being away from you on your birthday. Only weeks to go now, though. You’ll be back home soon.

As you pass into a new year, there’s one thing I hope you grasp, one thing I hope you know deep down.

It’s that you’re enough. You are smart enough. Pretty enough. Talented enough. Thin enough. Musical enough. Funny enough. Stubborn enough. Cool enough. Rich enough.

People will try to tell you you’re not. They will try to change you and mold you into someone else. Someone more conducive to their agenda. Someone they will perhaps enjoy being with more. Someone will point out your imperfections and kindly ask you to work on them. And that’s fine. But always remember you’re enough. You’re not perfect. And you never, ever will be. But you’re enough. And you always will be that.

I wish I’d known this when I was 16 going on 17. Sometimes I still don’t get it. It can be overwhelming when someone compliments me because it seems such a foreign concept. I’m alright? I’m capable? Really, because that’s not what I’ve heard in my head for years? After a while, we start to believe what we hear. But you, you don’t have to. So don’t.

I’ve pushed these quotes on you before. But you know how I am. Repetitive. You also know I enjoy quoting books. I think you’ve learned to deal with it by now.  But I think these highlight what you, as a young woman, so need to grasp and remember as you grow older.

I was sorry for the way everyone imagined my life to be my own, for the way they really did seem to like me, asking did my fish still have bones, and how pretty I looked.  I wished I could give something back.  But yet, I knew that all that they wanted from me was all that they needed from me, and that is a treacherous path to consent to travel, in the sense of suppressing things sought for the self.  That is to say, you being solely what others want you to be.” ~ taken from the novel Anthropology of an American Girl, by Hilary Thayer Hamann.

“The worst burden in life is what others know about us.  But maybe there is one burden even worse than this.  It happens when they don’t know about us, it is what they think about us when, in silence, they force us to be what they expect us to be.  Even worse is how we become it.”  ~ taken from the novel Zoli, by Colum McCann.

I’ll probably give you this same little talk when you graduate high school next year. Then four years later when you graduate college. And probably in between there when you turn 21. But that’s what moms are for, correct? Al at John Lennon Wall I hope you always remember yourself in this photo. The 16 year old you, almost 17. Sitting in front of this wall, the John Lennon Wall in Prague. Pretty and free and so interested in learning everything you possibly can. The girl who wants to help people. The girl who cares about so very much. The girl who loves Matty Healy.

So I wish you a happy birthday. You’ll be back soon. And people will start asking questions.

“What’s next?”

“Which college?”

“Why are you choosing this?”

People will make suggestions.

“You should go…….”

“You should become a ………..”

“You don’t talk enough.” or “You talk too much.”

And that’s nice. People care enough to ask and suggest. Or maybe it’s not so nice. Since not all of them truly do. I hope from the bottom of my heart, that you be you. Because you are enough.

Also remember this boy became a Nazi!

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