At birth, we are assigned a few things. A name, a race, a family, a biological sex. Every other part of us is a piece of the fictional identity we spend the rest of our lives defending. There is no identity I would rather defend than yours.
There are so many parts of you that I love. You are strong to the point of stubbornness, and you can laugh for hours. You have surrounded yourself with a group of people who make you impossibly happy. Your freckles radiate across your face, and you wear them with pride.
What strikes me most, however, is your ambition. I am in awe of your capacity to dream. When people ask what you want to be when you grow up, you tell them you want to change the world. I have never doubted that you could do it. When you move on from this earth, you will leave a lasting legacy. Your story will affect people besides you. The mark you cast on our world will span far and wide. I am certain of this.
Your aptitude for voice and language inspires me. You manage to transform emotions into words and pour them onto paper. When you speak, people listen. Your words make people feel things that are inexplicable—emotions that can’t be named. This is something you should be proud of.
And I understand that you are far from perfect. You have flaws; we all do. Somehow, however, you manage to be unapologetic about all parts of yourself—including these flaws. You expect people to take you are you are, and your steadfastness in your identity is awe-inspiring.
I want you to take note of the order of this letter. I called you ambitious, and strong, and talented before I called you pretty. Your character supersedes your physical appearance in all ways, but that does not mean you are not also beautiful. Your body is incredible. I am less proud of the hourglass curves you spend hours in the gym refining, and more proud of amazing things your body is capable of.
You carve sharp turns down the mountain when you ski and speak like there will never be another stage when you debate. You backpack 30 miles and become the embodiment of grit. You love everyone like they’ve never been loved before.
I know I don’t ever take the time to commend you. I spend hours pinching and poking and critiquing you. I am definitely your harshest critic.
But, hear me now, loud and clear: I love you. I think you are absolutely incredible. Every day, I think about the wonders you will accomplish in the future and the successes you have already earned. I have a feeling I’ll be by your side for a long time.
I am already impossibly proud of you.
I’ll say it again because it’s so important: I love you. I always will, even when things are tough. Keep your chin up and know I have your back.