1. Do not date a boy who does not care what your favourite song is. The boy who does not care what melodies ignite your heart strings with love and wonder while staring at passing street lights on the last train home, will not care if it’s 2 a.m. and your heart is breaking.
2. Do not let anyone fold you up like last winters tattered scarf and put you away with the others in a neatly labeled box. Even when there’s thunder and the sky is crying, you are your mum’s favourite summer dress. You are to wear yourself like you believe it.
3. We are all stories. Write yours how you want. Make today’s chapter about purposely taking the wrong bus and discovering a tiny blue tea shop, or folding origami paper hearts over and over on your window sill. Just make sure it’s something you’d enjoy reading.
4. I will always try to save you.
5. Someday you will be 19 and lost and heartbroken and you will think about a place you’ve seen on TV or heard or read about in a book or seen a picture of. You will feel your heart drop into your stomach. Go there. For a day, a month, forever, but it’s important that you go.
6. The world is so beautiful. Do not let the slumped over homeless man outside the convenience store or the stories of guns and bombs on the television let you believe otherwise. We are all so lost. All of us. We all show it in different ways. I write bad poems. Others start wars. There is no inherent evil, only good people searching too hard.
7. I love everything about you.
8. Money turns people into liars and emotional ghosts. School grades are an inaccurate representation of you. Measure your life’s worth in how many times you’ve nearly lost your life to laughter, how many books you’ve closed with happy tears in your eyes, people whose lives you’ve brought joy to, marshmallows eaten, or countries visited.
9. Don’t ever let anyone tell you to stop crying. Cry if you want to. It’s okay. You’re allowed.
10. My best friend once told me that the most important decision he had ever made was to love everyone and everything. He’s the only person I’ve ever known to have a viewable aura of light around him. Don’t forget to love this world, to love people. Be light. You are already mine."
Most girls are relentlessly told that we will be treated how we demand to be treated. If we want respect, we must respect ourselves.
This does three things. Firstly, it gets men off the hook for being held accountable for how they treat women. And secondly, it makes women feel that the mistreatment and sometimes outright violence they face due to their gender is primarily their fault. And thirdly, it positions women to be unable to speak out against sexism because we are made to believe any sexism we experience would not have happened if we had done something differently.
I cannot demand a man to respect me. No more than I can demand that anybody do anything. I can ask men to be nice to me. But chances are if I even have to ask he does not care to be nice. I can express displeasure when I’m not being respected. But that doesn’t solve the issue that I was disrespected in the first place.
I can choose to not deal with a man once he proves to be disrespectful and/or sexist. But even that does not solve the initial problem of the fact that I had to experience being disrespected in the first place.
As a young girl, I wish that instead of being told that I needed to demand respect from men that I had been told that when I am not respected by men that it’s his fault and not mine. But that would require that we quit having numerous arbitrary standards for what it means to be a “respectable” woman. It would mean that I am not judged as deserving violence based on how I speak, what I wear, what I do, and who I am."