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Letter to a Young Girl

Dear T...,

Thank you for your beautiful message thanking me for my encouragement and support over the past year. We met only briefly when I addressed your class on writing, and we only touched each other in a few comments on social media. I did so little. Yet your message is well appreciated.

As you know I lost my mother in the past few weeks. This great loss is healed when young people like you, a next generation, step up with politeness, with hopes and aspirations for the future.

The Dalai Lama said that the world needs more storytellers, more peacemakers, more healers. My generation has left many failures, disasters and unresolved problems. It is your generation that must take up the challenges where we failed. Your generation will find cures for cancer, for poverty, for loneliness. You will recognize dangers and opportunities we do not even recognize.

Congratulations on finishing your high school career. It is a real achievement, and I know it is one thought increasingly irrelevant in today’s world of electronic communication, online training and instant messaging. Yet it is an achievement that you can and should be proud of.

I do not know what your plans are for the future, but I do hope you will not stop learning. Learn languages, read, learn about science, learn all the things that now seem irrelevant, but in twenty years might make up a picture that will enrich your life, and that of those around you. Don’t get trapped in the closed circles of society that only looks inwards, seeking to impress each other. Learn about the wonders of the universe. Learn of the miracle that is our life, our being. We are made of the stuff of the stars. We can shine!

I am sure you are surrounded by boys, people who want to get close to you, who promise you love, excitement, a family. Do not deny the joys of your youth, but do take the longer view. Be careful of being locked into an early motherhood, wonderful as the miracle of motherhood is. Shun those who seek to exploit youthful passions and pleasures to tie you into a life that might limit you too early.

Never allow your gender to define you. Some of the greatest scientists, thinkers, poets were women. Men who seek to limit women are insecure in themselves and unworthy of your attention. Real men will seek to support, enable and encourage you to be the best you can.

Do not be afraid to make decisions, to follow your passion into a career, but at the same time keep an open mind. Careers that seem attractive now might be less wonderful once you get into the practical application. Always have an alternative open, a second career, a hobby that can bring you fulfillment.

Do not be afraid to ask for advice, to challenge established practices. Learn to listen and to discriminate between read advice and hot air.

Be happy.

The world needs you.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.

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