13 Birthdays. For Skye.
Happy 13th Birthday!!
On the occasion of my daughter’s 13th birthday–my very first teenager I have had to contend with (with the exception of myself and, man, that was unpleasant!)–here is a post of a more personal nature. You are not thirteen yet, though I know you think you already are. You were born at 4:35pm (Pacific Standard Time), so I have a few more hours to have my baby girl and not a full blown teenager. Let me tell you a quick story. It’s the story about what makes you special. It’s one of the most exciting stories ever told because it’s about you, and you are one of the most important things in my world.
You came into this world a water baby. You were born in the water; a locale you so innately inhabit to this day. You entered this world with a scream; it, in fact, topped the Apgar charts! Your vivacious spirit and affable bearing have won people over to you effortlessly in cities all across this world, my dear. You probably don’t remember but everywhere you have lived or visited, every plane you have ever travelled on, every school you were a student in, you won over every person you have encountered with your intelligence, confidence and inner beauty. Everyone always knew your name everywhere you went because you told every person. You usually sang for them. You still sing for everyone. Your talent blows me away. It makes me want to cry because, at your age, I was never as confident as you are today. I foresee amazing escapades and success in your future. This is just the beginning. I would like to share a few bits of advice with you on this big day.
As you walk through this life, please ALWAYS remember that you are beautiful, inside and out–not everyone can say this. Please remember outer beauty fades and dually can be feigned. Be the most beautiful person you can possibly be on the inside. Nothing else matters in life. No matter what anyone else ever will ever tell you to the contrary.
Be yourself. Follow your heart. Do not ever follow anyone else’s dream or try to be anyone but you. It’s better to feel content in a small group of close friends than it is to feel empty in a crowd of “so-called friends.” Be brave enough to not follow others. You will learn as you walk through this life that, much of the time, the cool kids are too scared or too weak to be more than a just a follower. Which brings us to mean girls.
Mean girls are just, well, mean. You do not deserve to ever be the target of their meanness, nor do you have to tolerate it. Always remember to keep your eyes on the prize and your goals in close sight. These girls will never change; do not ever let them change you. Expend no energy on mean-spirited girls. Ignore them. You are unique, and you are in command of your life and your self-esteem. Surround yourself with people you like very much and who like you, no exceptions.
Be generous and laugh as often as you can. Laughter is the best medicine for anything that ails you. The older you get, the more you’ll realize life’s seemingly unbearable sadness, and dually you will be showered with life’s profound happiness. You get both in life. You cannot ever control which you will receive on any given day. Be grateful for your good fortune. You are luckier than you can ever imagine. Relish the things that make you happy, but don’t forget to help others less fortunate than you. Remember in every encounter you have with people to “be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Please, don’t be envious of others—it’s a worthless emotion. Someone is always going to have more than you have or be better than you at one thing or another. Worry about doing your own personal best. Compare yourself to no one.
Never forget, with the gift of technology just bestowed upon you for your birthday, that the internet is forever. Every word, image, comment, joke or opinion posted to the internet is forever–there are no do overs. That photo or comment can never be erased, reversed, forgotten or forgiven. If you ever wonder if you should post something or comment about someone, don’t do it. Think before you post.
Always remember that your family comes first. Friends will come in and out of your life, and some can often be like family. You will have many around the world—you already do! Your family will love and support you unconditionally for the rest of your life. Someday your father, your grandparents and I will be gone, take care of your sister and your little cousins. Always set a good example for them, because they watch everything you do. Remember always that we love you, and we are proud of you.
Go forth into your teenage years—in about 2.5 hours, thank you—willfully, thoughtfully, furiously, singingly, laughingly, swimmingly, studiously and industriously. Be passionate and compassionate. Work hard, but have fun. In short, keep living life as you have been the past 12, and you are all set.