My dear sweet daughter,

No matter how old you get and how many birthday candles you blow out; no matter how many miles that may get in between the two of us; no matter how many arguments and disagreements we might have; no matter how many times I may get on your nerves, I just want you to know that you are a strong and compassionate woman who can really make a mark on this world.

Whenever I look at you, I just can’t help but feel an immense sense of pride and joy. I have had the great privilege of watching you grow and morph from an innocent toddler with a sunny smile to a smart and determined woman who has plenty of dreams for herself. I couldn’t be happier for you. I know that you are as strong as can be. But I also know that you get weak every now and then as well. That’s fine. We all get weak.

I still remember all of those times wherein you came home crying when you were a kid over a failed exam or boy problems. You were barely coherent with what you were saying but I could just feel the pain that you were feeling in those times. In those moments, I always felt my heart break knowing that I couldn’t protect you from the pain that you were feeling.

But I also knew that the pain was good for you. I knew that the pain would eventually prepare you for life and that was something that I wanted for you. Life isn’t always going to be kind to you. You aren’t always going to be happy. Things aren’t always going to be easy. And even though I will try my best to be there for you as much as possible, you are still going to have to face a lot of your problems on your own.

But even in those moments; even when you feel like the weight of the world is holding you down, I want to make sure that you remember these important lessons. I want to make sure that you keep these reminders to heart so that you will be better equipped to handle whatever life throws your way. Here are a few lessons that I want you to keep with you for as long as you live.

1. There is nothing selfish about self-love.

Never be shy to give love to yourself. When you love yourself unapologetically, you are also making yourself more lovable in the eyes of other people.

2. Only ever surround yourself with people who push you to be better.

Surround yourself with people who will actually push and inspire you to be better. You never want to be surrounding yourself with losers who will only bring you down. Be with people who bring out the best in you. And watch as you become the best version of yourself.

3. Never be with a man who can’t give as much as he takes.

You will want to find love in your life. But you don’t have to settle for a man who isn’t going to give you what you deserve in a relationship. You have a kind and giving heart. And you should be with a man who will be just as giving and kind as you are.

4. Don’t neglect the needs of your body.

Never neglect the needs of your body. Take care of it. Your body is a temple. Eat healthy food. Exercise regularly. Move. Explore the world. Get up and move around. Don’t put anything toxic into your body.

5. Sometimes, things have to get worse before they can get better.

You might be going through some rough patches and you will have difficulty dealing with all the trials in your life. But that’s okay. Just know that things are eventually going to get better even though it doesn’t seem like they will. You just have to keep grinding and hustling. Keep pushing forward. You’ll be okay.

6. Remember that it’s okay to walk away from situations that don’t add value to your life.

If you ever find yourself in an unfortunate situation that you feel like you can no longer grow in, then walk away from it. Any situation that doesn’t enable growth is a situation that is best avoided. Don’t be afraid of walking away from toxic scenarios and people.

7.  I’m not always going to be around for you but you don’t need me to be anyway.

You don’t need me. You only ever really needed me in the early parts of your life. But you’re a big girl now. You can fend for yourself now. You are perfectly capable of taking care of yourself. You don’t have to turn to me to solve your problems anymore. Just know that I love you and I always will.

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