Raising children is challenging, but as many parents learn, in many ways it’s more complicated if you’re blessed with a daughter. Sadly, the world just treats women differently to men.
Which is why I’m sharing advice my mom and grandma gave me when I was growing up. And it’s the same thing I’m going to teach my little girl, should I ever be lucky enough to have one.
1. You will always remember your first, so choose wisely.
2. Cut your hair shorter than you dare. It will grow back.
3. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.
4. Pizza is always a good idea.
5. So is a good run.
6. Be strict with your own grammar and spelling. Be lenient with others’.
7. Never skip breakfast if you can help it.
8. Surround yourself with people smarter than you.
9. People deserve second chances, but there is no such thing as a third or fourth.
10. If someone tells you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl, do it anyway, and do it better.
11. Know your limits, and exceed them.
12. Except when you’re drinking.
13. Never bite off more than you can chew.
14. Especially when you’re drinking.
15. Don’t ever feel obligated to explain yourself.
16. Dance whenever you feel like it.
17. Your problems may seem overwhelming right now, but you will get through them. I’ll make sure of that.
18. You never know when you need to wipe away a tear, so always have a pack of tissues at the ready.
19. Wash behind your ears.
20. If you happen to be in the closet, take your time.
21. Just know that I will be waiting outside with open arms.
22. Drink water like it’s the most delicious beverage on earth.
23. Sleep early.
24. Train yourself to rise with the sun.
25. Pets are a lifelong commitment.
26. Learn how to say “no.”
27. Learn to love walking.
28. Your weight does not define you.
29. Feminism is not a bad word, despite what others may say.
30. No one has to earn your respect. Everyone deserves it, regardless of who they are.
31. Once you wear a properly-fitting bra, you’ll wonder how you went so long without it.
32. You are more than just your looks, your GPA, or your sexuality.
33. Choose comfort over style every single time.
34. A smile is your best accessory.
35. But if someone tells you ‘you’d look prettier if you’d smile more’, walk the other way.
36. Even if you’re tall, wear those heels anyway.
37. Read. A lot. Read even those books that you think you can’t understand yet, because you will, eventually.
38. And if you do decide to be a reader, start with classic literature. They’ve lasted this long for a reason.
39. Never quiet your voice for someone else. There is always room for more than one person’s opinion.
40. It’s okay to like pink things and play with toy trucks at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.
41. Do the cliche movie scene of walking along the beach under the stars with someone you love, at least once in your life.
42. There is a lot of bad in the world, but there is also a lot of good.
43. Expect the good, but be prepared for the bad.
44. Fruits are your friends.
45. Cola is not.
46. Be impeccable with your word.
47. Your sadness, anger, and pain must all have a reason, and must all be within reason.
49. Being “intimidating” is not a bad thing.
51. And make sure you talk to the locals.
52. Swimming is a necessary skill, not an optional hobby.
53. Don’t be afraid to ask for my help.
54. Don’t let high school be the best time of your life.
55. Or the worst.
56. Get lost in a city you’ve never been to before.
57. But buy a map just in case.
58. Wherever you go, make sure you smell good.
59. Master a different language.
60. Be unapologetically yourself.
61. Meet someone who makes you laugh so hard your stomach and cheeks hurt.
62. Hold on to that person.
63. Don’t be naive.
64. Know that you can tell me anything.
66. Always question authority. If they can’t give you the answer you need, then they aren’t worth following.
67. If you feel homesick, bake yourself some cookies. You’ll feel a lot better.
68. Don’t underestimate the power of a large blanket, a mug of hot cocoa, and a good movie.
69. Don’t EVER drink and drive.
70. Grades aren’t everything, but just know that a degree will take you places.
71. Make sure you understand the question before answering it.
72. Tattoos are permanent.
73. Learn to enjoy your own company.
74. Be thoughtful.
75. Be eager.
76. Never skip English class.
77. Or math.
78. Or science.
79. Never skip class, ever.
80. My hugs are free and available 24/7.
81. Start saving your money as early as possible. Your college self will thank you.
82. Turn off that iPad and spend the day outside. Your most memorable experiences will be when you’re under the sun.
83. Beauty is relative.
84. Jump on hotel room beds.
85. No matter where you go, never forget where you’re from.
86. Offer to help a friend move.
87. Always take what you deserve.
88. Be gentle with other people’s feelings. Everyone is fighting their own battle.
89. Take criticism as a challenge.
90. Prove them wrong.
91. Know the difference between studying and learning.
92. Learn to play at least one musical instrument.
93. Buy clothes for the body that you have, not the body you are getting in two months after you give up carbs.
96. Wash your face two times: once in the morning, and once before going to bed.
97. Smoking will make you look older than your age.
98. The only way to get into something is to just dive in.
99. I’m talking about life in general. And also, pools.
100. Don’t be afraid of wearing red lipstick.
101. Be bold in your choices.
102. I will love you no matter whom you choose to love.
103. He should make you his priority, not an afterthought.
104. You could call me your best friend, because you will forever be mine.
105. Don’t take things too personally.
106. Hit like a girl.
107. Run like a girl.
108. Fight like a girl.
109. And by that, I mean WIN.