My Wishes For You

Well my beauty, you made it. Today you leave behind the days of childhood and begin your next adventure. 18! Your life begins to become your own now and although you’re likely feeling completely overwhelmed in this moment, at the sheer capacity of what you believe is ahead of you – I promise you, you’re going to love it. Adulthood is amazing. Decisions become yours now and not of that belonging to someone else. You get to dream your own dreams; make your own mistakes; live your own life.

Welcome to freedom.

With each turn of the page you take, my excitement for you continues to grow.

I have been your silent (sometimes not so silent) cheerleader for most of your life. Crying countless tears of pride and even more of love. Watching each of your milestones, applauding not your moments of perfection, but those of great courage. You see doll, you take the stage and sing to a music hall full of people and self-criticize your performance. I sit in the audience with tears in my eyes and a vice in my chest, so damn proud of you simply for being brave enough to walk up those steps and project that voice of yours for all to hear – not that I don’t enjoy the hell out of hearing you perform; I absolutely do!

I have been blessed with privilege of being your aunt. Of getting to watch you grow from a spunky toddler who commanded the attention of any room she walked into, to this incredibly imperfect human being who just happens to be one of my favourite people in the world. I’ve loved every second of the last 15+ years, bragging about my beautiful little niece. But I have been even more blessed with the joy of now calling you a friend. You and I have always held a special bond. A relationship with no boundaries, just open doors. It is one that has grown and expanded into a friendship that I value greatly and one that is the perfect example of how imperfection can in fact be perfect. The last few years have been a learning curve for us both. For you, it’s been navigating life and all its messiness. For me, it’s been navigating the best way to help you. Getting to enjoy the perks of being both your Aunt and friend – it was a precarious climb. Attempting to guide you, while still supporting you and respecting your parents’ stance on things – it was a mighty fine line at times. One that I worried about constantly. There were missteps, hurt feelings and blurred lines, but we’re here – left with a beautiful relationship that I would repeat it all again for.

My wishes for you today sweet girl, aren’t of riches and fame; shiny degrees and possessions; or for you to fit some generic mould – figuratively or literally. No, they are of things I value, just as I value you.

I wish for you humility. This life isn’t a hierarchy. You are entitled to nothing and no one owes you anything – ever. This doesn’t mean your self worth is insignificant; it simply means all life is valuable – please, always be humble and know that you move up and down on this life ladder. A choice is a choice, it doesn’t necessarily make you a better person, just one that is better aligned with your value system.

I wish for you kindness, compassion and empathy. These are invaluable and necessary to avoid a bitter, bitter outlook on life. How you treat people is a direct reflection on your character. Throw away any belief that it is in any way a direct correlation to how they treat you. That’s their character; not yours. The give and take isn’t always balanced. Treating people with kindness and compassion will not only enrich their lives, but yours too and your character is the most invaluable thing you will ever have.

I wish for you acceptance; both of yourself and of others. This at times can feel too much. Sometimes it will conflict with your values and you will struggle with your ability to accept things. That’s normal. But here’s two things to remember: 1) you can’t expect acceptance (in any form) and not be willing to give it; 2) you don’t need to personally believe in something to accept and support someone you love. Your parents, brother, remaining family and your friends – they’re not perfect. They will do so many things over the years (or already have), that you don’t agree with it. You don’t have to. Their choices are their choices; they’re entitled to make them as they see fit (autonomy always). Your choice lies in whether you value them enough to accept them as they are or not. This also extends to yourself. You cannot expect others to accept you or your choices, unless you’re willing to accept them. Stop trying to shrink yourself, both figuratively and literally. A smaller body doesn’t deserve more respect or acceptance, just as a perfect person doesn’t somehow deserve more love and acceptance. Perfection doesn’t exist. You can excel at something, hell you can even master it – but you will never perfect it. Just as you are navigating your way right now, your loved ones are navigating their own ways as well. Give them grace to make mistakes and love them through it.

I wish for you a strong moral compass. Know your values and they will never lead you astray. This is the second biggest wish I have for you; maybe even tied for first. Having strong morals and values is the absolute foundation of this next chapter. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, refocus on your values and it will steady you again. These will change as your life changes. You may value certain people more now, but this will shift slightly when you find a spouse and/or have children, begin your career or simply grow as an individual – as it should. Some things you value will stay with you forever – like that of autonomy, knowledge, and health. Before you work out that budget of yours, find these. Write them down and live by them.

And my biggest wish for you sweet girl, is the fiercest form of independence imaginable. I want you to channel that inner need for control into building a life that relies solely on yourself. This isn’t meant as a new wave feminist statement – you know my love for those – but I believe with everything I am, that independence equates survival. Marrying for money was fine for Austen’s characters, but I want you to be financially independent. When you come across something you don’t know, learn it. Education, be it from a book or expert, is invaluable. Never rely on someone else. This isn’t to say you don’t need people in your life, of course you do – you’re human. But independence will breed resilience and adaptability and those will ensure that regardless of what happens in this life, you’ll land on your feet. You may not always know how the hell you’re going to do whatever it is you’re faced with, but you will figure it out.

You will have human moments. You will make mistakes; sometimes big ones. Own them. Don’t berate yourself, just own the mistake, apologize if necessary and learn from it. Believe it or not, we’re all imperfect. Everyone screws up and so will you. A lot. But remember this, although mistakes happens, continuously making the same one is a choice. Make better choices, not excuses.

So no, my wishes for you are not specific. I don’t wish for you to become a neurologist, make an absorbent amount of money and have an airbrushed body. This life is yours to do with whatever you please. If you want to scoop poop for a living; awesome – it’s gonna stink, but hey, we have masks for that! If you want to live pay check to pay check and you’re happy with your lifestyle; awesome – make sure to budget. If you want to rock a size 8 or 28; awesome – I only ask that you prioritize your health (and no, one doesn’t necessarily equate the other). Whatever it is you choose to do with this beautiful life, I’m here for it. I’ll always be here, loving and supporting you through it. The high moments and the low ones.

Happy 18th Birthday, Doll.
I hope this year is as perfectly imperfect as you are.


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