Original Post: 31/10/2016
I wrestled with this one for around a month, and then it all came to me while eating a pizza thanks to a certain little miss.
Dear little sister,
Your body is uncomfortable, your hair unruly and your personality awkward. Embrace it, we’ve all been there. The pre-teen blues have hit us all and the roots of your struggles still haunt all of us today. That girl behind you in class who was flirting with the boys and told you that your hair looked stupid, she’s just as uncomfortable as you are, also trying to find out where she fits. Ignore her torments, don’t let them scare your beautiful heart. I always wondered why I got stuck being the middle child, but tonight little one you helped me see why. God placed me between two sisters to have someone to try catch up with, but also someone who I could cushion if she fell and to have someone who I can encourage to run a little faster, while showing her where all the pot holes and hills were coming up.
Loving you is a great adventure! Sometimes it looks like singing and dancing in front of your whole year group to try embarrass you (we all know you were secretly stoked because I’m way cool). Sometimes it looks like an “I’m sorry” in the form of face masks, hair masks, candles, and bathbombs while we sit and sip our drinks for two hours. Sometimes it looks like allowing you to crash my hangout with my friends. Sometimes it looks like waking up early to do your hair for school. Sometimes it looks like holding you when you cry. Tonight, it looked like me overcoming my own hangups and insecurities to allow you to see that I mean it when I say that “anything looks good if you wear it with confidence.” It looked like me wearing a ponytail so messy that I would never wear it outside the house and rocking the same hairstyle as you at my old stomping ground, to show you that being different is stunning and so much fun!
Eldest said to you this afternoon that when people feel uncomfortable and threatened that they will try to drag you down. That is true, beyond just situations where you clumsily say something that you should have kept on your side of the filter. The world tries to drag you down even when they are meaning to compliment and edify your identity. The labels we hang on each other to identify one another, end up restricting our characters. People will be slow to compliment your looks because the girl sitting next to you has already been labelled “The beautiful one.” They will be slow to tell you how amazing you are at netball, because the other girl in your team has been labelled “The sporty one.” They will be slow to recognise your creativity because the boys at the back of the class has been labelled as “The musical one,” “The artistic one” and “The performer.” They will not esteem your grades because someone else has been titled “The smart one” and your jokes are ignored because someone else wears the sticker saying “The funny one.” You will question your identity because your sticker remains blank for so long. Then one day you realise that over time you have gathered not only one, but a few stickers; people have recognised something in you and plastered it on your jacket. The problem is, that you do not feel that there are enough stickers. That is understandable, I am still fighting to have some of mine slapped onto me.
We as humans like things to be as simplistic as possible, but in our very nature we are beautifully complex. You can carry both strength and gentleness in your soul, you can be an extrovert who craves alone time or an introvert that has a booked out social calendar, you can be both an athlete and love all things girly and you can be both an old soul and a child at heart. You fortunately are growing up in a generation that is very aware how damaging some of the labels that have been plastered on women are and have been, but you will still grow up effected by them. Please try to embrace only the positive labels tossed your way, and please dear sister, do not be acutely aware of the ones that are withheld. I doubted myself so much because the labels of “feminine,” “gentle,” “caring,” “domestic,” “beautiful” and “patient” were always given to Eldest, while she doubted herself because I was given “dedicated,” “strong,” “disciplined,” “leader,” and “successful.” I dreamed of receiving a gentle gaze while she dreamed of walking away with a trophy. It’s messed up baby girl. A woman is so much more than a beautiful face and bikini body, but also more than a strong spirit and intelligent mind. You are a beautifully complex individual who cannot be summed up with all the words in the world.
So little sister, accept the compliments that the world will dish you, cherish the ones that come repeatedly, but never let them become so dear to you that they define you. Do not get so caught up in trying to look pretty and on trend. Do not worry about presenting a consistent image, confuse them by wearing phat pants and messy hair one day and makeup up and heels the next. Keep them guessing baby, be every part of yourself as fully as you can be! Never hold back, if you can be more you, be. The world will try to understand you, try to define you and then try to compliment or instruct you to me you a little bit better. Do not listen, no one can be you as well as you or tell you how to do you better. No one can define you because there is not a label that captures the fullness of you. Keep your head up, rock your big curly hair, and look life right in the eye and laugh that infectious laugh of yours. Be you, and be you bravely, one day you will change the world.