Dear Teenage Me,
You’re growing up in South Carolina. And that means a lot of different things. A lot of things related to race, gender, and how backwards and difficult things still are here - especially for women and minorities. I want to tell you to be strong in your convictions and stand up for what you think is right.
Even if it feels like everyone else thinks something different, or even if you’re not sure what everyone else thinks. I want to tell you that travel, new experiences, and meeting people who are different from you are one of the best ways to grow, and learn, and stretch…and maybe even speak up when you see injustice or inequality.
I also want to tell you how proud I am that you decided to do these things – that you traveled to other parts of the U.S., met people who were different, and realized that the South was not the only way of life. That there are parts to hold onto and enjoy, but also parts to let go of and forget.
As a woman looking back on you as a teenager, I think I am mostly just thankful that you stayed safe. That you chose to surround yourself with friends who were fiercely loyal, that you knew the limits to fun, that you understood that you had to focus on school in order to get somewhere, that you found things to be passionate about, and that you respected your parents enough to listen to them.
Teenage me, I hope you live on in my daughter who has so many milestones before she has to think about life as a teenager. But when she gets there, I hope she will travel, seek new people and experiences, feel strong in her convictions, and most of all stay safe in a world that can be scary for teenage girls.