A letter to my daughter on your graduation from elementary school.
Today was a big day. It was a momentous day, one that will find itself tucked into your life reel of memories. What you wore, how the sun shone bright in your eyes as you watched your friends giggle around you; all of you dressed to the nines. The feel of the school gymnasium decorated for your enjoyment. The thrill of being the first graduating class of a newly formed school. The excitement you felt will cradle your thoughts in the coming days and weeks. Your dreams for your future feel fresh for the picking and so I pray they always remain. The world is your oyster my love, so pick wisely.
Know that the path to success is paved with hard work, early mornings, late nights and sacrifices to achieve your goals. Know that despite the first world country of your birth, your gender preordained you to work harder for the same jobs, and hopefully one day the same pay as your male classmates. Know that being a visible minority means that you will need to work even harder and a Muslim woman, even harder yet my love.
Know that the hills will be steep but the journey magnificent. Know that with every glass ceiling you smash, another one will likely present itself. Know it yet keeping smashing them nonetheless. Know that sacrifices have to be made to help others just like you. Know that going to all the right schools, getting all the right grades is not enough in this day and age. Know it but keep persevering nonetheless. Keep your head high as you do.
Know that sometimes your faith, values or beliefs will make you stand out, they will make you feel uncomfortable and they may even make you think twice. Think as many times as you need to, but hold tight nonetheless. Who you are in your core is the only person you need to impress. Validation comes from within. Peace comes from within and happiness comes from within. Without these attribute inside of you, all the joy and happiness in the world will be insufficient. They will leave you searching yet never fulfilled.
Focus not on what others can do for you but what you can do for others. Focus not on who owes you what but rather on what you owe to others. Focus on what you owe to yourself. Focus on what you owe those who came before you and sacrificed and strived so you could excel. Focus on those who have died so you could live the life you live. Focus on those who went without so you could live with. Show gratitude always for what you have and try not to complain about what you have not. At times it will be tough my love, but try your best to do it nonetheless.
Know that there will always be those richer, more powerful, more beautiful, more famous and more everything else under the sun. Don’t pay attention to that. Pay attention to who you are. Know yourself. Be yourself. Be the best version of yourself and always remain unapologetically you.
Allow yourself to grow into the woman you needed when you were young. You still are young my love, so give it thought. Ask yourself what the world needs most. Then set out to fulfill that. Don’t take your time on this earth for granted ever. Be thankful for your every breath, your every dream, your every blessing.
Do this and have faith. Have faith that love will always trump evil. Have faith that despite the most horrendous of occurrences, humanity will prevail. Have faith that a few bad apples do not mean that the orchard is rotten. Be just as kind to the janitor as the CEO, always in life. You do so because of who you are, not because of who they are. Honour your word. It is what will define you. Honour yourself, always. Until and unless you do, few others ever will.
Love immeasurably, forgive abundantly but learn from both. Do not lose yourself in either. Do not forget. Evolve always, but don’t change altogether unless of course that is what you want.
You will meet many people in life that have their own agendas. Their actions and words if even are directed at you, will not be about you. Recognize them for who or what they are and govern yourself accordingly.
Your relationship with someone in the past does not dictate the place they will have in your future. Some people come into our lives at a specific time for a specific reason. If they no longer remain in your life, let them go. Wish them well but carry on. You cannot move forward while staring into a rearview mirror.
Life is short. The days may seem long, the to do list never ending but before you know it, you might just find yourself penning a letter to your own daughter one day upon her graduation from elementary school. And when you do, what will you share?