I originally wrote a variation of this to my eldest daughter, Léna, when she was 9, on my mummy blog. It was my first blog post to go viral, and many adults told me they found the advice useful too.
Now my youngest daughter, Clémence, is 9 (nearly 10) it feels like it's time to share this again. For her, but also for anyone who needs to know this stuff.
To Clémence – my 9 year old daughter,
When you were born, back in November 2012, I was very aware that you were only on loan to us for 18 years, when – if we’d done our job properly – you would take off on your own wings to lead your own independent life.
Back then, when you were a tiny newborn in my arms, 18 years seemed like a hundred years away. But now you’re 9 and we’re halfway there, suddenly it looks very soon.
Me with Clémence, a couple of hours after she was born
So I thought at this halftime point I should share with you the wisdom of my 40-something years, and my experience of life, happiness, sadness, laughter, tears, ups and downs.
There will be times when you feel you should change or conform to make people like you. But don’t. You are incredible as you are. The people who you will want to have as friends will come to you and love you as you are.
It’s easy to moan about a hard day at school or work. It’s easy to see everything that went wrong (the bus was late, it was raining, you had an argument with your boyfriend / girlfriend), but concentrate on what went right and you’ll see that more and more things go right than go wrong.
As you go through life you will meet people who are not nice. For whatever reason. This could be a so-called friend. It could be a boyfriend / girlfriend. It could be a colleague. It could be a teacher. No matter who it is, rise above it. Be the bigger person and don’t lower yourself to their level. It is very hard to be nasty to someone who is being nice back, and who doesn’t rise to the bait.
No matter who puts pressure on you to do it – whether it’s friends making you feel you should try something or you won’t be “cool”, or a boyfriend / girlfriend putting pressure on you to do something against your will or he / she will dump you. Know that you are cool as you are, and those friends are not real friends if they think that way. Know that you deserve a boyfriend / girlfriend who respects you and your choices, so you should be dumping him / her in that case!
You are likely to spend the majority of your waking hours working in your career, so you’ve got to love it. Do what makes you happy, not what other people want you to do, or what you think you “ought” to do. Also change it when it stops making you happy. YOU decide, no one else.
(For anyone reading this who is struggling with this point grab my FREE "get clear on your purpose" guide.)
It is important to work smart, whether it is when you are learning (at school or elsewhere), for an employer or as your own boss. This doesn't mean working hard, it means learning how to work effectively and efficiently, to get the results without burning out.
(Overwhelm and burnout are real, if you are reading this and struggling in this area make sure you get my FREE cheat sheet to kill overwhelm.)
And it is equally important to have fun. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl 😉
Also the time you take for fun and rest is often when you'll have your best ideas and brainwaves.
If you are seeking approval from others you will always be disappointed. People might think what you are doing is great but never tell you, which will make you feel bad if you’re waiting for that compliment. Set your own goals and objectives, and congratulate yourself when you reach them. Don’t wait for or expect others to do it for you – they are too busy dealing with their own lives, so make sure you get your own approval.
You know that I am not religious, but there are lots of bits of the bible that make sense (and no doubt other religious books too). So what does this mean? It means treat others as you would like to be treated.
Be respectful. Don’t put others down. Don’t bad talk others, whether to their face or behind their back. Be on time. Help people out when they need it, as you, yourself, may need help one day.
This goes for everyone - no matter the colour of their skin, their religious beliefs, their sexual preference, their gender identity, their nationality, their culture, their abilities (physical or mental). Treat them all as you would like to be treated.
And stand up for those who are not being treated well by others. (This will be hard and it is something I still have to work at, as it's easier to remain silent.)
Do not settle in a career or in a relationships that doesn't fill you with joy. Life is too short to waste time in the wrong job or with the wrong guy / gal.
You have already got a good moral compass. You know right from wrong. You know what you like and what you don’t like. So if you’re not sure, use your gut instinct, and trust that it will take you the right way. Take some time out and listen to what your gut/heart/voice in your head is telling you. Trust that it is right.
Making decisions rarely comes easily and it’s a talent to perfect in order to lead a happier life. Once you overcome the fear of what others think, the fear of failure, the fear of the unknown the world becomes your oyster and you’ll be able to be or do whatever you want.
People will always criticise you because of decisions you have made. Especially around your career choices and where you live. So ignore them and live where you want. You want to live in a caravan in the middle of nowhere? Go for it! You want to live in a tiny shoe box but in a great location? Do it! You want to move around and not settle anywhere? Why not?
In life people will put their worries, jealousies and insecurities onto you in the form of “concern”. If you make a decision that they don’t like, that makes them jealous, or worries them they may well try and make you change your mind, or tell you clearly it’s the “wrong” decision. Whilst it hurts and it’s hard to hear, remember they’re seeing it through their own eyes, with their own worries and fears. They don’t know what you want / need or what you are capable of. Listen, smile and ignore 🙂
To my lovely 9 year old daughter Clémence – you are FABULOUS already, you are your own person, you are strong, motivated and you will go very far. Remember these points and you will find it hard not to have a happy and successful life on all fronts.
I love you and you will always be my baby, even when you’re soaring off on your 18 year old wings.
If you are reading this and thinking to yourself that you want more out of life, do check out these great resources I have:
Or simply sign up to my newsletter to get the tips, tricks and private insights that I only share with the lovely people on my mailing list.
Live life, love life, be happy 😊