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An Open Letter to the Teens in My Life

girl leaning on windowDear beautiful young woman:
It is true.
You are beautiful.
You are strong. You are solid
with a will like an arrow
and eyes like the sun.
Your heart will attract love.
You will be cherished
and protected like you
have always wished you had been.

Do you believe what I am saying?

 girl's hands with sea urchin
You have a gift.
Plant that knowledge in your heart.
Water it with understanding and strength and
with the same tenderness you have
when you care for your child.
Someday you will blossom
because you cared and because someone else
loved that little girl in you – the best you.
I want you to get that – really get it deep and strong.

Do you believe you have a gift?

Girl looking out the window
Maybe you have been passed
from one place to another, unwanted.
Or … made bad choices and had to learn the hard way.
You were hard when I met you. Angry. Hurt.
Have you ever felt wanted? Have you
ever felt what’s like to be safe
in the presence of another human being?
Have you ever known what it’s like
to be someone’s priority?

Do you believe that right now you are someone’s priority?

girl brushing hair back
I am saying only what’s true: you are important.
You are worth it. You deserve it. And it’s true that
today – this very moment – you have a chance
to grab on to your beautiful future. Never let it go.
Do something amazing!
There are folks right here who, even when
you are in trouble, never give up on you.
They give you some love and they give you room
to be the beauty they know you are.

Do you believe you deserve that kind of regard?

Girl with serious look
Yes, beautiful young woman.  You are beautiful.
You are smart and strong and capable.
Figure out how to be comfortable being you.
Open your eyes
believe in yourself.
You know what’s right and what’s wrong.
You can see what you want.
Let your best self be in charge.

Do you believe you have a best self? Do you know how to find her?

portrait of a teen
So … you fell back today. That’s the old you.
At least you care – when I first met you, you didn’t care.
Now you care that you let someone down:
your child. your family. the people who love you and believe in you.
You care that you let your best self down. Well,
I say this:  “Old you, meet the new you, the best you.” It’s an experience,
and all the experiences you have had in your life –
you can turn those into something amazing.

Do you believe you are amazing? You are! 

girl looking at her baby
You have a spark of goodness in you that the rest of the world needs to see.
You are raising your child the best way you know.
You are determined to be a better parent than the ones you were given.
You will do things in new ways. You will do good things
for yourself and your child.
Your bravery inspires me. You have inspired me to take a leap I was afraid to take.
You have inspired me to create something new in my life.
Thank you for just being so totally and perfectly yourself.
You helped me see my own best self.

 

Photos Copyright by Maureen Shaughnessy, Raymond LaRose, Mark Sebastian and Sam Agnew.