It’s Okay to Take Up Space {And Other Things I Want My Daughter to Know}


Sweet, blessed daughter, 

For many years, I prayed for you. I did not yet know what exactly it meant to have a daughter; however, every day since the day you arrived, I have learned, bit by bit, just how special a gift it is to be and to raise a woman. At this moment in time, you are full of confidence in your original self. You are loud and girly and messy and perfect. Unfortunately, as you grow and experience life, I fear you may find it harder to be yourself.

If I could choose only a few things to instill in your little-girl heart, it would be the following. 

It’s okay to take up space. For too long, women have been expected to stay out of the way in their female bubbles. We have been taught to use soft voices, to cross our legs, and to keep our hands in our laps and our elbows off the table. My sweet little one, please don’t bottle up what gifts you have. Share that goodness with the world. Your thoughts and opinions matter just as much as those of the boy sitting next to you. Speak up. Make others listen. And use the darn armrest when you want!

There are no boy/girl careers. There seems to be this idea that girls are bad at math, and boys are bad at English. This is simply not true and incredibly sexist. Your skills (or lack thereof) have nothing to do with whether you stand to pee. Female engineers are cool! Male teachers rock! 

Raise your hand in class. Ask questions and get clarification when you’re confused. Don’t let anyone dismiss you because you’re a girl. Tap into your skills and chase your dreams. And do it all while wearing heels . . . or sneakers, because comfort is empowering, too. 

Women are strong, and strong is cool. Ever heard of a damsel in distress? This idea of women has made Hollywood millions (maybe even billions?). But have you ever found yourself in a real sticky situation and not had a single clue as what to do now? No, and neither has your mom. When our backs are against a wall, women can think of at least 10 ways to get out. Don’t buy into the lie that your security lies in rescue of another human. God gave you a brain and a way. Trust that.

Your emotions do not make you “too much.” Feelings are okay. They are purposeful, and they are necessary. Some people are afraid of or ashamed by their emotions. But you don’t have to be. The Creator of heaven and earth put these things inside of you and me for a reason. What you do with your emotions is where the difference lies. Don’t push that junk down, but also don’t allow it to send you spiraling. Allow your feelings, investigate your feelings, and then control your feelings. 

You shouldn’t apologize for existing. Women say “I’m sorry” WAY TOO MUCH! “Sorry” for being in the same aisle as someone or for reaching for the same can of soup. “Sorry” for bumping into someone (who actually bumped into you because he or she was walking and texting). “Sorry” for having screaming children or for a glitch in the computer at the Target checkout. You should never apologize for existing. “Excuse me” is just fine. 

Be you . . . whoever you are. If you want to be girly, be girly. Prefer the rough-and-tumble life? I’ve heard boxing is a great stress relief. If you want to be basic and wear jeans and Converse® while drinking your venti Starbucks® latte, go ‘head. But be who you are and like what you like because YOU want to, not because someone expects it of you. And if you want to go the extra mile, take the burden of expectation off those around you. There is a lot of pressure in our world to live up to the standard, but who sets the standard? Who decides what is acceptable? If your heart is pure and your intentions are good, you do you. (P.S. Don’t be afraid to be multiple things at the same time — even if they are diametrically opposed.)

There are so many things I wish I could force into your memory, but these will have to do for now. Remember: You won’t always get this life thing right. But that’s okay. Life is all about learning who you are and how to be better for those around you. Trust God, love people, and you’ll be fine. When in doubt, just call your mom. I’m here for you, always.

What do you want YOUR daughter to know?


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