Don’t think I haven’t noticed you’re getting old on me. Next year you’ll be in the sixth grade! That’s really exciting and really scary. You’re probably wondering why I decided to write this letter to you and I suppose I should tell you. Little sister, I am writing you this letter to let you know it’s ok to be you. You’re growing up much too fast. I know that’s because you’ve felt pressure from the sister in high school to be just like her. I know it’s because your other sister left you to go on to college. I know it’s because all your friends are trying so hard to act mature and you just want to fit in. I know. That’s why I’m telling you it’s ok to still want to be yourself.
If you want to wear nail polish, makeup, and fancy dresses then I want you to do that. If you want to get muddy, ride horses, and raise chickens then I want you to do that. If you want to study hard, get smart, and make lots of money I want you to do that. If you decide that you don’t want to be just a stereotype then I can support that, too. I don’t want you to feel like you’re trapped in a bubble of who you are allowed to be. I know the world says otherwise, if I’ve learned anything in psychology it’s that people love to put everyone else in boxes. You must always remember to stay true to yourself despite what everyone else says.
Little sister, I’ve been where you are. Times have changed a lot since I was in your shoes. I didn’t have an iPad in elementary school or text my friends every evening. If you had asked me if I had a Facebook in the sixth grade I would have laughed at you. (What is that? A book of faces? Gross!) All this new technology is a dangerous thing and I want you to remember that. The internet is a place where your whole life can be documented. That means that your future employers can scroll through your Facebook feed and see if you’ve got a positive attitude or not. Technology is telling.
In this world it is becoming more and more important to present yourself favorably all the time. I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear. After all it’s hard enough to figure out what you’re going to wear tomorrow without worrying how people with think of you in five years. I advise you to start thinking in a socially active way now. I realize you probably don’t know what being socially active is, you can come ask me if you want me to explain it in more detail. What I mean is that you should start volunteering regularly around home. Get mom to take you to the local food kitchen or volunteer at a local dog rescue. If you go ahead and begin developing volunteering habits now you’re setting yourself up for success later. Volunteering really allows you to develop skills that can be used to your advantage later.
It’s also not too late to begin working on beefing up your STEM skills. There are lots of programs aimed at girls your age that encourage a growing knowledge of science and technology. Use that to your advantage and I promise you’ll be happy you did. It’s never too early to begin thinking about how you’re going to make it through college. I know I wish I had started earlier thinking how I would get the money. (Mom and Dad are not helpful in this area. They just yell at you.)
I know this is a lot to think about before you ever get into the sixth grade. It’s a lot to think about when you’re in college. I just thought I would warn you that who likes who is not the biggest issue you will ever face. I want you to be prepared to take on the world in a way that I never was. I know you don’t like it when I give you advice. I’m still living with our parents so how much could I really know? Just trust me on this and start thinking about how you can grow yourself into a better you.
I know you’ll be just fine.