Today is your first day of high school and I wanted to say something to you but I did not want it to be one of those things adults say to children when they talk about how a kid is growing up and quote Doctor Seuss or whatever.
You are a young woman growing up, yes, but you are also a full-fledged person, which many people never become at any age. You often tell me how you are proud of me, and now I want to tell you how proud I am of you. Rare is going to be the room in your life that you will enter and not find yourself the smartest person in it, but as smart as you are, you’re as good, too. Don’t take either for granted. A person can backslide, they can forfeit things they have if they are not constantly trying to move forward. Be confident, believe in yourself deeply, because you have great reason, so many reasons, to do so.
We have a rule to always tell each other the truth, but I would trust you anyway, and I have always trusted you. Not a lot of people have the courage, character, intelligence, and decency to orient themselves around truth, but you do. Hope is something we need in life, all of us, and you, my little friend, are a form of hope yourself.
Always work to learn more, to try to feel what others might be feeling, to become a better person every day. To whom much is given, much is asked, and what is often asked—what is required of us in the fine-stitching of our soul, that part that most makes us us—is for that person to help others. Sometimes—a lot of the time—they won’t be able to help us as much as we can help them, but that means that we must try all the harder for them.
We never stop growing up. That is something I have had reinforced by you. You’re wise, and when one is wise, it can be hard to be patient, but you are patient, too. Retain that patience. Grow that wisdom. You are going to make a lot of friends at this new school. You’re going to thrive. When you hit bumps, you have so many people who care about you who are going to help you. Your mom, your dad, your grandparents, great, lifelong friends like Anthony, Dorothy, your other friends.
It’s going to be that way throughout life. It’s not a high school thing. High school, really, is a footnote. It’s a place you’re at for a while, which one doesn’t spend much time looking back upon later, but these are years in which we can learn a lot, and learn a lot about ourselves. All years are like that for you and they must always be that way, when you are sixteen, when you are forty, when you are eighty.
These are no different, save that they are a little different. Learn everything you can. Learn more—far more—than the minimum that you are taught or instructed in. Do what is asked of you, but also find a way to do what is in line with your talents, what keeps you moving forward. You are funny and a little charmer. Put your good nature to work when the situation calls for it. I am not sure you know this about yourself yet, but you are a leader. People look to you for guidance. Remember that when we provide this guidance, we must use both head and heart. One without the other will not do.
With that bump part, you might have noticed that one name was absent. We have always had a special bond between us, going back to when you were a little girl and we would pass each other in the hallway, wordlessly, and each of us would turn around to see the other one staring back over their shoulder.
You have called me your best friend, and that is certainly a great, great honor, but I tend to view us as something that stands apart, for which there is no label. We may come from very far away parts of it, but we were cut of something of the same cloth. I will do anything for you. I will always do anything for you. I look forward to many years, decades, of our connection and the places it takes both of us, as life takes each of us places, as the next four years take you places.
You have been a light in my life. That you have been this light and it has reached me in the darkest of times speaks to who you are, how special you are. You will now be a light in the lives of new friends, new teachers, and I am so proud of you.
Amaze the world, Emma. By which I mean, be yourself.