Set the world on fire: A letter to my daughter on International Women's Day
It seems pretty fitting, on International Women's Day, to write a letter to the single most important female in my life.
Being your mum is the greatest thing to ever happen to me, but it also fills me with responsibility for everything I want you to know about the world.
Because although you are "only" just 11 (and still so amazingly child-like in everything you do), one day you will be a woman, and, as your mum, I have so many hopes and dreams for the life you will live and lead.
First, and possibly most importantly, know that you don't belong to anything or anyone. Never allow yourself to feel like you do. You – and only you – have total agency over yourself and your body.
Do what makes you happy; happiness and the ability to find joy in your days is so important.
Make friends and keep those friendships alive, they are important, not just when you are young, but throughout your life.
Be proud of being a girl and a woman. Women are amazing. (Men are too, of course, and although we are all equal, that does not mean we should not celebrate our differences too. I believe it's diversity and our differences that make us great.) You can be ALL woman and still rule the corporate world – should that be your dream. Just like a great man can choose to stay at home and raise his children every day. Do what sets your soul on fire.
Find joy in the little things. (You will soon enough see they are what really matters).
Don't take things for granted; your relationships, your health, your success. Work at them and they will flourish.
Make a difference in the world, and aim to leave it a little better than it was when you entered it, be it by having raised a healthy child, grown your own vegetable garden or fought for something you believed in.
I hope you will always love traipsing around the shops with me. Enjoy fashion – it is frivolous and fun and fabulous. But never let anyone tell you that labels define you. Not the ones sown into the back of your dress, nor the ones people are keen to put on you.
Don't let yourself be consumed with negative people and their negative energy.
Rise above pettiness.
Forgive your enemies – nothing will annoy them more. You don't have to respect them or even like them, but forgiveness will set you free.
Believe in miracles, little ones and big ones.
Be kind. Kindness will always breed kindness.
I hope you marry (or live in utter contentment with!) someone who makes you laugh – every day.
Also, don't let anyone dictate who you fall in love with. When you know it's right, it's right.
Cry all you want, crying does not make you weak.
Don't worry if you – as a woman – sometimes feel underestimated. That is their mistake. Give it your best – and enjoy the look on their faces when they realise you are SO much more than they expected you to be.
Strive to succeed, but never feel like a failure for giving up on something that simply doesn't work – be it a relationship, a work project or a marathon. That isn't being a quitter – it is knowing deep down you gave it your best, and that is all you can do. Walking away from something is sometimes the most courageous thing you can do.
In a world increasingly obsessed with Kardashians and Jenners, I hope you'll be a Hepburn.
Beauty is what you want it to be, don't be too concerned with what other people tell you it is. And much as I obviously think you are the most beautiful creature that ever existed, I hope you will come to realise that it is your heart and your mind that will set the world on fire.
Having you has been the single most rewarding and amazing experience of my life, I hope you someday will get to experience the same joy/frustration/happiness/craziness/love and tiredness that children bring too. It is all worth it.
As your mum, as a woman, ultimately, I just hope when you are grown, that I have done my job right. That I have raised you with empathy, confidence, intelligence and grace.
The world needs more women like that.