To My Precious Daughter,
My beautiful girl, who brightens our every day, who giggles at all the joys of life, whose inherent nature is so caring and creative—I wish for you a fulfilled and meaningful life. To that end, there are some things I think you should know.
Before the world imprints upon your spirit too many misguided notions and ideas, there are seven lessons I hope you carry with you always.
Understand What True Beauty Is
You are beautiful. Indeed, you’ve been blessed with outer beauty, the kind which may bring you praise all your life. Take it lightly.
True beauty comes from within.
Inner beauty is a product of good character, reflecting the qualities of kindness, generosity, a caring and nurturing spirit, gentleness, forbearance, loyalty, and peace. These are naturally inherent in you already. Cherish them.
In fact, in ancient times, the Chinese character for beauty, měi (美), meant “peaceful and auspicious.” What’s more, the Chinese character for compassion, shan (善) is very similar to that of beauty, reminding us of how the outer form is related to the inner meaning.
Inner beauty is what truly matters. (That we even need to call it “inner” beauty and not simply beauty is rather telling.)
The world may try to convince you otherwise. From the marketing campaigns of the fashion and cosmetics industries to so much of today’s popular entertainment, superficial appearances are given disproportionate attention, while the importance of character is relegated to the margins.
Look at the fairy tales we love to read and even the Disney movies we enjoy so much. Outer beauty is used as a metaphor for inner beauty in so many classic tales.
Snow White, for example, was the “fairest in the land,” a reflection of her inner beauty. In her book “Saving Cinderella, What Feminists Get Wrong About Disney Princesses and How to Set it Right,” author Faith Moore points out: “It’s the Queen that’s obsessed with Snow White’s physical beauty. The Queen. The bad guy. Snow White has absolutely no interest in her physical self.”
The Queen’s superficiality and, of course, her jealousy, are what makes her evil.
Moore also points to the scene where the Prince professes his love for Snow White: “He loves her even in her ragged clothing, proving that he’s not concerned with her physical appearance or her status, only what’s in her heart.”
So, what I’m saying is, believe in fairy tales and know that beauty is an inside job.
One of the loveliest pieces of “beauty advice” was written by author Sam Levenson:
“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.
“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows.”
As you go through your life, look for the beauty in everything. Develop an understanding of and appreciation for true beauty.
Learn about the very best of the arts. Visit the finest museums. Read the greatest literature. Listen to beautiful music.
Practice any artistic pursuit you are drawn to. Learn to play an instrument or two. Engage in practical creative skills. Make your home beautiful, too.
Look for the beauty in any situation and in others. You will surely find it.
You Are Blessed
Do you know what the odds are of your being born at this time in human history and under the fortunate circumstances we live in? You have been blessed to be born in this age, into a free society, into a family that that loves you unconditionally. The possibilities and opportunities for you to build a life that is meaningful and fulfilling are truly boundless.
Ground yourself in gratitude and with a strong spiritual foundation that you maintain throughout your life.
Nurture Your Talents
One of the most miraculous characteristics of humanity is the extent to which everyone is different. You have been endowed with your own unique strengths and talents. They are yours for a reason. Nurture them, allow them to grow, and put them to the best use possible. You may find that doing so brings you some of your life’s greatest joys.
You Can Overcome Anything
Of course, even with blessings so abundant, life will be full of ups and downs. It can be tempting in times of suffering, perhaps, to pin the blame on external sources. Don’t believe yourself to be a victim.
You have the freedom and opportunity to pursue any path you wish. Your success will depend upon whether or not you have the natural talent required, whether you’re willing to work hard, and whether circumstances will be favorable to your aims.
Think like a victor. A victim mentality gives away your agency, shirks responsibility, and discourages your belief in yourself. A victor, on the other hand, will turn anything into a triumph. When life gets you down, look inside yourself, find the lesson, and then pick yourself right back up.
Motherhood Is a Noble Calling
There will likely come a time when you find yourself married and starting a family. While you can be anything you want to be, and the doors to any career path are wide open to you, don’t let anyone let you believe that motherhood is less noble. If anything, it is more so.
As Mother Teresa once said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” This is truly the power a mother has.
If you are blessed to become a mother, and few blessings could be greater, give your whole self to the job and take the responsibility seriously. Love and educate your children. Honor the responsibility of providing a loving home environment and playing your role well within your family. You will never regret doing so.
Family is the bedrock of society. Let yours be a shining example of a loving family in the world and watch the ripple effects that has. You can truly change the world.
Life will be full of temptations. You may find yourself wanting to please others and make people like you. Don’t look outward for validation.
Moral fortitude is worth developing. Hold onto your strong moral values and, as Shakespeare put it, “to thine own self be true.”
Like true beauty, true strength is found within.
Barbara Danza is a full-time mom of two and a family and education reporter for The Epoch Times.