To my 15-year-old self...

Last Thursday, October 11th, the UN and the global community celebrated, for the first time, the International Day of the Girl. This was a much needed acknowledgment of the all too common suffering, inequality and abuse imposed on girls worldwide and a tribute to their collective strength and determination. Sadly, this first celebration was marked by the shooting two days prior of Malala Yousufzai, a courageous 14 year-old girl and activist for girl's education and women's rights under the Taliban regime. She remains in intensive care and in our collective thoughts and prayers.

To support this brave girl and others like her, several of inspiring women were asked by CNN to share their response to this question: "Looking back, what one piece of advice would you give to your 15-year-old-self?" Though I was a little disappointed not to have a response from Michelle Obama or Alice Walker, I found that the most insightful advice came from the lesser-known figures. Forget my 15-year-old self, these words have their place in my life today:
"Believe in your dreams and ideals and pursue them with determination and motivation. Always find the time to do something for other people. Indeed, there is nothing more rewarding than making someone else happy." - Fabiola Gionotti, Physicist
"I have bad news for you: You're not clairvoyant. Not even a little. You have no idea how the future will unfold. But it will unfold, slowly and quickly and slowly again, in ways that you cannot now begin to imagine. So stop trying to guess what's coming next. All the effort you put into figuring out what will happen, all the scenarios you play out in your mind - they're useless. And that's a good thing. Relax and let the future arrive on its own time and in its own way. Allow yourself to be astonished." - Robin Bernstein, Historian.
If asked the same question, my advice would be simple: love yourself beyond limits, unconditionally. Looking back, I think that might have solved a few problems, eased a few passages, and assuaged many anxieties. I'm still working on it. Of course my girlhood and those of the CNN interviewees are certainly much different from that of Malala Yousafzai. However don't we all, as girls, women, human beings, need the same fundamental advice, care, support, and encouragement? What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

Just a little brain and heart food to munch on in honor of the first International Day of the Girl....

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