Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

To my daughter as she enters high school

A new beginning

A new beginning

There are so many thoughts and feelings running through my mind and heart right now. I can still remember so vividly the day you were born, the first time I held you and gazed upon your face. How is it possible that you are starting high school today? How did our days of playing all day together and going for walks in the stroller fly by so quickly? Your early childhood has sped by full of laughter and tears, shared heartache and hopes and great adventures together.

I love new beginnings; they’re full of excitement and promise. But that also means that we face an end, an end to your being my little girl. But the beginning of being a young adult, with your own ideas, dreams and decisions. The beginning of building a friendship that is beautiful, and that will last for the rest of our lives. As you move into this new beginning, here are the things I hope you’ll remember.

  1. Embrace your individuality: It’s so easy to want to be like everyone else, to try to fit in. But you are a unique individual, with your very own beauty and strength. You were born to stand out, to forge your own path. I see you already beginning to do that, and it makes my heart happy. Remember that no one has ever achieved greatness by trying to be like everyone else.
  2. Be a good friend and look for good friends: Friendships can be rocky in high school, and filled with competition. Nurture relationships with people who support you for being your best self, rather than those who pressure you to be someone else. Be the kind of friend who helps others be their best.
  3. Make choices, don’t have them made for you: In high school, you’ll have more freedom and more opportunity to make your own choices about things. That includes choosing or not choosing to take opportunities to learn new things, build new skills, and have new adventures. You may feel pressured, even by me, to choose certain paths. Please remind me in those moments to listen to you; to hear your thoughts and help you think things through, because it is your life that you are building, not mine.You will also have the chance to be involved with things that could hurt you, like alcohol, drugs, and unsafe relationships. You must think about how you’ll handle these pressures before you are in the middle of them. And if you see a friend, or even someone you don’t know, getting into an unsafe situation, try to help. Don’t be afraid to call me or get adults involved. Don’t ever stand by the side and watch someone be hurt.
  4. Know that I am here: Just as I’ve always been. Whatever the situation, whatever the struggle, and whatever the decision you’re wrestling with; I will not turn away from you. Since the day you were born, I’ve been committed to being here for you. That will never change. As you grow up and make your own life and decisions and forge your own path, remember that in my heart you will always be my girl and if you need me, I am here.

Although I write this with tears, they are tears of joy. Understand that I am so excited for you. Life is a great adventure, and I hope and pray for a grand adventure for you! When you were going through a challenging time in middle school, I gave you the Dr. Seuss book Oh, The Places You’ll Go! This quote from that book stands out to me as I think about you starting high school,

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

My greatest hope for you is this: That you be committed to making this world a better place. In small, everyday ways, you can bring justice, love, peace, and joy to your own little corner of the world. And as you grow and learn, you can begin to impact the world in larger ways. The first step lies in believing that you can. Kid, you’ll move mountains. As Dr. Seuss so eloquently said,

“You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting,

So… get on your way!”

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This entry was posted on August 26, 2013 by in Acting, For Teens and Tweens and tagged , , .
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