On Wednesday, November 23rd, one of the most important people in my life turned seventeen. This is an open letter to her:
This is the final year before you’re officially (legally) an adult. So as you proceed into this pivotal year of your life, I thought I’d send you off with seventeen things I love about you.
As I tell you often, you are to me a reminder of what it means to feel pure, unadulterated happiness. I am grateful for every adventure we get to go on together, whether it be climbing fences, or randomly finding geocaches, or proposing to random people in the city, or just driving around with the music blasting in your car. And from this adventurous spirit, you have developed a spontaneity, and a propensity to take risks. There’s a natural high that people get from having fun for the sake of having fun, rather than in the absence of doing work. You embody that. You are a ray of sunshine, constantly committing random acts of kindness. Whether it’s just striking up a conversation with someone who seems a little bit down, driving around town to bring food to your friends, sparing a few bucks for someone who can’t make the sum, it is almost instinctual for you to lend a helping hand. You genuinely care for the well-being of everyone. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I will never forget when I called you crying, only to find the next day that you had written an entire Google Doc with 10 detailed reasons why I should love myself. You make people feel like they matter when they most need it.
I am so immensely proud of you and who you’ve become in the barely two years that I have gotten to know you. You are a leader. I cannot believe how large Z News has become. It is amazing that you using your fist as a microphone and interviewing people at a band competition has now turned into the schools’ weekly announcements. And I’m so proud that you aren’t afraid to express your passions. In helping found Arab Club, you have provided a safe space for so many people, and you have spread your culture to many people who would have otherwise never even been exposed to it. You are an inspiration, without even realizing it. By just being yourself and living up to and beyond your potential, you inspire so many people to do the same. Coming home and seeing you and all of our friends, I can see the impact you have had on each and every one of them. And on a more serious level of inspiration, you have the ability to motivate people. Most prominently, as Vice President of Service Council, you and Matt have revved up the class to create such a positive change on Carlmont’s overall morale. You practice overt acceptance, as a model for others. In helping to facilitate large events like the ‘Love Trumps Hate’ Rally, Carlmont Spreads Love Week, as well as many other events, you help people feel like they are a part of a community in which they belong.
Most importantly, the way you treat others reflects in the way you treat yourself. You constantly exude self-love. As we undergo puberty, we are vulnerable to dissatisfaction with our bodies, as we compare ourselves to the archetypical models we so frequently see. In the face of these unreasonable expectations, you constantly advocate for traditionally-viewed flaws to rather be regarded as attributes. This acceptance extends beyond body positivity, but to acceptance of personality, no matter how eccentric. You aren’t afraid to make a fool of yourself, to do something a little out of the ordinary. Things people find embarrassing, you do openly and without care, making it just a little bit more okay to be "weird." And in doing so, you make people feel comfortable. You take your insecurities and turn them into idiosyncrasies. It is so easy for you to get along with people from all groups and backgrounds. In each experience you have with a new person from another person, you grow yourself.
I am constantly in awe of your spirit, and I am humbled to call you my best friend. Everyone needs a “you” in their life. I know this is cheesy, but I only get to do this so often.
So thank you, and I am forever grateful for you.