An Open Letter to My Niece on the Milestone of High School Graduation

Dear Paulina,

Congratulations! You did it! I’m so proud of you and all your accomplishments!

I know that even though you are one of the smartest people I know, it hasn’t always been easy to navigate the sometimes muddy waters of high school. I know there were times you were overwhelmed and stressed, times when you were disappointed and had your feelings hurt. I know when people say that’s just part of life, part of growing up, it doesn’t make you feel any better.

But you are one of the lucky ones!

Since the day you were born you’ve had a big group of adults close by who would take your pain upon themselves in a heartbeat if they could, who would do anything to help you and support you, who love you always and unconditionally. And as you’ve grown up with your cousins and sister, you’ve been blessed with a whole herd of family who will stand beside you and always have your back. You are one of the lucky ones. It takes a village to raise a child, and you grew up in one. And as you graduate high school and prepare to move on to adulthood and university and the world of jobs and responsibility, don’t ever forget for one moment that your village is close by.

I will always be close by.

If things get tough, if life kicks you in the stomach, if your heart gets broken, if you make mistakes, if things go awry and you feel sad, lonely, and disappointed, reach out and we’ll all be here.

I will be here.

Whether it’s a simple thing like not knowing what to do for a class, or whether it’s a much bigger problem weighing on your mind, I will always be here for you. I am just a phone call, text, message, or email away. If you need advice or someone to listen, you can count on me. If you’re afraid or nervous, you can count on my support. Any time of the day or night, I will be there. When it’s too scary or embarrassing to call your parents, you can call me. I’ve done a whole lot of scary and embarrassing in my life, so trust me, I’ll always have your back and I will never judge you.

I’m so excited for you as you start this chapter of your life. I know everyone always says that high school is the best time of your life, but in my experience that’s not necessarily true. Yes, you will soon have more responsibilities, real responsibility, but the whole world is about to open up for you and blow your mind. You will learn things you never knew, never even imagined. You will be inspired by so many things! You will meet new people and make strong lifelong friendships that will stand the test of time. You will do things you never thought you would and go places you never dreamed you would go.

You might hate some of your classes, and you might be surprised by how much you love some of your others. You will find new hobbies and interests. You will discover new passions.

Follow your heart, Paulina. Be bold. Be brave. Be an individual. Be Patricia if you need to fake it until you make it! But know that everything is possible. There isn’t anything that you can’t be successful at. The world is opening up for you and I am so excited to see where the future will take you.

I love you so much.

Kellie

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