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Lessons for My Daughter

I will explain fear to my daughter so that later in life she won’t find herself putting sticky pieces together.

When she’s small enough to crawl into the crescent my arms make for her, I’ll tell her it’s nothing more than a bored little earworm. Propped against her eardrum to cause nothing more than confusion, whispering falsehoods about who she is and what she’s capable of, and occasionally manipulating shadows that are meant to keep her company, into monsters she’ll feel compelled to run away from. I’ll tell her fear is the voice in our heads that declares ‘our limits’, posing as a helpful reminder but is nothing more than a mere distraction trying to make you feel smaller.

When she begins to dream while still wide awake and her eyes start scanning the world, I’ll tell her how fear lingers around to make her feel lesser. I’ll tell her how it will always be the reason to not do something and when it succeeds, it will mock her for being weak while also pretending to be her savior, but I’ll remind her that courage is not the absence of fear - for that bitch will probably never altogether disappear - but it is her ability to push through even when triggered.

When her body slowly starts melting into curves and she no longer walks into a room as an innocent little girl, I’ll tell her how easy it is to mix up fear with being observant, for while I will always be one step behind, she is her own best protector. As my daughter embraces her womanhood I’ll tell her how fear will plant distrust and cynicism, constantly giving her reasons to retreat from the crowd and find shelter. For predators will watch her walk by but continue to linger, and jealous voices will wait for her back to turn before they begin to whisper. The older she gets, the harder it will be to find sincerity and safety in this cesspool of vulgarity and social pressure, and on most days, fear will thrive unabashedly for it will finally be the reason she’s kept on her toes and that may be what helps her notice the creep following her home and eventually she will begin to believe that fear is a friend rather than enemy.

On such days I will be louder than those voices, adamant not to let it become her biggest oppressor. Because others will try to take what isn’t theirs in the first place, and bad people will always exist but do not let that harbor a fugitive within. With every voice she internalizes, she will believe yet another reason to simply give in. On such days, fear can either be her enemy, or the foil to her protagonist. She can let fear be the reason she remains unsure and insecure and hidden, or she can dub that voice her biggest competitor - one that she constantly learns from, but ultimately works to bowl over.

I will explain fear to my daughter at every stage of her life, so she can separate all the voices on the inside and understand that hers is the only one that matters.

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