It’s my daughter’s first day at Secondary School today. She is going to an academically selective, independent all girls’ school. I have already spoken of my reasons for choosing this in my article, Why after years of working in state schools, I am sending my daughter to an independent, academically-selective school. However, I want to write today about what I hope she will achieve by the end of her seven years.
I can’t begin to explain how much pride I have for you today as you face one of the most important and yet most terrifying days of your life. You will remember this day always. I know inside you feel a mix of excitement and fear, but I want you to know that this is very normal. The next week will be incredibly hard as you learn to make friends and settle down to the difficulties of moving around a new school with new routines, new subjects, new teachers and most of all new classmates. Like a dip in the sea. At first the water feels cold and unwelcoming, but once you are in and swimming, then you will never want to come out of it. The skills you will learn in making new friends, will remain with you and give you confidence to face the World as an adult.
The next seven years will be hard work. But you’ll also have plenty of times to laugh and have fun along the way. You will face many challenges in friendships, but you will also discover the joy of sharing your growth with friends. Many of your friends will remain so for life and these friendships are as close to having a sibling as possible. As much as you will meet people who like you, you will also meet people who dislike you and you can do nothing to change their opinion of you. Do not worry, as you will always meet such people in your adult life. Learn not to get too bogged down by this and try to brush it aside.
Remember that whatever you put into the world is what you will gain back. If you are kind to people, then kindness will come back to you. If you let yourself give into hate and bitterness, then that too will come back to you. You have your own opinions and beliefs and I find that a great asset. Yet remember to respect the opinions and beliefs of others ,even if at times you find it an impossibility.
I don’t expect anything from you. I don’t want you to become something because you feel that you must. I want you more than anything to be happy in your career choice, as well as being mindful that you may spend forty years in a career, so make sure it is something that excites you and of which you feel passionately. A reason to get up every morning. Never settle for anything because it is the easy option. And remember that earning your own money is the greatest tool you can ever have as a woman in terms of independence and security.
I want you to realise that there is nothing you cannot do in life. Your sex should never hold you back. The only obstacle to achieving your dreams is your own hard work and determination, of which you have plenty. You can do anything that you put your mind to. Of course, you will always meet people who are better than you and more competent than you, but there is nothing to replace strength of mind. You may fail occasionally but learning to deal with failure, is one of the hardest lessons we must learn in life.
Enjoy every minute and relish every second. This time will go so quickly that it will soon be a distant memory from the past. Never forget how much I love you and no matter what you do, I always will. At times it may seem as though I am your harshest critic, but I am also your greatest admirer. As much as you are on a journey of discovery then so too am I; learning how to be a good parent.
Good luck today and every day.