To daughters and sons, cousins, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends and foes; to people at work and the people on the train; to strangers and lovers:
Feel confident and comfortable in who you are, what you want, and what makes you happy. Find strength in your beliefs, in your choices, and in your mistakes. You are not simply a culmination of your life until now, you are fecund with promise and potential. You have the right to demand better, but never forget that you also have an obligation to be better. Your quirks are to be embraced, not changed, and your needs are to be understood, not questioned. You do not deserve to be belittled or berated. You do not deserve to be stifled or squashed. You do not deserve name-calling, slut-shaming, or to bear the brunt of other peoples’ insecurities. You do not deserve to be made to feel as if your friends or family aren’t good enough, aren’t loyal enough, aren’t loving enough. You do not deserve to be picked apart or placed under a magnifying glass. You do not deserve to be punished for your past relationships, past mistakes, or decisions. And just as you do not deserve these things, no one deserves these things from you.
While love may not always know reason, loving someone means being reasonable. It means respecting someone. It means attempting to understand someone. It means accepting someone. If anyone, anywhere, ever causes you to question these things, question yourself, gives you pause, or makes you feel a little less special, a little less you, you have every right to demand more, to take more, and to be more. Above all else, remember this, please: