You live fearlessly these days, Daughter, never second-guessing yourself or ashamed of who you are. And I cherish these years of mothering a young, but ever-growing girl.

Your heart beats joyfully, as evidenced by the perpetual smile on your face and the flurry of light beaming from your eyes. I watch you and am assured that you were made to shine brightly in this world.

You have not yet begun to worry about climbing the tiers of social standing, because right now you are grounded in the innocence and freedom of childhood. You wear your name as proudly and boldly as you wear your mismatched clothes. And I treasure each moment that you remain in this beautiful place.

Watching you live unchained to the standards of society is inspiring. You carry on effortlessly, seemingly immune to the negativity and harsh messages that women my age have become attuned to.

All you know is that you are right where you belong. And while I also know this to be true, one day you may start to believe otherwise. Because one day, you will cross paths with people who try to convince you that you don’t fit it.

These people will point out your differences and imperfections, telling you that you don’t belong. You will begin to question your clothing choices, perhaps no longer willing to take the fashion risks that you do these days. You will begin to question parts of yourself that need not be questioned, such as your upbeat and accepting personality. Or your interests that lean towards the arts rather than athletics. Or the size of your jeans or the shape of your nose or the way you laugh. Or perhaps even the kindness that so easily flows from your heart.

You will gain a new understanding of the world and realize that it’s populated with people who tend to compare and compartmentalize. Some of them will try to change you from the person you were made to be into the person they want you to be. Others will attempt to condition you to believe that life is a competition, one that you’ll never win if you don’t fit inside society’s mold or conform to the trends of the day. Confusion will infiltrate your once certain thoughts, and the confidence you exhibit now will begin to fade.

Suddenly, you will start to notice ways in which you stand out from the crowd, and the crowd will be eager to point them out. Media noise and peer judgements will swirl around you, and it will be all too easy to lose your sense of self. Your reflection in the mirror will become blurred and you may ask yourself who am I and where do I belong?

When you struggle to answer those questions, I hope you remember the fearless little girl you are today. I hope you remember you are a beautiful girl who is kind and creative, loving and compassionate, intelligent and imaginative.

And that there is always a place for a girl like you, though you won’t always believe it.

So when you feel like you don’t belong out there, I pray that you always feel like you belong in here. In this home. In my arms. In my heart.

And when the outside voices become hostile, I hope you can hear the sound of my voice speaking into your heart. You belong, beautiful girl. When you feel like an outsider, I hope you remember that you will always belong inside this family. And that the person you are on the inside will always be in style, for a good heart always belongs.

The world doesn’t always tolerate an imperfect girl who breaks the mold. But I hope you will keep shining anyway. Because if you can continue to accept yourself just as you are, I think you’ll find that you will always belong just where you are.

You may also like:

Dear Daughter, The Truth is Not Everyone is Going to Like You (and That’s OK)

Dear Daughter, Do Not Be Perfect

Here’s to the Girl Who Knows Who She is and to Whom She Belongs

Jenny Albers

Jenny Albers is a wife, mother, and writer.  She is the author of Courageously Expecting, a book that empathizes with and empowers women who are pregnant after loss. You can find Jenny on her blog, where she writes about pregnancy loss, motherhood, and faith. She never pretends to know it all, but rather seeks to encourage others with real (and not always pretty) stories of the hard, heart, and humorous parts of life. She's a work in progress, and while never all-knowing, she's (by the grace of God) always growing. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.