Dear daughters: don’t be like me.

Don’t spend your youth trying to please everyone but yourself.

Don’t spend your time always trying to do all the right things, to be the right person, so others will approve of you.

Don’t be defined by what you think others want, what others expect, of you.

Don’t get trapped in the role of living as a people pleaser.

Don’t worry so much about trying to get someone to like you that you forget you are already likable. Don’t worry about earning anyone else’s approval—not a teacher’s, not a coach’s, not a boy’s or a friend’s, not even your parents’—because you are already worthy.

When I was your age, I worked hard to be the whole package. I wanted to get good grades because I thought getting into a good college would please my mom. I tried to be a leader at school because I knew it would make my dad proud. I became a cheerleader because I thought that would make me liked by others, and joined clubs only because of my friends.

And while I was happy and lived a great life, I felt unsatisfied because I never found out who I was, who I wanted to become, until much later in life.

Like most young girls, I wanted—I needed—to be liked, so I lived my life in a way to make that happen. And when someone didn’t like me, when I didn’t meet someone’s expectations, I was crushed.

What I didn’t realize: you can be the ripest, juiciest, most unblemished peach in the box, but some people just don’t like peaches. It had nothing to do with me.

So, dear daughters, don’t be like me.

Don’t let your natural kindness inhibit you from saying no to things you don’t want to do—so you can find your passions instead.

Don’t defer your wants and needs so much that you deny yourself simple pleasures—so you understand what makes you happy.

Don’t pursue activities because you think it will make your parents, your friends or anyone else like you—because you may miss out on your true calling.

Don’t try to fix every situation, every problem, every broken person, because it’s not your job or responsibility—because you need to learn to develop healthy give-and-take relationships. It’s OK to say no.

Don’t see your self-worth from the perceived opinions of others.

Don’t be afraid of letting anyone else down—feel the fear and use it to fuel the discovery of finding your place in this world

You are already kind. You are already thoughtful. And you are already so loved.

Free yourself of the shackles of anyone else’s expectations now, so you can find your best life earlier than you mom did.

Dear daughters, don’t be like me.

Because it took me a long time, but I finally figured out that I deserved better than living for others’ approval.

Living for my own is so much better.

Originally published on Playdates on Fridays by Whitney Fleming

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a communications consultant, and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays.