I need you to be forgiving. To allow for missteps and fuck-ups without dissolving into a puddle
of guilt or shame or self pity or fear. I need you to work towards acceptance of your shyness
without resigning yourself to it. I need you to take more risks, speak up, rise up, put your
body or your opinion between the world as you can so vividly imagine it and the world as it
is. I need you to stop being so hard on the world. I need you to remain critical even when
You’re tired and it’s all work. I need you to give yourself a break sometimes — pour
yourself a glass of wine and turn on NPR and give up, for awhile anyway, on what you should be
doing. I need you to tackle guilt, hot glue a bright red mailbox tag to its head, and pause
every time you see it sticking up. Ask what it’s doing there but don’t let it multiply
out of control if you can’t find the answer.

I need you to never, never ever, forget what it feels like to be at Smith College where every
day is a series of encounters with sharply smart and gorgeous, confident women. I need you
to never, never ever, apologize for being a feminist. For believing in women. For demanding
an equality that goes beyond and alongside “I have a right to…” I need you to
be a friend — whatever that means in the moment. I need you to stay tender when it would
be oh so just so easy to harden. I need you to move, to dance, to run, to build, to dig, to
plant — to celebrate your body and its wonders. I need you to pass it on. Pass it on
to younger women and girls and learn from them. I need you to tell stories, and to listen.

I need you to call your mother more, and your father and sister, and tell them you love them.
I need you to think about what family means to you not just on holidays and birthdays but every
day. I need you to allow your mother to question you without losing sight of the love and concern
that pushes her to do things that make you want to run, fast, away from her. I need you to
ask your parents about their childhoods, and their day, and what matters to them.

I need you to cry when your body says cry, and laugh when your body says laugh. I need you
to live with intention — so keep making lists but try harder to cross things off. s tI need
you to ask yourself why you are avoiding things that make you scared or nervous. I need you
to at least thrust a toe out of that safety zone. I need you to be okay with not finding The.
Perfect. Job. now, or in three months, or ever.

I need you to remember how to develop film, and teach your children. And teach them about
worms, and how to make bread, and how to hold a hammer.

I need you to tell that loud neighbor to be quiet please and not feel bad about it. I need
you to be honest with those you love, like, dislike. I need you to never stop reading books.
I need you to watch bad movies with friends. I need you to accept compliments where they’re
given and give them more when they’re from the heart.

I need you to be vulnerable. I need you to be vulnerable.