This one’s for the little girls who use big fancy words and strain their eye sight reading late at night under the covers with a flashlight. Your grandmother says you’ll be the first girl in the family to go to college. And family friends think you’ll grow up to be a lawyer- or a scientist- something smart.
They tell you you’re not like other girls and that feels good. You’re special. You get all A’s in every class and adore paper work. At family gatherings you like to sit and listen to the old men talk politics and religion. You can out debate your brothers’ friends and are good at anything you want to be good at. Others labor over learning a new skill, and without any effort you easily surpass them.
They’ll tell you you’re the smart one and shouldn’t throw your life away. It’s easy for a girl’s heart to grow prideful under such flattery. You start to believe that you actually are better than other girls.
Maybe you will get that scholarship to college, most of us do. You’ll study something in the humanities and think you know better than all the dead white men that came before you. All the boring normal girls will get married and have their perfect little husbands and their perfect little babies. But you’ll read another book deconstructing systems of oppression like patriarchy. You’ll cut your hair short and dye it green, bucking oppressive beauty standards. You’ll realize God is dead and quit going to church. You’ll look down on your boring mother who never accomplished much with her life. And you’ll still be better than other girls.
But maybe you’ll choose something different.
Maybe you, like me, only ever wanted to be a mommy when you were that bookish, anemic, librarian of a little girl. Maybe you too, felt afraid of disappointing the people you love who expected you to have a brilliant career. Maybe you dreaded maintaining your reputation as a bright, sharp nerd- some disgusting stereotype straight out of “The Big Bang Theory”. Maybe you were also a daydreamer, who longed for a life that was feminine, soft, and surrendered. Maybe you did long to be more like other girls.
The pride you carry, the burden of expectations you hold- can all be set aside. You don’t have to be special. You can love to hear the old men talk politics and help your grandma bake her famous pumpkin pie. You can use your intellect and put your love of knowledge to use without losing your heart and your soul.
You were once a sensitive, slip of a girl who loved big words and became near sighted reading by flashlight. Humble, sweet, and gentle. You don’t deserve to be separated from the other little girls, to carry the burden of living like a man. You have a mind that thirsts for truth, but your heart still hungers for love and submission.
I want to offer you advice no one else will give you. Humble yourself and lay aside you pride. Ignore the demands that the world places upon you, that you conform to their cult of intelligence- that demands you sacrifice a life of health and tradition and peace in favor of one that will break your heart, ruin your body, and leave you with a cat to die alone.
They tell you to follow your heart, dear girl, but they want you to follow their script. Don’t be afraid to live the life your sweet, curious heart once longed for. It may be hard to stop believing you’re better than other girls. But accepting this will open the door to a beautiful, rich sisterhood. It will earn you the respect of men instead of competitive animosity.
And you can pass your love of books and words down to a new generation of bright, beautiful children. And you will see your ideals and knowledge grown in your own little family. And you’ll still spend many a cold winter’s night curled up with a good book- this time with a baby in your lap or a husband’s arm around your shoulders. ❤