The Advice I’d Give to My Stepdaughter Before She Graduates from High School in 2027

My stepdaughter is now in year 7 and at a new school this year. We’ve all moved across to Melbourne, Australia, after being in Port Vila, Vanuatu, since 2018. Her new school seems to be going well for her. They have asked all parents of year 7’s to write a letter to their children for their time capsule, which will be opened in year 12 in 2027. As we will likely be back living in Vanuatu in 2027, she is unlikely to read what I have written. I have therefore decided to share what I have written here also. I doubt she will read it until then, but it was an interesting exercise. Below is my letter:

Dear M,

I am writing this letter to you as you are about to finish your secondary schooling. How cool is that? What’s the year 2027 like? Is it like the Fifth Element, where there are flying cars everywhere? Or like Minority Report, where everyone is getting locked up in jail for crimes they have thought about doing but haven’t committed yet? Or like Blade Runner, where it’s hard to tell who a robot and a human is?

Probably not, but I thought I’d ask. Does it seem like the world is getting better still? Or is everyone worried about the world and its people even though progress has been made? Hopefully, there hasn’t been another pandemic that has shut things down again, and even though we still worry about Russia and China, we haven’t had a nuclear war or World War III.

I don’t even know if you will get this letter. I guess you will return to Vanuatu and attend the international school again. Hopefully, they manage to get it to you in some way.

Either way, I am super proud of you. It’s been so cool to see how you have adjusted to life here in Melbourne and Australia in 2022. Your mum was more scared of how you would do with coming to Melbourne than how she would do. Not that it is a competition, but you are doing way better so far. I hope it continues that way for you and that you enjoy your time here in Melbourne and at your new school.

I’m proud of you for being unapologetically yourself and doing whatever you want, regardless of what others do. I wish I had the same courage to do that in high school when I was your age. I do it these days, but it took me a long time to get to that point.

I’m happy that you are such a voracious reader at your age and that you are so curious too. You described yourself as curious in the video questions I asked you this year, which is super cool. I hope you continue to love reading, learning, and being curious about everything for the rest of your life. There’s this weird term called polymath, a person of vast knowledge or wisdom. I think it’s a pretty cool thing to be, and if you can do that, it means that the world is your oyster, and you can apply yourself to learn about and do whatever it is that you want.

Your school is telling me to discuss my hopes and wishes for you next. Essentially, I just want you to feel okay with who you are and for you to be able to enjoy some things. I hope for life to not feel too difficult for you, for you to have some connections and relationships that mean a lot to you with people you feel close to. I also hope you are doing what you want to do in your life. Finally, I hope you know that we will always have your back and will never try to keep you from doing the things you want.

You don’t need to be super successful in a societal sense with lots of money, cars and houses. I just want you to feel loved by your mum and me and know that you are living the life that you want to be and not be held back by your fears too much. Life can be scary, but the more we choose to move towards the life we want rather than be held back by our fears, the better life we can have. Or at least that is how I think about it.

My feeling at this moment is complete gratitude. I am grateful that you are in my life. I want to be a positive male role model in your life that is 100% happy when you can be the best version of yourself. I don’t really want anything else.

Some of my best memories of you are when we first met. Doing things together. Playing games at my house initially. Then, you wanted to move in with your mum and me. Us living in our new place near your school and grandparents together. Us going on trips overseas together. You teaching me to be as honest as I can be. Us talking over video and the phone while I was in Australia by myself for 17 months. When I felt like I wanted to get better for you and your mum after I had a stroke. When I felt like we are a family together. Helping you with your math or any other homework when you are stuck. Doing new things with you, like going on bike rides, swimming together, rock climbing, or anything else you enjoy.

I’m then meant to give you advice as your graduate high school. I hope you have enjoyed as much time as possible between years 7 and 12. If you remain curious and interested in what you are learning, I’m sure you will do well. I hope that you have some options for whatever it is that you would like to do next. Try to enjoy it where you can, be grateful for the positive things you have, and don’t feel like you need to have all the answers straight away. I definitely didn’t have everything figured out when I was your age, and I doubt that I do even now.

Life is about asking the right questions and trying to live your life in a way that will help you figure out the answers you seek. If you need some time off or a gap year, take it. Just make sure you spend your time in the ways you would like. Someone on the couch all day who wishes they could be doing something else is not happy. Someone who chooses to be on the couch all day and does it can be. So do whatever it is that you feel that you need to be doing at the moment. If you do this unapologetically, you will hopefully get out of it what you need so that you feel like you have correctly done this. Once you get tired of this or all the benefits you want, move on. Then get everything that you can out of that.

Life isn’t always easy, and our brains will never be 100% satisfied. This doesn’t have to be a problem. Seeking and searching for new and better things is not a sign that something is wrong. It is just how the brain works. Try to enjoy whatever you can, be grateful for what you have, and put your energy towards creating the things you want for yourself and others. If you do this, you will live the best possible life.

The more you can enjoy the effort you put in towards something, whatever it is, the more you will be willing to do hard things. If you can do this, you can have a good life by doing what you want. Your brain will probably always strive for more, which is normal and natural. Just go out there, experience all the things you want to, and try not to be held back by fear when it is about doing what you want to that is likely to be safe. Try to keep being the person you want to be. If you ever need anything, whether it is a shoulder to cry on, a hug, a break from everything, or some guidance, know that I will be there to try to help you. I can’t guarantee that I will always help you the way you want, but I will always try my best.

Much love,

Damon

Published by Dr Damon Ashworth

I am a Clinical Psychologist. I completed a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at Monash University and a Bachelor of Behavioural Sciences and a Bachelor of Psychological Sciences with Honours at La Trobe University. I am passionate about the field of Psychology, and apply the latest empirical findings to best help individuals meet their psychological and emotional needs.

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