She asks me what I would say to my daughter if she were to come to me with the exact same dream I possess.
The minute the words leave her mouth, my throat tightens. It's what happens when I try not to cry. My neck grows red and the corners of my eyes squeeze together and the burning grows and grows and grows until it feels like my neck may burst with pressure. I always have two choices here: cry and risk hysterics, or swallow it and feel the gravelly resistance settling into my chest and bones.
This question scares me with its weightiness.
A few weeks ago, I woke up with a name. It was a girl's name, and it rested square in that space where my soul begs for me to pay attention.
The name is not important—at least not for this story—but the feelings surrounding it won't leave me alone. The truth?
I know I am meant to have a daughter.
And even though this human doesn't even exist yet, I am scared shitless I will fail her.
This is more than a fear of acting out of my human-ness. This is the inherent fear of percolating cycles just waiting to float to the surface. I know the feeling of worthlessness settling in your bones. I know the way dreams beckon and mock you. I know what it means when someone you love looks at you and makes little of your words and story.
So when my friend whispered this question with tears in her eyes about what I would say if my daughter approached me, I knew.
I've known for a while.
First, I would reach across her and grab her hands. I would place my forehead against her own. I would soften my words to barely a whisper and say —
Baby girl, your dreams matter. This dream matters. And more than anything I want you to know that the shaking in your knees? It means you're alive. Fear can be your friend. Close those eyes. Breathe deep. Feel the way the your pulse is pounding in your chest and arms and how your throat is tightening because all the emotion is threatening to cut loose.
Let it out, love.
More than anything, I want you to know your gut is golden. Listen to her. Believe in the beauty of friendships with women because they'll be the ones who help you up when you fall and push you back out into the ring when you don't think you can go another round. Don't look for the enthusiasts. They'll leave you as soon as you disappoint.
Look for the ones who will challenge you. Look for the ones who will grab your face with tears in their eyes and whisper with a ferocity unmatched that you are worthy and capable of more than this because you ARE, baby girl.
They'll be the ones who remind you to move. One step in front of the other. They won't care about whether or not you'll leave them behind because they'll know that's not possible.
And when you doubt, when you begin to wonder whether or not this dream is worth the pain and stress and exhaustion, breathe in and breathe out and smile because the way of a woman finding her calling is a glory long forgotten.