My sweet girl,

It is the summer before you start middle school. I don’t know how this came about so quickly. It seems like just yesterday I brought you home from the hospital where you promptly began screaming for the next 4 months of your life. Now, seemingly overnight, we are looking at a middle school supply list and you are scouring the Internet for the perfect cute backpack that expresses the essence of your personality with its unique color scheme and print.

I remember middle school. It is a weird time. Kids are so worried about what others might think of them that they often feel pressured to do something they wouldn’t do otherwise. They might feel failure more acutely.

You might feel this way, too.

You might be afraid to be yourself for fear of being laughed at. You might be afraid to try something new because you might not be good at the new venture.

But right now is a perfect time to try new things. I want you to try anything that piques your interest. Play the bassoon, take karate, enroll in cooking classes, try out for volleyball. Try all of the things. By trying new things, you will eventually stumble across your thing. Your passion.

But hear this: it is OK to fail. It is OK to try something new, and even despite your best efforts, you might come out just average.

And I want you to know that is OK.

It is OK to just be … OK.

There will always be someone better than you at whatever activities you choose to pursue. Someone will be a better painter. A better runner. A better student.

But no one will be a better you.

So my wish for you is simple. Choose people and things that fill your heart with joy. If you find joy in an activity, keep going. You will only get better. If someone else is better than you, applaud them. Learn from them. But continue being you. Because we all start somewhere.

Keep with the things that bring you joy even if you aren’t the best. They are worth doing. There will be times in your life when you need to recall that joy, and the familiar action of your beloved activity will bring you comfort.

I just tucked you into bed tonight much later than your little brothers. We just finished watching way too much British Baking Show while cuddling under blankets. I kept peeking over at you … your long legs splayed outside the blankets, a smile revealing your braces, your long curly hair that is still so much like when you were a toddler. Maybe you will be a baker. I don’t know.

But what I do know is that it is OK to take risks and even fail. You will emerge stronger. I hope you stumble upon something you love. I hope you keep going when you are discouraged.

I hope you are as infinitely happy as I am being your mom–which I am mostly just OK at, but since I love it (and you) I keep going.

Love, Mom