Truthfully, we should be celebrating girls all day, every day. From leading movements for climate change to closing gender gaps in STEM and forming coalitions with fellow girl activists around the globe, the new generation of adolescent girls is done playing around.
Although we don’t have daily national holidays celebrating the strong girls in our lives, for 25 years, UNICEF has recognized October 11 as International Day of the Girl—a yearly initiative to amplify girls’ voices and bring awareness to the challenges they face all over the world.
This year, the theme “My voice, our equal future” inspired us to look back at our childhood years and consider the wisdom we’d share with our younger selves to help us prepare for the future. Check out what we had to say.
“Embrace your uniqueness. Don’t lose sight of yourself and your interests in an effort to be like anyone else.” – Katherine Brookman
“Don’t doubt yourself. Know how much strength you have.” – Kelsey Stevens
“Be your own best advocate.” – Tina Shively
“My advice to myself as a little girl would be to not get too upset that your elementary school teachers tell you not to talk so much. Your communication skills will be appreciated by the time you’re in middle school and one of your strongest skills as an adult. Also, opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck.” – Candice Honaker
“Enjoy the moment—focus on the blessings right in front of you every single day.” – Elizabeth Christian
“Have confidence and fake it till you make it.” – Lia Truitt
“Don’t let other people’s opinions define your beliefs and goals. It creates hidden limits to what you can do.” – Erin Ochoa
“My nieces make me very confident that our future is in good hands. My advice for them, that I wish someone had given me, ‘listen to your mother. She knows more than you think.'” – Kristin Marcum
“Life will come with great ups and great downs, but rest assured, there are wondrous things ahead—things beyond your imagination. Keep pushing, never stop, and celebrate every moment you earn.” – Levente McCrary
“Start saving for your retirement NOW! Have fun whenever and however you can. Make the most of every opportunity.” – Kathleen Smith
“Have a goal.” – Angelica Maldonado
“You don’t have to wait until you’re fearless to do something. Feel the fear and do it anyway.” – Emily Muhlberg
“Don’t worry. Don’t worry about things you can’t control. Everything works out the way it’s supposed to. It works out even better than you could ever imagine. You will learn so much. Don’t stress and keep dreaming and setting goals!” – Emma DeNard
“Don’t be afraid to speak up even if it makes you uncomfortable. Your moment of discomfort may put someone else at ease.” – Stacy Slayden
“As males—especially straight, white, American males—we are just born with countless advantages that we don’t have to fight for or defend and so the burdens and oppression of others can be hard to see and even harder to understand. In your life, you will be told to toughen up, take what you want, and to be serious… which is what girls are told, but they also are told to be nice, not make men feel threatened, and not to do anything that gets them hurt. They can do anything we can, but they’re supposed to look pretty while they do it. That’s a heavy burden to carry so your responsibility is to pay attention, listen, and use your advantages to make way for them and to speak up when other men act like these disadvantages don’t exist.” – David Wyatt
Angelica Maldonado is the digital coordinator at ECPR.