Dear Pauline,

Today you are turning 17. 17! It seems like it was only yesterday when you started taking your first steps, with that look of determination on your focused little face that I recognize in you even today. I know you feel embarrassed when I talk about you growing up, so I will try and focus on the advice I have for you on this special birthday. I feel incredibly blessed to have a child like you and I am truly happy and proud to see the wonderful young woman you are becoming. You are kind, confident and smart. You are sweet yet strong, and really determined. Truly beautiful inside and out. Your life is just beginning and your Dad and I can’t wait to watch you write the next chapters. I know I cannot prepare you for everything in life. I know you will learn many lessons by yourself. But if it can help you a little along your way, here are a few pieces of advice I would like to share with you, hoping you will find some wisdom in this.

Know yourself. Find out who you are, what you think, what you care about. What is your passion ? What are your strengths ? And limitations ? What drives your happiness and makes your heart sing ? Look in, dig deep, to know who you are and what you stand for. Because as you grow, you want to grow into who you really are and not be pushed in a direction that’s not yours.

Be true to yourself. There isn’t another you anywhere in the world, so show the world who you are and why you’re so special. It’s a matter of integrity. Don’t worry about pleasing other people or complying with standards. Allow your true colors to shine through, exactly as you are.

Love yourself. To be happy in life starts by accepting and loving yourself unconditionally, acknowledging that you are not perfect. Be kind, respectful, and loving to yourself as the way you treat yourself will show others how to treat you. You carry so much love in your heart, give some to you!

Believe in yourself. Arguably the biggest contributing factor to success is self-belief. You can and will accomplish anything you desire with this confidence in yourself, and, of course, determination and hard work. Confidence comes from within; it stems from positive attitude and a deep belief in yourself and your abilities.

Push yourself. And find out how far you can go. Explore out of your comfort zone. Be bold and dare: you will miss 100% of shots you don’t take!! Being too cautious will leave you with regrets. You need to accept failures as stepping stones towards your dream. Everyone fails at something – it’s ok. What is not ok is not to try. Continue to explore, venture in the unknown, meet new people. You never know what door will open if you just put yourself out there.

Keep learning. Your personal growth is what will make you truly successful overtime. So, ask yourself each day: “Am I better than I was yesterday, and am I prepared to learn and be better tomorrow?” Seek to grow: watch, listen, be open, learn from everything you do and everyone you meet. Take a genuine interest in the world around you.

Finally, find your reason for being. Everybody has their own path. Whatever path you choose, follow your passion, as true success never happens without passion. Your fulfillment will come from pursuing what makes you happy, what leverages your strengths and embracing a life that has meaning for you. The more you can be in that magical place where your passion, profession, vocation and mission collide, the more you will thrive in life. I wish you to find this special place and I promise you I will do all I can to help you on your journey there.

My dearest Pauline, I wish you the happiest of birthdays and exciting times ahead. Thank you for being my daughter. Thank you for changing me for the better. Thank you for making me complete.

With all my love, Maman ❤