Hillary Clinton's Letter to Her Teenage Self Is So Powerful. Teen Vogue.

Dear Hillary,

Well, you've nearly finished your first semester at Wellesley—congratulations!

When you first arrived on campus, you found yourself surrounded by brilliant, accomplished women. They were fluent in other languages. They had lived abroad. They had already read half the books on the syllabus. That was intimidating—so intimidating, in fact, that you called your parents and told them you didn't belong at Wellesley after all, and you needed to come home. Your dad, who'd never really wanted you to go so far away for school in the first place, was more than ready to welcome you back. But your mother was not about to let that happen. She said you had to be brave; you had to stick it out. And you had the good sense not to argue, which turned out to be one of the best decisions you ever made.

I know it's hard to believe right now, Hillary, but soon you are going to share that story with those classmates who seem so worldly today. You will all laugh when you realize that every single one of you felt the same way. There is a lesson there for you: Take risks, and don't be afraid to get caught trying.

Do your best to embrace the excitement that comes with not knowing what's next, and remember that confidence and an open mind will always serve you better than insecurity and doubt. And the next time someone raises her hand in class and says something really smart, go up to her afterward and introduce yourself. You'll be glad you did.

At Wellesley and throughout your life, you'll find yourself in plenty of rooms where you're sure everyone is smarter than you are—and sometimes they will be. But one of the best things in life is getting to know intelligent, inspiring people who have something to say. Learn from them. Ask their advice. Support them, and let them support you. After all, you're plenty smart, too. Remember how Mrs. King in sixth grade used to tell you not to hide your light under a bushel basket? She was right.

Here's something else, Hillary: For a girl who likes to have a plan, you are going to take a lot of leaps of faith. I can't promise they'll all work out the way you want them to. But I can promise that you will learn from every single one of them.

When your fellow students at Wellesley ask you to give the graduation speech on behalf of the class of 1969, you'll be humbled and a little terrified. Do it anyway.

Down the road, your tall, handsome boyfriend who's crazy about politics will ask you to move to Arkansas with him. It will be a pretty outlandish suggestion—in fact, your friend Sara will spend the entire drive to Little Rock trying to talk you out of it—but your heart will steer you right. Later, that same man will encourage you to run for the U.S. Senate: "You'd be great at it. I'd love to vote for you." You should do that, too. Oh, and when president-elect Barack Obama says he wants to talk to you about a job opportunity in his cabinet, hear him out. Serving your community, your state, and your country will be the greatest privilege of your life.

There are a few other pieces of advice I can't resist passing on (that's an impulse you'll understand soon enough): Always send thank-you notes.

There's nothing a good night's sleep can't make better—you'll really put that one to the test.

Treasure your parents, because as much as you value your independence, there will come a day when you'd give anything to just sit between them on the couch and tell them about your day.

Keep reading, and never stop learning. When you're facing an uphill battle, be grateful for your persistence. (You'll have no idea what a gift this particular trait is until you're dealing with Congress—but let's not get ahead of ourselves.) And in the moments when you feel lost, it's your friends who will see you through. They will lift you up and keep you grounded all at once. Best of all, they will help you learn to love yourself exactly as you are: human, imperfect, a work in progress, but always striving.

Along the way, you'll get things wrong. You'll make mistakes. Sometimes you'll have to do things you don't love (you'll spend a lot of time on your hair and makeup in the future even though you hardly give them a thought right now). But you'll muddle through.

For a few years, it's going to feel as if you are single-handedly keeping the tabloid industry in business. You'll get through that, too. Take criticism seriously but not personally. There will be people who want nothing more than to see you fail, but you can't let them scare you. Live your life on your terms, not theirs. You'll be reminded over and over again that you are "flawed," a word you will come to loathe. But years from now, you'll come back to Wellesley on commencement day. The student speaker, the daughter of Syrian immigrants, will stand in front of her class, just as you once stood in front of yours, and insist on the beauty of imperfection. "Flaws show authenticity and character," she'll say. "Let yourself be flawed." It's hard to think of better advice than that.

Well, Hillary, I've got to sign off for now. There are dogs to walk and grandkids to FaceTime (don't even try to understand that one right now). Before I go, there is one more thing I want to tell you.

You're at a college that was founded on the belief that women can do anything. And while I know sometimes it seems like we have an awfully long way to go, progress will come.

It won't happen as quickly as you hope, but in your lifetime, you will see the world change for women in ways you wouldn't believe. You will have a daughter, and she will have a daughter, and they both will be born into an America more fair and equal than the one you know in 1965.

And when you find yourself standing on a stage in Philadelphia on a historic night in July 2016, accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for president of the United States, give yourself a moment to take it all in. Don't forget to enjoy the balloons.

Believe in yourself. You're going to do great.

November 7,2017. Hillary will guest edit the December issue of Teen Vogue, December 5.


November 9, 2017

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