Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of our core conversation, “Extraordinary Women Change the World.” In our last post, Barbara Stafford shared her story of building her soul muscles in the wild. Today, Michael Van Osch, gives us a peek into something very dear: a letter to his young nieces about becoming empowered women.
A Letter to My Young Nieces on Empowerment
Dear Jocelyn (age 10) and Ella (age 7 mo.),
I know you may not understand some of the ideas and advice in this letter for many years to come, but I’m writing it now in case it’s the only chance I get.
Of course since it’s from me, your Uncle Michael, what I’m about to tell you happens to be my perspective – a man’s perspective.
Over the course of your lifetime, there will be a lot of people who will tell you a lot of stuff, but the “stuff” I’m about to offer you is from a man who loves and wants the best for you – wants you to become the women you are fully meant to be.
I’m writing to give you my thoughts on the concept of “empowerment” and how it relates to being a woman and living the life you want. The definition of the word empowerment says it means giving someone the power to do something. It will help you more, in my opinion, to think of the word empowerment as “power within you”. I want you to know that you have everything hardwired into you to achieve what you want – the part you have to do is recognize that and use it. You don’t need anyone else to “give” you power or permission to be the women you want be.
When you become an adult, you won’t need to ask others for permission to do what you’d like to do with your life. How cool is that? It may seem like you should be asking for permission, and it may seem normal because that’s what you had to do when you were young…but I want you to really understand that when you’re an adult, having to ask for the power or permission to become the person you want to be just doesn’t apply anymore.
In fact, expecting other people to, or hoping that others will, give you the power and permission you need to build the life you want is a dangerous way to think. It’s a dead-end road filled with frustration and discontent because you’ll be handing the direction of your lives over to someone else. You are responsible for your own happiness – you have that power; embracing this concept will help you avoid the heartache of looking outside of yourself for someone or something to provide you with power, permission, and happiness.
When you become adults, the problem you’ll most likely face is that many of the people you meet won’t know that they have the power within them to be what they were meant to be. They may tell you it’s too dangerous, impractical, or even impossible to rely on your inner strength and instincts to build the life you want. Most of them won’t be purposely trying to keep you in line or limit you, but they will if you let them. Sad to say, these people will most likely never become who they were meant to be because they don’t know what you know about empowerment.
I know your parents are already instilling this idea in you, (by the way, I hope you know you won the lottery by being blessed with such amazing parents), but I want to emphasize this particular thing: the power you need to live the life you want is already within you; you were born with all you need for a happy life. Now … there is a catch… it’s your responsibility to use your power to step forward and build the life you want.
You may not always believe you can succeed when you’re taking a step forward, and that’s okay. Just step forward anyway. On one day, stepping forward may result in what looks like success and on another it may look like failure, but either way you’re moving forward, and that’s the critical part. The key is that it’s you that has to take the step. We’ll be here to help you, to cheer you on, to be a shoulder to cry on, but you, my dears, have to do the stepping.
Step forward with all of your enthusiasm, with all of your personality, and fully as yourself because you are enough. You were created just how you are supposed to be. And, regardless of what happens with each step, you’ll grow and move towards becoming all you were meant to be. I can’t wait to see the amazing, unique, empowered women I know you will become.
About Michael: Michael Van Osch is a coach for men, speaker, and author. He is the founder of thinktankmen.com, helping men achieve their potential building better businesses, careers & lives. You can connect with Michael on Twitter @MichaelVanOsch.
Angela Wheeler says
Michael, I’m so grateful that you shared this letter with us. It’s a touching look into someone looking out for and helping to empower younger generations of women. It would have meant so much to me to have something like this written to me when I was a young girl. Thank you for being part of important change and support for young girls.
Thanks Angela. It was my pleasure to be involved in this very special project.
Hi Uncle Michael,
Thanks for sharing that information with me!!! I will always follow that advice: step foward not backwards and follow your dreams!
@Jocelyn31 Thanks for your reply Jocelyn, hope to see you soon.
Like Angela, I also wish I’d have had this written to me when I was growing up. I’m guessing, however, that the reason it resonates so deeply is that after a decade of struggling through the murkiness created by the first three decades of following everyone else’s rules and suggestions and believing that “they” clearly knew better than me, I’ve finally had enough and want to recreate life on my own terms. It took a lot of living someone else’s life to get me to the point where it was even ok to say I want my own life, and now I feel like I’m a child all over again, 6 going on 26, with the big dreams of the 26 year old but the skill set of the 6 year old.
Here’s to the next decade (sigh. Really?) of stepping out with the enthusiasm of the naive and the experience of the initiated. I’m calling for a do-over!