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As I look at your face in a faded photograph, I can see past your pretty smile for the camera and into the thoughts that fill your young and troubled mind. I’m not good enough. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not smart enough.
But you are. All of those things and more.
At the tender age of 20, you don’t realize it now, but you will go on to far exceed your current expectations. You will succeed. You will excel. You will be more than good enough.
I know that you regret dropping out of high school, and I know that you feel like a failure. But the best you can do with your mistakes is learn from them. So, pick up that GED study guide and use it. When you feel ready, enter that testing room with pride, confidence and a measured amount of fear. Dreams can come true. Believe in yourself.
As I turn the pages of the photo album, I see you surrounded by your co-workers at the clock factory. You look happy — and you take great pride in your work — but you long for something more. I know that you create characters and plot a short story to write while you sit doing piecework. I know every word of that story — and I know how it ends when you finally write it for a creative writing class in college. That dream will come true. Believe it.
I turn more pages, scanning through the years of your life. There’s a photo of your junior college graduation. I see something in your smile that wasn’t there before. I see the confidence beginning to build. You are starting to believe.
I know that you doubt yourself. I know that sometimes it seems as if bad things just keep happening. I know that you’re afraid and you worry — too much. I understand that your heart has already been broken — and it will break again. But believe me, your heart has an amazing power to heal. And the pain you endure will make you stronger. Eventually you will find the unconditional love that you seek. Dreams do come true. Just believe in yourself.
Flipping through the pages, more years rush by. I see you looking radiant in a flowing white gown and standing beside a handsome man. The smile on your face doesn’t lie; there is love there. And the look in his eyes reflects it. After all the broken hearts and all the disappointments, you finally found him. Dreams do come true. Yes, I can see that you believe now.
You smile back at me from a photograph with your newspaper colleagues; you finally look settled and comfortable in your own skin. Having discovered your talents and used them professionally, you are more confident and sure of yourself. Yes, career dreams come true, too. You believe it now.
More pages and more years pass, leading to a recent photograph. You are now wearing a cap and gown, along with an exuberant smile. In your hands, you proudly clutch your bachelor’s degree. This day is the culmination of so many hopes and aspirations. It’s a dream come true. I can see it in your eyes; you still believe.
I can see all of these things now, but you must wait. And patience is not one of your strong suits. I know that you will learn as you go and find your way to where you need to be. Just believe. You are a smart and beautiful woman. You are more than good enough. You can achieve your dreams.
As my husband crawls into bed and snuggles up beside me, I take one last look at your smiling face before I close the photo album and lay it aside. I nestle beside him into the comforting crook that I conveniently fill. I close my eyes and repeat the message: You are a smart and beautiful woman. You are more than good enough. You can achieve your dreams.
And with that, I drift off to sleep … to dream new dreams. Because I believe.