Robyn Ashley Schleihauf
(somewhat) solicited advice
This is a letter your teacher made you ask people in your life to write, but I feel really lucky to be able to do it. There is a desire that you get as you age, to impart what you might feel is useful, to share with some urgency the lessons you’ve learned, to try to provide road signs for the journey ahead for those that come after you. Really, it’s a bit egotistical and self-indulgent of us, but I think we do it because we want to feel useful to the next generation; to prevent or at least prolong the time before our obsolescence.
I’m writing this to you as you enter adulthood. You are 18, you are bright and lovely, intelligent and fierce. I see a fire in you that feels familiar, but it’s yours, and you will find ways to give it oxygen when it needs stoking and you will learn when to hold off on throwing another log onto it so that it gets a chance to burn lower, as embers too. What I recall from being your age was a curiosity that I assumed would always stay with me, but it turns out in later years I have had to work at cultivating. This curiosity was strongest when I was your age and I see it in you too: a desire to learn and a self-direction towards what interests you. I love how creative you are and that you wear your art in your makeup, hair, nails and clothing, which is such a genuine, vulnerable and bold way to show up in the world.
You are both compassionate and exceptionally smart. What this means is that you have an inherent sense of justice, which will doubtlessly be constantly affronted by the fact that the world is often governed by the greedy or feckless. My advice, if it’s welcome, is to seek out the things you find lovely and uncomplicated, the friends who make you laugh without bitterness or derision, and new things to learn that will foster a sense of humility in you.
Lastly, follow your heart and your gut. It’s cliché, but a lot of people spend so much time not listening to them that they cease to recognize their voice. You will always be the most right about you.
And, of course, burn the patriarchy.
Yours, Robyn Schleihauf