Dear Layla

In Kenya, in May 2010, we were told to write a letter to ourselves. We received them unexpectedly in the mail almost a year later. While this is probably one of the most personal things I’ve ever written (most likely because it was to myself for my eyes only), I found it today and find it to be the best reminder I could have asked for in such a transitional time.

May 23, 2010

Dear Layla,

Even though you have a migraine right now and you just huffed and puffed your way up this mountain, I am proud of you. From the beginning of planning for this trip, even if you didn’t completely understand the profoundness of your actions, you knew you wanted to change the world, so you did. Remember that time in the kitchen Mom said you couldn’t save the world? You never believed that – and that is why you are going to do great things.

Build as many schools as you can, go to every country, speak to all the world’s peoples. Finish your bucket list and then some. Don’t give hand outs, give hand ups, and understand the context of the situation and the implications of your actions. Do not give up. Do not let the barriers placed on you by others hold you back.

On the flight and the first few days here, you were scared of something you had wanted for so long. But you threw yourself into everything that was placed in front of you, and you did your best. Keep that attitude for the rest of your time here, and take it back with you to Canada.This is the beginning of your greatest and longest journey – doing your best at all times will make the end of you feel that much more spectacular.

One thing that has followed you to Africa is your body issues, but you never once let that stop you from doing anything. Keep that attitude – we all have different struggles, but it’s how you face them that defines you.

Remember the social lessons you learned in Kenya. Be kind, be generous, shake peoples hands and learn their stories.

Kick ass these next 8 days and do everything you can to put your whole self into this experience – don’t leave with any regrets, you’ve worked too hard and waited too long to leave with anything but a smile.

You can do it – work for it. I love you, and there’s more people than you think who love you too.

Layla

p.s. Even if you didn’t come out of this with a life-long friend, you have many at home. Don’t forget to appreciate them for who they are and show them how much you care. Remember that your family is the most important and constant thing in your life – respect them for who they are and show them your love.

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