Whether you like Hillary Clinton or don’t, you cannot deny that she is a pretty remarkable woman.
Her impressive resumé reads like a fictitious list compiled by a comic desperate to get laughs – because really, what woman could be a lawyer, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, the first female to be elected Senator from New York, Secretary of State AND the Democratic Party nominee for the President of the United States? It’s the funniest joke you’ll ever hear!
But, it’s not a joke. Hillary Clinton really has done all of those things. The 70-year-old grandmother has led an extremely impressive life that most people could only dream of – once you extract her husband’s now iconic infidelity out of the equation.
Yet, for someone who seems to have it all, the Chicago-born politician and women’s rights advocate has a long list of things she’d like to tell her teenage self, from how to handle criticism to how to learn from mistakes. Despite being one of the most powerful and well-known women in the world, Clinton is not immune from imposter syndrome and feelings of self-doubt.
In a heartfelt letter for Teen Vogue, the Yale-educated lawyer-turned-politician wrote a letter to her teenage self and it’s remarkably raw and open for a woman who has lived a majority of her life trying to avoid drawing attention to herself. “Dear Hillary,” she begins, before going on to encourage her younger self to “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,” she writes.
“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.”
A young Hillary would have been studying at Wellesley College, a private liberal arts college for women in Boston, at the time. Whilst there, studying political science, she would ironically serve as president of the Wellesley Young Republicans. However, she later stepped down and changed her political affiliation after being conflicted by the American Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.
Whilst it is easy to think that this is the most important element of Clinton’s teenage life, it would be an undersight, because a few years later she’d meet Bill Clinton.
“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.”
In her letter, Clinton was open about things she could have handled better. “Along the way, you’ll get things wrong. You’ll make mistakes. Sometimes you’ll have to do things you don’t love,” she writes, adding: “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.”
“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.”
Throughout the letter, Clinton makes only one very subtle nod towards her relationship with the media. “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,” she writes, proudly.
Finishing the letter she comically writes: “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.” As I say, love her or hate her, it’s hard not to respect her.