Dear Sweet 16:
I don’t know if you know it yet, but that’s what we’ve started calling you–the group of 16 ladies who came together on a sunny day in April to be the first senior representatives for Alex Lasota Photography.
You’ve already heard us tell you that you’re beautiful. You’ve already heard us say that you inspire us. You’ve already heard us say that the world needs people like you. So I won’t waste time saying that again (even though 24 hours after meeting you all, those statements still ring true!) Instead, I want to tell you what we didn’t have the time to tell you yesterday.
First and foremost, you are irreplaceable. Within 4-6 weeks (which I know is practically an ETERNITY!) you’ll see the final photos from this shoot, and I hope you’ll notice something: All those pictures that bear your image would not be the same without you. You helped make this shoot complete, and the day would not have been as magical as it was without you. But even beyond the photos that will go into Alex’s portfolio, you are irreplaceable in your family, in your circle of friends, in your school, in this community and in this world. You have a light that shines from you, and it illuminates even the darkest places. The space that you take up on this earth is beautiful because of YOUR presence in it!
Second, now that you know what you are, I want to tell you what you ARE NOT. You are NOT
a mistake. You are NOT an inconvenience and you are NOT what people say about you when you aren’t around (unless it’s that you’re ah-mazing…that’s the truth!) Throughout high school, and unfortunately, after that, people will try to bring you down and tell you that you are less than an exquisite, priceless gift from God. Don’t believe them. I’ve learned something about people who say these untrue things about you: They’re facing some difficult circumstances. They have no one to tell them how incredible they are. Most importantly, they need people like you the most. These conditions, however, do not justify what they say. You deserve the best and if people are unwilling or unable to accept your goodness and value, don’t feel like you have to make yourself small in order to make them feel big. You are not a person whose time should be wasted, and you are not someone whose dreams can be squashed. Don’t let people tell you that you are!
Third, despite what you may hear or what people tell you, this world is full of a lot of good waiting to welcome you with open arms. You can take this goodness and do whatever your heart fancies. You can be anything you want to be, and I only ask one thing from you: Be true to who you are and NEVER settle for mediocrity. Always strive to be the best that you can be. Embrace challenges. Believe it or not, they can be the best friends you have because they refuse to let you quit, and they refuse to let you rest when you feel like you’ve reached the finish line. Challenges make you grow, and they make you a leader better equipped to help the person next to you. Experience is a wise teacher, and she throws trials at you. Don’t worry-you’re prepared to overcome them all.
Finally-I know we’ve said it before time and time again. It’s become our mantra: YOUR VIBE ATTRACTS YOUR TRIBE! Yeah yeah…you may be thinking that this is just a fancy way of saying “Birds of a feather flock together.” But it’s so much more than that. This means that when you put out positive thoughts, that positivity comes back to you 100 fold in the form of people who want nothing more than to uplift, encourage and inspire you. This is what I saw all day long when you complimented each other, helped each other get dressed and literally carried crutches for each other. It’s what I heard when you thanked the team who put this together. It’s what makes my heart soar when I see you relive the moment by posting your photos from the day with affirming captions. A tribe is more than a group of people with common interests. A tribe is a force that fights with and for its members, and when a tribe of ladies like yourselves stands together, what seeks to put you down or harm you doesn’t stand a chance!
So I encourage you to take what you gained from your tribe on Saturday out into the world. Be fearless, be inspiring and first and foremost, be yourself! Let’s grow this movement.
With much respect and love,