Dear Claire and Grace,
I have always admired the ways in which both of you make—and keep—friends. Grace: on the first day of school, you often come home with tales of befriending one of the new kids. Claire: I vividly remember how, when a few classmates started teasing and distancing themselves from one of your childhood friends, you stood by her.
Don’t ever lose that spirit of friendship. As you move through life and find yourselves in new situations—starting college, moving to a different city, accepting that first job—your openness to embracing and, crucially, including the people around you will hold you in good stead. Reaching out to others, especially those from different walks of life, will enrich your lives immeasurably. They’ll take you on unexpected journeys, expose you to new ideas, and maybe even test your deeply held beliefs. And when tested, listen respectfully (Grace, this means you), and if you’re unmoved, stand your ground!
As you move through your professional lives, that embrace of inclusion will help you produce better work. In team settings, encourage the quietest person in the room to speak out. (Claire, that actually might be you. Don’t be shy about sharing, my love.) If you can add another seat at the table, do it—that person may end up being the one to solve a knotty problem. It costs you nothing to make everyone feel welcome, and the results can be brilliant beyond anyone’s expectations. “It’s a lot more fun, I promise you,” says filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who made inclusion a hallmark of her wildly successful film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. “You’ve got to try it.”
Each day you bring me joy and laughter, you give me something new to ponder, and you help me see the world in a different way. I’m so lucky to be your mother, and if you’ll have me, your friend.
Stephanie Mehta is editor-in-chief of Fast Company, overseeing its print, digital, and live journalism.