Growing up without a father is incredibly hard, but you were born with the strength to transcend any struggle, and this is something that you will survive no matter how much it burns. There is nothing life sends your way that you cannot conquer, because everything that breaks can be rebuilt.

So even if your heart is shattered, don’t let this break you.

Don’t blame yourself for his absence. It’s not about you. It doesn’t matter why he left or why he was never there in the first place—it’s never been about you. You are wanted.

Don’t let it make you bitter. His absence will affect you in ways that you may not be able to anticipate or even comprehend, but you have to realize that you are worth fighting for. So start fighting for yourself. Wake up everyday and remind yourself that you are so much stronger than you think. You are worthy.

Don’t hide your pain or try to run from it. Be open and honest with your pain. Grieve, cry, write, scream until you can’t breathe—do whatever you need to do in order to let go. But don’t numb yourself and don’t conceal your wounds. Forgive him for hurting you without expecting an apology. Find strength in transforming your pain into art. Let the pain move you and inspire you, but whatever you do, don’t let it defeat you. You are powerful.

Don’t compare yourself to those around you. Some of your friends might have loving fathers who have always been there, and this might make you wonder why you don’t have the same. You might start doubting your worth and start asking questions like, “Why don’t I deserve a loving father? What’s wrong with me?” But comparing your life to someone else’s will only diminish your magic. And no one else determines your worth (repeat that: no one else determines your worth). No one like you has ever walked this earth or will ever walk this earth again. So don’t waste your time asking questions that don’t matter. You are unique!

Don’t be afraid to love. You will undoubtedly want to protect your heart from further heartbreak, but please don’t let his absence stop you from giving love and empathy to others. There are people out there who will love you without borders, without conditions, and without reservations, so don’t close yourself off completely. You are lovable.

Don’t doubt your ability to survive on your own because:

You are strong.

You are valuable.

You are rare.

You are loved.

You are beautiful.

And always remember that you are not alone. I’ll say it again—you are not alone.

You are loved, today and every day.