Dear Nine-Year-Old Me

The transition is going to be difficult for you, but whenever you feel a little lonely and left out, take comfort in the knowledge that you are honing one of your greatest superpowers.

“A Letter to My Younger Self” is a series of deeply personal letters written by world-changing women to their younger selves at an age when they could have used a bit of advice. Join GOOD + GAP in celebrating the power of perspective and the universal moments of struggle, healing and triumph that inspire the best in all of us. #WomenInspire

Illustrations by Taleen Keldjian

Dear Nine-Year-Old Me,

I’m sure it will sound strange to hear this, but I am grateful for your struggle. The shock and sadness you are experiencing is real, and I know you think it will last forever. But I promise you, it will not. You have been uprooted—moving 8,000 miles across the globe to Israel, against your will and without your input. Your new home is a far cry from the comforts of Los Angeles. Things feel strange and uncomfortable, from the chocolate milk that comes in plastic bags, to the teachers who seem to shout at you constantly and without reason. But you will see, in the end, this place will become your beloved home.

I know you are angry with Ema (Mom) and Aba (Dad). You think they made this decision without considering you at all, when really, they did it for you. Your parents followed their faith to Israel. They wanted you to grow up in a place where your Jewish identity would surround you, alive and breathing, not just in a textbook or a prayer. What they did was take action. Not just talk, but do! You will grow up to be just like them.

I’m not going to lie, school is going to be rough. It’s not easy being the new kid. You might be an outsider now, but just wait! This will change. Give yourself some time to learn the language. It will be frustrating, and you’ll be doing a lot more listening than talking in this first year. The transition is going to be difficult for you, but whenever you feel a little lonely and left out, take comfort in the knowledge that you are honing one of your greatest superpowers. Listening is everything. You are learning how to communicate and hear without judgment or bias, and this special ability to listen will take you places you can’t even imagine. One day, you will use it to change the lives of incarcerated girls. These girls, who are not much older than you are now, have never truly been heard before. My job is to listen to their stories, help them discover their own worth, and set them on a path to rewrite their futures. I couldn’t have done it without you.

You see, being that outsider helped me learn to see otherness, and understand the need to belong. It taught me to adjust to change and speak my truth.

I now have 3 daughters. One is exactly your age. She reminds me so much of you, with your outspoken nature and intense emotions. You are a perfect reflection of her. I look at her and I remember how angry you were when your world changed without your consent, and I laugh—not because it’s funny—but because I am doing the very same thing to my own children. And do you know why? Well, because as I know now, it is the right thing to do.

You will grow up to be a facilitator of change, a peacemaker and someone who takes action. And that, my sweet girl, is a rare, unique treasure.

With much love,


Naomi Ackerman is an actress, activist and founder of the Advot Project, an organization that works with girls in juvenile detention centers, empowering them to tell their stories and learn behavioral and communication skills through theater. Born in the US, she immigrated to Israel when she was 9 years old, a powerful moment that shaped the world-changer she became.

GOOD and Gap are sharing stories of how women bring us one stitch closer to a brighter tomorrow. Watch and share Veronika's story. #WomenInspire

Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hamilton, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott are getting company. Statues of the famous men are scattered across Central Park in New York City, along with 19 others. But they'll finally be joined by a few women.

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth are the subjects of a new statue that will be on display along The Mall, a walkway that runs through the park from 66th to 72nd street. It will be dedicated in August of next year, which is fittingly the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Currently, just 3% of statues in New York City are dedicated to women. Out of 150 statues of historical figures across the city, only five statues are of historical women, including Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.

Keep Reading Show less

It's easy to become calloused to everyday headlines with messages like, "the world is ending" and "everything is going extinct." They're so prevalent, in fact, that the severity of these statements has completely diminished to the point that no one pays them any attention. This environmental negativity (coined "eco-phobia") has led us to believe that all hope is lost for wildlife. But luckily, that isn't the case.

Historically, we have waited until something is near the complete point of collapse, then fought and clawed to bring the species numbers back up. But oftentimes we wait so long that it's too late. Creatures vanish from the Earth altogether. They go extinct. And even though I don't think for a single second that we should downplay the severity of extinction, if we can flip this on its head and show that every once in a while a species we have given up on is actually still out there, hanging on by a thread against all odds, that is a story that deserves to be told. A tragic story of loss becomes one about an animal that deserves a shot at preservation and a message of hope the world deserves to hear.

As a wildlife biologist and tracker who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of animals I believe have been wrongfully deemed extinct, I spend most of my time in super remote corners of the Earth, hoping to find some shred of evidence that these incredible creatures are still out there. And to be frank, I'm pretty damn good at it!

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less