I was 6 years old when the first Star Wars movie came out. 6. I have watched Carrie Fisher all my life. 40 years.

At the time, I didn’t know what was so incredible about her or what was going on in the world. As I grew up, other things invaded my consciousness and it wasn’t until later in life did I realize her incredible gifts beyond Star Wars. Laughter. Creativity. Honesty. She was more than an actress. She was more than the gold bikini. She was a voice for those battling internal demons. She was a voice for those who suffer from pain and mental illness. She was a mother. A daughter. A writer. A friend.

And yes, she was and is and always will be Princess Leia.

Her death shocks so many of us and for so many different reasons. I am still processing mine.

She taught us to laugh.

She taught us to give.

She taught us that being real and authentic is better and happier business than tongue biting and political correctness.

She taught us to live life fearlessly, and if we are scared, to live it anyway.

She taught us to love.

She taught us to grow old and embrace it, because there is no alternative.

She taught us to face our weaknesses as well as our strengths, perhaps more so.

She taught us that we do still matter, even if we are addicts, or depressed, or bipolar, or manic.

She taught us we don’t have to sell out for success.

She taught us that we can come back from anything.

She taught us to live unapologetic lives, to live without shame, to live with boldness.

She will be missed by millions, by generations of women and girls who aspire to be seen as more than our gender tells us we can. She will be missed by those who are struggling still to find their own voice amid the noise in their head. She will be missed. Her wit. Her uncompromising wisdom. Her flipped birds. Her dislike of double standards. Her truth.

She was so much more than Princess Leia, but she is a Princess nonetheless. She is also a Warrior who fought for so much. Maybe we can learn one more lesson from her…

“I don’t want my life to imitate art, I want my life to be art.”

Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher. Thank you for the force you became in all our lives.