ATTENTION ALL YOUNG GIRLS:
*~ The MYGirls Blog Series will run every Friday, at 6:00pm Pacific Standard Time. ~*
Greetings, outstanding young girls!!
Hopefully, by now, you all have been able to follow the MYGirls Blog Series These blog entries, along with suggested reads from @sincerelyashleyxo, @christinainez86, and @Emily, are here for your viewing pleasure, as well as to provide insight and tips on how to be successful in school, build & maintain friendships, improve on home-based routines and responsibilities, and overall navigate through life in general. We bloggers speak to you from experience, to both inspire and prepare you for what’s to come in the near (and distant future).
So far within the MYGirls Blog Series, we have covered Social Media Etiquette, Appearance & Personal Hygiene (broken into two parts), and Academics. Today’s topic (now broken into two parts) will zero in on something that affects all young girls, worldwide: Leadership & Self-Esteem (Part 1).
Leadership & Self-Esteem are extremely important to me when it comes to young girls, because they are things that young girls struggle with everyday. But what is a leader? A leader is someone who can make decisions with a sound mind, considering both the pros and cons of a particular situation. A leader is someone who takes initiative, without having to be instructed to do so. A leader is responsible, and holds him- or herself accountable for any mishaps. A leader is knowledgeable, in one or many areas, by either study or experience. Simply put, a leader handles business, and other people trust in leaders. Many young girls lack the traits needed (confidence, bravery, ambition, strength, focus) to exhibit effective leadership.
This is largely because girls are typically discouraged from displaying their leadership abilities, and because the two go hand-in-hand, such discouragement directly affects their levels of self-esteem.
Many times in school, girls are teased for raising their hands if they can answer questions presented to the class by their teachers. How many of you young girls have been called offensive names like, “goody two-shoes?” What about “know-it-all?” I know I have, when I was your age. Girls are often ridiculed for showing their intelligence, and it is treated as though it were against what society considers normal girl behavior. In many cultures around the world, girls are discouraged or even restricted by law from learning anything outside of domestic duties (cooking, cleaning, raising children, being a wife). Because boys grow to be the men who will lead the families & communities and males are to protect females, it is believed that a boy’s worldly education is more important, whereas a girl’s focus should be on homemaking skills. It is believed that males are supposed to lead and females are supposed to follow (by nature, which is a topic that should be taught by your parent(s) ). While all cultures are different in their traditions, it is no secret that girls are unfortunately kept from expanding their minds beyond what is accepted by their families, friends, and others in society. Attending school, which would take their minds away from the home, is definitely out of the question.
Here in America, girls are able to attend and participate in school, however the treatment isn’t too far off from being discouraged from attending school altogether. Girls are usually shy, and that shyness is fueled by fear of being put on the spot by their peers. A fellow student, most commonly a boy, will blurt out a joke in an attempt to embarrass a girl, and silence her from speaking up any further in class.
Young girls, I’d love to know, and I’m sure you’d like to know within yourselves:
- Do you find yourselves raising your hands slowly, and halfway in the air, to avoid attracting too much attention to yourselves? When the teacher calls on you, do you answer in a low-toned voice?
- Do you have trouble making eye contact, or do you hold your head down when speaking?
- Do you say “I’m sorry,” “excuse me,” or “I don’t mean to . . . ,” more than necessary?
- Do you find yourselves holding back on correct answers? Do you hold back on your thoughts and opinions?
- Do you hold back on group projects, for fear of being called “bossy” if you can facilitate the progression of group work? Do you adhere to when people say that you can’t be in charge?
Young girls, I’ve been there before. I know what it feels like to second-guess yourself because someone has challenged your thinking . . . even when I know I had the right answer. I know what it feels like to not put my all into a class project, for fear of being called names. I know what it feels like to not be sure of the sound of my own voice, and to speak timidly. It is a painful feeling, and believe me, I know how it feels: it’s like we’re expected to be clueless, and then ridiculed for being clueless. Seems like a losing battle, doesn’t it? Well young girls, I’m here to tell you, it’s not. As a matter of fact young girls, it’s not a battle at all. Especially, if we don’t make it one, or allow it to become one.
Young girls, there will always be people who will try to divert your attention away from your goals. There will always be people who will try to discourage you from achieving. There will always be people who will doubt your skills, your smarts, your intelligence, your potential . . . and many of those people will do so simply because you are a girl. Many will try to take control of your confidence and self-esteem levels. Well young girls, this is where YOU come in.
You see these words over here? These are all POSITIVE traits.
And each one of these traits, can be found in each and every one of you wonderful young girls. Each of you has the ability to master every trait listed in this fun illustration. It would be damaging to believe that girls cannot be powerful, or ambitious, or outspoken. It would diminish the confidence in a girl who is ridiculed for giving a presentation in front of her class. Consider these words, your self-esteem boosters. Utilize your tools, these boosters!! Because I can bet that if each one of you amazing young girls repeats each word listed here in the above illustration, in the mirror, affirming it by first saying “I am,” and then each word right after . . . what I believe in you, you will be believe in you, too!
Remember young girls, all great leaders didn’t start out that way. Not everybody believed in them. BUT, they found what they were good at, and excelled, becoming a leader (or expert) in that particular activity. They fought through failures (which are only temporary setbacks), they continued on despite naysayers, they believed in themselves even when others around them didn’t. Boys and girls are fit to be leaders, and it doesn’t have to be in the same activity, line of work, belief or practice, etc. Remember that there will always be people who will purposely try to put you down. However, you continue on regardless. Girls are just as valuable, just as important, just as special, and just as powerful as boys . . . all in your own ways. A boy might lead in math, a girl might lead in science. A boy might lead in history, a girl might lead in social studies. A boy my lead in business management, a girl might lead in economics. A boy might lead in a group project based on art. A girl might lead a group project based on literature. Both might lead in finance. Both might lead in politics. Both might lead in medicine. See? We ALL can be leaders! So young girls, let doubters (or, as many of you say, “haters”) motivate you to excel even further than you thought you could! Those who try to discourage you, might be intimidated by you . . . so, let them be! The only person you can control, is you. The only person you have something to prove to, is yourself. So make yourselves proud, young girls! Prove yourselves right!
Believe that you achieve goals, and excel in school. Believe that your voices matter. Believe that YOU matter. Don’t fear raising your hands if you know the right answers . . . be afraid of keeping it to yourselves! Be afraid of NOT letting your lights shine! Do not be afraid to be who & what you are!
Our last GU4AP / MYGirls event on July 12, 2014, “Park Beautification Day” in Moreno Valley, CA, incorporated a Leadership workshop from Ban Bossy, an initiative brought to you by Lean In & Girl Scouts of the USA. The Ban Bossy website has various downloadable activity & workshop booklets for students, teachers, parents, and troop leaders. Each booklet contains several facts regarding females in school settings, the workforce, and environments in which girls interact with their friends. I encourage you all to check out these booklets, as MYGirls will be using them for our upcoming Mentor / Mentee workshops.
As I conclude, young girls, I want to leave you with another list of self-esteem boosters:
Though all of these tips may not apply to your lives, some of them will . . . so utilize your tools, your boosters!!
Next Friday’s blog: Competition, and “Frenemies” (Part 2)