There is a movement on Twitter, #ToTheGirls. The premise is what would you want your younger self to know? What would you want your daughter/niece/any female child to know? Yes, of course we want boys to know stuff as well. As the mother of two young daughters, here are ten things I want them to know:
1. It is okay to not know the answers. Too often we fall into the trap of not wanting to look stupid. We want our friends, our classmates, peers, etc….to think we are as smart as they are. Here is the truth: most of us are afraid to ask the question. So ask, for yourself and for the person next to you. Understand that no one is born knowing everything. It takes time, dedication and a thirst for knowledge. So stay thirsty and ask for refills.
2. You do not get respect, you earn it. I want my girls to understand that respect is important. How they compose themselves will have impact on how they are perceived. This is more than respecting your elders and teachers. How you respect your friends is important. Respect their privacy, respect their confidence and most importantly respect their person.
3. Be the friend you want to have. It sounds lame, but it is true. When I look at my friends I see diversity. Different ages, different sexes, different colors and different well everything. But at the core we are the same: willing to laugh, to be honest and most important, to be there for one another. You will have short-term friends and life-long friends. Both are important and I have learned the more you treat short-term friends as forever friends they hang around much longer than you would think.
4. Bruises do not equal love. Bruises, whether verbal or physical leave lasting scars. Do not ever be misled that it was a “mistake” or a “one time” thing. Remember not to be isolated, that you have friends and family that will care and protect you. Do not be ashamed, the bruise is not your fault but the fault of someone who should have cherished you and not harmed. You are stronger than you think. Walking away isn’t a failure, it is survival.
5. Keep the blinders on when it comes to judgement. Young girls do not see color, wealth or inequality. Maintain this trait when you look at others not like yourself. Remember you do not know the whole story of that man on the street, the woman in the grocery store or the neighbor sitting on their stoop. Reach out to those not like you and show empathy to those who may not be having a Hallmark moment.
6. No man (or woman) is worth more than your pride, your esteem or your health. Your partner should love you as you are, build a life with you and not for you. You will grow in relationships. Sometimes at different speeds. Your partner should be willing to wait for you to catch up or cheer you on as you grow. Remember to wait for them, too.
7. Explore: your home, your backyard and your world. Take with you the sense of adventure you found when at just 2 years old you discovered that forgotten cabinet. The world is huge and full of experiences you bigger than your imagination. Take advantage of our Globe and experience all it has to offer. Except, drugs. Don’t explore drugs.
8. Keep learning. I know school stinks and you hate every day freaking math. But do not let that dampen your enthusiasm for learning. Take classes that interest you. Not because you have to but because you want to. Follow those interests and meld them into the life you want to have.
9. Taking pride in your accomplishments is not bragging or self-promoting. When you work hard and achieve something, celebrate. Don’t minimize who and what you are. Too often you will brush off compliments or qualify your achievement. Don’t allow yourself to think you did not deserve the recognition. Instead take the compliment and say thank you.
10. Dreams do come true. But not by dreaming. Dreams come true by believing, by trusting, by following your gut, by learning and most importantly by working hard. Work hard at your dreams and you will succeed.
That is what I would say to the girl in my life. What would you say to the girl in your life? It doesn’t have to be your girl. After all, we all know a girl….