I am a 44 year old woman.
I asked a lot of questions as a girl because I always wanted to learn and know more, and remember being told to be quiet, to stop asking questions. I was a natural leader as a girl and wanted to be in charge, and remember being told I was bossy. Somewhere along the years, I decided that I was annoying, and that I was intimidating. So I started to hide myself. Instead of seeing the qualities of being inquisitive, intelligent, and a natural leader as positive and amazing qualities, I saw the negative and hid what I thought was bad about myself – that I was too loud, too much, too different.
Looking back, I see the qualities I had as a girl as qualities I would celebrate in girls now. I think times have changed so that instead of being told to sit down and be quiet and nice, girls are told to use their voice and be themselves. I am so happy for girls now that learn these lessons in Girls on the Run.
As a Girls on the Run coach, I learned so much myself from the lessons that I was teaching our girls and it made me so grateful for my girls that they had the opportunity to experience this program that I as a girl would have LOVED and benefited from so much. I never thought of myself as an athlete, either, as a girl. I was very small and not very brave but man would I have been able to run. Discovering running as a grown woman, and finally seeing myself as an athlete, and a good one, was life changing. I feel strong and empowered when I run. Now, as a coach for Girls on the Run, I was gifting that to young girls which was amazing. What a gift for girls to learn these lessons at an early age, and to be able to spend their lives practicing their skills to empower themselves, care for and lift up other girls, and see the meaningful contribution they can give to their communities and world, using their individual and unique voices and talents.
I would say I am still a work in progress ~ that each day I work on loving my unique self, and on being brave enough to share who I am with those around me. Writing my story and sharing it feels scary and vulnerable, but I know that in doing so I allow others to share who they are too.
Photo credit: Image courtesy of Girls on the Run International.