Dedication: Sunshine Sather
I am amazing because I can finally say and actually believe that I truly am amazing. I didn’t always feel this way:
I was a strong girl who liked to climb trees and play sports. I remember boys saying that my legs were “too muscular.” I was ashamed of my legs. I was ashamed of my strength. I hid my legs and often pretended I wasn’t as strong as I really was.
I did well in school. I didn’t really have to try hard and often got in trouble by my teachers because I was helping my classmates understand their math. I remember hearing that boys didn’t like “smart girls” so for awhile I pretended I wasn’t smart. I was say things wrong that I knew were wrong. I pretended I didn’t understand a math problem so someone would explain it to me.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety at a fairly young age, and I really struggled to accept this about myself without feeling ashamed for not being the happy-go-lucky girl I was supposed to be.
For many years I was ashamed of who I was: a strong, smart girl who had a mental illness. I was living in this box of what I thought a girl was supposed to be.
I quite early changed my tune on pretending I wasn’t smart. I became proud of my grades and didn’t care who thought being smart wasn’t cool. I took this belief in myself all the way to earning a Master’s degree in English Literature.
It wasn’t until I gave birth to my daughter (a future Girl on the Run) that I realized that if I wanted her to grow up accepting herself for who she was, I would have to do the same thing. I began to embrace my body for its strength and power.
However, even with a desire to be a good role model for my daughter, I still struggled being different. I still hid my depression and anxiety from the people around me. I pretended that I was “normal.” It wasn’t until I started coaching for Girls on the Run in 2008 that I really started to accept who I was…I was a unique, imperfect person who had amazing insight and gifts to share with the world. I was a role model for girls.
It is through the lessons of Girls on the Run that I was able to accept that I wasn’t always going to have “comfortable” emotions, but that what was important was how I responded to those emotions.
The one lesson that most resonated with me, and still resonates with me is the negative self-talk lesson. As someone with depression and anxiety, I often fall prey to the negative wonderings of my mind. But when this happens, I think of all I have learned as a parent and coach for Girls on the Run – I reframe it into something positive! I see it for what it is – a challenge – whatever challenge I face, whether a tangible obstacle or my own mind is just that…it is not a reflection of me as a terrible person. It is just me as a unique and imperfect human making her way through this world.
I am unique. I am imperfect. I am a Girl on the Run. I am amazing!
Girls on the Run International and Say It Forward are committed to the empowerment of girls everywhere. We believe that every girl has an important story to share – a story of determination and perseverance, a story that can inspire others to overcome the self-limiting beliefs that keep them from reaching their fullest potential. We are also committed to empowering the women who invest their time and energy in these girls.
We invite you to share your story at Say It Forward and to keep in touch with us via Twitter and Facebook — Girls on the Run International Facebook and Twitter. All stories written by girls are shared with the permission of a parent or guardian. Girls’ first names only are posted with their stories.