Empowerment and whatnot

I never thought I was a “pretty girl” in high school.

To be completely honest, I didn’t give myself time to worry about what I looked like when I was at school. I knew what clothes I was going to wear (uniforms–dreaded khakis and navy/white polos) and hardly ever found the time to fix my hair in a reasonable fashion.

I wanted to give off the appearance that I didn’t need any type of positive reinforcement for how I dressed/looked/acted, but secretly I was desperate for turning heads and flirtatious glances. Again, I never thought I was “attractive.” I think that stemmed from going against the grain; I didn’t tan, I didn’t have to touch up my roots and I usually wore a sports bra to school.

I wasn’t doing this in spite of the status quo or societal norms. I just didn’t care or (again) didn’t have the time to be concerned. There was still that little voice in my head telling me I was missing out on something; I wasn’t asked on many dates and I usually went to dances with guy friends. I certainly didn’t date much, and I liked to make the excuse that I wasn’t interested in anyone.

I was one of the lucky ones, though. I had the opportunity to prove I was something other than “pretty.” I was always encouraged to challenge myself in other ways and pursue leadership opportunities when they presented themselves. (Thanks, mom.) I also like to think that I was freakishly mature in some ways, which made social settings kind of awkward.

Basically, I wasn’t hot by anyone’s standards. In hindsight, I’m kind of glad. I was able to be successful based upon my talents not easily seen at first glance. I was confident in my intellect and wanted to leave the place I called home to learn more. Again, I was one of the lucky ones.

What young girls need RIGHT NOW is for someone to tell them how special they are. It doesn’t have to be every minute or even every day, but it has to be said by someone other than the guy they have a crush on. Girls in middle school and high school need to know what they are capable of contributing to society–something other than a sexy body or pretty face. There isn’t enough genuine, authentic love represented in our culture (especially via reality TV).

No wonder girls are so quick to compete to be the “sexy” one at age…what…13? That’s atrocious. You can’t be sexy at 13.

So, from a woman who has found her confidence but still needs some encouragement:

  1. Embrace the awkward stage as much as possible.
  2. Life gets better after high school.
  3. Pick your passions and your role models wisely.
  4. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  5. Someone will appreciate you for your quirks one day, I promise.

There are websites and blogs devoted to being a smart girl and loving yourself. I would love to use my talents in social media and education in creating workshops that would encourage self-esteem and discourage irrational social media use in middle and high school-aged girls. We are all reporters and publishers in the world of social media, and we all disseminate information each day to our audiences. We have to hold ourselves accountable and work diligently to avoid future Steubenville cases.

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I am my worst critic

Being a human being can be challenging.

I am well aware that I am going to be the first person to have something negative to say about myself in my very own head. As Hannah from Girls states, “No one could ever hate me as much as I hate myself, okay? So any mean thing someone’s gonna think of to say about me, I’ve already said to me, about me, probably in the last half hour!”

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We do this to ourselves, ladies and gentlemen. We refuse to believe that people compliment us genuinely because they want us to know how much they love our hair, our sense of humor, our room decor…whatever. Compliments are hard to come by. Therefore, I have to take Amy’s advice in her most recent Smart Girls video concerning negativity when she advises us to just say “Thank you” when someone gives us a compliment.

Example: I think it’s a pretty valid estimation when I say that a roundabout 85% of people are intimidated by gyms/fitness clubs. We second guess our abilities when someone brushes past us that has a better body or–even worse–a smile on his/her face AT THE GYM.

I’ve taken it upon myself to start being more healthy simply because I am getting older. I suppose that along with the fun being a 21 year old provides, I really need to start thinking about how good I want to feel when I’m 31. I have taken a pledge to no longer criticize myself if I am unable to do something on the first try. It’s all good; I’ll make it work one day.

So my advice coincides with Amy in that sense. Enjoy yourself a little more every day. Laugh at silly things and don’t be so hard on yourself. Surround yourself with people who uplift you. Keep that head up. You’ll master your current goal one day; it might not be today, next week or next year.