Raising girls is hard. Here are 7 life lessons I really hope my daughters will learn early in their lives so they grow to be strong and independent women.
1. Be Fearless.
I’m not talking about being reckless here. And I’m not suggesting that you should jump into things feet first without due thought and consideration. But there comes a time when thinking, planning, considering, analyzing, plotting and forecasting projections can become overly cautious and counter-productive. It’s one thing to calculate the risks. That’s sensible. And I would definitely advise you to do that. But you know in your heart of hearts when you’re looking at every angle, just reading one more blog, have saved another “useful” link to check out later that you’re really just over-thinking things because you’re afraid to take action. Don’t be afraid. Be fearless.
2. Be Your Own Person.
Other people will judge you. Fact. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do, somebody will be judging you. So just be yourself. Don’t try to fit somebody else’s idea of you. Be you. Be honest to yourself. Laugh at yourself. Cry if you need to. But don’t try to shape yourself into other people’s whims and wishes of who they want you to be. They won’t appreciate you for it – or for who you really are – and you’ll never be happy if you’re not true to yourself. Be your own person. Accept who you are. Be happy with you.
3. Know There Are No Limits.
The only person who will ever hold you back in life is you. We can all be our own worst enemy. That little nagging voice of doubt can sod right off, because you’re awesome and fearless (see point #1). You know what you want. You’ve worked out how to get there. So don’t let anyone or anything stop you (within reason – don’t go breaking any laws or anything just to get what you want!) Make the decisions you want to make and make them on your own terms. Don’t compromise on your dreams to make someone else happy. Dream big. Live bigger.
4. Being A Girl Is Not A Barrier.
I remember hearing GinGin say that she couldn’t be an astronaut because she’s a girl. She was only four years old. Four! I was heart-broken. We’ve never gendered anything. Certainly never even hinted at there being things that girls can’t do because they’re a girl. Or boys for that matter. I thought we’d bypassed that particular minefield. But somehow GinGin had decided that girls can’t be astronauts because they’re girls. Thankfully The Eden Project’s theme was Space at the same time. And, funnily enough, we were stood next to a photograph of an astronaut. She was in the International Space Station. She was in space. She was an astronaut. She was a girl – well a woman – but still the message was a powerful one. Thanks Eden 🙂
5. Be Kind. Always.
My mum used to say “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” We all carry our own little world on our shoulders. Some people do it with a smile, even though they may be crying inside. We don’t know how other people really feel. But we do know how we feel. And we know how other people can make us feel. It’s also pretty simple to understand that showing other people some kindness will brighten their day, lift their spirits and put a real smile on their face. There is no good reason not to be kind. So be kind. Always.
6. Other Girls Are Not Competition.
The strongest women are those who have a network of other women round them. A sisterhood. A tribe of like-minded females who know that tearing each other down is the fastest way to failure and misery. Now don’t get me wrong, navigating the world of female politics can be tricky. There will be girls who don’t understand – or buy into – the idea that we’re far better off building each other up. But don’t get dragged down by their insecurities. Other girls are not your competition. They are your friends, your colleagues, your allies, your next opportunity, your network. They are there for you when you need them. Just as you are there for them too.
7. Work Smart. Work Hard, But Definitely Work Smart.
My dad used to ask me if I lived to work, or worked to live. I understood his point. I worked ridiculously long hours. Somewhere in the region of 16-20 hours every day of the week. Yep. That many. Nope. I’m not making that up. And nope. I’m not exaggerating for effect. I was very career driven. To the detriment of pretty much everything else. Did it make me happy? I guess so, at the time. Is any of that important to me now? Nope, not a damn bit of it. Having my first child completely altered my perspective on life. I’m still super-proud of all I achieved. I’ve made my “original contribution to knowledge.” But I’m more proud of my little girls. My career now is very different to the one I had planned. I still work hard. I still pull long days – and nights – when I have to. But my life is so much richer, more full of joy and laughter now that I work smart. So figure out what’s important to you. Work as much as you need to. But remember life is for living!
So there you have it. Seven life lessons I’d really like GinGin and Roo to learn early in their lives.
But I don’t just want them to learn them.
I hope they will absorb all seven life lessons into their lives. Into their sense of being. Into their everyday decisions. I still have to remind myself of each and every one of these points every now and then.
What things do you hope your kids will learn? Pop your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you 🙂 xx
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