The following is a reproduction of our article first published in Womens Network Australia, Issue 9, 2020.
When you think back to your 15-year-old self, how do you feel about her? Proud of her spunk? Cringing at her susceptibility to fashion trends? Worried about the decisions you know she’s going to make, and possibly regret?
Most importantly: do you look back and see a girl who believes in herself?
Since starting Girl Shaped Flames 3 years ago I’ve not only engaged with thousands of high school-aged girls, but also connected with hundreds of women passionate about supporting the next generation to be confident, courageous and believe in themselves.
And something very interesting happens when I ask them to take a moment and reflect back on their own youth, specifically who they were then, and who they are now.
Usually one of two different realisations occur:
- 15-year-old you was filled with spirit and gusto and ‘don’t take no for an answer’. She was brave and determined and likely a little naïve.
- 15-year-old you was nervous, unsure of herself and lacking the confidence to take chances and pursue opportunities that lay before her. Scared of judgment, failure or disappointment.
People who had the first realisation get a real kick when they think about her, and are either still parading through life with that same can-do attitude and zest, or perhaps wistfully wonder where some of that went over the years.
People who fall in the second camp either feel a great sense of pride for how far they’ve come, the courage they’ve developed through experience and how much more self-assured they are in their decisions. Or they feel a deep sense of connection with her, still often fraught with self-doubt or concerns about other people’s thoughts and opinions.
Whichever response you have when you take a moment to really remember your 15-year-old self, one thing is for sure: she is you. And you are her.
We are each forever 15. That doesn’t mean to say that we haven’t individually evolved, grown and perhaps developed new appreciation for a world we now know better.
But the attitudes and self-respect we shape and develop in our youth stay with us throughout our lifetime. Somewhere deep inside remains ‘who you are’ and what you are really capable of and this foundation is set before we start our adult journey.
The next part of the reflection is focused on potential.
Looking back to your 15 year old self, how much potential do you believe she had? How possible is it, if she wanted something enough and committed to trying it, that she would achieve it? How MUCH could she achieve? Not just academically but creatively, emotionally, physically.
Now, that’s what you think.
What does she think? How much potential does 15 year old you really believe she has? What we see all too often are young girls who can’t fathom achieving or experiencing things outside of their own line of perceived ability. They look outwards for some evidence that they are safe from failure, judgement or ridicule if they try something new, but alas, proof that you’ll actually believe when you’re 15 is hard to find.
Now consider yourself today – in this moment, at this age. How much potential do you believe you have? Has your perception of your own potential changed as you’ve become older? Wiser? More cautious? More brave?
Do you still look for proof that chances you take will be rewarded with safety and success? Or do you leap forward with less hesitancy and more belief in your own ability to navigate both the journey and the outcome?
The power of self-belief and recognition of potential is enormous – both for you now and for your 15 year old self.
But, as I believe – and is the reason why I started Girl Shaepd Flames in the first place – is that without intentional confidence and self-belief development from a young age, we’re not giving our girls the chance to build the foundation blocks to the confident, courageous and empowered woman she would like to become.
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