Bravery, not Perfection

Being a woman. Bravery versus Perfection.  Raising young girls to be brave, not perfect. Brave, not perfect. This really hits home for me, as I manage to raise 2 young girls.  I always use the word “extraordinary” when I talk to my girls.  One of my core beliefs is that we have the responsibility to empower our children to be brave.  To overcome fear. To trust their instincts, their inner voices, their courageousness.

As I was browsing through Ted Talks today, Reshma Saujani’s spoke to me so deeply.  She speaks about teaching our girls to be brave, not perfect. She provides research that supports the typical social upbringing of boys versus girls. Boys are raised to be brave. Girls are raised to smile pretty and be perfect.  Boys are raised as risk-takers. Girls?  Not so much.

Watch Reshma’s Ted Talk on Bravery

Our society is changing (thank goodness!). There are many avenues out there supporting the empowerment of our young girls.  Always’s #likeagirl campaign has done wonders for even opening up the lines of communication with our girls. It has raised the awareness around the negative connotations of the term “like a girl.”  Instead, Always took a term and transformed it into a powerful positive description!  “Why can’t like a girl also mean win the race?”

Always Campaign- Like a Girl   (I get choked up every time I watch this)

Under Armour’s #iwillwhatiwant campaign forged by the beautiful barrier-breaker Misty Copeland, has given young girls the belief that it doesn’t matter what others think, it only matters what you believe.

Under Armour: Misty Copeland (I get chills every time I watch this)

I am so thankful our society has truly begun the transformation of empowering women.  It begins with our little ones. Supporting their efforts, their dreams, their achievements, as well as helping them when failures arise and challenges block their paths.  Most importantly, always reminding them to be themselves and that they are always enough.

I am reminded of the time when my 14 year old daughter had her first challenge on the stage.  She is a dancer (much better than her mama was).  She competes and practices and loves what she does.  She has been performing tap solos for a few years now.  There she was, on the stage, at a local competition.  All of her friends and family were in attendance, ready to show their support and cheer her on!

Her tap solo began…about halfway through, she froze. She completely forgot her dance.  I was in the front row, panicking in pain on the inside for her, smiling and mouthing “keep going Bunny” to her on stage.  She picked up her steps at the next part of the song and finished the dance!  She didn’t run off the stage.  She didn’t start crying. She broke down the wall and finished the dance.

But I knew, because as dancer I have been there before, that the moment she exited that stage…

I rushed backstage, and she collapsed in my arms sobbing.  “I’m SO proud of you.  I have never been MORE proud of you,” I whispered in her ear over and over.  Arms around her , I guided us back to the dressing room, where she continued to sob. “I messed up! I wasn’t perfect! I’m going to lose so many points for forgetting my dance,” she cried out loud.

In that moment, I placed my hands upon her cheeks and looked her in the eyes.  “I love you so much Bunny.  You are so brave. So so brave.  I am so proud of you.”  She cried back, “Well I’m not. I’m not proud of me!”

My heart literally broke into pieces. To hear your child tell you she is not proud of herself…one of the worst things you can feel and hear.  I reminded her that bravery is more important than perfection.  That being a fighter and having the courage to stand up there and finish the dance, THAT was worth more to me than any score. That is was okay to be disappointed and feel that hurt. That it took more courage to fight through it than to give up!

She was fighter.  She didn’t know it then. She certainly didn’t feel like a winner at the time.  But that experience has empowered her.  I’ve seen it every time she has taken the stage since. Smiling, full of pride, ready to give it her best and have fun with it!

Our young girls…bravery, not perfection. Thank you Reshma, Always, and Misty for breaking barriers and continuing to pave the way.

So Run. Dance.  Climb.  Swim.  Sing.  Write.  Build.  Speak. Whatever you do, be brave and stay true to yourself.

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