Yesterday, I had the awesome opportunity to speak to a group of approximately 30 young girls, ranging in age from 9-15 years of age. Having been one who grew up kind of "lost", due to my father's passing and an abusive mother and brother, giving back and helping other kids weighs heavy on my heart. Luckily, after years of searching, questioning and praying, I found ME again. For the first time in my life, I am no longer running from who I am. Am I perfect? Nope, nor do I want to be. But I no longer feel the need to apologize for having big dreams or wanting to inspire other people. I just wish someone had shared with my teenage self that it was OK to be ME and that if I love myself, that's really all I need. Therefore, having the opportunity to share my story with these girls yesterday was so empowering.
- It's OK to be smart and driven. One young gal voiced a concern to me that "boys don't like smart women." She is right. Boys don't, but I promised her that real men are not intimidated by intelligent women. Men, please prove me right on this one.
- It's OK to not have all the answers. Even now, I don't have the answers to certain aspects of my life. That's what life is: a constant discovery of ourselves and how to be the best possible person I can be. If I had all the answers, I would be bored in a heartbeat. I need to be challenged mentally and that's OK.
- Be at peace with your femininity and throwing elbows. As one who grew up playing sports and still has an obsession with them to this day, it took me a long time to discover this one. I have never been the "pretty girl". In fact, I recently had to admit that, honestly, I have never felt beautiful a single day in my life. I shared my struggles of almost dying from anorexia in college, striving to be someone that society told me I needed to be. That just isn't who I am. However, I do know that I can play golf in 3 inch heels if I need to. (Hey, sometimes you need to just shut the fellas up.) As a woman, I don't have to choose one or the other.
- I reminded them the boy they're crushing on now will probably grow up to be a loser. One little gal asked if I remembered my high school crush. I admitted that I did (and do). He never looked my way in high school, but now I can go have a beer with him and not have to worry about him remembering me the way I was in high school. I got a good friend out of never admitting it. That being said, he isn't a loser, but the rest sure are. (Whew! Thank God for unanswered prayers.)
- Travel the world before settling down in one place. I shared photos with them of my Super Bowl trips to Miami, my weekends in Philly, my trips to San Francisco wineries (Hey, they'll learn soon enough anyway) and all of the mountains I hiked. Each trip led me closer to who I am today.
Knowing I might have inspired one girl who can change the world makes my heart overflow. Life really is that simple when we get out of our own way.