Someone asked me a couple Friday nights ago, “What made you this way?”
Not sure exactly what this way meant, I assumed he was referring to the adventuring…
There are so many things… some from childhood, some from the last few years… that have made it possible for me to live full out, or whatever you’d call this journey. The question’s coming up in my circle of Superhero girlfriends a lot lately (love Marianne’s related post), and if you’re raising little girls maybe this will be useful…
First I have to thank my parents for the solid foundation they provided. I feel comfortable with a level of risk not everyone can consider; I think a lot of that has to do with them. Plus a good education… then there are the innate traits: boldness, independence, a flair for the dramatic. I hear those have been there all along.
Is there a fearless little girl in your midst? A bold little thing with wild curls, perhaps? My new Superhero friends share these traits: we have this intense combination of being extremely driven & results-oriented + intensely nurturing at the same time. Over the next several weeks I’ll share some of the things I see allowed my confidence, passion, and drive to shine brightly even as they faded in adolescence for other girls…
I started playing competitive sports when I was 9 years old. I was the least athletic kid in my class before that, the one never picked for dodge ball. By the end of middle school I was a stand-out athlete in the state. It became a part of who I am.
Playing sports introduced me to my own power.
It focused my competitiveness and energy on the playing field vs. having it spill out in inappropriate places. For high-performing girls and women there is almost no place where unleashing that focused, intense part of ourselves is wholly accepted, valued, lauded. I miss that every day now.
Playing sports gave me kinds of confidence that being the smart girl never could.
Playing sports brought me joy, excitement and comraderie with other girls that I still seek in other ways and places today.
Playing sports made my body healthy, strong and beautiful.
These are short sentences for huge points. I am thankful to have had these things in middle school, when so many girls get derailed and distracted by petty differences and much less productive pursuits.
Together this group of girls was determined; we persevered. If I remember correctly, we won the FL state championship in a triple header (3 games in one day in the FL summer heat) moments before this photo was taken. We were fierce… and played and laughed and joked together, too.
Some of us were closer friends than others, some older, others younger… I don’t remember petty cliques, though, amongst us. In other clubs and circles there were, not so when we focused on playing and working and winning together.
On the playing field I learned things about myself I hadn’t seen anywhere else yet:
- I can focus in a crisis and under tremendous pressure.
- I’d rather be a generalist than a specialist.
I played almost every position, just like today.
- Other people can see things about me that I cannot see.
There were coaches who saw I could command the team and control play from behind home plate at 9 years old. Years later a coach put me at first base when the rest of the team had lousy throwing accuracy – I loved the challenge and drama of it! I can still recall the physical sensation of jumping as high as I could, arm outstretched over my head, torso fully extended to catch the ball and then landing back on the base before the runner touched. GOTCHA! My face lights up the same way today. Another coach put me in to pitch in the last inning of an all-star tournament with a close score (in the rain!)… and I was not regularly a pitcher.
So sports taught me to solicit feedback and made me feel valuable in new ways at an age when girls’ self-esteem normally plummets.
Today is the National Women’s Law Center’s Blog to Rally for Girls’ Sports Day. Blog & play with a girl you know…