No Ceilings, No Limits By Valerie Martinelli
I was speaking with someone the other day about the limitations and societal expectations imposed upon girls and women. Once we hit adolescence, we begin to think that it’s more important to be accepted by our peers than it is to speak our minds. Isn’t it true that we may have silenced our thoughts for fear of what our peers or friends will think of us? After all, we don’t want to be the only one with a certain opinion or who doesn’t fit in amongst the group. We fear being bullied or cyber-bullied, left out, or just labeled as a social outcast. I understand, I was bullied in school and it’s hurtful. However, there is something to be learned that will help you grow into strong young women.
Embrace Your Individuality
When someone expects you to think like them it is because they are insecure. The beautiful part of life is embracing your individuality and that of others. You were intended to be different and who you are in order to give this world your gifts and talents. It is important that we continue to challenge the limitations and expectations that society puts on us, both as we grow into our own and as women. The best way to do this is through mentorship and leadership development. By delivering role models and mentors to our girls and young women, we not only are giving them something to hope and aspire for but we can teach them to challenge the definitions that are imposed on us. Girls, you do not have to be the way society wants you to be. The best way for you to be happy is by being your own person. By embracing your individuality, you will make friends who appreciate you for you are and enjoy the same hobbies. It is does not make you strange or different if you like science or to write, maybe those will become your passions as you get older and decide on a career. It is a good idea to stick with these things and see if you continue to enjoy them just as much throughout school and high school. The first thing I ever wrote was a poem and I was fortunate enough to have a teacher take an interest in my writing and my poem was published. To this day, I love to write and it is a big part of I am. Confidence is a big part of embracing your individuality and learning where you fit into the world. So how can we boost the confidence of girls and young women?
What Roles Do Mentorship & Leadership Development Play?
Mentorship can do young girls a world of good because they offer positive influences and an outlet for girls to learn additional skills that they may be interested in or wish to enhance. Mentors also encourage their ambitions, offer confidence, and keep their mentees on track by helping them set goals and work towards achieving them. STEM training, writing workshops, leadership skills, and entrepreneurial training are all examples of important skills to be learned and enhanced. By presenting opportunities for young girls to apply their skillsets, they can give their gifts to the world and live happy and fulfilled lives.
Leadership development is important because most girls and young women have preconceived notions of what leadership is or should be. Leadership skills also are important throughout life and in every profession. It is important for girls to have an understanding of what leadership means to them, how it fits into the world for them, and how the definitions will grow and change as they do. Leadership development also should focus on a few key areas:
- Communication and critical thinking skills, such as the ability to articulate abstract concepts and thinking before speaking.
- Empathy Development, this includes the difference between understanding and agreeing, how to listen without judging, and genuine apology skills.
- Controversial issues, such as how to disagree, how to clearly assert thoughts without aggression, and the value of diversity and the opinion of others.
- Advocacy and activism, which are inclusive of the significance of righting wrongs, how to confidently stand up for core beliefs, how to replace self-defeating speech, and embracing failure.
- Social responsibility and global awareness/ citizenship, this includes the importance of the development of a personal point of view, intercultural competencies, and behaving consciously to effect positive change within the world.
Girls need role models and women who can bring out the best in them. They have bright futures ahead of them and it is possible to live fearlessly by tapping into who they are and growing that potential. They need to know that they are special and the world is a diverse place that will appreciate their gifts and talents. We believe in you; I believe in you!