Today’s guest blogger, Amy (A.E.) Irwin, is currently co-facilitating two programs with Girls Inc. Irwin is a writer who has also worked in sales, marketing and social work. She has advocated for girls in previous volunteer roles with the American Association of University Women and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Most dictionaries would define “girl” as “a female child, from birth to adulthood.” To fully understand who she is, we need a deeper definition. GIRL: Growth, Initiative, Resilience and Love.
Each time a baby girl is born and we behold the small wonder that she is, we often forget that we are in the presence of an incredibly wise human being. Within her she carries all of the wisdom she needs to thrive in the world.
From her first steps to her last days of school, every girl learns about the world in which she lives. It acts upon her and she acts upon it. If the adults in her life have her best interests at heart, they help her question and examine the world so that she can live in it with less fear and with more trust in herself. Cultural education is about deciding what works and what doesn’t. A girl’s birthright is to grow into her full potential.
Our culture tends to define a woman by how she looks. Ask any mature woman if her worth is based on appearance and she’ll probably laugh. She knows better. Unfortunately, our girls and boys don’t—and won’t—unless we teach them differently. A person’s worth is based on a number of qualities, most of which aren’t visible to the eye.
At the heart of every girl is initiative. She wants to act in ways that enrich her life, help the world and bring her a sense of joy. She is not a trophy. She is a living, breathing being eager to make her mark in the world. Our world is a better one when we allow for diverse definitions of what it really means to be female.
Not everyone has the same start in life. Girls grow up in a variety of environments, some easier than others. Some girls experience the pain of being put down more than being encouraged. After hearing negative remarks enough times, a girl starts to believe these statements are the truth of who she is.
Yet if adults and her peers say kind words, she learns that the negative isn’t true. In time a girl can recognize that she is the deciding force in how she perceives herself. She’s not completely defined by others. When she does this, she claims her own power, capability and strength—now that’s beautiful! She realizes she can do so much more than survive. She can thrive.
A girl is a living example of love. If she appreciates herself—all of what makes her unique—she learns to love herself. Self-love leads to self-care. A girl who can identify her own wants and needs discovers that they are as important as anyone else’s. She also develops empathy, a crucial life skill for success in her personal and work life as she becomes a woman.
A girl who learns to love herself is strong, smart, and bold. A strong, smart, and bold girl grows up to be a strong, smart, and bold woman. Few things are as lovely as that.