During the cold, wintry days of February 2005, I was reflecting on my childhood and how my personal life lessons relate to the lives of today’s modern girl. In a profound and brief moment of inspiration, I identified a disconnect from my sense of Self and Spirit when my esteem and overall security and well-being diminished. In my reflections, I realized that I had gone from a happy, bold, and care-free preteen to a self-conscious adolescent lacking confidence, respect, balance, and joy. But what went wrong and why? How did I so suddenly lose that vital connection to my happy and confident self? What could have kept me connected to my divine and magnificent Self and Spirit in my young life? Does this same disconnect happen to today’s girls? My musings took me deeper into my childhood memories searching for clues, and for answers.
As a young child, I remember being showered with love from my family, friends, and teachers. I remember many fun, happy, and love-filled memories with my immediate and extended family. I remember, too, enjoying school, hanging out with my friends, and loving to play outside on the neighbor’s property, where his horses roamed freely. All the “right” pieces were in place for me to be raised a happy, confident, and connected girl. And then I began to have flashes of a superficially angry but deeply sad girl. I flashed moments of despair and suffering, discord and discomfort. Some of these memories were so powerful that the emotions felt real, some even felt scary. There were two distinct versions of me surfacing in my memories, and I knew that the space between the two versions contained vital clues to understanding how I became so disconnected; clues that could guide me in ways to help the young girls of today stay connected to their divine Spirits.
One version I remembered of me loved herself, her life and others, while the other version judged herself harshly, ridiculed her life, and belittled others because they weren’t “cool” or “in” or “popular.” I soon identified the space where I lost my connection to my true Self as that very moment when I entered the often cruel and frightening realm of adolescence. What concerned me even more is that I could foresee a possible disconnect from Spirit in the marvelous preteen at&t girl in my life who were on the edge of adolescence. My desire to relate my personal life lessons to those of the modern girl was intensifying, as was my desire to help and to make a difference in their lives. But I was not yet done digging through my past for answers.
I recognized that during my adolescence I underplayed, gravely, the connection between what I thought of myself and how those thoughts affected my self-esteem, self-confidence, and my precious Spirit. I looked to others for approval and constantly compared myself to others and to the images I saw in the media–especially to those images in teen magazines that seem to be loaded with images of perfection. I never, and I mean NEVER, allowed myself to fully measure up. Furthermore, I became quick to dismiss the compliments of my loved ones and soon my internal dialogue was so nasty that the compliments and accolades I did receive simply disappeared into the deep emptiness I felt inside of myself. The amazing and happy preteen girl, who so freely loved her Self, her family, her friends and her life had been overpowered by a lost, disconnected, and insecure adolescent girl.
Preteen girls are often open, accepting, talkative, receptive and full of girl power, but as the transition from preteen to adolescence begins, this strong sense of girl power and pride is slowly eroded. Just as I had done as an adolescent girl, many of today’s adolescent girls disregard their unique qualities, traits, talents, and gifts. The emphasis shifts to the body and to the quest for perfection of body, with little and often no regard for the mind and spirit. Often adolescent girls criticize their physical appearance and judge their self-worth and self-esteem by their physical imperfections and their lack of the right weight, height, body shape, hair color…. I recently discovered that girls as young as 6 are now dieting in order to keep their figures slim! Physical perfection is in more than ever before, and from this image of perfection girls are learning that anything less than perfection just isn’t valuable or worthy of positive attention. It is easy to see how the strong sense of girl power during those preteen years so rapidly erodes during adolescence.