A few days ago, a dear friend, Paula Ambagtsheer, founder and trainer of Strong Girl, Strong Woman and owner of Poolside Paula, who can be found on FaceBook, asked me to write an article for her group of teenage girls that she is currently training. This is it.
Too often, teenage girls fall into the trap of becoming “the victim,” either self-imposed or by someone else. They believe the negative feedback they receive: “You’re too fat, too thin, ugly, stupid, etc.etc.etc.” It’s all BS.
I married as a teenager, when I didn’t know myself or the possibilities that I could pursue. My husband, five years older than I, had just returned from serving overseas in WW2. He was an emotional abuser. I bought into his thinking that I was “not like other normal human beings,” that I should never cut my hair or wear high heels, or have my own friends. After five-and-a-half years, I woke up. We divorced, but I was still not free of his negative comments about my personality that clung like leeches. It was so easy to fall into those old patterns.
I spent too many years afterward trying to be the person I thought other people, especially men, wanted me to be, forgetting to love myself first, ignoring the fact that I was an original,not a copy of anyone else or the image that someone wanted to impose on me. Then, I read a saying by Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Yes! I was not a label. I was me. As Eleanor Roosevelt said,”Somehow we learn who we really are and then live that decision.” I decided in favor of me.
To all you teenage girls, I say today: “Refuse to be a victim. Say to yourself, ‘I claim my right to be whatever size I want, to get an education so I can empower myself, to choose to be me, and not allow anyone who does not have my best interest at heart to enter my life. That, especially, includes young men who want to mold me into the image they want for their own purposes. I’m too young to be tied to some man who, within five years, I probably wouldn’t even look at. I need time to decide what kind of man is good for my positive growth, who will encourage me to be myself. I don’t have to settle for a loser or abuser just because I want to be popular or have a date for the prom.'” Tell yourself every day: “I am strong, able to make decisions to improve myself and to live those decisions. I am a strong girl on my way to becoming a strong woman.”