This post was written by Lindsay Sealey, author of Growing Strong Girls.
Last year, I set an intention to become a stronger, more resilient person. I committed to taking one risk every day for a year—one act of bravery that would challenge me to grow. Out of these 365 actions, the bravest one was my decision to write a book.
I had wanted to write a book for a long time because I felt strongly about helping parents connect with their daughters. Committing to actually doing it felt like a big risk, but I was feeling confident . . . that is, until I had to submit my “trial” paragraph to my editor. Suddenly I froze, and quickly derailed from my bravery plan. Flooded with fears and self-doubt, my head filled with thoughts of, “What if I’m not good enough?” and “What if it’s awful and the publisher won’t know how to tell me?” Even though I teach girls how to write to help them gain strength and confidence in school, I was now the one in a position of vulnerability. I grappled with the question, “Should I really take this risk?
What a journey it has been as I worked through those fears and insecurities—and what an eye-opener with respect to the work I do with young girls. There’s nothing like a role reversal to enhance your empathy skills and help you “get them” even more!
Through my struggles—and, of course, triumphs—in the book writing process, here’s what I learned about my own confidence and how to instill confidence in girls, whether they’re also experimenting with writing or trying their hand at anything else.
- Be willing to try. Once I was willing to take my first small step, I was on my way to building my writing skills. Obviously, if we don’t start, we can’t develop. What convinced me to try? My editor made me a promise: she would suspend all judgment and only be positive to start! Eventually, she told me everything I needed to hear, but by then I was settled enough to listen. Let’s help girls take the first step; she doesn’t have to be polished right away.
- Every risk brings the potential for growth. Writing a book is a risk—you are sharing your ideas and people will have an opinion. But the amazing part is that you will learn and grow from the experience. I decided that every hint of criticism could become an opportunity for me to improve. If a girl you love is nervous about taking a risk, remind her it can be a win-win situation if she thinks of her activity as a learning experience.
- Investigate fear. Figure out exactly what she’s afraid of. Many girls fear failure, not getting it right the first time, or possible embarrassment. For me, it was judgment. Whatever the fear is, once it’s known and brought into the light, you can formulate a strategy to face it.
- Empathy is everything. Relating to and understanding how girls are feeling speaks volumes and is fundamental to relational connection and confidence. My editor was fantastic at this; she’d say, “I know it may feel scary and like a lot of pressure right now—that’s because writing a book is not easy.” She heard me. She got me. And onward we went.
- Ask questions. A great place to start anything is from a place of curiosity. What do you want to write about? What are your first ideas? How do you feel about this topic? These kinds of questions not only helped me get started but they also helped me when I hit inevitable “stuck points.”
- Don’t lose sight of your goal. When I got overwhelmed or lost in the details of writing the book, I would remind myself of my original intention behind Growing Strong Girls—to empower and inspire parents to cultivate connection with girls. To remind myself of my goal, I taped a picture of a little girl standing in a superhero pose to the wall by my desk so I could see it every day and continually feel encouraged.
I wrote Growing Strong Girls for parents and for girls, and yet the process helped me learn the best lesson of all: that I am strong and confident, even though I felt scared, uncertain, and insecure when I started. Confidence in anything we try, whether it’s writing or playing soccer doesn’t mean you don’t feel nervous about taking the risk, it means you decide to embrace your feelings, do it anyway, and show just how brave can be!
For more from Lindsay on growing strong, confident girls visit her website.
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