You can ask, but teens and pre-teens might be a little shy to openly discuss what they care about, what motivates them.
I’m far from being the young girl I used to be but I can vividly recall the things I cared about when I was younger. In fact, the things that occupied my mind and my time really haven’t changed all that much – I’ve always wanted to put my best self forward, I’ve always been motivated by living the width of my life and not just the length of it, I’ve always wanted to be independent, and I’ve always had the same values. And yes, growing up, I wanted boys to notice me, to have many friends, and to look good in my clothes from the Limited Too.
I also can vividly remember that my goals were something I kept to myself, sprawled out over dozens of pretty notebooks in my room. Mom and Dad knew what made me tick and knew what my dreams were, but I certainly didn’t go out of my way to share with friends that I had a homemade poster in my room reminding me that “Knowledge is Power” or that I wanted to get involved in charities over the holiday break.
Over the years, I saved (embarrassingly!) everything, and stumbling upon my old to-do lists, goals, notes, and journals is not only entertaining and sweet, it reminds me that I’ve always been a strong female with ambition and goals, and maybe even a little vulnerable and naive. I would love to see the journal entries and goals set by my female friends and female mentors: how did they coach themselves over the years? We could laugh at the things we thought would be good ideas (playing hard to get to get the guy) and compare all the mantras we had to tell ourselves to get through each day (“I am awesome!”). I bet if we sat around sharing these pieces of our past, we’d get a glimpse of the girls back then who were blooming into the awesome young women we are today!
When my friend shared with me a note that her 12-year-old female relative had in her bedroom, I was taken right back to my younger self. My friend called this piece, “words of wisdom from a 12-year-old.” I think it tells us so much about who young girls are at the core.
Here are a few highlights from this particular list:
– Stick with friends first before you go to guys; they’ll be the ones to stay with you forever
– Act extremely smart; you know you are, just let it shine
– Be quirky; you know you are, don’t hide it
– Walk with confidence
In a world where we cringe at the messages our young girls are receiving, and we wonder if we can control their exposure to society’s pressures, this shows me that there are many girls out there who are, in fact, focused on being confident, smart, and unique individuals. Hooray!
If you came across notes from your childhood, what would they say?