One of the things we talk about in Dynamo Girl is the concept of building brave girls, girls that will push through negativity, bullying, external pressure and make courageous choices. But, when we are with our girls, is there room for all the feelings that come with being brave? Fear, Sadness, Confusion to name a few. How many times have I heard people say to their children, “Don’t cry, be Brave”? Isn’t true bravery working through those hard feelings and still moving forward?
A few weeks ago, I was able to bear witness a true act of bravery. My friend Emily was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. Though she has a good prognosis, she is facing a year of chemotherapy. With her chemotherapy, one of the many side effects will be losing her hair.
When Emily was diagnosed and told me about her chemotherapy regimen, she quickly told me she was not going to wait for her hair to fall out. So on her 40th birthday, Emily shaved her head surrounded by love ones and I saw an act of bravery that I knew was rare and precious. I was able to witness a friend move through the fear, confusion and sadness of the loss of that part of her identity and and come out ready to fight her cancer diagnosis. Emily’s act of courage took my breath away. She was crying, smiling and laughing as her hair fell to the floor — an act of bravery in its truest form.
Emily’s bravery was brought on by a horrible circumstance. On my drive back from Boston, I thought: how do we choose bravery in our everyday lives as women and help our girls choose bravery on a regular basis? We, as parents and educators, have to stop giving speeches to our girls about being brave and set an example for our children through action. My act of bravery this week will be to ski with my own kids. What a privileged act of courage, right? But, here it is… I’m afraid of heights and frightened of blowing out my bad knee. It is terrifying riding up a ski lift when you are afraid of heights. So, at 45, I am going to go up a ski lift, take a ski lesson and learn together with my children.
My children normally see me in charge, super competent and running the show. When we ski, my children are going to see me fall, make mistakes and keep trying. I want my daughter (and son) to witness me try something and be really bad at it. I hear so many stories of young girls, including my daughter, who won’t try a sport that they are not immediately good at it. We can tell our girls that they have to fail sometimes in order to learn something new, but when do we actually demonstrate to them that lesson? When do we show them the vulnerability of what it means to try something new and not be good at it? I’m going to give me and my kids that gift and I hope it’s frees us all up to make some mistakes and find some daily bravery.