During my time as a program director for Girls Inc., it has become a routine experience to walk into rooms full of wide-eyed girls who I have never met and walk out of those rooms having befriended some brilliant young ladies. In the midst of facilitating lessons with age groups ranging from “itty-bitty” to “think-they-know-everything”, I made a precious discovery about a resounding truth. I consciously noticed that when I came into their space, balanced and comfortable within myself, it set a powerful example for who they could be during our time together. As I introduce myself and speak kindness to them, the girls smile back and are open to interacting. They ask to help pass out supplies and often modestly boast about the things they feel they are good at. They ask about my family and friends and excitedly share stories of their own. They sometimes even learn things about one another that they did not know just because of the conversations they are having with the eccentric lady who has entered their classroom.
This confirmed what I believe about the heart of women. We were intentionally designed with a desire to love. We cannot help it. We are simply built this way. The second someone, even a stranger, offers us an opportunity to care about them and to have that reciprocated, we rise to the occasion. This truth never changes.
What happens as women get older is that they experience people who take advantage of this innate desire. It then is tainted and begins to feel more like a burden than a blessing to care so much. Throughout life, family, friends, and romantic interests stir up chemicals and hormones within a girl that make her want to give everything to people who will inevitably make her wish she hadn’t. This is not because the world is cruel and people are terrible. It is because the world is as it is and people are not perfect. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, a girls trust and ability to love freely is abused or belittled. Her attempts to build ties are ignored and her wants go unnoticed. In the end, she grows into a woman who seems in a rush to write others off instead of being in a rush to understand them.
All this comes to be because women get overwhelmed by the disappointment. We get tired of the aching. We get tired of the anxiety and vulnerability. There appears to be no reward for the desire to love others, and since the desire is treated more like a nuisance than a gift, we build up emotional walls.
A woman will hide within those walls until someone loves her enough to knock them down, or better yet, she learns to love herself enough to climb from behind them.
How can all this turmoil be avoided? The honest answer is that it cannot be with the way we currently treat our girls as they develop. For those of you who have little women in your life, please love them like you are teaching them it is a strength, not a weakness. Show them it is an honor to share space with them, not an inconvenience. Compliment their outer beauty, but follow that with a sincere description of your favorite qualities that reside within them. Teach them that they are worth loving and that they are deserving of a healthy love, but most importantly, remind them that while it is great to be loved by others, the most glorious love can only come from themselves.