As a girl growing up in an a strictly male friendly environment I learned through both spoken and unspoken messages that being me was not a good thing. That silence and being as invisible as possible was by far the safest thing for me. Not that there really was much safety in a family harboring multiple abusers. Not that my silence improved the abuse and neglect or silenced the many derogatory and negative statements made to and about me within my hearing.
The fact that I am a strong, loving, compassionate woman has little to do with my birth family, and everything to do with my having had people in my life, from outside my family, who took me under their wings. People who showed me different ways of being in the world and healthier ways to interact with others; who nurtured me, encouraged me, believed in my worth.
From a neighbor woman inviting me over to read books, to family friends who ‘adopted’ me on the weekends and over holidays, to my best friend’s mother who taught me how to deal with the changing body and emotions of an adolescent, to my mother’s friend who took me out occasionally for lunch and ‘girl talk’, to the librarian who guided my reading choices and encouraged my love of books, I was lucky and blessed to have Angels in my life.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I truly realized the vastness of the gifts that each of them gave me. Things that seem simple, but that made it possible for me to grow into a woman capable of transforming and transcending the anger and pain; into a mother capable of raising my family in more positive, loving ways.
We are all pebbles in the pond, never truly knowing where the ripples lead. Yet every action we take, no matter how small, ripples out into the universe and into other people’s lives. The word of encouragement that you give may be a lifeline; the action that you take may allow hope and courage to shine within someone elses life.
Never think that you can’t make a difference, or that making a difference calls for more resources than you have. We all have gifts to offer and what seems small or inconsequential to us may be the miracle that allows another young woman to survive and flourish and gift the world with her presence.
Be the pebble in the pond for the girls around you. And for those who share this world with us, in places and countries physically distant from us, please check out the wonderful work of The Girl Effect and learn how you could be the change for them as well. If you have a blog, please consider joining with me and participating in the 2011 Girl Effect Blogging Campaign