During the cold, wintry days of February 2005, I was reflecting on my childhood and how my personal life lessons relate to the lives of today’s modern girl. In a profound and brief moment of inspiration, I identified a disconnect from my sense of self and spirit, a time when my esteem and overall security and well-being diminished. In my reflections, I realized that I had gone from a happy, bold, and care-free pre-teen to a self-conscious adolescent who lacked confidence, respect, balance and joy.

But what went wrong and why? How did I so suddenly lose that vital connection to my happy and confident self? What could have kept me connected to my divine and magnificent self and spirit in my young life? Does this same disconnect happen to today’s girls? My musings took me deeper into my childhood memories searching for clues – and possibly for answers.

As a young child, I remembered being showered with love from my family, friends and teachers. I remembered many fun, happy and love-filled memories with my immediate and extended family. I remembered, too, enjoying school, hanging out with my friends and loving to play outside on the neighbor’s property, where his horses roamed freely. All the "right" pieces were in place for me to be raised a happy, confident and connected girl. And then I began to have flashes of a superficially angry, but deeply sad girl. I flashed moments of despair and suffering, discord and discomfort. Some of these memories were so powerful that the emotions almost felt real, and some even felt scary. There were two distinct versions of me surfacing in my memories, and I knew that the space between the two versions contained vital clues to understanding how I became so disconnected, clues that could guide me in ways to help the young girls of today stay connected to their divine spirits.

Loving and judging

One version I remembered of me loved herself, her life and others, while the other version judged herself harshly, ridiculed her life and belittled others because they weren’t "cool" or "in" or "popular." I soon identified the space where I lost my connection to my true Self as that very moment when I entered the often cruel and frightening realm of adolescence. What concerned me even more is that I could foresee a possible disconnect from spirit in the marvelous pre-teen girls in my life who were on the edge of adolescence. My desire to relate my personal life lessons to those of the modern girl was intensifying, as was my desire to help and to make a difference in their lives. But I was not yet done digging through my past for answers.

I recognized that during my adolescence, I gravely underplayed the connection between what I thought of myself and how those thoughts affected my self-esteem, self-confidence and my precious spirit. I looked to others for approval and constantly compared myself to others and to the images I saw in the media (especially to the myriad of teen magazines that are always loaded with images of perfection). I never, and I mean NEVER, allowed myself to fully measure up. Furthermore, I became quick to dismiss the compliments of my loved ones. Soon, my internal dialogue was so nasty that the compliments and accolades simply disappeared into the deep emptiness I felt inside of myself. The amazing and happy pre-teen girl, who so freely loved herself, her family, her friends and her life, had been overpowered by a lost, disconnected and insecure adolescent girl.

Pre-teen girls are often open, accepting, talkative, receptive and full of girl power, but as the transition from pre-teen to adolescence begins, this strong sense of girl power and pride is slowly eroded. Just as I had done as an adolescent girl, many of today’s adolescent girls disregard their mind and spirit and in turn disregard their unique qualities, traits, talents and gifts. The emphasis shifts to the body and to the quest for perfection of body, with little and often no regard for the mind and spirit.

Often adolescent girls criticize their physical appearance and judge their self-worth and self-esteem by their physical imperfections and their lack of the right weight, height, body shape, hair color…. Girls today as young as 6 are dieting to keep their figures slim! Physical perfection is valued now more than ever before, and from this image of perfection girls are learning that anything less than perfect just isn’t valuable or worthy of positive attention. It is easy to see how the strong sense of girl power during those pre-teens years erodes during adolescence.

Share and celebrate

To rebalance our precious girls and to ensure a happy, confident and capable generation of connected women, it is important in the lives of girls today that they actively and openly share and celebrate their magnificence, especially as it relates to their minds and spirits and to their qualities, traits, talents and gifts. We must teach girls to strengthen their inner and outer voices. We must teach girls to be supportive and loving, accepting and positive of their magnificent selves, regardless of this persistent image of perfection. We must help our girls to build solid, beautiful and empowering foundations to live on, or to return to should they become as lost as I had when I was in adolescence.

You can help to guide girls on their precarious journey toward and through adolescence and make a difference by showing girls that it is okay to share and celebrate their magnificence. Show girls how to build a empowering foundation to live on by teaching them to be comfortable identifying their qualities, traits, talents and gifts and to not feel guilty or shy in doing so. To help strengthen a girl’s foundation even more, add the joy of sharing magnificence with loving, supportive and positive family and friends. Teach girls to share, proudly and confidently, their magnificence with others without feeling ashamed or shy. Girls will benefit in many ways by learning that it is okay to be bold, opinionated and even assertive about their wonderful, magnificent and divine selves. Beware, though, that sharing and celebrating achievements, successes and talents is not viewed by all as an attractive trait in girls, so be sure to prepare your girl for this and teach her how to both meet and overcome this type of resistance.

Becoming comfortable in sharing and celebrating one’s own magnificence is a great way to assist girls in remaining connected to their precious and divine spirits. Strengthened self-esteem, and greater self-confidence, happiness, joy and enthusiasm, are just a few of the wonderful benefits girls may experience through choosing to share and celebrate their magnificence. Sharing and celebrating magnificence gives girls strong voices and bold confidence, and it encourages girls to freely express their true spirit, bold or modest, brazen or timid, assertive or mild.

Whatever special qualities, traits, talents or gifts a girl possesses, let us openly and loudly proclaim that being a strong, confident girl, who actively shares and celebrates her magnificence, is magical, empowering, and wise!

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Jill Schoenberg Girma is the author of Journal Buddies: A Girl's Journal for Sharing and Celebrating Magnificence. She was born and raised in St. Cloud, Minn., attended the University of Minnesota, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Youth Studies and Sociology. Her professional experience includes more than six years of working directly with young people --helping them to understand and develop their self-esteem, creative talents and life-skills. Journl Buddies is available for purchase directly from the publisher, on Amazon.com, or by ordering through any retail store. Visit www.journalbuddies.com or email Jill at jill@journalbuddies.com. Copyright © 2005 Jil Schoenberg Girma. All rights reserved.

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