Many young people are trying to establish their roles, responsibilities, and sense of self. However, they need to accept that in all these areas changes are inevitable. Self-identity is never set as a tablet in stone, but keeps growing in one way or another. Moreover, the self consists of many parts, although this might not be apparent to us.
When our sense of self is limited…how can we take back the self from these limitations, even when we have created them ourselves? Part of the answer to this daunting question is to understand that the self is not one thing but a complex of multiple definitions and parts and to seek to have them grow and diversify into new areas.
The chorus of our Go Girls! Camp theme song goes, “I’m not a mean girl. I’m not a good girl. I am a Go Girl!.” We wrote this because it sucks how often we, as a society, both consciously and subconsciously, demand that girls choose a singular identity. We can either be a good girl and follow all the rules, never rocking the boat or we can be a mean girl, a bitch, someone to fear and burn at the stake.
This completely impossible task damages our psychological health and prevents us from acknowledging and accepting ourselves as the complex beings that we are. This is a major cause of the rampant self-loathing that is expressed among our girls.
I refuse to put up with anymore. As a woman/former girl. As a mother of a girl. As an educator of girls. I refuse. And as my daughter works her butt off to build a positive sense of self amidst the shadow of abuse and neglect, I will do whatever I can to help her to understand that she is is amazing because of all of her parts, not despite of them.
I can start by writing this…
I love the part of you who squeals with delight when she discovers something brand new for the very first time.
I love the part of you who can focus on play for hours; building the inventions that you never doubt will change the world.
I love the part of you who always wants to know what’s going to happen next.
I love the part of you who is furiously working to choose peace over violence.
I love the part of you who cries and kicks and pouts and then gets up gets dressed, makes her bed, and brushes her teeth – all before 8am.
I love the part of you who woefully misses her sisters.
I love the part of you who rolls her eyes, throws things across the room, and loudly proclaims “I don’t care.”
I love the part of you who is afraid she will never learn to read but insists on checking out 40 books each time we visit the library.
I love the part of you who wants to jump in our bed in the morning and ride “on my neck” around the house.
I love the part of you who wants to tell everyone what to do. All the time.
I love the part of you who is learning to trust.
I love the part of you who can’t quite grasp the days of the week but works so hard to remain intensely present.
I love the part of you who fearlessly approaches any kid on the street with a “wanna play?” whether the kid is a baby, a teenager, a boy or a girl, black or white, or anything in between
I love the part of you who sleeps through the night.
I love the part of you who is waking up to her feelings and becoming the person she is meant to be.
I love the part of you who remembers the names and relationships of everyone in this weird new family she has landed in.
I love the part of you who is confused and grieving and growing more resilient everyday.
I love the part of you who is brilliant beyond her years while we play the improv games at the dinner table but freezes up as soon as she is in the spotlight.
I love the part of you who is angry.
I love the part of you who is kind.
I love the part of you who is not quite grateful.
I love the part of you who is bone shakingly funny.
I love the part of you who is strong.
I love the part of you who is weak.
I love the part of you who is still trying to figure out what love actually means.
I love each and every part of you. And I promise to love all your parts, unconditionally, from now on. Even when I don’t like you very much.
I love you.