It’s okay to try something hard.
This is a phrase you will often hear around Go Girls! Camp in response to “This is hard!,” especially when said in that slightly high pitched, complain-y way with a touch of whine. “This is haaard!!!”
You have likely heard this said before. I heard it the other day when Allison and I decided that we would walk the dogs around the block while the Squirrel rode her bike.
When you come out of our house and turn right, there is a slight incline to our street. The Squirrel was struggling with this incline on this particular day. She had navigated this route before but, for whatever reason, she had decided that, on this day, “This is haaard!!!”
“It’s okay to try something hard,” I say.
When faced with a challenge, humans who lack or are not able to access their advance level coping skills go into the fight, flight, or freeze mode. 9 times out of 10, our Squirrel freezes. Upon hearing my “It’s okay to try something hard,” she stopped riding her bike in the middle of the sidewalk, dropped her head as low as it would go, crossed her arms, and pouted. I tried coaching her to jump off her bike and push a while. I encouraged her to ask for help. I even tried to give her a little push to get her started again. Nothing. Just like Queen Elsa, she was completely frozen. After a few attempts to start again, I ultimately wound up taking her back home while Allison gave the dogs their much needed walk.
“It’s okay to try something hard” is such an essential part of Go Girls! culture that, if you were to ask a camper, “What makes you a Go Girl!?,” you would likely hear “I try my best even when it’s hard.” This past weekend, Allison and I ran our annual Go Girls! Leadership Team (GGLT) retreat for the middle school girls who work as counselors-in-training at our camps over the summer. Our opening ritual was that each of us brought and shared a photo of a “Go Girls! Moment” with the rest of the circle. Pretty much each of the 18 girls shared pics and stories about overcoming some kind of challenge; paddleboarding for the first time; jumping from a tall cliff into a waterfall below; giving a speech; winning a sports competition. I was so proud of these girls in the this moment, and throughout the weekend, as they continued to say yes to new people and new experiences and build their identity as someone who is ready and willing to accept anything that comes her way.
I thought about how annoyed I had been at my own daughter’s “This is haaard!!!” and unwillingness to keep going up that hill. I thought, “I can’t wait until she gets to camp and can spend time with older girls like these. I need their Go Girls!-ness to rub off on her.”
Then, I thought about it again. Okay, the Squirrel didn’t continue up that hill on that particular Tuesday afternoon. But, what about all of the other hills that she has said yes to throughout her life? Sure, jumping off a cliff is hard. But so is leaving behind everyone you have ever known to take on a brand new life in a brand new city. Our Squirrel has never given a speech in front of her classmates, but she has, in just the last 7 months, dared to say yes to new mommies, new dogs, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, a whole new wardrobe, set of toys, and a brand new community of people. Every day, she learns words she has never heard before, tastes food she has never tasted before, dances to songs she has never heard before. Every day, she makes the choice to take one more giant step into this new life that has been thrust upon her. I don’t know about you, but I would say “This is haaard!!!”
I am excited that the Squirrel will be coming to camp this summer and will be inspired by our amazing GGLT. I do think that these older girls will have a lot to teach her about being a Go Girl!. I do hope the experience will help reduce the amount of times she freezes in challenging situations. However, I also imagine that she won’t just be the student. I imagine that our Squirrel will have a bit to teach us all about what it really means to try hard things. I imagine that we will all grow from her example.
What about you? What’s a time that you are your daughter have faced a challenge and said yes to try hard things? I’d love for you to share your #GoGirlsMoment with us.
And check out more highlights from our GGLT Retreat…