I remember the first time one of my girls called me coach when I saw her out at the store.
It was a powerful moment.
I have a pretty strong reaction to being left out.
Like, unreasonably strong.
It’s an issue. I know.
Plus I’m also one of these awkward introverts that really likes to people, but doesn’t really know how to people, so I don’t actually people unless I find a way to do so in the security of a group.
So, I need to be part of stuff.
This is probably why I feel such a strong pull to coach Girls on the Run.
Doing so allows me to be involved. I mean, they actually give me a book that outlines exactly what I’m supposed to do and say. You can’t make peopling much easier than that. (And also I would like one of those books for general life, please.)
But also it allows me to help other girls like me. Because I Was That Girl.
That awkward, uncomfortable, shy girl that had no idea how to be in any situation. Except quiet. I was excellent at being quiet. And damn near invisible.
But I wanted to be heard. And seen.
I just had no idea what to say or do.
And if you think it got any better as I got older, it didn’t.
In fact, the older I got, the more it morphed into a desire to please. A willingness to follow. A need to comply.
None of these things are good traits for a young woman.
In fact, they largely explain most of the challenges I face today.
It seems odd, given how strong-willed my mother is. And how much confidence my parents instilled in me. And how stubborn I am as a human.
I’m a walking contradiction.
But things happen, often in our childhood, that may be outside of our parents’ control. And those things can have a devastating impact on who we become.
The older I’ve gotten, the better I’ve become at fighting back those urges to do what everyone else wants me to do. I’m far less compliant. I am more willing to lead. Even when I shouldn’t. (Seriously. I can’t say this enough. DO NOT follow me on a trail.) And while I still want people to be happy, I am less and less willing to give up any part of myself to make that happen. I take less and less responsibility for other people’s happiness the older I get.
But a woman shouldn’t have to suddenly find herself turning 40 before she starts to reclaim herself.
Those lessons should be part of our basic development as girls.
And while I fully believe a large part of that has to happen at home, I am a real-world example of how much experiences outside of the home can impact us.
So Girls on the Run. And Heart and Sole. These are programs that offer one more line of defense for our young girls. One more tool to help arm them for the world they’re walking into. One more support system to help them hold onto who they truly are and gain the confidence to become whoever they want to be.
If I can be part of something like that, then it reminds me to be more of those things that I want to be.
And if I can be part of something like that, then I can remind young girls to be more of those things that they want to be.
I hope that we can eventually have one of these programs in every elementary and middle school in the country.
We need them.
If you have the availability to coach for Girls on the Run at an elementary school near you or Heart and Sole at a middle school near you, do it. You’ll love it.
Sign up to volunteer in the Roanoke area here: https://www.girlsontherunroanokevalley.org/Coach
Sign up to volunteer in Bedford County, Lynchburg, or Campbell County here: https://www.girlsontheruncenva.org/Coach
Because I’m gonna need more awesome folks, especially women, to help me.
I mean, you get a t-shirt and everything.
I’ll even call you coach.