As part of our International Day of the Girl Campaign, we’ve invited many amazing women to share their experiences of girlhood with guest blogs. Positive role modelling is an important part of building and maintaining girls’ confidence in themselves.
You can take part in the campaign by taking a minute to share advice for girls today on our virtual wall.
But first, meet today’s guest blogger, Sally Pritchett, CEO and Co Founder of creative communication agency, Something Big.
At school I was not sporty, I was not clever, I was not pretty, I was not cool, I was not funny, I did not have the latest anything. In fact, I didn’t have anything that made me fit in, stand out or belong to anything.
In most lessons I felt lost and left behind. If I was able to listen into the ‘cool’ girls chatting, I also felt lost and left behind.
I often wondered why I was the only one, why I was so different when everyone else seemed to be keeping up, fitting in, having fun, being great… at something, at anything, at everything.
It was only later in life I realised that I wasn’t the only one who felt how I felt. And much later in life I realised most people felt like me.
The problem is, we look at the world around us through our own eyes so we don’t see the full picture. It’s easy to assume what others might be thinking. Perhaps assuming they’re judging us for not wearing the cool brand, asking what we might feel is a stupid question in class.
But often what they’re really thinking is something completely different like, ‘I wish I was confident enough not to wear the same brand as everyone else’ or ‘thank goodness they asked that because I didn’t understand either’.
It’s also easy for me to look back now and see where I went wrong, but it wasn’t so easy to see it at the time. So, if I could whisper some advice into my younger ears, here are some of the things I might say…
To my eight-year-old self…
Ask for help.
Put your hand up right now and ask the teacher that question.
To my ten-year-old self…
You are cleverer than you think, your brain just works differently from others.
When you’re learning it is hard. But it doesn’t mean you’re not clever, you’ve just got a lot to learn.
To my 12-year-old self…
Just because others do things differently doesn’t make them better.
To my 14-year-old self…
Find your people, friends who like you for who you are.
Stop judging yourself. The people you think are judging you are not either.
To my 16-year-old self…
You are amazing, unique and you. Be confident to be who you are.
The more you love yourself, the more you let others love you.
Now, at the age of 53 – which is really old to you, older than your parents and definitely with grey hair – it turns out that not being clever, cool or sporty at school didn’t mean I was destined to a failed life.
Quite the opposite, I’ve had a wonderful life so far… I have an amazing husband who I love, we have three children who are growing up to be wonderful people I’m proud to know (let alone to have brought up), and I’ve founded and run a successful business.
I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing global brands, found a profession that I care deeply about, and love the work I do.
I’m still not sporty, unless you count a bit of paddle boarding and countryside walking. I’m still not cool – I own no makeup, refuse to wear high heels and still wear my hair in the same ponytail I had at school!
I still wouldn’t class myself as clever in a book-reading kind of way, but many people seem to think I make a pretty good CEO.
So maybe here’s a bit of advice I need to tell my 53 year old self…
Don’t waste your life worrying about what you’ll be tomorrow. Focus on being amazing today.
Success comes in different shapes and sizes, choose your own definition.
So, what if we’re not the only one that feels left out? What if we just weren’t allowed to be anything we wanted to be? What if we felt free to be the one and only 100% us instead.
Thank you to Sally for sharing your story of girlhood. We hope all women reading this will join in by sharing their stories and advice on our virtual wall.