I remember when I was looking round my new senior school before I joined. I was 10, I was super nervous, and I didn’t know anyone.
The school felt huge, and I was tiny. I was one of the youngest and shortest in the class, which you wouldn’t believe if you saw me now, almost 5’9″.
Even in my later school years, I was still lacking in self-confidence. We had an alumni ‘old girl’ come to speak to us at a career event and I was in awe.
She was amazing. Well dressed, funny, and confident – she shared some life lessons, and I remember fearing I would never be like her.
I have been thinking a lot about school recently, as I am currently organising a reunion for our 30-year-anniversary.
As I think back over those years and how my life has evolved post school, I really wish I could whizz back in a time machine and give myself a pep talk, like the cool Aunt I never had.
If I could, these are the nine things I would tell myself:
- Your confidence will grow over time, and especially when you try things. Be brave and do stuff. It’s much easier when you start. (Except for with hockey, steer clear of that.)
- Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has insecurities. Even the most put-together girl you know will be worrying about something. Some are just better at disguising it than others. So, stop the comparing and focus your energy on other things.
- It is natural to not ‘fit’ with everyone. Find your people who share your interests, outlook and values. Life is so much easier when you can be your whole self. Love your quirks and differences.
- Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, listen to that inner voice. Do your own research on things and don’t blindly follow others. Step away from people and situations that aren’t good for you.
- Proactively manage your health. Both physical and mental. Don’t wait until something is really bad before you talk to someone. This applies at all stages of your life.
- Do some exercise (if you are able). Even though you aren’t a sporty type, find something you enjoy and do it every week. Try yoga young. Don’t wait until you are 45 and as stiff as a board. Your future self with thank you.
- Hard things WILL happen in your life, but you can choose to see the positives even if this requires dark humour at times. You will lose people you love, and it will hurt like hell, but you will go on.
- If you are feeling a bit down, turn your focus outwards. Check on people you care about. Visit someone who would really appreciate it. Get out of the house. Change your physical location.
- Enjoy the ride. Time speeds up the older you get. Have fun, say yes, go on as many adventures as you can.
“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.” – Maya Angelou
Sadly, I don’t have a time machine, and on reflection, I have learned the lessons through experience. But if I can help just one young girl today, then it was worth writing it down.
I am so proud to now work with GFS and would love for you to know about their great work. If you are reading this, please add your voice to the #GirlsAllowed message board and if you are interested in supporting their work through becoming an Ambassador – get in touch for more details.
Ellie Rich-Poole is The Recruitment Coach. She helps leaders land their perfect role and be brilliant in it by playing to strengths. She also works with organisations as a speaker and career development coach. She on the Fundraising and Growth Committee for GFS and is founder of their Ambassador Programme.
Follow her on LinkedIn.