Our chair of the board gives advice from her girlhood

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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, GFS Chair of the Board of Trustees, Deeps Dhanoa.

I grew up in a very multicultural community and went to a primary school full of children who looked like me and were from all sorts of different backgrounds. I grew up in a house where sometimes there were 13 of us living there.

But my secondary school was different.

In secondary school, there was hardly anyone who looked like me or who shared my Indian heritage.

Everyone seemed to have a maximum of four people living in their house, and they seemed to have so much more money than my family.

I felt like an alien. I wish I’d realised that being different and being myself was a good thing and to be celebrated – after all, who wants to be normal?

Thankfully, I met a great group of friends who were quirky and didn’t care too much about fitting in or conforming to the norm. Quite the opposite, in fact.

They didn’t care that I was Indian or that my house had three times as many people living in it as theirs. They just wanted to know if I wanted to play the stick game with them at break time or come over to watch a scary film.

They didn’t understand the restrictions I had being part of an Indian family.

Like not being able to cut my hair or go out as much as them, but they didn’t treat me any differently either.

I wish I had learned earlier to care less about trying to fit in – people like quirks and people who are genuine. They’re much more interesting.

Another big thing about growing up was how much I let fear get in the way of me doing or trying things. Society seems to raise girls to be perfectionists and boys to be brave.

This is so limiting for our girls, and it needs to change.

Looking back, I wish I had been more brave and less worried about what others thought of me.

Fear held me back from trying out so many things. I was afraid of looking silly or getting it wrong.

So, my advice to my younger self would be to be brave. Put yourself out of your comfort zone as much as you can and do things that scare you.

That’s the exciting stuff, and even if it goes wrong it makes for a good story. You learn much more from the things that go wrong than the ones that go well. And usually, it’s never anywhere near as scary as you thought it would be.

You tend to regret the things you didn’t do, rather than the things you do. Being braver is something I am still working on!

Thank you to Deeps 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

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