What I Received From Mentoring Young Girls

Posted on May 12, 2015

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I am no stranger to the self-esteem issues faced by (young) women. I blogged about some of my personal experiences in my post, “Celebrating My Fat (Fabulous) Body” last year. I consider myself to be a confident, self-aware and strong person for the most part. My social work education and years of experience working in the non-profit sector in three countries, helps me regain and maintain my self-esteem. Yet, sometimes I judge myself by society’s standards and feel myself falling short.

In 2015, I got the opportunity to work with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton and facilitate G.L.O.W, a girls group, at three different schools over the last four months. G.L.O.W or Girls Linking Our Worlds aims at empowering young girls from diverse communities make healthy lifestyle choices and develop positive identity. Using the set curriculum, my co-facilitators and I got to interact with girls from different socio-ethno-cultural backgrounds to play games, eat a variety of different snacks and explore our own prejudices and pre-conceived notions about beauty, success, popularity, healthy relationships, etc.

Each week, I found myself looking forward to working with these young girls. We played games, discussed dimensions of healthy living and brainstormed over life’s pressing issues like bullying, relationships, peer pressure, discrimination, boys, depression, etc. “How do I get a boy to like me,” “How do I stop caring what people think of me,” “How can I make friends in high school,” “I feel like I don’t have anyone to talk to and I am really sad all the time,” are some examples of questions girls ask us. It’s a pretty inclusive process. We facilitators share our own stories, invite responses from the group and collaboratively give some suggestions to each of these anonymous questions!

I am an extremely playful person. I am known to jump around, try every activity and basically make a fool of myself. Initially girls giggle, snicker, gawk and even ignore me! Eventually, they all join in the tomfoolery. It is so freeing to not care what we look like! And when everyone is jumping around and playing, it automatically creates a safe environment for participants and facilitators to let loose.

I Love Mentoring!

I Love Mentoring!

As the weeks pass, the questions they ask us become somewhat personal. They want to know how we deal with the difficult things in life. They want to know how we become “so confident”. They want to know how they can become like us. Needless to say, their trust in me and my co-facilitators is very motivating. I have had to reflect on how I dealt with the difficult things in my life. Most importantly, I have had to start following my own advice that I give them – surround yourself with people who lift you up, be honest and upfront about your feelings with people, move away if you are not receiving what you need from relationships and most of all – focus on inner and outer beauty!

Things Young Girls Say About Me

Things Young Girls Say About Me

There are mornings I wake up feeling fat or bloated or not pretty. But then I remember to look at myself through the eyes of these young girls. I simply try to imagine what I would tell a young girl who confides in me about having such thoughts and I am able to smile and stand a little taller.

All I can say is, mentoring these young girls gave me so much more in return. I consider myself an ever-evolving feminist and being a mentor is helping me become a better advocate for myself and for others! As I am about to close the third program next week, I can safely say I am more confident, self-aware and have higher self-esteem than I did just a few months ago before I was a GLOW mentor!

For all the remarkable young girls in our programs – Go forth and GLOW!

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Posted in: life