“Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of.” -Bethany Hamilton
The quote above was chosen because it completely describes a group of girls I had the pleasure of meeting recently. One the first day of the year, I was invited by the owner of Rehabilitate Your Life, Tysha Pressley, to speak to a few young girls at the community of Timber Ridge about overcoming my fears and how that led to me becoming an influencer.
When Tysha first reached out to me about being one of the speakers for this Teen Summit, my first thought was “oh no girl”. I’m not a speaker and honestly have no desire to be. However, if I’ve learned anything in life is that nothing happens by chance. If an opportunity presents itself and it is for a better good, take it. There will more than likely be a reasoning behind it or maybe even a lesson learned from it. Either way, both of these things result in growth.
The itinerary for the day started with a quick workout for the girls, then a chat with me, followed by some finance and money tips then ended with a fashion show. Pretty dope right?! I definitely thought so. I really hope this is something that will be ongoing. I support this movement, 100%. Even though I was there to speak to the young girls, they taught me a few things. There were a few shy ones but the others were so open, honest, and really sure of themselves. Ages ranged between 8 and 16 and the younger babies stole the show. Talking about HILARIOUS! The room was filled with some pretty talented young ladies as well. We had a future artist, a dancer, basketball player, future robotics engineer, and more! I talked to them about how I was an incredibly shy kid and the steps I took to overcome a major fear which was simply speaking to people. A few things that helped was a very supportive mom who always paid attention to my interests and stood by any decision I made. By the time I was in middle school, she noticed my love for art and writing so she placed me in a summer program offered at my school called T.A.G. (Talented and Gifted). The program was split into 2 departments, Music and Art. We spent about 6 weeks, getting up early every morning for a full day of classes. I was enrolled in the Art department of course which included sketching, video production, clay art, and graphic design classes. There were kids from middle schools across the county which forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and meet new kids. The next thing that helped was being a part of Upward Bound once I was in high school. Upward Bound is a tutorial program which also includes students from all high schools in your county. Students spend 6 weeks on a college campus taking educational classes during the day and extracurricular classes in the evenings. I skipped the art class this time and chose to dive into dance. This program gave me my first feel of “college life” because we had to live on campus Mon-Fri, then we went home on weekends. Also, to make sure you’re getting to know new students, they room you with someone from a different school. This REALLY made me uncomfortable but I pushed through. Lol. When I really want something, I noticed that I will push past any barriers (mental or physical) to make it happen. I believe Upward Bound contributed most to helping me break out of my “shell”.
To be honest, this was my first time ever speaking to a group of people outside of presentations in college. I wasn’t sure if what I was saying made sense or if they grasped the message I intended to portray but they did! Tysha asked them what did they learn and they said they learned to continue to push past their fears to achieve what they want out of life. Also they said they learned to step outside of the box and try new things. I was shocked! Not because I didn’t expect them to comprehend but because I was feeling a little insecure about my ability to convey my message properly. It’s a struggle of mine (lowkey) so I’m proud of myself for speaking clearly and staying on topic. LOL.
There is something else I feel the need to discuss. I stayed for the next topic which was dating and relationships with the next speaker, Avis. Not just intimate relationships but she discussed the importance of healthy friendships as well. The ladies were so open and honest with their answers about their feelings, interactions with friends/boyfriends/etc, and more. Avis even talked a little about what is considered inappropriate touching and what is inappropriate when it comes to how you are treated by any of your peers. She summed it up in the most perfect way: if you feel it is inappropriate, then that’s what it is and you should Speak Up, period. (I’m paraphrasing of course but you get the point). I started to think about when I was their age and how I never would have had the courage to discuss any of these things with anyone. These young ladies even gave examples of situations they’re currently experiencing with friends and we all gave them tips on how to handle conflict, the healthy way. I loved it! I really hope I have the opportunity to do this with them again soon. Not only were these girls a ball of fun but I enjoyed listening to Tysha and Avis speak to them about real life, everyday topics. We need this to happen more often on a larger scale. If you feel you can help Tysha’s organization grow and gain more exposure, please do not hesitate to reach out. I will include her contact information below.
This was truly a great way to begin 2019. I feel inspired to volunteer my time doing things like this more often. I hope it encourages someone else to do the same. In this day and age of all of the mirages of what life is expected to be like on social media, reality TV, etc.; it is important to talk to the kids about real things. It is important to let them know their flaws are common. It is especially important to discuss how we, as adults, experienced similar feelings and situations growing up and the proper way to deal with it all. I could go on and on about growing up in a community where you’re taught to just pray about it and not talk things through with someone IN ADDITION to talking to God. However, that is a whole other topic for another day! That’s all for now. I will end by saying: get out and have a real conversation with a kid today! It might shock you what you will learn.