Courage Integrity Assertiveness Confidence Restraint

Thursday, March 24, 2011

COURAGE: a struggle for teen girls

Butterfly Name: Courage

“My parents keep asking me how school was. It’s like saying, ‘How was that drive by shooting?’ You don’t care how it was…you’re lucky to get out alive.”
 ~Angela Chase from the 1994 TV hit show, My So Called Life

If you ask any adult if they would go back to middle or high school they would, without a doubt, say no. But if you offered them $1,000,000… most of them would still say no. Why? Courage. If you collected all the courage in a typical high school hallway it just might fill a tube of toothpaste. As an adult, going back to school would mean handing over the courage it took twenty plus years to harvest. But if those adults had been given the tools to nurture their courage while still in middle school, they might not have that same reaction. They may have pleasant memories and jump at the chance to go back.

The reason we struggle with courage is our sheer terror or failure. In middle and high school everyone is watching. Everyone is judging. Everyone has something to say about everything.

Let’s say I told you that there was a new state regulation that would require all high school graduates to lift 100 pounds of dead weight on your graduation day. Yes. There will be a barbell on stage. When your name is called you will approach the stage, lift the weight and then be awarded your diploma. If you cannot lift the weight, you do not get your diploma and therefore you also forfeit any awards and scholarships.

Unless you were just hours from graduation, you would probably start planning how you would meet this requirement. You might talk to a coach to get some insight about the best course of action. Maybe you would persuade your parents to purchase a family membership to a local gym where you could train to meet this goal.

There are a few of you who may see this as an insurmountable goal and do nothing. Maybe you will bank on the fact that the state may change the guidelines in the next few years and this 100 pound regulation may not pertain to you on your own graduation day. But if the regulation sticks, those of you who choose to ignore the new requirement will not be receiving your diploma. How do you think you will feel on that day? Will you regret the years you could have been preparing? Will you wish you would have worked your muscles to the point on success?

Working on your courage is a similar situation. Although in life we don’t know what challenges our life will bring. There is no federal standard for our lives that must publish all upcoming requirements and challenges like the federal education boards. So, sometimes in life things pop up and we have no time to prepare.

It takes practice to have courage - you need the right tools to sharpen and you need to always have those tools with you.

When I asked The Butterfly Girlz Advisory Team what character trait they struggled with the most, courage was the most repeated concern.

Lauren describes her struggles, “Courage. Doing something that is outside of my comfort zone is not what I usually go for.... but I’m learning that sometimes those are the best things for me!”
Lauren is exactly right. Just like lifting weights to prepare for that 100 pound dead lift, stepping outside your comfort zone is a good practice tactic for when things get really tough and courage is your best tool.
And like training to lift weights, you have to start small. You can’t just walk into the gym and lift 100 pounds without any training. So, why do we beat ourselves up when we don’t stand up for someone when we should have? We can’t know how to be courageous without training first. Just like lifting weights, you start small. Five pound weights for a couple weeks, then ten pounders, then fifteen and so on.
When nurturing your courage butterfly you want to start with small steps, then move to medium mounts, then to large leaps.
A small step could simply be leaving the lunch table when someone starts talking smack about the “friend” that just left to go to the bathroom. You could simply refrain from laughing at the latest gossip about the not-so-popular girl who just walked by. You could offer a positive comment to the class “nerd” when her project comes back with a blue ribbon.
Breaking a big hurdle down into smaller parts is always the best way to prove to yourself that there is nothing too big for you.
Tomorrow I will discuss MEDIUM MOUNTS and LARGE LEAPS, what that looks like and how you can get there.


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