Most days, I really like my job. Like any job there are certain aspects that I enjoy more than others. One of the absolute favorite parts of my job is working with my small group of high school girls that help me organize and plan the annual Shine Summit. We meet once a month to collaborate together on Summit and share our success and struggles. Last week during our time together I asked each girl to share one word that they wanted to focus on in 2019 as their intention. The girls were incredibly thoughtful in their word choices and I could not have been more impressed with how astute and introspective these amazing young women were.
Some of the words shared were present, engaged, intentional, balance, and empathy. During our conversation together one of the girls told our group that her word for the year is mature. This caught the group a little of guard because this particular girl is certainly not an immature young woman. When another girl asked her to explain her word she shared that she is graduating this year and is really nervous about meeting a new group of friends in college. She told us that she has a strong tribe of friends in high school and they can all be goofy, crazy, and completely themselves around one another. Her tribe is silly and fun and she is scared that when she leaves this group of friends she isn’t going to be able to be herself anymore, thus the intention of mature for 2019.
After she explained her word to the group I looked around the room and saw some concerned faces. One girl quickly spoke up and said “girl, I love you just the way you are and so will your “people” in college.” Another girl chimed in “Yes! Just be yourself. It isn’t fun to have to pretend to be something that you are not. People will see right through that anyway.” One by one, the girls spoke up and rallied around this amazing young woman that was brave enough to share with our group that she was worried she was going to have to change herself in order to fit in once she leaves this group of friends that have become her family and starts a new chapter of her life.
The truth is, it can be hard to go into a new situation that you are nervous about being your true self, whether you are 18 or 80. It is human nature to want to be liked, fit in, and not appear silly to others. But here’s the good news, when you are brave enough to be your true self, you will find people that adore you just the way you are. You won’t have to walk around pretending to be something or someone that you are not. When you are your true self you might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but ultimately you can’t be that anyway, so you might as well be yourself.
I left my Shine Summit planning meeting last week full of energy, encouragement, and with an overwhelming sense of pride. I am so proud of these young women and the words of encouragement they bestowed onto a member of their tribe. This week, I challenge you to show up wherever the week takes you, as your true self. Don’t worry about trying to fit in or looking good for someone else. Just be yourself and share your light with those around you. Your people will see you SHINE!