This week’s blog is a passionate plea. It’s a plea to you to know how important you are and how much your opinion and needs matter. It’s also a plea for you to open your heart and mind to encourage and allow others to speak their truth and use their voice. I have presented in two schools over the last week, and the thing that has impacted me the most, as I drove away after each session, is the lack of self-belief, self-confidence and self-value of many teenagers. This needs to change.
In a recent social media post, I wrote;
It is our responsibility to empower, encourage and instill belief and confidence in the wonderful teens of the world.
As I stood there talking to these incredible young people at a Melbourne based Secondary College yesterday, I was struck with the realisation that many of them lack belief in themselves and the confidence to trust their voice.
It is my greatest desire; to fill them with self-belief, to help them understand the power, capacity and potential they all have and to empower them to take immediate and even illogical action!
If you have a teenager, know a teenager, or were a teenager… Please act now. This incredible generation of people needs our help.
EMPOWER & ENCOURAGE A TEENAGER TODAY!
I wrote this post after speaking at one school to about 150 year 8 students. I try to keep my presentations fun, engaging and interactive. I love empowering teenagers, I love asking questions and getting responses, I love encouraging dreams and aspirations and I love it when I see the penny-drop, but I am finding this increasingly difficult. In this particular room, there were two boys who were the only ones with the confidence (or interest) to ask questions and to share ideas. There was the occasional contribution from a few other boys, and absolutely no sharing from any of the girls. This concerned me.
I am not a parent, and so I can’t even begin to relate to the challenges of raising healthy and well-balanced children, but I was a teenager and so I do understand the impact of parents, teachers, peers and the media. I am concerned about the unrealistic images and messages that are portrayed about being happy and successful in life. Somewhere in our younger years we are losing our voice and believing that we are not important and that no-one wants to hear our opinions. This is not just an affliction of teenagers, it is true for many adults. Maybe even you.
I would just ask you to reflect back when you were a baby. At that time in your life, were you worried about what others thought about you? Did you stay quiet when you wanted something? Did you give up crying when you didn’t get attention straight away? Did you care how loud you cried or how long you cried for? Were you embarrassed about pooing your nappy? Did you beat yourself up after falling time and time again whilst trying to walk for the first time? Did you worry about keeping people in the house, or the neighbours, awake? I think you know the answer to all of those questions. You were confident, bold, loud and determined. If you wanted something you cried at any time of the day and night until you got it. You kept getting up after each fall and you didn’t stop until you were walking. So, my friend, what happened to your confidence, your belief and your voice?
I say this often, and I will say it again. You are extra-ordinary, in fact every person is extra-ordinary. You are miraculous and on this planet for a reason. God made no junk. You are worthy, you are valuable, you are important and your voice counts. What do you want to say? What would you like to change? Who do you want to listen and hear you? Can I suggest you behave like a baby, and keep saying it, until you are heard? Cry if you have to! Why? Because your voice matters, and your ideas will impact lives.
I was talking to a group a teenagers a few months ago about their valuable voice. I asked them, what they would like to say to teachers, parents and community members, if they believed they would be heard. One girl raised her hand and said, she wished there was more awareness and education about disability. She talked about how many disabled people get treated poorly, because of lack of understanding. She passionately spoke about how this type of knowledge would make a difference for both the able-bodied and the disabled in our community. Wow!! This was a 16-year-old girl. Everyone has a powerful and valuable voice that will change lives.
Yes, that means you! Your voice counts, your opinion matters, and your ideas are valuable. So, can I encourage you to use your voice this week? Can I also ask that you to encourage others to do the same, and, when they do, welcome their ideas and opinions, even if they don’t agree with your own? This world is full of people, who are alive for a reason, and have a voice and a legacy to leave. I am a living example of someone, who is not always confident, not always secure in my value and often fearful of voicing my thoughts. Yet, I do know I have stuff to say, and I am going to say it, because I deeply believe, in my heart, that my voice counts, my opinions matter and my ideas will change lives. That is why I do what I do.
Often, it’s the voice in our head that stops us from voicing our thoughts. In my podcast this week, called ‘Get rid of the crap,’ with Tania Kolar, we discuss how to turn your self-talk into your powerful voice. I hope after reading this, you will open your mouth and share an idea that will help someone, confront an issue that will change something or tell someone how important they are and how much you love them. Just know, as you get on with your day today, that your voice counts.