I want to share with you part of a speech given recently by Dr Briony Scott, Principal at Wenona in Sydney. Every time I listen to her I am left feeling exceedingly grateful that there are educators such as her whose passion and intellect are guiding girls.
Here’s some of what she had to say to over 200 15-year old girls…
Turning from a girl into a woman is an extraordinary transition. It is not just about getting older, or growing taller. It is not about boys, or parties, or liking coffee, or learning to drive. It is not even about independence or making your own decisions. It is about having a sense of self. Of knowing who you are and owning it. And of developing a sense of purpose.
Owning who you are, owning your mistakes, not apologising for your strengths or hiding them. You do not blame others for your lot in life, or the decisions you’ve made, or how you respond to life’s curve balls.
Being a woman is about valour and honour and integrity.
As a child, young girls are often raised to want to be princesses. Beautiful, but inherently helpless, controlled by other forces, by other people’s expectations.
While being a princess is metaphorical, the constant focus of beauty over character, servant over service, of being safe rather than adventurous, being passive rather than active, of being protected rather than brave, and of conformity over individuality are common and dominant narratives presented to young girls. They are often encouraged to stand on the sidelines and cheer as their brothers and boyfriends play the game.
Yet, as they grow, women have choices. To stay a princess for life – or to grow up; become a woman. Not to remain a princess but to become a queen.
Author, Marianne Williamson states:
“A queen is wise. She has earned her serenity, not having had it bestowed on her but having passed her tests. She has suffered and grown more beautiful because of it. She has proved she can hold her kingdom together…. She cares deeply about something bigger than herself….
“To be a princess is to play at life. To be a queen is to be a serious player…The purpose of life as a woman is to ascend to the throne and rule with heart.”
The girls here today are no longer princesses playing at life. They are women. Metaphorically, they are queens. Young ones, to be sure, but growing in confidence about who they are and who they are called to be.
She is of course right.
The continuing requirement of all those who either educate, parent or care for young women is not only to teach them the 3 R’s but more importantly instil in them values of self-worth and belief, responsible risk-taking, resilience, courage and purpose.
We know girls are capable of anything and, more than ever before, it’s time we started showing them, through our own actions, that we believe in them and that the practice of enabling a princess-mentality has no real place in society.
Do you have a teacher who inspires you?
Until next time…