This is my seven-year-old daughter. Her version of I Hate Myself.
Do you hear that sound? The banging and vibration? That was my heart. My throat closed up in sadness because my very young, sweet girl was feeling something so deep.
We all know that it’s tough to be a girl and grow up with social pressures, fit in and learn confidence. Add social media here soon. The sad truth is, we exchange these feelings of inadequacies for other things as women…that we’re not doing enough, could be doing more, hence the be in 20 places at once attempt (nearly daily). It’s exhausting. We need to stop being our own worst critic and build each other up.
And we need to stop it where it’s starting, with our little ones. I just had no idea it’d be so early.
After I got over the sadness and fear of what this would mean if she were older with such high suicide rates, we talked. We’ve been talking every night about this in different ways since then.
First of all, I sympathized with this deep, sadness. We’ve all been there (but we mostly remember that when we were older). She told me, “I just feel so alone sometimes. Like I don’t belong.” [Insert more tears. But I did wait until I was away from her for that.]
I let her in on the secret: EVERY girl and woman has these feelings. She is not alone in feeling this. And we talked about how to change the narrative in her mind. It’s too young to talk about confidence, or rather a little confusing, I tried. This is something that will need to develop with time and example. So we talked about what we’re thankful for. Every day since, we’ve highlighted the things that were funny or fun, and anything that bothered her. Something so little like an old friend has new friends on the playground, that’s a big deal. But it doesn’t mean that they are not friends anymore. She’s having issues with math (she’s in Spanish so can you imagine doing math is Spanish as well..) so we’re getting her help there so she can start to enjoy it again.
When I step back and look at this situation, I’m am astonished that she is able to vocalize these feelings so succinctly at such a young age. These are themes that adults even have trouble saying so definitively. There’s one thing for sure, I wish someone would’ve told me about all these secrets and struggles that girls and women face.
But now she knows that these thoughts are a feeling that are so common, but they don’t belong to her. And most importantly, it’s not the truth. She doesn’t need to hold onto them and harbor that sadness, alone anymore.