I had a chance recently to talk with young women from two all-girl high schools in Chicago – Young Women’s Leadership Academy and Queen of Peace. I was invited in by administration to share with these senior classmen the various opportunities they could take advantage of after high school and in their pursuit to a career. There was particular interest in me covering my own professional journey and sharing insight on the field of public relations.
Whereas I did share some background about myself, what these girls really needed wasn’t a pep talk that they could do anything they want, nor to hear about how to pick a career that works for them. What they needed to know is that they matter. They needed to hear that their voice carries a tune of value. And, most importantly, they needed to know that they are enough.
What I shared is what I believe to be valuable advice that we all can benefit from. I covered tips like:
Be accountable for your own choices. You can’t control what other people do – even if you’ve been abandoned, hurt, disappointed or abused. But you can control what you do and whether you will be bound or set free by it.
Avoid comparing yourself to others. This is the most slippery of all slopes and it undermines the beautiful, unique patter of you own fingerprints.
Do the right thing even when nobody is watching. Don’t get caught up in trying to game the system. Deceiving and short changing others is only a setup to doing the same to yourself.
Give yourself time and permission to figure it out. Who says we have to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives? I’m 36 and still choosing to explore new paths! And who says we can only do one thing?
The time with the girls was well spent. Many of them have emailed me to talk more about their individual situations and even ask for advice. But here is the wild card of it all: the most insightful and valuable outcome of our interaction wasn’t in what I shared with them – it was the hope and promise they gave to me. After both talks, I felt more empowered to keep exploring and exposing myself and all the facets of who I am. I not only saw a limitless and bright future for them but I saw a world of opportunity and a field of dreams awakened for myself.