Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I think maybe that’s why I am so adamant that my girls always speak up. They are both much stronger than I ever was at their ages. My dad tried to give me tools, but he’d (unintentionally) give with one hand, and take from the other. I say unintentionally because I can’t believe he would knowingly do that. My dad could be very intimidating. He had a loud, booming voice, and he always let you know when he was angry about anything.
I worked from the time I was 14, and in my various high school jobs, I was always bubbly and a hard worker. I was hit on, “accidentally” groped and offered a car in exchange for my virginity (I said no, by the way, and got fired). I didn’t know I had any recourse. I don’t recall telling my parents at the time.
I never went to sleep away camp or traveled without my parents until I was 18. My dad sent me on a trip to Europe, Egypt, Israel and Greece with a tour group and I knew no one. This was his way of pushing me out of the nest and learning how to be self-sufficient before I left for college. It was a disaster. I was homesick, and didn’t connect with the other people since I spent time with my relatives in London (the first stop on the trip). Instead of building something up in me, it had the opposite effect. I met people in college, but I would say I was still very innocent/sheltered. I hadn’t seen a lot of drug use before that, and never had interest in trying it. I trusted people that I shouldn’t have trusted, and had an experience that no woman (or man) should have. I pretended it didn’t happen, and shut down inside. I was fearful every time I saw him on campus. I felt guilty because I couldn’t forgive myself for what happened. A few years later, I talked with my rabbi, who told me to forgive myself. I talked to a therapist, who said it wasn’t my fault. When I told my dad, his response was not comforting, or even appropriate. The message he sent (whether he meant to or not) was that this was the status quo. I never talked with him about it again.
When I graduated, I got a job at a very reputable talent agency. I worked harder than I had worked in my entire life, though I was faced with a reality that was ugly. In order to move ahead, I needed to be prepared to do things. Things I didn’t want to do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t move up. Now I know that not EVERY woman experiences this, but I’m also sure that I was not the only one. Comparisons can kill your confidence! The girl at the next desk may have made different choices and moved up quickly, but at what cost? For me, it wasn’t worth it. This happened over and over again. Not just at one job.
But what keeps going through my head as I look back on it is, “why me?” Not in a victim type of way, but seriously, what was it about me that these different men from all different walks of life felt that they could take advantage of me? Did I have a sign on my forehead saying this was ok? Or was it that I lacked the confidence to stand up and say that this was unacceptable behavior.
I’m a different person today. Yes, these experiences have shaped who I am, and I am stronger for it. I feel good about what I do and how I help schools and parents. As my daughters grow up and I look at these situations in my past as a mom, I want to be damn sure that I am giving my girls the tools they need to be confident in ANYTHING they do. I want them always to know that I support them and love them and that they have every right to tell someone to stop treating them with disrespect. I feel so proud that my daughters have had that confidence instilled in them from such an early age! That may be the best gift I have given them.
May your confidence boom!
Do you know someone who needs a confidence boost? Share this post with them! If you need help with your fundraising, talk to me! I have helped schools all over the country raise more money. I can help yours too!
Sarah has been fundraising for schools since 2008. She is the author of A Mom’s Guide to School Fundraising and has consulted for several schools and clubs. She has been featured on RetailMeNot.com, Scholastic: Parent & Child and The New York Times. She thinks all kids should be able to have a well-rounded education, team uniforms, instruments and support. Don’t you?
Photo credit: The Master Shift