Dear very cool woman,
July has always been filled with birthday celebrations for our Whalen family and so it seems natural to consider the topic of birthdays this month—specifically the decade changers.
It doesn’t matter if you feel anxious or excited about stepping into a new decade, it’s significant to leave the one you’ve known for—well, a decade. You may plan a special birthday party; and even card and party supply companies offer products to celebrate, for example, “the BIG 4-0.”
Earlier this year, I began to wonder how other women feel when the calendar welcomes them into the next decade, so with that in mind, I asked ten women, from ages 10 to 100, four questions about their experiences with age.
Their responses are fascinating and insightful on two levels: While these women each give a personal response, their words compare and contrast with the experiences of others (present and past) of this age. Through these ten women’s voices, you’ll be able to relive the precious ages you’ve already experienced, and glimpse into the future of those you look forward to celebrating.
Our first young woman is Bailey, age 10. When I asked Bailey to tell me about herself, she said, “I have two bulldogs. Wrigley is a girl and Trident is a boy. I also have two brothers Ethan who is 15 and Brady who is 13. My mom is a teacher. She teaches 5th grade. I will be in fifth grade next year in the room next to her. My dad works at SRP. He works with computers. I like to play soccer and have sleepovers with my friends. I also like to swim and go on our boat.”
I asked Bailey to think about her life: past, present and future. What has she learned so far? How will she celebrate being ten? What will she do in the future? What does she worry about? I love her answers.
What have you learned so far?
“I have learned that my family is the most important thing to me and they are always there for me. I have also learned that girls can do anything that boys can do. I used to play on an all boys soccer team and I was the only girl. I had to play a little more physical than how I play on the girls’ team now but I’m really glad I did it. I think it made me a better player.”
Did you do anything special to mark your 10th birthday?
“I didn’t really do anything to mark turning 10, but I did have a birthday party with my family.”
What are your plans and dreams for the future?
“I wonder what I will be when I grow up and if I will become a professional soccer player like I want to. I am excited to go to junior high and high school soon. My goals are to work hard in school and get straight A’s. I am starting running in cross country and I want to be able to run a 5K pretty soon. I also want to be on student council and be the school president and make my school even better.”
What do you worry about?
“I worry about making the ’05 soccer team. I play a year up with them and I have to work hard to make sure I stay on that team. I really like my teammates and coach and I don’t want to switch teams. I also worry about my dogs. Wrigley likes to run out the door and I worry she will get lost. We had to chase her all the way down the street one time.”
Bailey’s voice is filled with hope and optimism. The ten-year-old inside me did a mental cartwheel when I read the words, “I’ve also learned that girls can do anything that boys can do.” I will take her words and perspective to heart; and hope others who grew up in a different time (with a different message), will join me. Hooray for the progress we’ve made as a society, and by the way, good job Mom and Dad!
As Bailey expresses, 10 is a time when the calling of leadership is felt and compassion for making the world a better place begins to fill the heart. The guidance and encouragement of her family, teachers, coaches, teammates, neighbors and friends anchor her self-worth and set a trajectory of expectations for the future.
Bailey has the winning confidence combination of positive self-esteem, strong family ties and hope for the future. If you are someone who did not have that positive beginning, you can be like Oprah.
At any age, you have an opportunity to value the way you thrived in less than ideal conditions; and celebrate how those circumstances have built your resolve, resilience and resourcefulness.
At any age, we are all able to re-parent our inner child. We can assist her in reevaluating her talents, reassure her of her strengths and reset the future with hope. (And while we’re at it, let’s tell her that girls can do many of the things boys can do).
Bailey’s spirit embodies hope. She takes us back into the years of our first double-digit birthday—and for that, we thank you Bailey.
May your family and those who are just-like-family support your confidence,