Do you remember what it was like to be in 7th grade? Were there volatile emotions, tricky friendships, and urges to push away anything that was associated with childhood (maybe even your parents)? Was it a time when having a tribe of friends felt absolutely essential to your well-being? Did you ever get picked on or did you ever find yourself picking on someone else?
Right now I am reading am insightful book called, Untangled: Guiding teenage girls through the seven transitions into adulthood by Lisa Damour. In the book, she compares adolescence and one’s teenage years to learning how to swim. She explains,
“Consider the metaphor in which your teenage daughter is a swimmer, you are the pool in which she swims, and the water is the broader world. Like any good swimmer, your daughter wants to be our playing, diving, or splashing around in the water. And, like any swimmer, she holds on to the edge of the pool to catch her breath after a rough lap or getting dunked too many times (Damour, pg. 21).”
Girls can get so wrapped up in their social lives, school, and extracurricular activities that they forget about the importance of quality family time. Parents often feel that their daughters are pushing them away. Every so often, however, girls get tired from a long swim and need to rest at the side of the pool. In these instances, girls might come to their parents for emotional support but before long they push away again and may even do so in a less than compassionate way.
Taking the metaphor to the next level, when girls are in the deep end of the pool they are looking around at other swimmers to see examples of how to move gracefully through the water. There are many essential elements that will help a successful passage through this phase of learning and in this blog I want to discuss two of the most important:
- Girls should be given the opportunity to get to know themselves through time in nature, journaling, mindfulness, or going through some process that helps them become more self-aware. In the swimming metaphor, girls should take time to swim where they can be by themselves for a while. That way they can connect with their bodies and move intuitively in ways that feel harmonious to them. No matter how much they look on the outside for examples that will show them how to dress and how to act, the journey is ultimately one that will be unique to them. It is as though there is a crystal within them and through pealing back the layers of outside influences we will see their inner light start shine clearly through. Certainly they will still be inspired by others, but in order to find genuine confidence they will need to step into their own power that is sourced from within them.
- The second element that will make for a graceful passage is a mentor or a counselor. A mentorship can be formal or informal and may even be the seventeen year-old runner who takes a girl under her wing in the track meets. It could be an empowerment program or sessions with the school counselor. When going through a transition into young womanhood, it is extraordinarily helpful to be guided by someone who has gone through something similar and who has wisdom to share about the process. This could be akin to a swim coach. Although a girl should strive to feel comfortable with spending time by herself in order to get in touch with that inner crystal, she will be much more likely to succeed if she is well-supported and truly seen for the deep inner work that she is doing by someone she can look up to.
Adolescence can be challenging, but with quality support it can also be potent and enlightening. My intention is for the 9-Month Girls’ Empowerment Program to provide girls with a mentorship and many opportunities to get to know the deeper parts of themselves. I invite you to watch my video below to hear more about it! Aside from the program, there are plenty of additional ways that these two elements can be fulfilled and I suggest exploring them.
Thank you for taking this time to reflect on this powerful time in a young person’s life.
May we support them in learning how to swim!
Founder / Instructor
Wildheart Nature School