Saturday, May 2, 2009

Conversation From My Thirteen Year Old Self...

Some of you know all about the new column I have taken on with "i am that girl," the non-profit organization to inspire and empower young girls by giving them the tools to become strong, self-sufficient, successful women. There I try to profile a combination of women whom I looked up when I was younger and "newer" ones in the media that are worthy of that same admiration now.

So many of the women I talk to for my column make it a point to mention that one of the most important things in life is having a positive role model-- someone who came before you in order to show you that all you want is, in fact, achievable. This is a sentiment I have expressed for years, and I admit it is nice to hear others reinforce it, too. It is just another way to feel like you're not alone in all of your crazy dreams and beliefs.

Most of you also know that when I was a kid I didn't really have a strong support system, if one at all. Anyone I told what I wanted to do with my life quite often quite literally laughed in my face. Perhaps they assumed that since I was so young numerically, I was bound to change my mind twenty-five times anyway and end up doing something totally different. Perhaps they thought that looking back, we would be able to laugh about "that one time [I] said I wanted to be a writer." Whatever the reason, all it made me at the time was insecure about actually showing people my writing. I stopped telling people what I wanted and eventually just stopped seeing/talking to those negative influences in my life in general. It may sound harsh now, but I had absolutely no problem cutting people out of my life.

All of you (should!) know that instead I turned to television in order to find not only people who, by living the life I wanted, would show me it was okay to want what I did but also who did it the way I wanted to and therefore could be someone to whom I could look up. I know I am not alone in that. I know that even though the term "latch-key kid" is dated, there are still hundreds, if not thousands, of tweens who are looking to the media not because it's the "cool thing to do" but because they don't feel they have anyone in their immediate lives who can show them the way. And I admit that I have since realized admiring mostly performers made me end up chasing a dream that wasn't entirely mine for a little while. But through it all, I was blessed enough to find genuinely good women-- women who these days are giving me the fabulous quotes I always knew they would about the importance of giving back and helping each other (please check out my latest i am that girl column for an example). Now that I am in a position to walk alongside them instead of trying to chase them, I, too, would be remiss if I didn't do my part to offer those young girls of today just as inspiring options.

All of this has come up now because I am trying to decide to whom to dedicate my pop culture memoirs, and The Guy pointed out that he thought it would be weird if I just listed a bunch of famous women's names on the page-- some of whom I have never even met. But I have always felt like I owe them something major-- perhaps even more than I need to "pay it forward" and give back to the young girls of today. This is my small attempt at repaying the debt. What do you think?

And if there was a Women of the Entertainment Industry you particularly admired when you were young (or do now), feel free to leave her name in the comments, and maybe you will see a profile on her soon :)

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