SMART girls: Finding positivity

Girls at the Boys & Girls Club's SMART Girls program write about what makes them happy. Photo by Katie Ogorzalek.

Inspiration can be found even in the youngest of us.

Last month, I went to the Boys & Girls Club and talked to a group of several middle-school girls aged 10 to 13 years old in a program called SMART Girls. This weekly Boys & Girls Club program tackles self-respect, attitudes, and dealing with pressure.

With that in mind, I talked to them about happiness, positivity, and confidence when I joined one of their weekly sessions. It is important we continue to teach young people about these values, as they will help the girls as they get older.

While I was there, I asked the girls I met three different questions about happiness, positivity, and confidence. Growing up can be hard, but being reminded of these different values in life can help you get through some of the hardest times.

The girls were full of energy and were talkative when I walked in, chatting about nail polish. The first question I asked them was about happiness: what makes you happy and why? I had one of the girls write down the answers on a sheet of paper.

“Dancing makes me happy,” Abdielis said. “It is a good way to express myself.”

After each question, I read them my own answers to allow them to see a bigger picture. I had said that life is full of so many amazing opportunities and things to see and do – it is how you choose to seize those moments and make them count.

We then talked about positivity and what we do to spread positivity to others. Spreading positivity in this world is important because a little positivity can go a long way.

All of the girls talked about listening to others and how that can help spread positivity because sometimes people just need another person to listen. Being positive and sharing that positivity with others can sometimes be difficult. There are little things that you can do to be positive, whether it is telling yourself that you are amazing and that you can do whatever it is you need or complimenting another person.

Our final topic was confidence and what makes the girls confident.

“Talking to people so you are getting other people’s point of view [helps me],” said Madison.

I thought this was a good answer because sometimes when you do not understand what a person is saying or you want a different view, it allows you to get a deeper understanding of what you are trying to find.

Abdielis said that dancing made her feel confident because even though other people might not like her dancing, she does. To me, that was a good point, because she wasn’t letting other people’s opinions and thoughts affect how she lives her life.

Confidence is not always the easiest to have or find.

Fenicia asked me, “How have you learned to speak up and be confident?” She was more reserved than the others, but was still assured of her answers. It was special to see her ask me how I learned to speak up and be confident – because that, and asking for help, were challenges I once struggled with.

I told her that I found confidence by putting myself in positions where I was in unfamiliar territory. It is okay to be scared and unsure and for things not to go well – what matters is that you tried and proved to yourself that you are capable. For me, it was going to professors during office hours. I felt they would judge me, but I realized they were only there to help.

Confidence is something that is not found right away; we find it as we experience different things throughout our lives. Some find it easier than others, but we all have it within ourselves.

I left the girls two points that I felt were important to think about as they go through life. The first was that it is okay to fail; no one is perfect. I explained that life was like a puzzle: we have these different pieces and have to find where they go, and as time goes on we figure out their place.

My second was the importance of self-care. To find what makes you happy and to find positivity and share it with others, you have to take time for yourself and what you need. This doesn’t have to be huge things; it could be something as small as going for a walk or having lunch with a good friend.