Last week I was lucky to be able to attend a Q&A session with Reshma Saujani, who spoke about raising girls to be brave rather than perfect. It really struck a chord with me. Reshma was the first Indian American woman to run for Congress. Though she lost the election, it gave her a new perspective. Having seen firsthand the gender gap in the tech industry, she went on to become the founder of the nonprofit Girls Who Code. Believe it or not, she had ZERO coding experience when starting this organization! BUT she had a problem she wanted to solve and nothing would stand in her way.
So why don’t more people do these big, “scary” things like running for office or starting a company that reaches thousands of people worldwide?? Because they seem big and scary, that’s why!
In Reshma’s TEDTalk, she talks about what she calls a “bravery deficit” in our country. Women have been socialized throughout their lives to aspire to perfection, which is why we are so overly cautious. The way girls and boys are treated from a young age helps to perpetuate how they become as adults, how society views gender, and the women who are left behind in many industries. We are raising our girls to be perfect, and raising our boys to be brave. We tell boys to “be a man” and try new things but expect our girls to be more reserved and stick with the things they know they’ll be good at.
Whether you’re male or female, I agree that you’re never too young or too old to learn how to be brave.
Hearing Reshma speak really got me thinking about the whole concept of bravery and how it ties into my personal philosophy AKA how I try to live my life. I’m not perfect and a LOT of things scare me but I’m all about taking healthy risks. I push myself to do what scares me because I know that I will benefit from the experience or that it will help me reach a goal.
When I talk about my experiences- writing a blog, learning a second language , chopping off my hair, studying abroad, teaching abroad, performing in front of an audience, moving in with my boyfriend, running a half marathon (I think you get the point)- I get a lot of “I could never do that!” responses. The truth is that you CAN. I think the fear many of us have when trying something new is that we won’t be good at it. Or, more specifically, that we won’t be perfect.
But perfection is unattainable. Being brave enough to try anyway is the whole point!
When you’re looking over the edge, contemplating taking that leap into the big and scary, I urge you to jump! You may fall but you may also FLY. What if this could be your next big thing but you never give yourself a chance because you’re scared? Even if it’s not, we often learn our greatest lessons from our failures. Don’t worry about not being perfect enough; worry about not being brave enough.
What do you think? How do you show your bravery?