December 1, 2011

#reverbbroads11 Day 1 - To My Younger Self: Be Kind

With everything I had going on in November, there was no way in hell I was going to be able to participate in NaBloPoMo (I get irrationally angry at that acronym, by the just upsets me), but one of the gals I met through the Flickr "7 Days" project, Kassie, has helped to start up a cool blogging prompt thingy (like my technical term?) for the month of December. It's called the Reverb Project, and we shall thus be called the Reverb Broads. Woo hoo! The daily prompts are selected by the bloggers, and we can participate...or not!

My kinda project.

Anywho, today's prompt just happened to be PERFECT, considering the events of last night. Here is the prompt:

"If the you of today could go back in time and give advice to any of the previous yous, which age would you visit and what would you tell them?"

Well, let me get to that in a second.  But first...

Last night, as I posted about the other day, I went with the Denton Women's Collective to Flower Mound High School to help host a screening of the documentary Finding Kind. We invited girls ages 5th grade and up, their mothers, teachers, counselors...any female who wanted to attend.  We hoped for a good turnout...

Over 500 people showed up.  Yep, we were completely overwhelmed (in a good way!).  The girls watched the 77-minute documentary with rapt attention, and afterwards we DWC members and the HS counselors facilitated a discussion, during which SO MANY brave young girls participated, shared their stories, cried, hugged each other, applauded each other...

It was, in a word, incredibly moving.  Okay so that's two words.  But seriously. 

The girls filled out 3 sheets of paper: a Kind Pledge, a Kind Card, and a Kind Apology, which they could deliver themselves to the apology recipient or have the counselors deliver for them.  The Kind Cards and Kind Pledges will be put up on a "Kind Wall" at the school so that the girls and the other students can see it every day and be reminded of their pledges to be kind.

During the discussion portion of the evening, which I helped facilitate, one little girl stood up in front of these 500 other girls and said (not verbatim), "Girls at school will tell me that I'm ugly or fat, and I hate that I start to believe it. When I look in the mirror sometimes, I just start crying.  This has to stop." 

The tears came faster than I could stop them, and my throat was immediately constricted with emotion as I suddenly saw my younger self standing in the audience with a microphone. 

And it wasn't just the students.  During the portion of the evening while we were filling out cards, I had several mothers ask me, with tears in their eyes, for a few apology cards they could fill out.

Only recently, at age 30, have I come to fully realize that no matter my background, no matter how much I weigh or what brand of clothing I wear, no matter my hair color or how "pretty" I am...what matters is that I am kind.  To others and to myself.  That's the legacy that matters.  The kindness in my heart will show as beauty in my face and in my actions, and that's what people will remember.  I hope.


I would go back to that just-before-middle-school-aged-Mandy and tell her the following:

"Look, the next few years are going to be hard.  People are going to be mean, and some days you might cry or feel badly about yourself.  But what you have to remember is this: people hurt others because they hurt.  Love them. Be kind to them, no matter what they do or say to you.  It won't be easy, but I know you can do it.  Also, don't be so quick to judge others.  You'll think it makes you feel better about yourself to find something wrong with other people, especially girls...but really it will just make you feel bad and really guilty later on. 

And, sweet girl...if you ever look into the mirror and cry, I want it to be because you are completely and utterly overwhelmed with the blessings and the love you have in your life. 

You can do it.  Be kind."

Last night I filled out my own Kind Pledge. It says, "I KINDly pledge to find something beautiful about everyone, and tell them about it at every opportunity."  There is something beautiful about everyone...the trick is taking the time and caring enough to find it.  And it may be something that person has never been told, so tell them.

Final Note: This morning my little brother and sister-in-law went to the doctor for a 16-week sonogram and called me to tell me that they're having a girl!  I'm overjoyed, naturally.  But it made me stop and think...I pray that I will be a good role model and Aunt to my 11-year-old niece and my yet-to-be-born niece, and if I have a daughter some day, to her as well.  Girl-on-girl "crime" and gossip and manipulation and cattiness and has to stop.  I pray that these little girls in my life will be daily aware of how special and loved and wonderful they are.

It starts with me.  It starts with you. 

What would your Kind Pledge say?  Is there anyone you feel needs or deserves a Kind Apology from you?


  1. That sounds like a fantastic event! Are you familiar with Rachel Simmons' book Odd Girl Out? It's about aggressiveness among young girls, and how it's covered up/not acknowledged in society.

    If I were to take a Kind Pledge, I would write, "I pledge to be kind to others and myself (that's going to be the hard part) by saying nothing that tears them down, not even one little inch. Nobody has to be perfect, and everyone has something good to give."

  2. AWESOME event! I think the "mean girl" syndrome gets everyone at some point. If we could all just be a little nicer to each other, we'd all have an easier go at life.

  3. Wow, how fantastic. I'm totally going to share this with the women's center on my campus, as this sounds like something they'd like to do.
    There's also a book called Queen Bee Moms and King Pin Dads that talks about all the "mean girl" syndrome stuff and how it still takes place at the parenting level. Yeah, it goes on. I think we could all use a kindness pledge some days.
    Glad you're joining us this month! Looking forward to reading more!

  4. Congrats, Aunt Mandy! I want to join a collective and do this exact thing. You've inspired me to look around Kansas City and see if we have anything similar. Lovely post, looking forward to reading your posts this month, opera girl!