I was reading Amy Poehler’s biography, “Yes, Please!” and she talked about a moment of awareness in middle school that I loved and have been sharing with my summer camp girls. I’m roughly paraphrasing, but it was something like, “I realized I was never going to be the girl who turned heads, the girl all the boys wanted to be with, the most popular, the most athletic, or the smartest. But I was funny. So I decided my sense of humor would be my currency and I focused on building that.”
Middle school is the time kids start turning to the world around them and noticing what’s in, what’s out, how to blend in and not get made fun of. Kids 11-14 are trying to figure out who they are and who they are “supposed” to be and they look to peers and media for the answers. This often creates a perfectionistic image of the ideal look (height, weight, hair, skin, clothes, etc.) to the ideal friendships (outgoing & extroverted but a deep connection with a best friend, constant fun activities surrounded by friends, published on social media) to the perfect intelligence (smart but not too smart, confident but humble, get good grades but don’t work too hard). Yuck!
When kids buy in to this perfectionistic ideal they spend all their time and energy striving towards something impossible and exhausting.
This is why I loved the idea that kids could just chose their currency. Choose ONE THING they are going to focus on, expand on, and take pride in. Instead of trying to be perfect in every area, kids could decide they are already good at this one thing, and not worry about everything else.
What I found at my Launching Girl Leaders camps is that this was a really hard thing for the girls to reflect on. It was SO EASY for ME to identify their special skills, gifts and talents but it was hard for them to see in themselves.
Here’s an example of some “currencies” these girls came up with
- I’m really good at telling stories.
- I like to ask questions and answer questions and am the first to volunteer, this seems to put other people at ease and helps them feel comfortable.
- I’m really good at trying new things and physically pushing myself to the limit.
- I love children and think I’m good with them.
- I’m super determined. When I decide I want something, nothing will get in my way.
- I really love animals and am inspiring my family to eat less meat.
- I’m a good listener. People like to open up to me.
- I’m nice to everybody. When someone’s friends are being mean, they know they can always sit with me at lunch.
- I love playing games: board games, sports, video games. If I turn homework into a game, it makes it so much more fun.
Here’s your homework Mamas: I want you to help your sons and daughters, identify their currency. Give them some suggestions and ask them, “Which of your personality traits are you most proud of?” “How does this trait benefit others around you?” “Which of your talents would you like to focus on this year?”
Then identify your own currency. I know that you have lots of traits that make you amazing. Pick one that comes so naturally to you, it’s like breathing. Think about what your friends and family praise you for. How does it feel to focus on this one thing that you already good at, instead of any shortcomings? Remember that without even trying, you are already good enough.
Would you like a career that is more in line with your natural currency? Schedule a free discovery call and lets talk about some new possibilities for you.