The Hardest Time to Be a Girl and Someone Trying to Make it Easier

6th grade was awesome for me. Or was it 7th? I’m not exactly sure. I started shaving my legs, wearing a training bra, and got braces.

But the mensies, that was definitely 7th because I remember that time in Mrs. Breitzman’s class…I can’t even talk about that time. I just remember going to the nurse’s office and insisting that I needed to go home immediately (side note: women should be given a lifetime supply of cards with a single red dot that we can use whenever we find ourselves in a situation where we need to “get home immediately.” No awkward explanation or eye contact needed. Just hand over the card, no questions asked and walk away…hopefully not with a shirt tied around your waist.) Then the acne, did that start in 7th grade or 8th?

I was also on the cheerleading team. I know, weird. There were a lot of things I didn’t love about it: curling our hair the night before the competitions, the matching everything down to our shoes, and all the hairspray.

I did it because that’s what girls were supposed to do – be a cheerleader, be popular and blend in.

Oh, and I won the science fair. Did I mention that? Basically, my middle school social game was on fleek.

Lets pause here. Was middle school awesome for any girl? If it was, two thoughts: 1) good for you and 2) bottle whatever you did and sell it.

As my body was changing, my life was too. I had just transitioned to a new school, and other things were happening in my world. I had no idea what to do with all of these changes. No outlet for it all. So it swirled around inside me which fed pretty terrible thoughts.

Sometimes I’d angrily scribble these thoughts in journals. Around the same time, I started running. Both of these activities helped. They provided temporary relief, but not real solutions.

I also tried smoking. I saw my mom use it to handle stress. Figured I should try it too. I took a cigarette from her stash, climbed out my bedroom window and sat on the roof outside my room. I think she was at a PTA meeting. No idea how my dad didn’t catch me. Maybe because he was doing the same thing.

That was the extent of the coping mechanisms I knew. None of them effectively addressed the root causes, provided long-term relief or the affirmation that I wasn’t alone: that what I was going through was standard tween protocol.

Recently, I connected with an old friend, Abbey Mueller, who is dedicating her life to helping young girls navigate this delicate time. The irony in our conversation is that we were going through the exact same things, at the exact same time and neither of us had any idea the other had gone through it – until 20 years later.

Neither of us had any idea because it’s scary to talk about these things and hard and we don’t know how.

Abbey’s mission is to change that. To provide a safe place for girls to talk about it. To teach them how to talk about it, how to process it and provide an environment for them to express it.

Her concept is simple: help young girls learn the coping mechanisms necessary to navigate life. She’s motivated, passionate and committed to teaching young girls the life skills that aren’t taught in school.

Her business started through private coaching of young girls and has grown into a full blown business, Abigail Academy. Complete with a “clubhouse” (a home prettier than where I end my night) where girls in 1st through 8th grade learn skills in mindfulness, prayer, cooking, journaling – activities that help build self-esteem. All focused on the concept of SEL learning: Social and Emotional Learning.AAMarketing2

Abbey’s been at this for 10 years now. All of her growth has been solely from word of mouth which is super impressive.

Speaking with Abbey and hearing her thoughts reminded me of hearing Girls on the Run Founder, Molly Barker, speak at a Mecklenburg County Bar Association event 5+ years ago. As much as I love running, Abbey’s concept feels more inclusive to me.

Abigail Academy is hosting an Open House on Monday, October 16, 2017 at 9am or 6:30pm. If you live in Louisville, please check it out! Or pass it along to any families with daughters in grades 1-8. If you don’t live in Louisville and love this concept and would like to see it in your city, please contact Abbey (or me and I’m happy to make the introduction).

Personally, I think she needs to do morning classes for new mothers and evening classes for young professional women. But until then, maybe these young girls can teach us something.

xo,

LVC

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