Wednesday 9 June 2010

"You've Lost Your Muchness"

"You used to be much more..."muchier." You've lost your muchness." ~The Mad Hatter (to Alice), "Alice In Wonderland" movie, 2010

This quote struck a note with me as I watched the new "Alice In Wonderland" movie last weekend. I think back to my own childhood, and I can't help but remember how confident and adventurous I was as a child. I don't know where along the way I lost those parts of myself, but somewhere along this journey of life, some of that confidence and my sense of adventure seeped away.

And as a mother of daughters, I feel a responsibilty to analyze where my "muchness" went and what caused me to lose so much of it. I can't help but want my daughters to keep all of their confidence, all of their sense of adventure, all of their belief in themselves, and not to let anyone or anything in this world take any of it away from them.

I grew up eager to please. I wanted to be liked. My parents taught me to be nice to others. I was expected to behave and be a good girl. I was taught, probably unintentionally, to subjugate my desires and my needs in order to fit in and to please others. I was a talkative, bubbly, confident child who believed in herself and had no doubts that I could change the world. But I was taught from the world around me, from my elders and my peers, that I talked too much, that I had many flaws and that no one person could change the world.

It took me many years to mature enough to finally start gaining back what I lost of myself over the years. I do not want that to happen to my daughters, and I don't want it to happen to anyone else's daughters either. We do our daughters a disservice when we expect them to conform to society, to be nice, to be "good girls" at the cost of being themselves.

My favorite quote from the movie "A Little Princess" is when the character Sarah Crew says,

"I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren't pretty, or smart or young. They're still princesses. All of us."

I like this quote because I want every girl in the world to believe it. If a girl can believe she is a princess, then she can believe that she has value.

I want girls to maintain the same confidence and belief in themselves and their abilities throughout their lives that they have when they are two years old. How many two year olds do you know that don't say what they think? Tell a two year old that she is pretty, and she will, more often than not, answer you with, "I know," rather than the conformist "Thank you," or worse, the confidence-sapping "No, I'm not!" that I hear so often when I compliment any female.

Why do we lose our "muchness?" Why is it that we feel we must be something other than who we really are in order to be liked and loved and accepted? And what will it take for us (and our mothers, aunts, nieces, sisters and daughters) to truly BELIEVE in our own awesomeness?

So I have a challenge for you. This week, do something that you have been putting off out of fear. Speak to someone new, even if you are feeling shy. Try out some rock climbing, even if you don't believe you are strong enough. Send out the manuscript you wrote to a publisher, even if you are afraid of rejection. There are millions of things you can do to fulfill this challenge, from small, seemingly insignifcant things (like making a point to smile at the cute mailman who delivers your mail) to much bigger things (like singing on stage on front of a crowd). It's up to you to decide what to do. But do something brave.

And it'd be really great if you came back here and let us know in the comments what it was.