Q: What if there is someone you don’t want to be around because of her negativity. How do I do that without being exclusive?
AB: First and foremost, I would encourage you to respectfully observe, ask questions and listen to see if you can discover what is behind the negativity. Usually there is a story or circumstances behind a person’s negativity, even if it’s just that her family members tend to make negativity their default. Maybe it’s something bigger. I’m NOT suggesting it is your job to get to the bottom of it and fix it, just to find some clarity, understanding and compassion, which can make it easier to deal with the negativity and not take it on. Perhaps you can even inspire her to look at life a little more positively by sharing your approach to facing challenges in life while staying positive about what each new day and new experience will bring. All that said, if you make this effort and the negativity becomes too much, limit the amount of time you spend and practice shielding yourself from the negative energy when you are together. This will be good practice for your adult life when you may find yourself in a workplace situation with someone like this. Email me if you try this you need more guidance.
Q: There aren’t a lot of girls in my grade. What if I don’t have a BFF in my class?
AB: First I want to acknowledge how challenging the reality of having so few girls in your grade must be for you. That said, I honestly don’t believe that the concept of a BFF is really healthy for anyone involved. In fact, I think it’s limiting. In our workshop, we have a handout entitled ‘9 Ways to Create Healthy Relationships with Others.’ I think #8 is helpful in this situation. It reminds us that all relationships have cycles, ebbs and flows. The concept of a BFF tends to make girls feel like they have to stay in the relationship and become exclusionary of others AND it tends to make them feel like they have to stay in it even if it starts to feel unhealthy or uninspiring. I believe in having a handful of quality friends you work to cultivate meaningful relationships with. So…don’t worry if you don’t have a BFF! I actually think you’re doing better if you don’t have one. 🙂
Q: What is best about being a girl for you?
AB: I assume this means ME so I’m going to answer it that way. For me, I love the creative power we embody as girls/women…and I don’t just mean our capacity to grow life in our bodies. I mean the fact that we literally embody the cycles of the universe, the seasons and the lunar cycle in our monthly menstrual cycle. And within that cycle we have various strengths and we are inspired in various ways to CREATE: ideas, communities, peace, relationships, solutions to problems, etc. For a long time, girls and women have been convinced (told, taught, shown) that they are inferior. I actually think it’s an absurd joke that has been played on humanity and that we are now collectively realizing how silly it is. Once you realize how powerful it is to be a woman, there’s no going back. That is certainly my hope for all of you and for every girl and woman whose life I am able to touch in some way.
Q: I have a friend and people don’t like her and because of that, they don’t like me either. What do I do?
AB: If you are this girl’s friend because you see qualities you really value and that inspire you to be your best self, that’s most important. Secondly, if you think you see these things and other people don’t, perhaps you could find a way to help them see what you see in her.
Q: How do you ask a boy out? Or should you wait for him to ask you? AND are we too young to be dating?
AB: Assuming you feel emotionally ready and your parents are okay with you dating, I think when you feel strongly enough about a boy to want to go out with him, you should use your voice and ask him. I don’t believe in playing games or following scripts that suggest it is only the role of the boy/man to take initiative in relationships (plus that puts a lot of pressure on boys that isn’t really fair). You are the captain of your ship…steer it where your instincts call you, once you have contemplated the integrity and strength of your boat to weather the potential storms you may hit. They (storms) are part of relationships of all kinds but they can be really intense when it comes to romantic relationships, so you have to be ready for them. At the end of the day, there will be plenty of time for dating. Be the best you can be first and then go down that road when you are well anchored in YOU.
Q: The teacher usually puts me with people who sort of disrespect me and don’t listen to me. I almost always end up doing all the work. What should I do?
AB: Use your voice. Ask your teacher to speak with her/him after class or at a time that best suits. Approach it without being accusatory because chances are very good that your teacher is not aware that this is happening. Use your assertive communication tools and ‘script’ to help you and then speak clearly and concisely to tell her/him what is going on and what you want. So…”Ms./Mr. __________, I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me. I’m not sure if you’re aware but you keep putting me in groups with people who really don’t respect me AND I end up doing all the work. This is really difficult and makes me feel really frustrated. I’m wondering if you could please put me with people who DO respect me and with whom I believe there would be a more even distribution of work.”
Q: We talked about mean girls. What about mean boys?
AB: Same rules and expectations apply when it comes to the way boys treat you. The bottom line is you should never expect anything less than to be treated with respect and basic courtesy. If a boy is being mean, disrespectful, etc, you MUST use your voice to either clearly communicate that what he’s doing is NOT okay with you and/or seek adult support to deal with the issue. If you feel you need more detail, or have additional questions or scenarios you want to share, please ask/share.
Q: What happens when someone likes you but you don’t like them or they hang out with your good friends and you don’t like them?
AB: First of all, we are not all going to like or want to spend tons of time with the same people. We have unique chemistry and common interests with different people. That said, if all of your friends (with whom I assume you have something in common) have found qualities they really like about this person, perhaps you could make an effort to see what those qualities might be. Everyone has a story. Make an effort to get to know her a little better and keep an open mind and heart while you are doing so. She doesn’t have to become a close friend but unless she’s doing something that truly offends you, I would encourage you to make an effort.