by Tamara Charles | Featured Contributor
I recently gave a keynote speech at an event called FEMpower which brought together young women between the ages of 15-25. When I was first approached to give this presentation I was honoured but quickly became concerned about how to present to a younger audience since most of my speeches opened with “Rule #1 for living a FIERCE life: Don’t be a catty bitch!” and were peppered with f-bombs and inappropriate innuendoes.
After gulping down a cuppa coffee, I decided to reshape my speech and focus on this age group by sharing what I went through at that age, tailoring it to let them know that whatever they were going through right now, they could take as many detours as they needed and they would still get to where they need to be.
Presenting this speech was a real self-check for me, one which I was ready for but didn’t know I could articulate as well as I wanted. I shared the raw details of my life with them being as brutally honest as possible while trying to make a point.
I told them about having a drink with my mom in the scummiest bar in town when I was 18 and how I shot dirty looks at anyone who dared look at me. I sneered at the other patrons thinking how I was so much better than them and how I would never, EVER be anything like them.
I then told the girls how arrogant that was, thinking I was better than anyone else, and how I know now that I was more scared that I would end up like those patrons than anything. Arrogance, I said, was not an attractive trait.
I told the girls about the many bad decisions I had made in my life and quoted S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders Dally Winston’s character: “You get tough like me and you don’t get hurt! You watch out for yourself, and nothing can touch you!” That was the motto I lived my life by until I was about 25. I told them how I know now that I had deliberately sabotaged friendships and thought I was pretty tough, you know, because I grew up in such a tough neighbourhood so, duh, of course I was badass.
Uh, no. The reality of it is that it was all a front, a survival tactic. I addressed my own faults showed them that it’s OK to be flawed and make mistakes but that the key is to learn from those mistakes.
By the looks on their faces, I had their complete attention so I told them what it took to empower each other and why it was so important, and I left them with three tips to live a FIERCE life:
1: Don’t be a catty bitch.
I know, I know, they’re young girls but the reality is a statement like that packs more of a punch than, “Don’t be a mean girl.” This truly is the first rule of FIERCE. If you can’t give a genuine compliment, don’t give one. If you have to point out the flaws in someone else or bemoan someone else’s success, you’re missing the point of empowerment. This includes when you trash talk celebrities or criticize the women on the Red Carpet. You need to quit that. Not only is it NOT empowering, it teaches your daughter that it’s OK to make fun of other girls.
The thing is, we’ve ALL done it at some point in our lives whether you’ve thought about it or actually said it. No matter what age you are it’s time to Knock. It Off.
2: Own your mistakes.
You’ve screwed up, made bad decisions, done things you wish you could take back. We all have. There’s no point in dwelling on them, regretting them or denying them. Be honest about who you are and what you’ve done and you’ll take away the power from anyone who tries to make you feel bad about yourself.
*pop culture moment* Have you seen 8 Mile? I’m a huge Eminem fan and the one scene that really stuck with me was when he was in his final rap battle where he took every bad thing about his life that the other rapper was going to point out and he OWNED that shit. He even turned it around and made fun of himself then went on to point out the other guy’s secret. That, my friends, is called reclaiming your power.
3. Tigers don’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.
OK that’s something I saw on Facebook but it resonates doesn’t it?! Whenever you’re the target of someone’s judgement or gossip, repeat this mantra and BE the tiger. Consider the source of who’s saying what and put it into perspective. Do they matter to you? No. Do they control your emotions? Nope, that’s on you, too. Do they surround themselves with other gossipy twits? Probably so shrug it off and move on.
Tamara Charles – Inspirational Motivator, You Are FIERCE, Edmonton, AB.
Tamara is the founder/producer of the FIERCE Awards, an initiative that has been celebrating people who make a difference since 2010. Through her own story of resilience, she has inspired others to move past the negativity and shift their perspectives to focus on the good in others and themselves. She is a former journalist, current social media/coffee addict, and in the process of releasing her first book: Yes I am! An Abso-f*^kin-lutely FIERCE Guide to Living an Inspired Life. She has been a magazine publisher, speaker, blogger, consultant, and was named the 1st-ever Hot Momma’s Canadian Case Study recipient in 2010. Tamara believes empowerment doesn’t have to come in a frilly package; sometimes it comes with a kick in the ass & an f-bomb or six. Connect with her on Twitter or keep up to date with her at YouAreFIERCE.com