I have a younger sister, five years younger to be exact, and I am grateful for her every day. My sister and I are business partners and best friends and although she's younger than me, I've looked up to her as long as I can remember.
The first time I specifically remember my sister giving me advice was when I was in college and she was in high school. I'm not entirely sure what it was even about, but I remember thinking to myself "damn, that was some amazing advice, and she's so much younger than me!"
Age doesn't really matter when it comes to having a strong sense of self. My sister is like a rock -- she's confident, she knows what she wants, she's sensitive, yet really doesn't care what people think of her. Before I started on this path of enlightenment, I would tell myself that I wanted to be more like her. It's her undeniable sense of self that I envy.
She doesn't mind having uncomfortable conversations. She asks for what she needs and tells people what she wants and how she feels without hesitation.
This is something that I strive for every day. I cringe at having to have uncomfortable conversations, and I'm not always as straightforward as I should be when it comes to expressing my needs.
My teacher recently told me that it's simply a confidence thing. The more and more I dive into this anti-bullying work and self-reflection, I realize what a major impact being bullied had on my entire life.
These kids are literally stripping their peers of self-confidence. The first time I remember making serious solid eye contact with someone was last year in India. I was in a Kundalini yoga class in Rishikesh, and our teacher told us to get a partner, look into our partner's eye and dance with them for five minutes. Dance for five minutes and never take your eyes off of their eyes. So here I was dancing with this beautiful angelic little Indian woman and we were both laughing. Then we started crying. Then we were laughing and crying and hugging all at the same time.
Ever since then all I want to do is look people in the eye. But for 32 years of my life I don't remember doing so.
I think when you have some kind of tragedy that strips you of your confidence, there's a journey you must take to get it back. There's a journey you must take back home.
I'm so grateful that my sister has been there as a teacher for me, as an undeniable force in my life to look up to. I believe that throughout this journey I'm starting to get my sense of self back. I know I have longer to travel and I'm ready for the journey. I'm heading out on another trip to Asia this week, and I am open and ready to see what's there as I peel back more layers of the onion within.
I hope to take all that I've learned to the schools with The Farley Project. I want to instill a sense of self in these kids. I don't want someone to be robbed of their self-confidence by their classmates. I dream of a day when students all throughout the country lift each other up instead of pushing each other down. It may take time, but I believe that we will get there.
I wrote my college essay about what happened to me in 7th grade and it's now apropos to quote the last sentence of my essay...
"No matter what they take from me, they can't take away my dignity!"
With love, light and confidence,