We need to be Brave

We’re raising our girls to be perfect, and we’re raising our boys to be brave.  Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code, TED Talk 2016

Inside my head there is a running list of all the things I don’t do well.  Scrapbooking . . . skiing . . .  singing . . . shuffle board . . . and these are just some of those things (starting with the letter ‘s’).  In fact, there are LOTS of things I don’t do well that I wish I could do and do them perfectly.

Please, someone tell me I’m not unique in this.  Amen?

Last year I listened to this TED Talk by Reshma Saujani and in that talk she cited  a study revealing that women  are more likely to gravitate to those careers we know we are going to be “perfect” in, and that we only apply for jobs if we feel we meet 100% of the qualifications.  That same study revealed that men will apply for jobs if they feel they meet 60% of the qualifictions.

Suddenly that line from Moana is playing in my head “I wish I could be the perfect daughter . . .”

Most girls are taught to avoid risk and failure. We’re taught to smile pretty, play it safe, get all A’s. Boys, on the other hand, are taught to play rough, swing high, crawl to the top of the monkey bars and then just jump off headfirst. And by the time they’re adults, whether they’re negotiating a raise or even asking someone out on a date, they’re habituated to take risk after risk. They’re rewarded for it.

Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code, TED Talk 2016 

Generally, I don’t like doing things I can’t do well.  Competitive with myself and others (and a perfectionist to boot) I am my toughest critic.  There is winning or losing; success or failure.  I’d don’t like to roll in the gray areas.

In the 1980s, psychologist Carol Dweck looked at how bright fifth graders handled an assignment that was too difficult for them. She found that bright girls were quick to give up. The higher the IQ, the more likely they were to give up. Bright boys, on the other hand, found the difficult material to be a challenge.They found it energizing. They were more likely to redouble their efforts.  What’s going on? Well, at the fifth grade level, girls routinely outperform boys in every subject, including math and science, so it’s not a question of ability. The difference is in how boys and girls approach a challenge. And it doesn’t just end in fifth grade. . . . I think it’s evidence that women have been socialized to aspire to perfection, and they’re overly cautious.

Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code, TED Talk 2016

Did you read that and have a light go off?  When I heard this talk I was scribbling down notes so quickly on a mini notepad as I had one “Aha” moment after another.

Perfection is the lie I’ve bought into.  In that rational part of my brain I know that I am not perfect nor capable of perfection.  Trying harder, concentrating and digging in won’t lead to perfection.  As a Christian I know that I am only made perfect through the lens of Christ. But there is that other part of me; the part that believes perfection can somehow be earned, bought, or created.

I want to be the perfect Daughter, Wife, Mother, Sister, Christ follower, Blogger, Employee, Boss, etc.  and I think this conditioning for perfection is unique to women.

We started with the deficit of an apple and Satan has capitalized on that lie ever since. Click To Tweet

We have to begin to undo the socialization of perfection, but we’ve got to combine it with building a sisterhood that lets girls know that they are not alone. Because trying harder is not going to fix a broken system . . .  

Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who CodeTED Talk 2016

It doesn’t require too much mental digging to understand why I have this obsession with perfection – it’s the antithesis of failure.  I have a fear of failure which means I tend to gravitate towards those careers and projects I have a high degree of confidence in my ability to complete.  But I don’t want to live my life within the confines of perfectionism and a fear of failure.

Playing it safe leaves no room for exploring our calling - it leaves no room for the Holy Spirit and removes the opportunity to step out in faith. Click To Tweet

I want to be brave.  I don’t want to miss out on what God has in store for my life because I clung to the lie of a perfection I can achieve.  And, I don’t want to raise daughters focused and socialized on perfection all the while suffering from a “bravery deficit”

My prayer this morning is that we would being to move toward brave; that we would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s nudge and move into the deep, into a direction that we don’t feel as prepared for and allow God to handle the preparation in His due time.  It is my prayer that we would shed the lie of a self-made, self-achieved perfection – not only for ourselves but for others as well.

Check out the full TED Talk here:  https://www.ted.com/talks/reshma_saujani_teach_girls_bravery_not_perfection

5 thoughts on “We need to be Brave

  1. I, too, LOVED this talk. I loved your post and take on it as well. I struggle with perfectionism too. I have to get those words out of my mouth. I keep telling my newborn daughter, “You’re so beautiful.” I need to start also telling her how “smart” she is. This is a whole new ballgame I have to learn with my 17 year old as well.

  2. Google somehow got me here, so glad I came!
    Thank you for sharing your perspective, and your time. Looking forward to reading more of your blog…

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