I was struck by the statement of a young Pakistani girl, shot by the Taliban because she wanted to go to school, something girls in Pakistan are discouraged or prevented from doing.
“I have achieved my dream,” said Malala Yousafzai. The 16-year-old was shot in the head and neck in October, 2012. She received treatment, first in Pakistan and later in England, for her injuries, which included a shattered skull. Miraculously, she has recovered nearly completely and is attending school in England.
Her story is compelling, but what struck me was her words, “I have achieved my dream.” How many people know what their dream is, or, if they know, are willing to pay the cost to achieve it?
Whenever I do workshops with women, I ask each woman what her passion is…and so many do not know. They spend their days going through the motions, instead of being energized because they are working on their passion…to achieve their dream.
It isn’t clear how our “family of origin” stories affect our ability to dream, but those experiences are probably more influential than we know. Just today, I heard someone say that her grandchildren were “losers.” She said that her daughter was a loser, and so were her children. It hurt to hear the words, and I am not one of her children! I could only imagine what her daughter and grandchildren think of her …and more importantly, of themselves.
David Benner, in his book, The Gift of Being Yourself, says that many of us live with “false selves.” We spend our time trying to be what someone else expects of us; we live to please others and lose our true selves in the process.
What prevents that tendency has to be a family who encourages their children to be themselves, no matter what that “self” is. There was a story on the “Today” show about a young man with Downs’ syndrome who runs a restaurant. He was interviewed and was remarkably self-assured. He doesn’t cook, but his specialty is giving hugs. He said he had always wanted to own a restaurant; his parents supported him and encouraged him.
Malala Yousafzai has parents who have always supported her. Even though the Taliban issued an edict that banned girls from attending school, her father operated a school in defiance of the order. http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/19/world/asia/pakistan-malala-school/index.html?hpt=hp_bn2) . His belief in her had to build her self-esteem and confidence; great things and great achievements come from people who on one level or another have learned to love themselves – strengths and weaknesses – and are thus able to live their “true selves.”
I wish, as I listened to the woman calling her grandchildren “losers,” that she and so many like her, could get to understand how important it is for children and young people to be encouraged to be themselves, regardless of the cost. Malala Yousafzai was willing to pay the cost; indeed, she nearly lost her life. But she had a mission. She had a passion and it made her dream. Though battered, she can say, “I have achieved my dream.”
The world would rejoice if more people could say that.
A candid observation …