What did you want most at 13?
For me it wasn’t bigger breasts or Boots17 latest or even a boyfriend. I mean, I did sort of want a boyfriend. I wanted to be the kind of girl who knew how to have a boyfriend, but I was too terrified to actually have one. No, for me at thirteen I still wanted good grades at school, and for the cool girls to stop bullying me, and to win the county gymnastics competition.
At thirteen I wanted to know that I was special and that I would be special. I still looked to my parents and my grades for this. I was still a bit appalled at what was happening to my body. That didn’t feel special to me then. I was embarrassed by the new hair and curves. I preferred my girl-body. I’d yet to discover the power of desire.
At thirteen I was just embarking on my journey towards womanhood. This was not a journey I felt particularly confident about making. At thirteen I didn’t really want to become a woman – at least, not yet.
I wish, oh how I wish, I could whisper into the ear of that 13 year-old girl that everything would work out all right. How much angst I could have spared myself if I’d known that I would find work I loved, meet a good man, marry him, have kids, and live somewhere-ever-after. But then I wasn’t the kind of girl who would have admitted to wanting all those things then. In those days I was going to be a physicist, or educational psychologist, or criminal lawyer, without really knowing what any of those professions were. I wasn’t planning my life around becoming a wife and mother. Certainly not a house variety of wife or a stay-at-home variety of mother. I’d have been horrified at the prospect of such domesticity. I was a feminist and feminists would not be doing other people’s laundry when they grew up! Little did I know that domesticity would bring me such bliss, not so much the laundry but the family.
It’s natural for girls to have a mixture of feelings about growing up as they approach their teens. In Girls Journeying Together groups we guide and support preteen girls, teaching them what to expect as they go through puberty, boosting their confidence and helping them to manage their social and emotional lives. As trust grows the girls share their innermost thoughts and feelings and friendships are formed for life.
Girls Journeying Together was developed to give girls what is needed to grow up strong and free. I wish they’d been around when I was 11; I’m glad they are now.