The Saturday section of the LA Times is one of my favorite weekend rituals. We still get the paper delivered just for this section. It has restaurant reviews, an expose of beautiful homes all around LA, the latest health and fitness crazes, and my favorite "LA Affairs" stories of love, dating and relationships in LA. Week after week I read these stories about how people met, and are still together today, or how it went horribly wrong, and hearts were broken. Most of the time when a heart is broken in these stories I see a similar theme, where the person realizes they don't actually respect themselves to let someone love them, or that they are too afraid to put their authentic self out there so they put on these fronts, and then wonder why it didn't work out with another person. Or they chose the most unavailable person to be attractive to, and see if they can win them over and then wonder why the relationship doesn't have a lasting foundation.
Mostly when I read these I am so glad that I am no longer dating. I remember my twenties and definitely see some of these patterns in my past. I am pleased to say I grew out of many of my insecurities, and I actually do love and respect myself with confidence. I found someone to love that loves me for who I am and not a persona I created. Pretty impressive for LA, I think. But there is one area where I read these stories and don't think I have outgrown yet. What my "story" is. From a very young age we learn to believe things about ourselves that may or may not be true. Yet when we grow up we own these ideas and it's hard to believe there is something about yourself that could be different than the way you think it is.
There are so many studies out there that if a child doesn't succeed academically before high school then they stop believing they can. Their identity is formed and they will believe going forward that they are not a good student. In order to help children succeed their confidence and abilities have to be built up before ninth grade. For girls the same idea plays into the way they feel about themselves. Their confidence starts to plummet around middle school, and the idea that they can do anything a boy can do starts to diminish. A couple of years ago there was an “Always" commercial that was so powerful. When young girls were asked to run like a girl, they were strong, determined and powerful. When they asked older girls the same question they did some ridiculous hand flapping silly run. I can see where my own confidence is shaken with disbeliefs of my abilities. I never loved math. I didn't do very well in it, so I believed I couldn't do math. I had one great teacher at the end of high school who was able to help me understand algebra, and I even enjoyed it in her class, but it was too late by them to help me with my SATs, and too late to help my confidence.
My daughter is entering fourth grade soon. Up until this point I have been able to help her with her math homework. Over the summer, she has a book of school work to so each day, and the math is a bit more challenging for her than the other subjects. She is still a very strong student though. I suggested maybe getting her help from someone other than me and it backfired. She took it as needing help in math, and by the next week I heard her say, "I am not very good at math." I will not stand by and let her believe that about herself. I explained that she is actually great at it and just because it is not easy does not mean that she isn't good at it. I am committed to working on building her up in this department.