My address from the 3rd Annual Girls on Fire Awards Ceremony encapsulates the importance of Girls on Fire:
I ask you this question ladies. Did you consciously, with intention and purpose, make choices that you would be proud of today? Are you operating under control, with this purpose in mind or are you led by fear? Today and every day, past, present, and future, you are the lead actress in your drama. It takes courage to get up everyday as a woman to make this thing happen, especially if you are not sure how to operate and what direction to go. This world can be difficult to navigate without a basic set of tools . Can you imagine what it feels like and how it looks when a girls goes through without self-love and awareness, which produces confidence, strength, and resilience? Sometimes, we might be just doing stuff because other people tell us that it is good; we might be bumping our heads against walls and turning corners and choosing pathways and then finally we realize that we were not supposed to be on a dead-end road, and it takes some maneuvering to get to a place where we can see great destinations, clear skies without clouds, and roads less traveled that we want to venture down.
Women imagine all of your struggles and pain of your past, fast forward to now and think about what you are going through now, and embrace any uncertainties of tomorrow. Bottle all of that up, let it settle in, feel it, breath it in, now exhale.
See you are right here. You are survivors. You have persevered. You are strong. You are resilient. You matter. You are capable. You are loved. You are somebody. You are worth it. You are not your failures. You are beautiful. You are flawed, but you are beautiful. You can still strive for improvement. You can still “ignite your amazing!”
You can’t truly love yourself if you do not know who you are. You cannot find something worth valuing in yourself if you don’t know what you value. When you have this heightened sense of awareness, you start to really feel good about the person you see in the mirror, especially when you are striving to be better.
It is hard to resiliently stand firm and choose your path or paths if you don’t know who you are; it’s difficult to break down roadblocks if you don’t know who you are; it’s hard to find purpose if you are not constantly striving to find out and love who you are; it’s next to impossible to be a good example of confidence and be a good leader if you do not love yourself and know who you are.
Who are you? Why should you love yourself? In Girls on Fire, we started the year by asking these questions. We started to understand how to identify your values and your strengths, so you can answer these questions and truly love you, not just how cute you can be today because beauty fades (it is important to take pride in how you present yourself; we went over that), but how are you going to take your passion and make it count? If you don’t know that, how do you start to find out? What areas could you improve, and how do you get stronger in these areas? I don’t have it all figured out, but I know that when we start making strides from the inside out; that’s when real gains happen.
That’s when we produce graduates from Mckinley and Metro, Collegiate, Parkway South, Afton, and CVPA. Then we get girls who become graduates of art schools, med school and colleges of pharmacy, Harvard, UMSL, and culinary arts programs. We will then have chefs who feed the hungry, doctors who heal, athletes who amaze, teachers who enlighten the next generation, speakers who inspire, and mothers and grandmothers who teach their children and grandchildren everything that they know, including their ABCs, reading, writing, and math as early as they can handle it because they value education. Thanks mama.
When I was your age girls, my self-esteem and self-worth was in the toilet because I did not realize who God created me to be at 14. My inner beauty, I could not see. Society miseducated many of the people around me about my beauty, and when I started to attribute my worth to my appearance for the most part, it lead me down a treacherous path. I allowed myself to be used and abused by others, hoping to feel complete and made terrible choices. Thank God I didn’t have any of the worst possible outcomes, and I got back on track pretty easily after re-aligning myself with my values.
I am grateful that my flame was still flickering until it was able to fully ignite. It sparked until it burned, so bright that people started to tell me how much it was shining. See, my mom taught me, my teachers encouraged me, my grandmother gave me love, my aunt challenged me, my family still supports and believes in me, and my God redeemed me from a place of shame and despair.
I begin to express how great it is to understand that my experiences and trials produced my character. Girls on Fire is committed to producing the kind of character that will allow these girls to not just move mountains, but also inspire other women even you who are here today.
I say to you Girls on Fire members 2016 - 2017, your passion/purpose should align with what you do in life as a career and what you do in college and high school to get there. Always and constantly be evaluating your life to align your values and passion. Do this on purpose. Your values might need some fine-tuning if you are just pursuing money for example; you might be in for a rude awakening. You might not have these answers now, but keep moving forward and reflecting on your journey, and they’ll come.
Don’t be afraid to change the people who are around or the things that you are doing if they don’t line up with your values. It’s important that you love yourself as you are, but continue to improve who you are because I have the highest expectations for who you can become. This goes for not only your character and education, but also your awareness and involvement in the world around you. Finally, before, during, and after you do great things…constantly pull other girls along, lift each other up, and reach back to inspire somebody else. In this way, we will all help each other be what we are meant to be Girls on Fire! #igniteyouramazing