RISE like a girl is officially in full swing! Today was our first meeting of the school year. The girls came in so excited and inspired, and I can tell how much they really love each other. It's beautiful to watch the sisterhood that RISE like a girl has created between them and I'm so grateful to be a part of it. 

I've been reading a book by Brene Brown called Rising Strong. I'm not that far along yet but the book is essentially about the power of vulnerability. She says that when we own our experiences enough to tell our story, will we have the ultimate sense of joy and belonging. 

I consider myself a pretty vulnerable person. I'm not afraid to share parts of my personal life with others. I don't fear talking about my passions with strangers. I have no problem crying in public if it's about something that truly matters to me. Within the past few years I've learned that the more I use my voice, the more freedom I gain.  Most of us walk around with shame on a daily basis. Shame that we're not good enough, shame that we hurt someone, shame that we've messed up beyond repair. When we hold all of that shame inside, we're allowing that pain to have power over us. Your story, regardless of how messy or tragic it may be, is beautiful. It needs to be shared. 

In her book, Brene says 
"When we deny our stories, they define us. We are the authors of our lives." 

A good idea becomes a great idea when you let it out | Aeolidia's manifesto for creative businesses: If we never open up and tell our story, we're allowing it to control our future. But when we speak our truth, we have the power to create our own love story, foster our own courage, and write our own ending. 

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, I'm about to get super vulnerable with you right now. I'm going to tell a part of my story - not because it's comfortable but because I know that with discomfort comes growth. I am taking ownership of my vulnerability. I am the author of my story. 

This past summer, I practiced journaling. A lot. It was my outlet and it helped me decipher my feelings amidst all of the stress. One day, I was sitting on the couch reading a book by the woman who started a well-known girl empowerment organization called I Am That Girl.  In the book, the author wrote a personal manifesto. A manifesto is like a statement of opinion. It really spoke to me because it was exactly what I needed. I was dealing with a lot of loneliness and self-doubt. I was questioning who I was and what I was doing. I really needed a pick-me-up. So, I picked up my journal and wrote my own:

I am enough. My work is important. I am deserving of living the life I've always imagined. 
I am me. Every single day. I cannot be anything but who God intended me to be. 
I am enough. My beauty is enough. My heart and mind are enough. 
I have a purpose that wakes me up in the morning and puts me to bed at night. 
I allow my passions to drive my actions. 
The work that I do every day is important. 
I will make a difference. 
I hold my head high with satisfaction and pride for the things that I've accomplished. 
I choose to keep pushing because even though the road is long, my dreams will soon come true. 
I have a voice worth sharing. What I have to say is valid. 
My opinions matter. 
I choose not to let others talk over me. 
I choose not to let others think my words are insignificant. 
I stand up for things that matter. 
No one will make me feel inferior. 
I have the power to say no even when my answer is not well liked. 
I will speak my truth. Even when my truth is unpopular. 
My voice is special. It is 100% uniquely me. 
My body is beautiful exactly the way that it is. I accept my flaws and find beauty in the things I cannot change. 
I do my best to practice self-love daily. I honor my body by giving it good food and exercise. 
Instead of focusing on the unattainable beauty standards society has set for me, I choose to focus on creating a happy and healthy me. When I feel good, I look good. 
I am in charge of my own beautiful. Today, I choose to love me. 
I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a girlfriend. 
I have something special to offer to my loved ones. 
I give my all to the people I care about and I am deserving of their love in return. 
I understand that relationships require work. I do my best to make sure they know just how I feel about them. 
I let go of friendships that are no longer serving me. I hold tighter to the ones that lift me up and watch me grow. 
I surround myself with people that love me and inspire me to be better. 
I am deserving of quality friendships that appreciate me for who I am. 
I am worthy of love. 
Each day, I pursue challenge. I don't let fear stop me from pursuing my dreams. 
I keep a positive mindset because I know I have what it takes. 
I am confident in my abilities. My passion drives me to take on any challenge with a smile on my face. 
When I'm having trouble, I ask for help. I try my best to let go of control. 
I understand that teamwork is better than one. Sometimes I can't do it on my won, but I can do it when I allow others into my circle. 
No challenge is too big. I will find a way to make it happen. I have what it takes. I believe in myself. 
I owe it to myself to be remarkable and I won't stop until I get there. 

I can't tell you how freeing it was to write that (and share with all of you right now!). Putting it out there and making positive affirmations has made a huge difference in my life. The more that you say it, the more you believe it. 

I shared my manifesto and allowed myself to be vulnerable with the girls today. I gave them the challenge this week to write their own manifesto in their journal. To guide their thinking, I asked them to brainstorm some issues that they've been struggling with lately. The issues ranged from body image, to academic confidence, to friendships. I love that RISE like a girl has created a safe space for the girls to open up and share their struggles with one another. I cannot wait to read their manifestos next week! 

My challenge for you is this: Share your story. Free yourself from whatever you may be struggling with by opening up to someone you trust. Once you reclaim your power, only then will you have the privilege of ultimate self-love. 

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