Some people have it. Unfortunately some don't.
I don't know if it can be taught, but maybe just maybe, we can instill it in our children.
Well, not maybe, I think we must at least try as hard as we can.
What I am talking about is that deep, humble kind of self-confidence.
Self-confidence that demands respect, but not in an aggressive way.
Self-confidence that makes people respect you, from a good almost in awe of type of place.
It is powerful, yet humble at the same time.
We ran a workshop at the police station. It had a very special structure. The police precinct is attached to a help center for victims of rape and domestic violence. There are social service workers and social workers just steps away from the officers.
About 40 people gathered in a large, airy room to attend the workshop.
Something amazing is that at this particular police station there is a female deputy chief. And get this…the city has a FEMALE chief.
We met with the deputy chief before the workshop. She is a small but mighty woman, smart and wise.
In the middle of the workshop the chief arrived.
Let me tell you something.
This woman walked into the room and boy did she have it.
She had it all. Everybody stood up. The lioness had arrived.
She was powerful, yet not scary.
Her presence demanded attention.
She was together from A-Z, the clothes, the jewelry, everything.
I held my breath. No one had to tell me. I knew immediately who she was. The air stood still!!
This woman is incredible.
She left the workshop while I was still teaching, so I didn't get to take a picture. But the angels sang and the trumpets played when she walked in and out of the precinct.
I was curious about her and asked a lot of questions.
She was not born into a high caste; she did not come from privilege.
She earned it; she owned it and she held us all in the palm of her hand.
After this, we were at an all girls college.
I looked in the room at the girls around me and thought, who will grow to be like the lioness?
These girls. OMG these girls. So shy, so worried, so burdened with the culture they are part of, and yet so full of hope determination and beauty.
We act out scenarios.
We talk about being bold.
“It is so hard Madam, how can you make it less hard Madam?”
I smile at her and take a moment –
Well I say, “Sadly I can not make it easy, you just have to walk through the hard, focusing on what is on the other side!”
“The elders” they tell me,
The elders are the older generation.
“The elders don't understand.”
“The elders will not listen!”
I tell them, try again.
Talk again, do not give up and you have to at least try.
Talk from the heart.
Say your truth.
I ask them to write “I am” sentences and then write “I want” sentences.
They are all happy but scared.
They are anxious but feel empowered.
They are the contradiction of the culture they are part of.
What was evident is that they all want freedom - desperately.
Quite a few wrote, “I want to fly.”
One, god help me, wrote, “I want to meet Donald Trump.”
They want happiness.
I want them to have it all.
I want them to have strength.
Above all I want them to know, that even if they have an arranged marriage, they are worthy.
Worthy of love.
And worthy of being treated with respect.
I want them to command attention, like how the chief did. Or at least feel like they have the option.
One wrote, “I want to live like a nobody. But definitely be a somebody.”
They write things like:
“I want to be my father’s backbone.”
“I want to give all the happiness in this world to my mother.”
“I want to love the man I am arranged to marry.”
“I want to be satisfied.”
“I want to be a great person.”
“I want to be great.”
I say to them,
“I want you to have.”
“Have what?” they ask.
“Everything. I want you to have everything.”
We smile, we laugh, we hug, we take a million selfies and we even cry a little.
As I drive away I pray to god.
“Do me a favor, please. Let them, just let them have. Simply have.”