We truly take it for granted that the world is literally at our fingertips. My father often tells stories of going to the library and searching through countless books and encyclopedias to find the answer to a simple question. Now, we type something into Google and get our answer in less than one second. Since I, like the rest of my generation, have grown up with this technology, it's hard to truly grasp how incredible it is. If I want to learn how to do something new, I can find hundreds of videos on YouTube explaining and demonstrating anything my heart desires. One would think that with all these resources, young people would take it upon themselves to step outside the social norms and try something new. All it takes to begin is the click of a button! However, I have observed that young people, especially girls, are generally not taking this leap of faith. They are very cozy in their safe comfort zones, and have little desire to step outside. And who can blame them? It's safe there, and they don't have to worry about facing failure, embarrassment, or judgment. Well, this might sound great and all, but here's a newsflash: If everyone followed the social norms, and we didn't have brave women who stepped outside their comfort zones and tried something new, we wouldn't have computers, ice cream, wifi or GPS. I don't know about you, but that's not a world I want to live in.
Dr Grace Murray Hopper, a rear admiral in the U.S. navy, was also a computer scientist who invented COBOL, "the first user-friendly business computer software program". She was also the first person to use to term "bug" to describe a glitch in a computer system, after finding an actual moth causing trouble in her computer.
Kei Chiong is my new favorite Girl Power role model. You may not have heard of her, but you will. She is Hong Kong's only female jockey and she is inspiring other young girls to believe they can be as successful as her. The amount of current female racing trainees has skyrocketed since Kei's time in the limelight. Now, 50% of those training to become jockeys in Hong Kong are girls. This number was unheard of before our Girl Power Superhero came along. "Maybe because I am optimistic, I don't feel too much pressure," Kei said. "Even if I have pressure I covert it into a driving force." We could definitely all benefit from adopting her mindset. "I want to succeed like her," said racing trainee Scarlet So Ka-Lai, 20, from Wong Tai Sin, who started her training about nine months ago. "She has many wins and is as competitive as the guys. Her achievement is a confidence builder for me."
Kei Chiong, Hong Kong's only female jockey is making other youngsters believe they can be as successful as her.
When I first learned about my new favorite Girl Power Role Model, I was struck by a resounding thought. Oftentimes successful women are looked down upon by others due to jealousy, and are referred to as "bossy," "ruthless," and "conceited." For some people, I'm sure these adjectives are true, however for the kind-hearted successful girl bosses out there, these negative descriptions are often placed upon them like a stigma. However, if one looks above the negativity, for every jealous person there are ten others who are inspired by their bravery, confidence, and achievements. How many times in your life have you looked at someone else and said, "One day I want to be just like her." We forget that being successful, especially as a woman, is not only a personal gain. To be successful is to be a shining example to every young girl out there who has a dream -- a dream to be standing right where you are today. That being said, that makes all of us potential role models, whether we signed up for the job or not. If each one of us inspired just one girl, as Kei Chiong has inspired thousands, then this world would be a much better place.
In ways, Kei Chiong reminds me of myself. No, I'm not a big fan of horses, but I do know how it feels to step apart from the crowd and do something that is not considered "popular" at the time. At the age of 15, I started my own non-profit organization, Girls Above Society, to promote self-confidence and leadership skills in young girls. Since then, I have spoken to tens of thousands of girls, published two books, and traveled all over the country. Since I stand apart from the crowd, and I am brave enough to try new things, I am therefore a role model for younger generations. This is what the outside world sees. However, there is a whole other side to the world outside your comfort zone, that you only know if you have been there. There have been countless times that I have consecutively turned down invitations to hang out with friends. Not because I didn't want to see them, but because I was busy writing, speaking, or expanding my organization. My real friends understood, and stuck by my side through thick and thin. The majority of my friends, however, simply stopped inviting me. As hurtful and lonely as this can feel at times, I look around myself and realize that I wouldn't have it any other way. The people in my life are true and genuine. They care about me, and they value and respect my passions in life. When you are trying something new and against the social norms, you learn who your true friends are.
Lauren Galley, Award Winning Teen Mentor & President of Girls Above Society
The secret to encouraging girls to step outside their comfort zones and recognize their full potential is simple: provide them with positive role models who are doing this very thing themselves. We have to filter through all the Kardashians and Jenners of the world and dive a little deeper. There are an incredible amount of women breaking down barriers every day. Why they aren't discussed more in the media is beyond me, but they are out there, I promise. A young girl looking at a successful women and thinking, "I want to be just like her one day," is a truly powerful moment, and shouldn't be overlooked. Every success story started somewhere small. Demi Lovato once stood on a stage for the first time, Mia Hamm once played soccer for the first time, and Kei Chiong once rode a horse for the first time. Everyone starts somewhere, and the sooner you start, the better.
I wish more girls would be brave like Kei Chiong. She went from a normal, everyday girl in Hong Kong, to making the news headlines, being referred to as a "Girl Power Role Model", and encouraging thousands of young girls to follow in her footsteps. We all have the ability to step outside our comfort zone, try something new, and discover the next big thing. I'm not saying it will be easy, but it will be so worth it.
Be that push for someone else. Teach a girl something new today. Always, always, encourage girls to step apart from the crowd. And never forget...
"Well-behaved women seldom make history."