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  • Arjanna van der Plas

THIS LITTLE GIRL IS ME

Updated: Nov 8, 2021

I have decided to sabotage my whole email format this week, because I am completely captivated by the #thislittlegirlisme campaign.

The idea behind this campaign by Inspiring Girls International is to encourage women to share their journey to where they are now, because 70% of girls feel more confident about their futures after hearing from women role models - whether they are world famous or ‘ordinary citizens’.

And we see something similar at the WOMEN’S HUB DAYs (we just had the first one in Zurich last Saturday - more about that later :)). Hearing about the journeys of others invites us to find our unique path in life. So here’s my story - to inspire you to live yours!


THIS LITTLE GIRL IS ME

This little girl was a bright, sensitive, creative being. She loved expressing herself through drawing, writing and little living room performances. She cared deeply for the world. This little girl had a good brain. She wanted to study industrial design engineering at the Delft University of Technology, to learn how to solve people’s problems through design. But her high school mentor discouraged her, because ‘math is really hard’. She didn’t listen to her mentor. This little girl loved studying amongst the nerds in Delft. She felt seen and valued by them, and even though she knew she wasn’t an industrial designer at heart, she felt at home. She started working at a large research firm. Three months into the job, this little girl was advizing the CEO of the 4000-employee company on his communications strategy, and two months later she was invited to the company’s leadership program as the only junior employee. She thought she was invincible. Until she scored a 1 out of 5 for authenticity on a performance review. And then it hit her. She was trying so hard to do what she thought was expected of her, that she had completely lost herself. She had lost that little sensitive, creative, caring little girl. Whereas she normally was a bundle of energy, she now felt exhausted. She had always been optimistic, and now everything seemed to be heavy and difficult. She felt so much resistance to work that she called in sick, and stayed home for months. It was one of the darkest times of her life, but throughout that whole period, she also felt a glimmer of hope. She felt that she was learning something important, even though it was incredibly hard. She learned that true confidence comes from the inside, and that trying to live up to external expectations had hurt her much more than it helped her. Fast forward to now. This not-so-little-anymore girl is now more confident than ever, both in her work as a leadership coach and as a mom of two girls, and her work is a huge source of inspiration and energy. She no longer tries to be picture perfect, but instead embraces her quirks and even makes them part of her strategy. And whereas she always thought of women’s networks as boring tea parties for women to complain about how the patriarchy makes them miserable, she now is the proud co-founder of the WOMEN'S HUB Zurich, where women come to become the boldest, truest version of themselves - whatever that looks like for them. This little girl is me.

I’d love to hear your story (regardless of your gender)!


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