My family and I went to the beach for Spring Break this year. Typically, the beach is a yearly summer tradition for my family. We don’t have just one beach we visit, we are game for any beach, anywhere. There is just something about it that draws my family back each and every year. We disconnect from the world and live peacefully for five days. It is always a poetic experience.
During our week away I spent a lot of time sitting just on the edge of the water. It being Spring Break, the water wasn’t quite warm enough to swim in — however, sitting next to it for hours a day for five days straight gave me a lot of time to ponder just what it is about this sandy experience that compels me to return. It finally hit me after all these years what I love the most.
It’s those salty waves. They are persistent. They don’t give up. Every time they come to the shore they are reaching for something, something just out of reach, something that I don’t see, but they are reaching and then at the last minute, cruel irony hits and they are pulled and gathered back to the sea. But they don’t stop, they keep coming back reaching, trying, wanting, yearning.
I watched the waves as they lapped at a broken shell. Each time those waves rolled up to the shore, they touched the shell, flipped it around, and then they slipped back into the ocean again, but just for a second, then the wave came back and try grabbing it again. Eventually, the shell was pulled back to the ocean, the waves accomplished their task.
This is how I want my daughter, Izzy, to be with her dreams. I want her to keep trying, to keep reaching for things, even if they are just out of reach, I want her to keep at it. Not for one second do I want her to give up on her dreams.
Unfortunately, this persistence isn’t something that is automatically expected from girls as a whole. I have read a couple of articles over the past month that talk about how girls are taught that being scared is cute — it brings out the protective nature of a guy. I then read another one that asked, “Why would a woman want to be a provider?” I even had a young girl tell me she quit the wrestling team because of the remarks she would get from her male teammates. I had to check my calendar to make sure it was still 2016. We are still up against this mind set? So here is my choice — let it go, or take a stand and point out waves of persistent change to my daughter? Reach for everything, my girl, eventually you will get the treasure. It reminds me of when she was a baby and she was learning to reach out and grasp. Trying to control all of those little muscles we take for granted now. It was so important that she learn how to grasp, reach and control. I taught her to reach for all the things she could see. I did not teach her to grasp for the things she couldn’t see. To go beyond fear and apprehension, go beyond the mindset of others, to reach out and grab a life of her own.
I will take that salty stance. I will cheer on those waves and bring my daughter with me. There are waves of women who created change, women who had a little salt, a little grit in them and said, “thanks but no thanks” to societal expectations. I will be my own hero, I will create my own life, I will provide, I will keep reaching for dreams that are just out of my reach because that is where the good stuff happens. I tell Izzy about these women, their stories, and she sees how they changed history, made history and became history. They kept reaching again and again. Reaching for something the majority of us couldn’t see but they saw it. They knew just outside their reach was where the difference is made. Where female heroes are created. Every girl should visit the ocean at least once in her life so she can witness those salty waves, those waves of persistence and learn for herself that those waves yearning to grasp the shore always succeed in the end.