You Never Know Unless You Try

Raising a girl these days is really hard. There are so many issues to discuss and so many feelings involved with well, everything.Girls tend to take things really personally. When you attempt to point out that perhaps the friend who does not want to play four square at recess because she would rather jump rope is not actually a sign that the friendship is over, you are simply the mother who just doesn’t understand.Emma is especially prone to these kinds of moments, because she greatly struggles with self-confidence. She genuinely believes oftentimes that she is not good enough for something or that no one would choose her for a task because she wouldn’t do it well enough to be successful.

We talk a lot about putting yourself out there and just trying things to boost her self-confidence. We talk all the time about how even if she does not feel like she believes in herself, we believe in her. I write notes for her lunch box to remind her of this.


Sometimes it sinks in, and I see her rising up and wanting to try something new. Wanting to give something a shot because she sees the value in going after what you want even if you are not sure you will get it.

We saw the movie Monster’s University with Lucy, and we all spent a long time talking after the movie about why pursuing a dream is important and how even if that exact dream does not come true, it is okay. That life is about the journey, not the destination. The movie perfectly captured for their age group the feeling that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but more importantly that you always succeed because you tried.

When this school year started, Emma expressed an interest to me in campaigning to be the President of her school’s Green Team, which is the environmental club for the 3rd and 4th grade. Just between you and me, I was extremely nervous and felt apprehension and fear about her being disappointed if she did not win the election.

But, I told her that I thought it sounded like a fantastic opportunity to really step outside her comfort zone and go after something that she wanted. She practiced making a speech and was beaming when she got in the car after her first meeting. She told me that she had really tried her best and felt like she might actually win.

She said that Lucy told her after the meeting that she voted for her (BFFs totally rock!) and that she thought Emma was totally going to be the Green Team President because she gave such a good speech.

We spent the next week talking about how no matter what the outcome of the election was, the fact that she tried at all was winning enough. I could see as the week went on that she was genuinely feeling for the first time in a long time confident about herself. Excited about the possibility of achieving this goal, but also proud of herself.

The results of the election were announced at a very special lunch meeting, so I had to wait until pick-up time to hear what happened. It was all very nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing, because in my heart of hearts I really wanted her to win. I wanted her effort to try rewarded with a victory. I did. I couldn’t help it. I wanted to feel the true feeling of victory, because I knew it would help keep her confidence up for the future.

Emma Green Team President

The picture says it all, right? That face is one of a girl who is finally feeling that she is worthy. May she always remember that.


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You Never Know Unless You Try — 109 Comments

  1. We go through similar things here, because my girl is constantly comparing herself to her super smart older brother. She’s plenty smart herself, but she feels she can never measure up. I’m actually in the process of having her tested for a learning disability, because I suspect she’s just as smart and has been compensating all this time… *le sigh*

  2. Oh, that picture is better than a thousand words, although I LOVED every single one of these words. My oldest just turned four, and she is still supremely confident in everything she does. The other day I told her she was beautiful. Her reply? I know. Totally cracked me up. I really hope she never loses that self confidence. Maybe she can temper it with a dose of humility, but I never want her to doubt her self worth.

    I agree that life is about the journey, not the destination. So, for the giveaway prompt, I’m going to say that instead of one big dream, I’m striving to live the dream. every. single. day. To wake up filled with gratitude, savoring every step of the journey. Because it’s one amazing journey, isn’t it? But, if I have to pick one dream, it’s the one above. The dream of my daughters growing up strong and confident, never losing belief in their own dreams.

  3. Ahh congratulations Emma!!! that is awesome!!! there is nothing like the natural high of working hard for something, putting yourself out there, and having it pay off. lets see- most of my stories of late are of the “character building” variety, but hopefully i’ll be able to report back soon that i found a new job! 🙂

  4. Her face truly does say it all and oh so happy she won. I was getting a bit nervous and anxious to see how it turned out. I will say all throughout my teenage years and early twenties, I just wanted to meet someone nice and would not give up. I knew that person existed even through all the many bumps in the road. Well, as you know I did meet my prince in Kevin after dating many frogs. I think it is true that in order to achieve goals we do have to believe in ourselves and it does help when you have a wonderful family to support you (I was blessed here). Having two girls, I hope that they know how much we believe in them and support them, too!

  5. That picture is awesome!! Good for her and good for you being such a supportive mama. My middle daughter has never been “the most coordinated” kid. She asked a couple times to play soccer and I blew it off because of my own fear of her failure. Finally, last spring, she begged and I decided to let her try. SHE LOVES IT!!!! She even plays goalie some. She is not the team superstar, but she is by no means the weakest link either. I feel guilty now that I didn’t let her start earlier because of my own fears. As parents, we want to encourage our kids to spread their wings, try new things, & believe in themselves. However, we also want to protect them and see them succeed. It can be a very fine line to balance!

  6. We as women go through that also and it gets more complicated as we get older. Congrats to her and keep believing in the dreams your dreams can lead you to what you are truly meant to do in life and when you get to that point the reality will be so much better.

  7. What pure joy in that sweet face! Congrats to her. I believed in the love between my husband and I and am living the dream of being happily married for 15 years. So many of our friends are on their 2nd marriages and we are lucky to still be in love and happy to raise our 3 boys together. Thanks for the chance to win Monsters University, we loved that movie!

  8. Bless her little sweet heart. It’s a darn shame that our children today have these feelings and fears. And it gets worse sometimes as we grow up. Heaven knows I have my moments. There are days when I could use a note in my lunch box. And know what? As moms we still do and should occasionally put a “note in the lunch box” for even our adult kids. Except now it would be a text message 🙂

  9. That face? Is the reason I became a photographer! Those moments! I can’t wait until I get to talk to my kids more about dreams. I mean, Scarlet gets it to a point. Her life dream right now is to have a kitten, so, we’re working on that. Gulp. Anyway, I know it’s about many more things than that! That’s just an example of how we as a family don’t squash dreams – at least not outright, anyway. I hate cats, but I’m open to discussion.

  10. The sheer joy on her face! Wow! Congrats to your Emma!
    I totally understand hoe you were feeling – your story reminded me of the final test my daughter took for her black belt – she had been in Tae Kwon Do for a little over 4 years and one of the tests was a flying kick over another student, my heart was pittering and pattering and I had a major case of the sweats! So when she nailed it, I almost cried!
    Bolstering self confidence in a young un is hard indeed, specially when they have peers and media to deal with, but the hard work we do as parents early on pays off! My daughter is in high school now and definitely is comfortable “walking to the tune of her own drummer” and taking advantage of every opportunity that comes her way, sometimes, she even manages to get a friend or two to join her in her march 🙂

  11. Congratulations Emma!! What an absolutely fantastic story! I was a lot like Emma when I was growing up (and still am for that matter). So afraid to leave my comfort zone. But, unless you push yourself, you never know what you can achieve.

  12. What a great story Ashley, thank you for telling us. And man, what a great picture. I’m so happy for Emma, and for you for encouraging her. I’m glad I read this first thing, good way to start the day.
    And keep putting the notes in their lunch boxes, that’s a good thing. We may say we don’t want them but that’s not true.

  13. Great article and picture! I’m sure she will do a great job for the Green Team. I wish Emma thought she is as awesome and cool as I do. Maybe it just takes a little more time.

  14. That is so awesome- what a look of joy on her face! My Sweets sometimes has a hard time doing something new because she “doesn’t know how!” and won’t even try. Once we can get her to try and she is successful, she is so proud of herself. We try to instill in her that the process of success often comes with instances of failure but that if you keep trying and keep practicing, you will get better. Seeing her triumph at anything BY HERSELF and not mommy and daddy “doing it” for her, gives me great satisfaction as well.
    Love this post!

  15. OMGOSH… crying over here!!! That PICTURE!!!! Oh how beautiful!! My sweet Cass had one of “those moments” this summer when she got the “JC Award” at the end of the season banquet for her swim team. My girl isn’t the best swimmer- far from it. BUT every coach picked her for this – noted to be the biggest award- because of her LIGHT and RESPECT and DETERMINATION. They each shared special moments they had with Cass- all the while saying that she was an inspiration to all of the team.
    Like you sweet friend, may she never ever forget it. THESE are the moments that will define them, and fill them with the confidence in WHO they are. Oh, how I thank God for them…

  16. OMG that is the best picture ever!!! I was so anxious for the outcome like I was reading a thriller novel and then when I saw her face I actually had tears well up!!! I can only imagine how YOU feel. Job well done mom!!! She is amazing!

    I keep my dreams alive by reminding myself what my dad told me since I was 5 years-old: What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve!
    Words to live by!!

  17. Do you know how I know I am attached to you? The whole time I was reading, I was praying, “Please let her win!” I love the picture and jumped out of my chair when I saw it. Belle’s in middle school and struggling so much with self-confidence so this post really, really hit home with me. Oh, and one of my dreams came true today and I’m 43. It took me 43 years to do it. 🙂

  18. We also go thru similar things here, and having one about to be a teenager means it just gets a little harder as the hormones start kicking in. I believe we should always tell them to shoot for their dreams, I even put it on her desk I built at the beginning of the school year…that way she remembers to always dream big. Thanks for sharing this awesome post!

  19. Well, congratulations to Miss E! That is so great to hear. My step-daughter often goes through these things, and what seems to amplify it is that she is almost a whole year younger than all of her peers. Her birthday is September so at this age (13) it makes a huge difference. You are doing the best job in reiterating the positive self image and in the end, the confidence will be developed. I love feel good stories like this!

  20. Love this story and the picture says it all. As I was reading the post I thought please God let her win. I totally get the whole at least you tried and put yourself out there philosophy, but a win every once in a while sure does help 🙂

  21. That is the best photo ever and my heart was pounding while reading this to see how Emma made out. I think if you believe in yourself to know that you’ll never fail, then you never will – even if things don’t pan out the way you wanted, you will walk away with a great lesson and try something else. You guys are doing such a great job teaching your girls this kind of confidence. I have a lot to learn from both of you as a mom. xo

  22. Haven’t achieved my dream yet, but I stay positive and don’t let others influence me in a negative way.
    jslbrown_03 at yahoo dot com

  23. I loved this post! I found myself getting nervous for her, and was so excited when I saw her great smile!!! Good for her!!

    I loved Monsters University, we took our kids to it when it was in the theaters this summer. And, I really loved the message. Great post!!

  24. congratulations emma, what a fantastic accomplishment. i was reading this post, just hoping for a great outcome. i’m so glad her dream came true! i’m learning a lot from reading your posts and how you’re parenting, encouraging your children and telling them that they’re winners for trying, despite the outcome.

  25. I achieve my dreams by working hard towards my goals, like when I worked full time and attained my MBA. It took a lot of time management, but I was able to reach my goal.

  26. Oh, gosh! That is just so wonderful! That age is such a hard one and girls do take things a little more personally. I am so happy that Emma did this and I can see how happy and confident she is in the picture. You must be such a proud mommy!

    I think a part of believing in yourself and achieving a dream is ignoring all the small stuff and trying to ignore the little voices in your head that say otherwise. Make a plan and move forward. Just like Emma Did!

  27. I believed in myself and achieved my dream when I graduated from college working full time and caring for my baby at the same time. Being optimistic and working hard really helped me

  28. Omg her sweet face made me tear up! That is soooo awesome!

    I know all too well how she feels. I struggle with self confidence so much and I hate it! And also, following your dream and having it not work out? Been there done that-and guess what?! It totally leads to something better. Swearsies. I got to try engineering, didn’t love it, still have that degree to be proud of and now I’m doing other jobs I love. So worth it. I will be her self confidence pen pal because that jerk in my head can be so loud sometimes.

  29. Congratulations, that’s one happy girl! It’s great how you encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone, and it really paid off.

  30. I struggled to believe in myself prior to having children, as odd as it sounds becoming a Mother gave me a new found confidence. I try to be the best version of myself possible so that I can be a role model to my children. My dream was always to be content with my lot in life and I truly am.

  31. I achieved my dream of being a stay-at-home mom! My husband went to school while working full-time to switch careers. Then we moved to a different state and I was able to quit my job and stay home with our daughter. I love it! It meant so much to me to have my mom home when I was growing up, and I wanted the same for my daughter. So now we have it!

  32. I actually got a dream of mine! I’ve been waiting many years for my Son to get married and he got married a couple of months ago! Now I have a new daughter-in-law,and a Daughter! Now He to get busy and get me some grandchildren! LOL

  33. What a great picture! I achieve my dream by working hard and trying to have a positive attitude and confidence in myself

  34. Congrats to Sweet Emma!!! This reminded me of those wooden gates you made when running for Student Council!!! She was destined to win!

  35. I believe in myself because I know I am loved and I achieve my dream by expecting the hard way ahead and taking one bite at a time.
    tcarolinep at gmail dot com

  36. I believe in my self and achieve my dreams by having positive self talk, and reflecting on all of the things I have been able to accomplish in the past.

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    wildorchid985 at gmail dot com

  37. Knowing that I had to pay for my graduate degree (and undergraduate), I worked as many as 3 jobs while going to school full time. It was hard, but it was worth it! Thanks kmassman gmail

  38. I achieved my dreams because I reminded myself “just keep swimming… just keep swimming”. I put myself through university and became a teacher (with debt that I have thankfully since paid off).

  39. What a wonderful story and beautiful young girl and picture!
    I always wanted to be a teacher. Two weeks before I graduated high school life through me a curve and I was diagnosed with Lupus. I wasn’t able to go to college then or later, but later as a wife and mom (a dream I didn’t even know I had) I have fulfilled that dream. I “teach”, though it may be life lessons, without a degree.


  40. I believe in myself by knowing I can lose weight. I have been consistent and have already lost 1/3 of the weight I want to lose (25lbs) but I am still working hard! my dream is to be a happier, healthier me. i will achieve this dream soon enough!

  41. I believed that I could do it and went to school and practiced until I reached my goal/dream

    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

  42. I married very young and had children. My dream was to have a long, happy marriage, and raise successful children. Many doubted us because of our age, but we knew what we were doing. With faith and trust we have have achieved that dream. and proved the doubters wrong.

  43. I became a mom at for the first time at 18 and though I had lost out on my dream of becoming a nurse. It took years but with lots of dedication I finally was able to graduate from nursing school.

    lisalmg25 at gmail dot com

  44. When I have tried and failed I just pick myself up and start over. Eventually I get where I need to be (not always where I thought I wanted to be though).

  45. I believe in myself and achieve my dreams by understanding that what I have to contribute is of value and by surrounding myself with positive thoughts and, better yet, positive, supportive friends. I also write out inspirational quotes each week and place them around the house as a reminder that I can reach my goals. 🙂

  46. 25 years ago I didn’t think I could sing, but I took singing lessons, joined two choirs and have been singing ever since.
    Thanks for the contest.

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