I’m nervous. I’m an hour away from touching down on the east coast. The next six days stretch before me. I feel a mix of anxiety, hope, excitement, and fear as I write. I’m traveling to Washington DC for Million Girl Army, a non-profit organization I launched a year and a half ago. While starting a new business is always challenging, the size and scope of Million Girl Army frequently overwhelms me. Daily I run up against challenges that make me question whether or not I’m the right person to lead this movement.
Million Girl Army is an idea I have had for eight years. Because the idea is so grand, it took me the first six and a half years to get past my fear and even step out and try it. Its launch corresponded with the aftermath of the twirling incident I wrote about in the blog post The Catalyst. That moment when I put a stake in the ground and decided to be brave not perfect, I decided to take the first step to make MGA a reality. I have been baby stepping my way through the process ever since.
Million Girl Army’s mission is to transform middle school girls into globally compassionate teens who combine their resources to change the world. Essentially it is my dream to recruit one million middle school girls in the developed world and teach them what it would be like to be a girl their age in a developing country. Through monthly video curriculum we explore what they have in common with girls on the other side of the world, and what looks vastly different. We talk about the responsibility that comes with having more and we dive into how to remain fearless as they age so that they truly become the world changers of tomorrow. Simultaneously, their yearly dues go to partner organizations around the world helping young girls get out of harrowing situations. It truly is an organization built on reciprocal relationships, youth helping youth with the hope of creating a brighter tomorrow.
I love the vision of MGA. I love the optimism of the youth I get to work with on a daily basis. I love knowing this organization has the power to truly impact thousands of girls around the world, millions if we reach our goal.
But it is easy to get discouraged by the day-to-day challenges of running a start-up non-profit organization. It is hard to convince people to financially support us when we are an unknown entity. There are so many details to attend to and no money to hire experts to help. I have had to learn video editing, website designing, platform building, social media marketing. I’ve had to dust off my curriculum writing skills, study how to pitch people to receive their financial support, navigate board relations, wade into IRS rules and regulations, and so much more. While I’m learning a lot, my general inability in these areas discourages me regularly. The perfectionist in me wants to be the best at everything, so to spend many hours a week floundering my way through things often takes the wind out of my sails.
After a year and a half, Million Girl Army is finally ready for nationwide growth. We have built, tested, reworked, designed and redesigned all to reach this moment where the platform is ready and able to support the interaction of thousands of girls. We are ready to start a movement.
It’s a pivotal moment and I’m scared to death.
What if MGA doesn’t take off? What if I run out of money before MGA has a real chance to grow? What if the young girls of the world remain unchanged because I couldn’t bring the movement to fruition?
I live in fear every day. Fear of failure. Fear of coming all this way only to watch the dream die. Fear that the journey to this point will all be for nothing. It is a mental battle each day to keep pushing forward, to not give in to the fear.
This week I have a few incredible opportunities. Sean Litton, the president of International Justice Mission, has invited me to shadow him for a day at the IJM offices. It’s a chance to witness a large organization in motion, to ask him the questions that keep me up at night.
And I get to dig in with Melissa Trumbull, the Vice President of MGA’s board of directors, soaking in her knowledge of non-profit board relations. I get to meet her contacts and her middle school daughters’ friends and talk with them about Million Girl Army. I get to launch MGA on the east coast (fingers crossed). I get to meet with Kimberly Gonxhe, founder of Live Foundation and a supporter of MGA. She and I will have a chance to talk about our love for disadvantaged girls around the world and our dreams for how we can help them.
All of it is a huge blessing. These people have agreed to put their skills to work to help me, to help MGA. I am thankful.
At the same time, I feel tremendous anxiety. I’m stepping outside my comfort zone. I have always been intimidated by smart people, smart women in particular. I never feel I measure up. I get nervous, and shy, and even more introverted than I usually am. The awkwardness of my youth reappears, opening old wounds.
And yet I am on this plane now because of the journey I’m writing about on this blog. Because I am determined to bravely seize this opportunity. Because I won’t let fear keep me from helping the next generation of girls change the world. Because I can’t preach bravery and fearlessness to them and be bound by fear and perfectionism myself.
So I’m here. Less than an hour from touchdown. My heart is beating a bit too fast already. My seatmates probably wish I would quit fidgeting. And yet, I’m keenly aware that each fidget, each rapid heartbeat is a reminder that I’m outside the boundary of perfect and in the territory of bravery.
Just where I want to be.
To learn more about Million Girl Army visit: www.milliongirlarmy.org