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When I work with people I have one rule: regardless of how good or bad your day is, show up. Show up for your commitments. Show up with your best self whatever state is it in. It’s amazing how hard it is for people, young and old, to understand the power of showing up.

I can work with just about anyone if they show up. It might be challenging at first, but it’s nowhere near as challenging as if they don’t.  

It seems that since I’ve started writing again I’ve become far more aware of my surroundings and myself.  Perhaps it’s because I’m thinking about what to write next or perhaps it’s because writing has a way of connecting us to ourselves on a deeper level and thus questions start to surface.

Several events last week deepened my understanding of critical thinking.

Tuesday afternoon I had an appointment with a young woman who was having an “off” day and when I arrived I was told that she wasn’t interested in meeting today.

I hadn’t yet formed a rapport with this young woman but this situation still caused a somewhat of an internal challenge for me. What made her think that it was okay not to show up for an appointment she made? Did I not communicate with her well enough? Did she consider that I drove forty minutes to make that appointment? My answer: probably not. Whatever she is feeling today is probably too powerful to consider outside elements.

At Wednesday night’s girls' group two girls did not show with regrets, of course, because they needed some individual time…with the boys. Again the questions: why is their desire to talk to boys surpassing the commitment to show up for a project they have been active in creating when it takes just two hours out of their week? Is the power of flirting and communication with boys more important than their integrity to their group? What needs are being met?

I decided to use these questions to kick off the group discussion. The rest of the girls and I talked about why even the most committed among us don’t show up from something that we know will be beneficial because we are “in the mood” for something else. 

"It’s easier to pretend something is not important when we are having an off day or are lonely and need to feel connected.  But we always kick ourselves after when we miss out," one young woman concluded.

"I think it’s a way we self sabotage, we get comfortable with staying the same. I had a bad day today, I didn’t want to be here at first, but I’m here because I think about this stuff… I showed up because I’m tired of not showing up for myself.”

This brings us back to critical thinking.

This young woman got me thinking. She has managed to learn to think things through. She looked at all the possibilities and then made a decision that she would not have in the past.

When in life are we taught to think critically? Is it when we are going to school and told to memorize our textbooks so we can pass an exam? Nope. Is it when we are told to not break the rules because, well, “that’s the rules”? Nope. Is it when we open a magazine to see what we need to wear this fall? Nope!

Part of the work I do is teaching girls to be literate. Literacy includes critical thinking. When we think critically we learn to self-evaluate, take a look at the impact of our choices and make the best possible decisions in life.

When we teach young people to think critically we provide that allowed space for them to be healthier adults. When we don’t teach critical thinking and a space to explore possibilities we cut off their ability to have insight and evaluate rationally.

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