A firefighter who later became a best-selling author, Caroline Paul believes we need not necessarily always shield girls from every challenge or they can grow up to be helpless beings, lacking confidence in their own decisions.
In a Ted talk, Caroline talked about how she was obsessed with Guinness Book of World Records as a child, and wanted to set a world record. “I had absolutely no talent. So I decided to set a world record in something that demanded absolutely no skill at all. I decided to set a world record in crawling,” she said.
Caroline bled and was in pain as she kept crawling for almost eight-and-a-half miles in order to set a record but in the process she learnt three things. “I was getting outside my comfort zone, I was calling upon my resilience, and I was finding confidence in myself and my own decisions. I didn’t know it then, but those are not the attributes of failure. Those are the attributes of bravery,” she remarked.
The speaker went on to talk about how she finally became a firefighter. “Friends, acquaintances and strangers, men and women throughout my career ask me over and over, ‘Caroline, all that fire, all that danger, aren’t you scared?’ Honestly, I never heard a male firefighter asked this. And I became curious. Why wasn’t bravery expected of women?” she recalled.
Talking about why parents need to raise girls as strong, independent women, Caroline explained, “The fear we learn morphs into all those things that we face and try to shed: our hesitation in speaking out, our deference so that we can be liked and our lack of confidence in our own decisions.”
“Finally, when your girl is, let’s say, on her bike on the top of the steep hill that she insists she’s too scared to go down, guide her to access her bravery. Ultimately, maybe that hill really is too steep, but she’ll come to that conclusion through courage, not fear,” she concluded.