stories and lessons

Click on a link below to read and learn from the stories about other teenage daughters.

About Allison:

Allison is a high school student who has very well developed nurturing and kindness muscles. If a friend is sick or in need, she is typically the one by her side or chasing down the ibuprofen. As she thinks about options for college, pursuing a degree in the medical field is definitely high on her list.

She is focused on doing well in her studies, works part-time, takes a leadership role backstage in a theater group, loves photography, and sings in a chorus.

Allison also lives with anxiety and terrible migraines particularly when she is under stress – which can be often in the life of a high school girl in most any Suburb, USA.

What’s Allison’s Brave?

Allison’s mom was often the one being called at midnight to pick her up from the sleepover because she couldn’t quite make it through the night. But the summer before she was entering high school, Allison had the opportunity to go on a week-long mission trip with her church. It was something she just couldn’t pass up.

Allison still remembers sitting in the car with her mom in the parking lot. “There were lots of new faces. I really didn’t know anyone well that was going on the trip. And we would be going to a new place 10 hours away. Homesickness had been a real problem for me. I had only been away overnight and sometimes had to be picked up from sleepovers in elementary school.”

And now here she was about to go away for a “whole week.” “I was terrified. I really didn’t want to get out of the car, but I did it.”

Allison spent the week working with children and the elderly at a day camp in a poor urban city. Although her family was very service-oriented, Allison spent most of her life in a protected suburban community so had never seen or experienced poverty firsthand before.

Allison shares what the experience meant to her, “The trip was the single hardest and most life changing experience that I have had. Some kids experienced a major ‘aha’ moment. For me, it was a series of small ‘aha’ moments and then it clicked. <The trip> made me realize that there isn’t anything that I can’t get through. That God won’t throw anything at me that is too big for me. I always believed in God, but this started me connecting my faith to my daily life. I also loved meeting kids from other places.”

Circa summer before senior year of high school: Allison will be going on her 4th mission trip, and she is thrilled that her younger brother will be joining her this year.

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway[2] changed Allison not only during that experience but as she traverses other challenges -- big and small – in her daily life.

How did Allison Get So Brave?

Allison opened the door to her mom’s car and found courage and perspective. Getting out of her car in the parking lot that day four years ago has given Allison a new view on what she is capable of accomplishing. If she could conquer a major fear (and keep conquering it), some of the other challenges she (like every teen) faces daily don’t seem insurmountable either.

Also, the children and elders that Allison worked with on the mission trip had pretty tough life circumstances. Getting a view into their daily lives gave her another type of per∙spec∙tive – a true understanding of the relative importance of things, a sense of proportion[3] – regarding her own life.

And finally, like so many of the girls that we speak with, Allison gives a lot of credit to her mom who “will always back me up and is always there for me.” As a side note, the leaders of the mission trip understood the importance of this support, and did allow the teens on the trip to be in touch with their parents via cell phones while they were away. Go to The Real Charm of Julia’s Life to read another story about the importance of having the support of your tribe.

What Can Parents Learn from Allison’s Story?

Allison’s experience provides such a striking example of what true courage is – not the absence of fear but moving forward despite it. What was also clear in her story is that Allison was the one making the decision whether she would take the trip or not. With lots of support from her mom, she decided to go for it, but Allison’ mom would have driven her back home if Allison didn’t get out of the car.

Ask your daughter if there is anything she would like to do or try but feels afraid to. Use Allison’s story as an example of what can happen when you open the <car> door, and help your daughter take a first step.

Allison’s volunteer experience also demonstrates how getting perspective can shift our thinking and remind us what really matters. Help your daughter keep perspective about her life by volunteering in your local community. Or even start by watching a movie. Soul Surfer is an inspirational film that shows what obstacle can be overcome when perspective is mixed with love and support.

Favorite Quote from Allison:

On the pressure to drink (alcohol) or take drugs:
“First of all, it’s illegal and expensive. I make enough stupid decisions every day without making it worse with drugs or alcohol. People seem to make really dumb decisions and are offensive <when they drink or take drugs>."

[1] One of my favorite “self-help” books has this phrase as its title. Feel the Fear and …Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers is targeted towards adults, but imparts a great deal of wisdom about overcoming your fears in big and small ways.

[2] See footnote 1

[3] Google Dictionary