By: Lorene Belotti, Guest Blogger
Lately, one of my good friends told me when she was a little girl, she was hurt by her grandpa who used to say “your sister doesn’t take it lying down like you, she has character.” I was shocked by what she told me. In addition to the mean comparison, what he said was wrong: this girl is one of the strongest and upstanding girls I know, she stands up for herself and doesn’t hesitate to speak her truth.
It made me think about what it means to have character. Usually, it means you don’t let anyone push you around. It’s a mixture of bravery and boldness. It can be said in a positive or negative way, especially in France I guess, where it can mean that you have a bad temper.
So what does it truly mean, especially for a girl? What factors are shaping our characters?
I looked for the definition in the dictionary and here is what I found: “The character is the combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another, 2. Moral or ethical strength.3. A description of a person's attributes, traits, or abilities.”
I guess having character has a lot to do with our integrity. In a bad situation, when someone disrespects you, having character means standing up for yourself no matter what, to defend what you believe.
Today, because of social media, our behaviors tend to be modified. We’re kind of formatted, and told all day long we have to be like this or like that but especially not different from the mass population. Big brother is watching us and, consciously or not, we are a lot more careful with our image than before the Internet. Online, a lot of people can mobilize for a cause and if you disagree and express an opposing opinion on the web, you risk a big and rude kickback from very violent people cowardly hiding behind their screen. Moreover, what’s written on the web stays on the web for a long time, so it’s quiet a thing to trigger a big debate there.
Not fitting in the boxes, not thinking like right-minded people (elected by some elites) is seen as being apart and dangerous. Pain is the collateral damage for people who think they don’t fit (most of us). We can see the distress felt by thousands of young women suffering from eating disorders and obsessed with their body shapes because we’re told we’re not acceptable or beautiful or worthy if we don’t look like photoshopped models. What is character there? Where is it?
I believe being part of I AM THAT GIRL means having character because we’re not afraid of expressing our discontent with what society tries to sell us. We denounce the absurd standards of the fashion industry; we want and we know we can do great and beautiful things because we’re smart enough, confident enough, and good enough; we express our disagreement with worldwide tendencies toward competition over collaboration, to nastiness over kindness; we express what we want according to our values.
I guess we generally often make a mistake when we talk of having character. Expressing yourself and confronting your ideas with people who disagree shape your character. According to Michael Hyatt, the marketing experts and author, character is shaped by three forces: the relationships we pursue, the habits we acquire, and the input we consume. All of it is about challenging yourself to know what you’re made of. This is the key.
Having character signifies knowing yourself enough to be able to stand up for your values. It means being true to your higher personality, not true to the majority or what people expect from you. Sometimes, in public situations, some people can curb their ideas or they won’t declare their opposition to someone’s behavior because of this wide social pressure.
I assume character means action and moral autonomy. Showing you have character is being brave enough to speak your truth and behave the right way (the one YOU think is best) despite of what people think. Your character is who you are when nobody’s watching. It’s the authentic YOU. Being THAT GIRL means accepting being vulnerable to remain upright. It’s not easy at all but as Abraham Lincoln said “Reputation is the shadow, character is the tree.”
How do you define character? What social factors contribute to our understanding of character? Have you found yourself in a situation where your character was challenged or tested? Tell us more here!
Lorene is a French observer and learner of life. She’s been working as a salesperson and a marketing assistant for four years to learn the ropes of the business world. She used to be a sports journalist while doing her Master’s degree and she loves writing and telling stories about great people too much not to go back to her first love soon. She lives in the French Alps, and loves to try to solve the world’s problems while having a great meal with her loved ones. She is passionate about foreign languages, self-development books, American TV shows, and people. Oh, and she’s a total nerd of Academic studies (when she’ll win the lottery, she’ll go to Harvard).