Never Let Them Stop You

My universal advice as a coach to teenage girls facing exile from their tribe.

“Is it not true that in ancient times the worst punishment of all was not death, but banishment?” — Jean Said Makdisi

Exile is devastating for a teenage girl.

The trigger is often something adults think of as silly: dating a former boyfriend, being too good at something, saying the wrong thing on social media or even a simple disagreement.

The power of the tribe is nearly absolute. Punishment is swift, often vicious and without remorse in both the real and online worlds. Social media networks amplify the effects to soul crushing levels.

What would I know about this?

My daughter was exiled more than once. At least one girl I coach every year in high school gets the same treatment. The conditions differ slightly, but the story arc is always the same.

The message I give is rooted in Stoicism:

You are not a bad person. You made a mistake or the other person is being unreasonable. You are both human, and human beings are often a mushy mess of emotions and irrational acts.

You cannot control the other person’s actions. You want to convince them no harm was intended. You want to make it right. But drunk on the power of the tribe, they are not open to hearing you. You must accept this fact at some point.

You CAN control how you respond. Submit to the will of the tribe and you become less. You give up what you love. Choose to leave the tribe for another and you walk a lonely path for a time. It’s an act of power... a vote for yourself, but every act has a cost.

Such a message is difficult for any teenager to hear. There is no easy way out. Parents and coaches cannot apply an easy fix. Moments like this bring girls to a precipice where a single decision can direct the course of their lives.

They have taken so much from you. Will you let them take this away (the sport you love)? At some point you must stand up and fight for what you hold dear.

Don’t let them stop you... now or EVER.