Susie Orman Schnall
Author and Writer
3 boys 12, 13, and 5
Our mission at the Girls Leadership League is to contribute to more confident and sparkly girls. Looking back now, what advice would you give your teen/tween self about confidence?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. The only person who has such high expectations for you is you.
In my classes, we teach young girls to create a Friendship Recipe of traits they are looking for in a true friend. What characteristics would be in your friendship recipe?
Authenticity. Kindness. Humor. Honesty.
At the Girls Leadership League, we teach our girls the importance of accepting oneself even when you don’t feel so sparkly. How do you respond when you receive a compliment?
I just say, thank you. I used to be one of those women who toss back compliments. For instance: “Your hair looks so pretty!” “Yech, it’s so dirty I had to throw it into this messy bun.” Now, I just accept the compliment, smile, and say thank you. It’s a decidedly more pleasant interaction.
We believe pursuing a passion is a great way to build confidence for girls. If you had free time to pursue a “passion project” what would it be? (i.e. something outside your regular work and leisure activities like learning to knit, building a piece of furniture, etc.)
Dancing in a performance group.
An important skill we teach our girls is how to identify how you feel about a situation and ask for what you need to make it better. How good are you at communicating with others what you feel and asking for what you need with others?
As for communicating how I feel, that’s not a problem for me. I’m pretty self-aware and able to deconstruct my feelings. Add to that I’m an open book, and the people around me pretty much know what’s going on with me. As for asking for what I need with others, I’m more circumspect. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to meet my own needs more often, and deal with things, suck it up, say “whatever.” Of course, there are times when you need different things from those closest to you, and in those situations I try to be clear. I’m not too proud to ask for help.
Social Media is now a fact of life. Social Media … Love it or Love Hating It?
Both. I mostly dislike it but I see some positives.
What do you do to help balance your digital life and you’re your “real life”? Any tips to share?
I try not to open Facebook because when I do, I go down a rabbit hole. I’m endlessly curious and fascinated by how people live their lives and Facebook has it all on display (though heavily edited and curated, I do realize). But I regret when I spend more than a couple minutes on social media. I feel like it’s a waste of time. I do have to use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for work and I see a lot of benefits there. My only tip would be to think about “why” you’re using social media and to make sure it’s benefiting or enhancing your life in some way, not making you feel badly about yourself. I find for work, I’ll give myself little “study breaks” where I’ll go onto social media for five minutes and check things out to stay up with other authors and see what’s going on in the industry. I also don’t spend too much time on Facebook or Instagram and I don’t post too many personal things because I want to model that for my kids.
When you look out into the world, who do you see as great role models for girls?
Michelle Obama. And any smart women who don’t feel the need to post sexy photos of themselves.
We teach girls to embrace making mistakes. Can you think of a mistake that you made that led to great things – from learning something important to changing to a new direction in life?
Not necessarily a mistake, but what I perceived as a failure. I was unable to secure a literary agent for my first novel. Rather than giving up or putting the manuscript in a drawer, I began working with a smaller publishing house that didn’t require authors to have agents. I proceeded to publish two books with that publisher and I feel so proud of that accomplishment. I just landed an agent for my third novel and even though things didn’t work out the way I had intended originally, it was all part of my experience and I don’t regret it.
We see fear as normal and a sign that you are pushing yourself to grow. Do you have any tips for pushing through fear?
Fear isn’t a common emotion for me because I’ve never really been afraid to fail. There are so many good quotes about this, like “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”