I wish I knew then…

Just over a year ago I was asked to appear at an inspiring event for young women held in Melbourne. The presentation I was to give was an hour in duration and pitched to 100+ seventeen year old girls attending a summit style event for called “Girls And Their Inner Strength“.  The initiative was created by the 17 year old students themselves and brought together attendees from three of Melbourne’s all girls schools.
The students created and planned the entire event, organised speakers, goodie bags, discussions, forums and activities. I was to be one of the key speakers for the day.

It was an impressive project to say the least (I wish I had teachers that gave us projects like this back in my day!) and an awesome idea. The event was three months in planning and formed a large part of the students assessment for the year.

As part of my own preparation I looked to  Australian Girls in Gi  members forum for inspiration and insight … I asked our AGIG members what they would have liked to have heard at the age of 17.

Their reponses were absolutely beautiful. Inspired, I shared as much as I could of each comment during the event (given time restrictions). The attendees also received this information as a pdf document after the event.
I have since asked the AGIG members if I can publish this document, to which they agreed.
Well worth reading.


Nothing lasts forever – this shit too shall pass and on the scale of 1 day to a lifetime most things fade into insignificance with time.

WB: You are your only true judge. Others will judge you but as long as you are a fair judge to yourself you will bestrong forever.

KH: What you walk past is the standard you set. Applies to everything in life. From bullying and harassment to litter on the beach. From laughing at a struggling elderly person, to ignoring a child in need. Set the standard and don’t be afraid if you’re standing alone. Every good thought and action came from one brave person who decided to go in their own direction.

Ooh and I was keen on travel. So knowing you can travel and do jiu-jitsu all over the world and have an extended familyis really cool.
BN: Be true to yourself. Don’t give in to peer pressure. You are who you are, don’t let anyone change that.

WB: It’s ok to be sad. Don’t hide from it. Learn from it.

LH: Self defence goes without saying but I would’ve been interested to know you get to roll around with hot young men and be mates with them.

AR: A few of my key points.
1. Don’t dumb yourself down for boys.
2. Push yourself, you might be amazed of what you’re capable of.
3. Never hate on another girl for no reason. We have it hard enough without hating on each other.
4. It’s ok to make mistakes so long as you learn from them
5. You will fall. But always get back up

And most importantly…
6. Be true to yourself. Honor, integrity and loyalty.


ED: Know yourself. Understand yourself. Be yourself. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Don’t worry about anybody else.
Define yourself, don’t let others or society define you. Trust yourself. It will get better
Don’t try to fit in. Spend each day making yourself better for you.
There is a positive out of every negative, no matter how bleak.
Travel, grab as many opportunities as you can! Don’t put your life on hold for any man, if he truly loves you he’ll let you be.

AG: To always be strong, always pull yourself up and keep going, no matter how many times you get knocked down.

Every time you pull yourself up, you become this amazing person you can eventually look back upon and be proud of.

Always love, never hate xxx
BD: Anything is possible, persevere if you really want to achieve it; Body image, be happy with who you are; you are worth it, believe in yourself; Try your hardest at school, but if you don’t achieve the OP you’d hoped for there are still ways of achieving your goal.

Be kind to others, you just don’t know what battles they are fighting (Jess your success in a predominately male sport is inspirational and a great story in itself).

CM: Life is 10% of what you make it and 90%of how you take it. Attitude is everything!

DM: I used to believe in the power of women…that we all needed a community of women. And this is extremely true.But… we also need simply…community. Somewhere to go when life is just shit. Jiu-jitsu can provide that. It’s a place you can go where mistakes are expected, there is no ‘pretty’ & gender doesn’t (shouldn’t) play a role. It’s a place of freedom x

QE: Wow we are an amazing group. I agree with you all, my 2 cents. It’s ok to be gay it’s hard to come out but it willbe ok don’t settle be true to you.

SL: Know that what seems like the end ofthe world problems now, will some day be fun to giggle at, always respect yourself and remember what you want and what you need could be very different things. And lastly, my new favorite, don’t be a ‘do nothing b*tch’

BB: Learn to be by yourself if it’s not something that comes naturally. Eat fresh food. Walk. Breathe deep. Trust your gut instincts. Buy your own drinks. Find your gift and share it. Hug your mum and dad if you can as often as you can.

CC: Things I wish I knew:
1. No matter what you do, someone will hate you for it
2. travel and learn as much as you can from the real world books will teach you to be intelligent but not Street smart
3. don’t rely on someone else for your happiness… You make your own happiness…
3. Fitness and good food are of utmost importance for now and the future

Your body is capable of some impressive shit. Admire it, respect it and be confident in your skin!

And it’s ok to not want to have sex! Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you need to. Don’t let anyone pressure you into anything.

CC: To have courage and try the things that might scare you or things you think are impossible, because everything was impossible before it was done.

RG: Your body is capable of some impressive shit. Admire it, respect it and be confident in your skin!

RM: Wow… I think you should tell the girls you asked some of the most kick ass women you know what you should say and read out these responses…

KH: I’d honestly tell them to learn about tax responsibilities. Nobody told me anything about that hahaha

EW: I’m sure you’ve already written an inspiring section on this. but I’ll put it here anyway. The idea that strong women build each other up, not tear each other down.

TK: I would have liked to have learned about how a woman’s cycle. It affects our emotions and behaviors, that it can change us on a weekly basis. How food and exercise can affect that as well…Understanding our bodies, and admiring how different yet beautiful we allare… Encouraging complimenting each other…

BJJ related: That you can learn martial arts and have an outlet if you have a temper or frustrations and learn to manage them. That it can teach you so many things about yourself.
CB: Yes! EW view other women as a support and endeavor to be one yourself. There’s more to life than that final high school study score, but at the same time think about opening as many doors for yourself as possible, don’t limit yourself.

AG: Put aside 10% minimum from every pay

SADG: Life is really goddamned messy. Friends come and go, families shape-shift, priorities change, 30-something-year-old men hit on you and parents act crazy trying to protect you from the monstrosities of the world without realising just how much you’ve already witnessed, meanwhile you’re just sitting there, trying to figure out your calc hw, or that sweep from spider guard your coach just showed you. The point is that sometimes there will be no “right” choice, and others will judge you no matter what you do- so you might as well do what’s best foryou. It’s totally okay to feel your feelings, and sometimes you’re going to be embarrassed by the circumstances that you get thrown into, meanwhile remember that every experience, given the right attitude, can become an awesome story.

On a totally separate note, as a near-17 year old, I’m appalled by this sense of “normality” that my generation seems to hold so dear. It’s such an arbitrary term, like who determines what’s normal anyways?….YOU DO YOU. Sometimes you’re going to be the only girl in your physics class, or on the mats, and sometimes you’re going to be the only person who says, “no, that’s not okay,” and then there will be that moment when you’re the smallest, or the biggest, or the”weirdest,” or whatever the flavor of the day is, and eventually there will come a time when you realise that comparing yourself to others is a total waste of energy because they aren’t you. No one else has been in your relationships, had your experiences, made your choices, felt your emotions, had your motives, reached your goals, overcome your adversities, dealt with yourshit, etc. so no one else has the right to be put on a pedestal.

I so wish I knew about Brazilian JiuJitsu at 17!!!

DMW: At 17 I wish I knew that I was amazing and capable of anything. That life is hard but worth the hard work …
And it is great to be different..

Oh and I so wish I knew about Brazilian JiuJitsu at 17!!!

LDK: I’m 17. All I want is for someone tosay ‘You can do it’

BT: just what ever rolled off my brain maygive you some ideas: ‘Have’ to and ‘want’ to are two very diff things – learn the art of communication – you are entitled to your feels just as much as they are entitled to theirs – own your mistakes – never let someone make you feel bad for doing the right thing – ppl realise things when they are ready to, not just because you told them to. They will realise when their brain is ready to process it – look at a situation from everyone’s point of view – other women are not your enemy – the person you are today is not the person you will be in 10 years time, anything can happen – stop being consumerism zombies & think for yourself & realise what’s really important in life- everyone has their ‘baggage’, just make sure its packed – you only get one body to live in one body & it will last you your entire life, look after it – your iPhone is not the world, stop & look up – No is not a bad word, it could be the chance for a better opportunity – Be able to look back on your life & be able to respect yourself – Its not that you fell down its how you get up, again & again, if needed – If you never know what bad is, how would you recognise & appreciate the good stuff when it comes along – its not failure, its just a lesson learnt & you are wiser for it, there is no shame in this – Be honest with yourself – The easy road is not always the best road, there is no adventures or stories or achievements from travelling down it – beware of toxic ppl

EV: Love yourself

IBA: If you love don’t love and respectyourself, others won’t.

Do Bjj!!!!!! Hahahahahaha

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself”. George Bernard Shaw
AM: Cool question and great responses. It’s a tricky one, I can think of a tonne of advice but how much would a 17 year old want take on board?

One thing I was told around then that helped me was “life gets so much better”. The other thing I’d encourage anyone to do is to work on fear of failure. No one likes failing, but getting used to it and learning to learn from it makes you more willing to goout of your comfort zone. For me this applies to training, competing, job interviews, exams, relationships, pretty much everything.

Hope that helps and good luck!

CS: Do one thing every day that scares you. Or once a year but make it EPIC! You’re capable of more than you know – it’s only by challenging yourself that you will realise just how much more ispossible.

Oh, and success in nearly everything is 99% persistence. Talent helps, but awesomeness can be built by hard work. If you want something, don’t doubt – just do. and do. and keep doing

MB: Definitely self respect. And not having to live up to being’one of the boys’. Also trying not to be catty and bitchy with each other. That’s probably most of the advice I appreciated a few years ago. Oh. And not trying to impress people. Be yourself. People are always going to hate you. Just don’t stoop to their level or lose sleep over it.

ML: I wish I had understood that”no” is a complete sentence. If you are pushed, prodded or coerced to change your mind then remove yourself from whomever is pushing, prodding or coercing. They do not have your best interests in mind.

BH: ^^^so much yes to so many things already said! …specifically to my 17-year-old self, to understand that an abusive relationship doesn’t have to be violent (or violent enough to leave marks) to be abusive and learn to recognize one (which I was in) and to get the f&@k out of it!

Being a woman is not a competition!


ML: Oh, and that being a woman is not a competition. You are not competing to be the most womanly, or least womanly, or best woman. We are in this together, if someone does something better than youdo it’s an opportunity to learn. Don’t bitch about other women. we need all the allies we can get!

PP: Wow, so much wisdom in this feed.
My 2 cents worth- be yourself & staytrue to you.
People will give you all the reasons under the sun why something can’t be done, but with drive, dedication, and determination, and time, ANYTHING is possible!

ABB: That no one will remember your failures but you. Never let fear of failure stop you from trying.

RM: I wish I had been told ‘you don’t have to be ‘nice’ or ‘polite’ to people who make you feel uncomfortable. No matter how old that person is. That older men will try to hit on you and you don’t need to cop it, you can tell them to f*ck off’.

Stand up for yourself.

Walk away.

Respecting your elders is not a ‘thing’ if that person does not deserve your respect.
MS: I think this whole feed should be kept forever! I would tell myself Life is to be enjoyed the shit out of so don’t take yourself or anyone else too seriously. There are other details but basically do what you love and make no excuses for it EVER!

DC: If you’re not sure about doing something ask yourself would you like to read about you doing it on the front page of the newspaper?

Also, it’s ok to be different in whateverand as many different ways as you want to.
JF: LDK You can do it, you already are. Youare unstoppable.

LDK: Thanks JF. Means a lot.
KB: That u are never alone at BJJ and life is as fun as u want it to be do travel a lot the world is big and people for the most part are kind.

KS: That you are always a role model in someone’s eyes and that is incredibly powerful.

MW: Making good choices in life, that no-one stops you from achieving your dreams but yourself, don’t make excuses. Always believe in your own skills. Try to find what you love and go with it. Inspire others with your skills, never expect anything in return if you’re doing a good deed. Just be that person! Be Happy!

Enjoy life. Always take on opportunities when presented.

KM: I love you all!

I wish I had such strong and empowering role models when I was 17.
I guess I would’ve like to hear that I can do anything and that I’m not alone.. That we’re all in this together. And to face things head on, even when its scares me, because that’s when I shine and feel most accomplished.

KR: That its your journey and you alone live with the consequences of your choices….so choose wisely and do it for you…not your parents..your teacher your boyfriend…

BT: Good point made in this one…, young girls need to know their real worth…..”http://qpolitical.com/playboy-came-calling-and-ronda…”

SMB: Don’t let your thoughts limit your actions.. Trust in your intuition and go forward with confidence and grace…The answer will always lie within you.

EL: Never assume that you fully know yourself. You will ALWAYS be growing, learning, changing… and that’s OK! Open your mind, look out for yourself and for others and trust your instincts.Opportunities will always be coming your way, this way you can recognise and make the most of them

Also, regularly test your own boundaries.

Massive thanks to the Australian Girls in Gi members that contributed. Each time I read this I am inspired and proud to be part of a community that changes lives for the better.

Much love,

Jess Fraser
Black Belt
Head of Australian Girls in Gi

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