Teresa Hoffman

Teresa Hoffman

Nobody likes to be wrong.

But, when did we all become so scared of trying something new or as the old saying goes “giving it the old college try” when faced with a new challenge or a situation in which attempt to answer to a question when we aren't 100 percent sure we'll be right?

For many of us, it could stem from our childhood.

Picture yourself back in elementary school. You're sitting in class and the teacher asks a question and you quickly raise your hand and provide an answer and learn that you are wrong.

For many of us, that may lead to internal embarrassment. You probably think all eyes are on you and that your classmates are snickering behind your back because you got the answer wrong.

That's how Alice Paul Tapper felt one day at her Washington, D.C., elementary school after she incorrectly answered a question about the largest ocean.

“When I realized I got the answer wrong, my face felt hot and my heart thumped hard in my chest,” she said. “I tried not to look at anyone as I sank lower in my seat.”

A short time later, her teacher asked another question and, despite the confidence she had that she knew the correct answer, she didn't raise her hand. Alice had already gotten one answer wrong, so she didn't want to risk experiencing the same feeling.

After one of the boys in her class got the answer correct — the answer she was going to offer — she realized something was happening in her classrooms. The boys in her class weren't afraid to raise their hands, while the girls were reluctant.

She later shared with her mom that she's sometime scared to raise her hand believed other girls in her class might be as well.

Her suspicions were confirmed as she talked to the members in her Girl Scout troop. That's when she decided to do something about it.

After talking with her friends, troop leader and representatives of the local Washington, D.C., Girl Scouts Council, Alice's idea of the “Raise Your Hand” pledge and patch program was born.

The message behind the program isn't to say girls are better than boys, rather Tapper wanted girls to be just as confident to raise their hand as the boys in her class, even if it means they may be wrong.

I first heard Alice's story while watching Ellen DeGeneres' talk show. Alice and her father, CNN anchor Jake Tapper, were appearing on the show to promote her book “Raise Your Hand,” which had recently been released.

The book is an extension of the pledge and patch program started in her local Girl Scouts troop. It was also a follow up on a piece “I’m 10. And I Want Girls to Raise Their Hands.” she wrote for The New York Times' opinion section in 2017.

Though geared toward school-age girls, I couldn't help but be inspired by Alice's message, so I picked up a copy of her book. It took me back to elementary school, where I, too, rarely raised my hand for fear of embarrassment of being wrong and made fun of by my classmates or disappointing my teacher.

I could have used the encouragement Alice gives in her book and as part of the pledge program and I'm sure there were many more girls like me.

As I read the book, I realized the message can be applied to grown-up girls — and even boys and grown-up boys — as well. Taking risks is a scary part of life and putting yourself out and speaking up when you aren't 100 percent sure of yourself is a risk we should all be willing to take from time-to-time.

You may not always get the answer right, but sometimes not always having the right answer will make you work harder the next time and, when given the chance, pledge to do your best and don't be afraid, as Alice says in her book to be bold, be brave and "Raise Your Hand."

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