As a teenager, I was a little…lost. I couldn’t figure out what to do with my frizzy hair or my big nose, and I had this incredibly unhealthy instinct whenever I walked into a new space to scan the room for all the girls, and then count how many I thought were prettier than me and how many I thought were uglier than me, just so I had an idea of where I might stand in the pecking order. 99% of the time, when I walked into a room, I would put myself as the least attractive person there.
Throughout my teenage years, I continued to stockpile all the feedback I got – both internal and external – that told me that I wasn’t enough. All the boys who weren’t interested in me, all the cool kids who didn’t want to be my friend, all the girls who I was never going to look like. There wasn’t a ton I had going for me in the self-esteem department.
But then, when I was 16, I participated in a sex education program through my Unitarian Universalist church called Our Whole Lives, and I don’t think I’m overexaggerating by saying that it fundamentally changed my life. Our Whole Lives is a lifespan sexual education program that provides honest, accurate information about sexuality while dismantling stereotypes, building self-acceptance and self-esteem, fostering healthy relationships, and improving decision making. For the first time, I started to receive messages that I was enough. And that messaging was coming from people that I looked up to – from my church community, from my sex educators, from my OWL peers. Every week, I was told that my body is beautiful, that sexuality is a natural, healthy part of life, and that my questions about sex are valid and important. It certainly didn’t quiet all the voices I had in my head telling me I wasn’t enough (s/o to all my past, present, and future therapists for helping me work through that), but it did give me a new narrative to try out: that I had inherent worth and dignity just the way I am, and that I deserve to make healthy, well-informed decisions about myself, my body, and my relationships.
Now, more than 10 years later, I am still feeling the effects of the OWL program as I navigate my way through my life and my relationships. I’m also a certified OWL facilitator and an (uncertified) OWL evangelist. Throughout my counseling career, I continue to find ways to integrate the values and lessons of the OWL program into my work – values that, as it turns out, are very much aligned with Imago. I’m excited to be able to use my time at The Imago Center to be able to create and facilitate two new groups that will draw from my OWL training, my Imago training, and other counseling experiences.
Contact or learn more about Samantha Steinfeld HERE.
Register for a limited group experience.
The group will run virtually every Wednesday, from January 12 through February 16,
from 7 PM to 8:30 PM.
The group will run virtually every Thursday, from January 13 through February 17, from 7 PM to