It's been a week since I attended the 21Ninety's second annual EmpowerHer conference. It was truly a life-changing experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I remember the day that I bought my ticket, and I thought I wasn't qualified to attend. Thinking to myself, "I'm only a college student; I'm clearly too young; I haven't even accomplished the least of what these other women are doing." I really doubted myself and almost made me believe that I didn't have the credentials to attend. However, I made the right decision in purchasing the ticket because I've learned so much, but, more importantly, I learned that I am a creative (regardless how comfortable I am in saying it) and I have the tools necessary to take myself to the next level.
There were many gems dropped, and I've been reflecting on them throughout the week. Ok, I've actually thoroughly reflected on them only on today. My summer job is very stressful, so it really drains my energy and creativity, so I haven't appropriately set out time to think about everything that was said at the conference. But, because I have this weekend off, I can concentrate deeper on the notes I took.
SELF-CARE IS THE BEST CARE
One of the most important pieces of advice that I learned was the emphasis on self-care. Nearly every speaker spoke about the importance of having a routine simply for yourself. "Living your best life" was the theme of the conference, and you cannot live your best life if you don't start off your day right. I'm really trying to do this. Since I've been out of school, my daily routine has been limited to working out, re-watching "Girlfriends", and a shitty job that has really gotten the best of me (the first two are good aspects of my routine; the job just makes me not want to do those things and more, sometimes). I really dread going, so I just have this gray cloud lingering around me in the morning. However, I realized that if I just got up a bit earlier in order to have this sacred time to myself before going into work, my energy won't be wasted on the tasks at my job.
Zim Ugochukwu, founder of Travel Noire, talked about her personal morning routine. She mentioned how her routine includes reading the Bible (and other books related to it), eliminating distractions (especially social media) and meditating. She discussed how the day will flow easier if you have this time for meditation before going into work.
BE YOURSELF AND THE COINS WILL FOLLOW!
Another gem that I learned was the importance of being true to yourself and brand. Kyra Kyles, the former editor-in-chief Ebony, talked about this during the Black Women in Media Panel (the one that I was obviously the most excited about). She addressed the question of thriving in predominantly white spaces by stating that you simply have to be strong in yourself in order to withstand any degree of oppression within the work environment. From a journalist perspective, she talked about how you need to be strong in yourself regarding your money. With the recent layoffs at Huffington Post, TIME Inc., ESPN and Ebony, freelance has unfortunately become a reality for writers. However, freelance doesn't imply free, and Kyra Kyles expressed that (and was received with a giant "YAAAAAAS" and a couple of snaps from the audience). She said that you don't have to beg for your money. Writers deserve to be compensated (I will definitely reflect on this as I further my career as a writer). Collect them coins.
Lena Waithe, producer (whom I just love watching on "Master of None"), touched on how it's ok if you don't have all the coins. She mentioned that being your talented self will trump money, "If you want to be viral, go be great". I learned that I shouldn't be too concerned about what's in my bank account when creating, especially as a college student. If I just be myself and do the best with what I have, the success will come.
YOU'RE NEVER TOO YOUNG
I think the biggest lesson I learned from this powerful conference is that you're never too young to start your career. Before going to the conference, I really wanted to link up with college students because I knew there weren't going to be a lot of us there. With no responses to my request, I knew that I would probably be the youngest attending the conference. It was a bit intimidating at first because there were so many creators and innovators that I felt I couldn't compare with at all. I know comparison is literally the worst thing to do, but it's hard no to when everyone else is older and more established than you. However, it was refreshing to hear "Wow", "You're on the right path", "Keep goin' girl!" when I told people that I was 18 and just finished my first year of college. I think being the youngest in the room was an advantage because I could soak in all of the wisdom and knowledge from women whom I aspire to be.