After almost every interaction I’ve had with non-profits and leaders, I was reassured that my majors will not determine my future career and life. This feels comforting and makes me hopeful. A few of the awesome women included had started off as teachers, which is what I hope to be for a good portion of my life. They changed routes and I wonder if I’ll do the same. Many of the women had emphasized that we see our life as a ladder, a linear process with an X amount of steps. Prior to the conference, I honestly viewed my career and life in this way. It felt daunting and constantly made me question my worth and ability in society. Now, I see that change will constantly flow in my life, mistakes will occur, and I will get stronger. Mistakes and changes are typically unwelcome and viewed in a negative sense, but now I welcome the two because they can teach me and guide me to where I need to be!
Asking for help, especially with big projects like building an app from scratch or starting an impactful organization is necessary. I have learned that I cannot accomplish everything on my own, and that this is alright. The leaders had taught us to not be afraid of asking for help, because it will ultimately mean the world to find those willing to work together and be able to empower up to millions of people. Some will even do it for free! I thought this was only in the movies. After learning this, I feel a huge sense of relief. That rushed feeling that many of us have experienced, where there is a deadline to make change or develop or attend school or anything else, has for the most part decreased in occurrence.
The women we met had refused to be subordinate, submissive, and apologetic. Many not only asked others for help, but didn’t take no for an answer. One example of such a woman was Nancy Lublin, founder and CEO of Crisis Text Line. When it came to funding a cause, she was a woman who truly wouldn’t take no for an answer, because she didn’t ask. She had raised millions of dollars for one of her startups not by asking for handouts, sucking up, or praising, but by telling the people with money and power why they needed to fund her cause. She was insistent, strong, extremely straightforward, and just incredible to watch. She had the facts to back up her claims and demands, and ended up doing what many organizations can’t do very quickly. I hope to get the confidence to achieve such a feat.
The feelings that best describe the conference to me are centered on hope and empowerment. These women and organizations we’ve met had made failure and non-stop effort attractive. I want to spend my life pushing myself and others around me to end the status quo, to question the paths of least resistance, and be uncomfortable. Also, I realized that the process is more important than the end result. Many of these women had no clue where they were going to “end up”, and trusted themselves enough to follow their gut feelings, desires, and passions. They had told us how they are working their dream job, and it was evident! After this conference, I feel confident in being able to contribute to society. They have taught me that there is no cap, minimum, or range that we need define ourselves by. I know that I can’t change the entire “world” per se but I can be part of the global change, along with millions of others. We really need to empower students and peers to know that they are valued and listened to, because if they feel worth and autonomy, they hopefully can use it to improve the world.
Above: Ariana Barreto, Author at The Muse. She wants people to love their job and be successful at it. She believes that transparency and mutual respect is important for a positive and effective work environment. This company encompasses such qualities, and has shown me how inclusive and progressive a company can actually be in terms of intersectionality.