I did responsible things growing up (for the most part) and appreciated stability, status quo and control. I really just wanted to be like everyone else. I set my sites on family, career, stuff- a house in a nice area and growing old with someone that had the same ideas. Then I ventured into non-profit work and it turned all of that upside down. Literally!
In 2006, I became the Executive Director of a non profit focusing on anti- trafficking work. The whole idea of this was totally uncomfortable, and I still don’t know why I did it. I think it was to prepare me or to set me up, if you will, for what I’m doing now. It’s easy to look back and see the lessons learned in the almost 10 years and how they uniquely prepared me for EPIC Girl.
In 2016, I leapt again and founded EPIC Girl (EG)- a girls’ empowerment agency focused on relationship building through education and mentoring. I was driven in this work because I believe so strongly that women MUST have a voice and that the things that scare us also propel us forward. Thus, changing us into the women we are meant to be. It has been the scariest and best, most beautiful thing I’ve ever done; Besides mothering my eight children (did I mention that?).
The girls and young women I love through EPIC Girl have taught me more about strength than I ever dreamt of knowing. The gains have been tremendous- more for me than them. Here’s my strength lessons:
1- It is true what they say about what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The girls I love have suffered major losses and great disappointments. But very few of them give up. They are survivors beyond what I’ve ever seen. They define EPIC and the whole idea that we all have a hero living inside of us. They make me brave because they fill me with hope for our future and a world that isn’t defined by boxes.
2- I’ve realized strength is going against the grain. I’ve had to face my fear of fitting in- wondering what people will think- will I be liked? When you work with teens they are always rolling their eyes, telling you that you smell, that your clothes are weird, that you’re irkin. The strength that I muster up every single day of this amazing journey just to walk in the room with even one teen girl- I can’t even explain it. But it makes me better. And when they love me back it changes my heart, my life and my direction. I never dwell on the momentary hurt that rejection brings on but instead I try and turn that into awareness. Asking myself what did it mean and how can it make me better?
3- I’m no longer afraid to fail. In fact, sometimes I welcome it. Vulnerability so often seen as weakness, actually builds resiliency (strength),and I’ve learned this from each girl I meet. I’ve given myself permission to be vulnerable in this space with them because it gives them the same permission. I’ve recognized that the things I used to run from (confrontation, shame, disappointment)- I’ve now learned to lean into. Recognizing that there are lessons to be absorbed; Embracing those lessons and taking from it what I can and then moving on. It takes strength to move on.
4- strength is also change. I had a lot of change growing up and though at the time I couldn’t see it- I do now. Change made me evolve into who I was made to be : a constant learner, a leader, an encourager, a MAMA to all my EG girls. I’ve embraced that at the core of each of us is the same desire to belong to something that matters. We allow so many things to separate us: race,education, religion, political affiliations, and the list goes on and on. But really we are all the same deep inside. Being open to difficult conversations with girls about their experiences has opened my eyes. Furthermore, being honest with them and with myself about my own biases & expectations has made me a stronger person; Thus, allowing me to fight for the things that I believe define real justice. I would have never been open to these lessons if I’d never experienced being the outsider myself- begging to be noticed and accepted.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my strength journey with you. It’s ever evolving, and I pray I’m always open to challenges that stretch me and make me stronger and better. I’m honored to have our girls and staff share their own stories of strength. In closing, I’d say ask yourself “what scares you the most” then go do that. That’s where you will find your passion and your purpose. Force yourself to take a risk. Leap!!! You’ll be better for it. In turn, you’ll inspire someone else to embrace their inner hero, lean into their true power and be the world changer they were created to be.
Founder/CEO & EPIC Girl[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”10px”][/vc_column][/vc_row]