Someone once told me “when you boldly share your story, you give a permission slip to others to share theirs. “ I have learned this is so true.
I had the opportunity to be a panelist and speak to 200 girls at the annual back to school summit for the non-profit, EmpowerHERment Inc. I knew it would be fun, but I walked away feeling so inspired that I wanted to share some of what I learned from the other speakers.
The group was made up of business owners, political leaders, non-profit leaders and a doctor. All women.
I was most moved by the answers to one young women’s question, “have you ever been distracted from your dreams?”
The doctor talked about going through a divorce while in med school. Realizing she didn’t have the support system to help raise her two kids, she took a break from school only to find out she would have to repeat some of her classes when she returned. But you know what? She did, and today she is a successful pediatrician.
Another woman, who is running for city council, candidly spoke about her husband’s current battle with cancer. Even though he’s really sick, he wants her to continue pursuing her dream. You can only imagine the journey she has ahead of her.
And then there was the businesswoman whose mother committed suicide. For years, she was too ashamed to tell anyone, but she used the experience to push ahead.
The Executive Director of a non-profit spoke about her battle with alcoholism and how she tried to hide it for years. She eventually found the strength to recover and start Girls on the Run.
A young entrepreneur talked about the challenges of being young, black and female in a world dominated by men CEO’s. She sets her bar so high that her business (a natural hair care line) is getting national attention. She’s only 22.
And finally, I shared my story of becoming a mother at 19. Surprise! I spoke about how I pushed through college while juggling motherhood, marriage, internships and a job. (I’m divorced now) Having a son at a young age became my motivation for achieving my dreams of becoming a TV news reporter. This year, he starts his first year of high school and I am leaving TV to start my own production company, Stories To Inspire.
Each of us could’ve used those distractions to give up, but we didn’t. Immediately after speaking, people approached us thanking us for sharing our stories. It inspired them to share their stories. If we could overcome our challenges, so could they. I’ve learned that beneath the surface, everyone has a story. Boldly share yours.