This last weekend, I attended the 30th annual National Conference of College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL), held at the University of Maryland. Every minute I was there, I found a new form of inspiration. There were the Women of Distinction awards, in which six women who are changing the way our gender is viewed in the world stood up in front of a room of 1000 college women and told us to embrace ourselves and our story, and to never stop fighting for what we believe in, because we will be the ones to change the world. There were other student leaders who would sit next to me in sessions and teach me that the sky is the limit when it comes to setting and reaching goals. There were many breakout sessions that left me more understanding in myself and in the way my leadership skills work. There was one huge safe space for anyone to speak their mind and story and feel welcome. I spoke about my struggle with anxiety in front of a room of around 100 girls and I was met with such an air of strength, love, and support. There was a room full of about 100 grad school representatives, making me more excited about my future than I’ve been for awhile. There were dozens and dozens of times we were told “thank you, thank you for being you.”
One of my breakout sessions was about personal empowerment and increasing your emotional intelligence of both yourself and those you surround yourself with. The two facilitators began the session with an object: a red apple. You see, every apple has a core. Maybe it’s a red delicious, maybe it’s a granny smith. Maybe it’s big, maybe it’s small, but no matter the color or the size, it is still an apple with a core. That core, that core is the importance: what holds the seeds, what holds the apple itself together. Maybe someone doesn’t like that one apple. Does that make that apple any less edible? Does it lose its core when one person decides they don’t like that apple? No. That apple is still beautiful, edible, and has a core. Now, what if it’s bruised? The facilitators dropped the apple on the ground, covering it in bruises. Even though it’s bruised, it’s still an apple, it still has a core. Now, what if it is no longer in one piece? The facilitators took the apple, faced the door, and chucked it, shattering the apple into pieces. Even though it was ripped to the core, it still has value, as the pieces are still there, and you can do something with those seeds. You can take those seeds lying by the door, plant them, and soon enough, you’ll have more apples than you know what to do with.
Now think about people. We, we are apples. We each have our core values, and no matter what happens in our life, no one and nothing can take those away from us. Each person is deserving of three values: to know that they are lovable, important, and valuable. No matter who you are, no matter what mistakes you’ve made, you are lovable. You are important. And you are valuable. I think each and every one of us need this reminder. Life happens, and it’s easy to forget that we are just as important as we were before things got complicated. It’s sometimes hard to feel lovable if you don’t necessary feel love, and it’s sometimes hard to see your worth in yourself if you feel like others’ don’t see it. You know what? It doesn’t matter how many others’ see it, or how many others’ remind you that you’re loved. Because, at the end of the day, no matter how bruised, how battered, or how shattered you may feel, you are lovable, you are important, you are valuable.
Don’t believe me? Repeat with me. “I am lovable. I am important. I am valuable.” Now, say it five times, scream it while standing on a chair. You have to believe it now, don’t you?
“YOU are necessary.” -Elizabeth Acevedo, NCCWSL 2015 Woman of Distinction
Never doubt yourself and what makes you, you. You are who you are supposed to be, no matter what anyone else tells you, no matter what anyone else thinks of you. Yes, maybe someone’s apple is just a little bit riper than yours, but that doesn’t mean your apple is any less important, any less necessary. So, don’t be afraid. Be yourself.
So repeat with me now.
“I am lovable. I am important. I am valuable.”
Now, don’t forget that you are.
“It’s never too late to become who you are meant to be.” -Amanda Simpson, NCCWSL 2015 Woman of Distinction