I always knew I wanted to make a mark on the world somehow, someway. I’d shape young minds as a teacher or professor, enact helpful policy as a politician, or write the Great American Novel. What idealistic kid doesn’t want to leave her mark on the world? In college, I decided I wanted to change the world by studying the past.
I busted my butt and earned dual degrees in History and Anthropology. I joined the Young Women Leaders Program (YWLP) as a big sister mentor. The YWLP matched collegiate mentors with middle school girls to build relationships while fostering autonomy, community, and competence. It was truly a life-changing experience; I learned what valuable female friendships were and took on new challenges as I moved up through the ranks, becoming a group facilitator and eventually the program coordinator. Mostly, I learned how amazing, brilliant, funny, and insightful teen girls are.
As I entered graduate school, I put my mentoring days behind me. To those who have never been in graduate school: it is completely a time-consuming pressure cooker. Some days I didn’t have time to eat or shower, let alone volunteer. That said, I was determined to excel. I graduated with my Master’s in Public History (aka Applied History or Museum Studies) and my thesis, which addressed race and gender in American history, was nominated for an award. I had found my calling—I was going to change the world by creating museum exhibits and sharing history that would change the way people thought about the past.
I applied to hundreds of jobs. While kicking around between school and the rest of my life, I realized how much I missed YWLP. As I received rejection after rejection, always passed up for more experienced people (for entry level positions, no less, and no I’m not bitter at all!), I noticed how much I missed the support of amazing women and being around insightful, witty teens. Despite feeling like a complete and utter failure for my inability to get a job, I pitched my idea for a new business to a family member who provided me the seed money for MissHeard Media, a platform for teen girls to share their stories and connect.
Although I had failed at my initial goal, I discovered a new opportunity to change the world through amplifying the voices of teen girls with the goals of empowering girls, connecting them to a global community, and developing empathy and common understanding. Starting something new was terrifying as my background was in history, and not journalism or business.
I’ve convinced myself that every day is a learning opportunity, rather than a free-fall into worlds unknown. Over the last few years, I have learned that the first step is the most important, even if you don’t feel ready. There is no “perfect” moment to take the plunge into a new venture: everything else can be edited and changed and improved along the way, but nothing gets done without the first step.
To date, MissHeard has published nine digital magazine issues, maintained a daily blog, grown a large and engaged social media following, and presented workshops to teen girls and parents alike. We’ve developed amazing partnerships, attended some fantastic conferences, and have had opportunities I that I had never imagined.
When I couldn’t find a job after school, it felt like every door slammed shut and bolted in front of me. I felt like an utter failure, but I refused to admit defeat. Down, but never out, I used my toolkit to construct a whole new door. I didn’t fail, I’m simply carving a whole new and exciting path.
A KICK BUTT FORUM THAT AIMS TO INSPIRE, COMFORT AND UNITE INCREDIBLE WOMEN (& DUDES) THROUGH DYNAMIC INTERVIEWS