When I think of women that inspire me, I think of my Momma. She’s fierce AF and never gives up. From losing my father in a car crash, to losing her business in the housing crash, to losing her home when hurricane waves came crashing in, she’s experienced a lot. She might lose her balance and get knocked down temporarily, but she always gets back up and stands stronger. I know part of what motivates her is to be a model for me. (Crying) I’m so inspired by her perseverance.
I empower myself by being radically honest. I’m an avid journaler, and every morning, I connect to the page to be real with myself. A few years ago, I went to a workshop with Cheryl Strayed, and she said, “Do you tell your journal the truth?” That hit me in the gut. So long as I’m telling myself the truth, and I’m acting and living in accordance with that truth, I feel empowered.
In terms of how I empower others, I take these truths and I write, speak and make art about them. A core channel for me right now is Instagram. It’s a playground for me to test ideas and turn complex topics about feelings and being human into simple illustrations. When something really resonates, I’ll dive deeper into it, and turn it into a workshop or a talk or a chapter in a book.
I want young women to know that you don’t need to have it all figured out. You don’t need to have all the answers. In fact, the whole point is to NOT have the answers. Life is a journey of asking questions and living to experience those answers. So get clear on what questions are guiding your life right now, and make sure they are worthwhile ones.
Is it, “How do I not mess up or disappoint others?” or “How do I make mistakes and put myself out there so I can learn and grow?
Is it, “How do I figure out what’s next?” or “What is my calling? What am I most curious about? How can I pursue that?”
Is it, “How do I get rid of these uncomfortable feelings?” or “How do I turn down my feelings to understand the message beneath them?
I’m ROARING for feeling our feelings and embracing our entire selves. Our culture conditions us to shut down and not feel, especially uncomfortable or “negative” emotions. Our power is in our feelings, and my work serves to be a bridge for women to tap into their intuition, feel into their bodies, embrace their full spectrum of emotion, and access the immense wisdom found in these places.
I want to be remembered for courageously walking the pathless path — facing fears, embracing curiosity, and opening doorways of possibility — all while empowering others to do the same.
“Don’t die with your gifts still inside.” — From my book, Choose Wonder Over Worry
Artist and Bestselling Author
No one tells you that when you roar, your whole body might be shaking in fear. Shaking at what’s actually coming out of your mouth and also being terrified of people in earshot of you respond to it.
With the push and pressure, at times, to stand boldly for the things we believe in, to defend our values, and proclaim our stance on issues du jour - I don’t think we talk enough about how frightening it feels to do that any of that.
I’ve found that in time as both a community organizer and government advisor that there is one wall between what we really want to say in any given situation and if we actually ending up saying it. That wall - fear - manifests itself in different ways:
- The fear of being ineffective - This is one I feel a lot. It’s led by the question, “What if I muster up the courage to say something I feel is deeply important, but nothing ever happens - or I create the opposite reaction of what I desired?”
- The fear of offending someone - This seems pretty straightforward and is closely tied to the first, but actually points to us valuing other opinions about our experiences over our own.
- The fear we’re the wrong messenger - The imposter syndrome creeps into our voice - doesn’t just stay in our head. It comes out in the question, “Who am I to say this statement?” Its when you believe there must be someone who has the same ideas as you and is smarter/more eloquent/more entitled than you to say it.
- The fear of our own voice - For some of us, we’re so used to keeping our thoughts and feelings inside, that when we finally voice them out loud it feels awkward, unfamiliar, and flat-out uncomfortable.
I don’t share this list as a brave guru or Obama-like public speaker. I write this as someone who has often had to share a hard opinion or unpopular thought, with my throat dry, my knees shaking (this really happens!), or with the blood draining from my hands.
If you ever see me at a speaking engagement and my voice has dropped three octaves, it’s because I’m pushing past my wall. My throat as lost all moisture and I’m speaking more slowly and intentionally to keep from coughing.
I’ve learned over time that anytime we say something from the heart - anything reflects our truth - it requires courage. It requires courage because what we’re actually doing is being vulnerable, open-heartedness is vulnerability.
In a world that feels increasingly judgemental, I think we all have an inherent sense that if we open our hearts and show what’s inside, it could lead to rejection and painful critique.
Here’s what I’ve learned speaking to decision-makers and government leaders all across the world:
- My opinion, perspective, and voice is inherently valuable...as is yours
- The more I hear my own voice out loud, the more comfortable I become with it
The more I hear my own voice out loud, the more comfortable I become with it
Each time I fight through the brick wall of fear, the more effortless it feels to hop over it the next time. Fear hasn’t ever really gone away when I speak on something important to me - especially to people of stature that I respect, but the choice to push past it has gotten easier.
This year, I am challenging myself to let my voice live outside of my head and put what’s in my heart out into the world. (This blog, for me, is an exercise in doing that.)
To you, the reader, my hope is that this year we all make the choice to stop being scared of our own voices. May we each become familiar, may we become friends with our unique sound. May we make breakthrough fear whenever it presents itself and encourage others, even show others, how to do the same.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Gabriele Almon is the founder of The Storyteller’s Summit which brings creative, entertainment, and influencer communities together to collaborate with do-good storytellers. Gabriele also serves as strategic advisor to numerous humanitarian organizations, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies around the globe.
Her passion project is Rise of the Bulls, which bring creative thinkers together to solve our nation’s most pressing issues.