STYLE PHOTOS CAPTURED BY: MYESHA EVON | EDITED BY NAILAH ALI

After a week of being more down on myself than I’d been in some time, I begrudgingly went about attending the two events I had tentatively placed on my calendar three weekends ago. I didn’t expect to get much from them as I wasn’t expecting to get much out of anything at the time. I’d officially fallen 16 feet down off of my intentional living attempts and was guided solely by my tendency to be loyal, even to a nice acquaintance, and curiosity — luckily for me.

Attending both Cornrows & Cocktails, and Brown Girl Brunch, was equivalent to two close friends dropping down a rope to assist me out of a ditch I’d fallen into. My first Brown Girl Brunch, in particular, was an experience that could be compared to one of those friends taking me home, wrapping a towel around me and serving me warm lemon ginger tea along with a shoulder to cry on — uninhibitedly. As one of the lovely brown women I met that weekend noted, it was the therapy session I needed to climb out of my slumber from the past week.

The event was by two literal rays of sunshine, Shell Martinez of Shell’s loft — at her stunning loft — and Shirin Eskandani of Whole Hearted Coaching and welcomed Renae Bluitt, founder of In Her Shoes Blog and the highly anticipated She Did That documentary is the featured speaker. This installment of Brown Girl Brunch was a vulnerable, engaging, and clarity-inducing gathering of black and brown women of varying shades, creed, sizes, and experiences. It was five hours of community-building and essentially being one with each other. We were all sisters catching up from having not seen each other for a long time. Shedding tears, and sharing our triumphs, fears, tragedies, and laughter over stellar food lovingly prepared for us by chef Shaw-nae Dixon. Her story alone sent shivers down my body.

If you couldn’t tell already, I was pretty moved by the experience, so much so that I wanted to highlight some key takeaways I left with that brought me much needed inspiration:

How you respond to what you’re going through is key to getting through it

Take it from me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given into that nagging voice in my head luring me into my version of a sunken place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to acknowledge challenges, feelings of pressure, anxiety and the like, but that’s as far as it should go. Acknowledging difficult feelings and giving in to them to the point where it becomes detrimental to your well-being and livelihood are two different things. If you respond negatively to the struggles you face, you’ll more than likely continue to head down a path of said struggle. Responding positively will more than likely yield positive results.

There is power in putting yourself out there when you’re feeling your lowest

I tend to live in my head quite a bit. This typically leads to me coming up with irrational stories and/or assumptions that pit people, life, and myself against myself — when in reality, the stories and assumptions are baseless. Write and/or talk out everything you’re feeling to the best of your ability. If you’re feeling pressures or negativity in your relationship, talk to your partner about how you’re feeling. You’d be surprised at how much just doing that takes that negative weight off of you.

The same notion applies to friends, work, and the like. Granted it’s smart to tread lightly and approach these conversations as rationally as possible because you can’t be prepared for how people will react when you put yourself out there to highlight the negative — but it’s always worth it in the end. Even if that means you have to lose a friend, your partner, or your job. You’re well-being matters more.

Beyond this, attending events like BGB where you’re likely to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who share similar struggles as you can be like, as mentioned above, therapy in and of itself. Opening yourself up to strangers can really put what you’re going through into perspective. It can humble you and remind you to be grateful of where you’re at in life when hearing the kinds of stories that make you wonder how someone got through what they did.

Consider taking a “Self Development Sabbatical”

I was introduced to this eye-opening phrase by one of the lovely ladies at the event. She is in-between careers and instead of wallowing in sorrow, self-pity, and participating in self-deprecating behavior, she’s chosen to approach the time she has off as a time for self-development. I was in awe tbh. I never really thought of approaching my downtime — that of which I experience more often than I’d like as a freelancer. Ever since I heard the phrase, I try my best to approach my downtime in this manner. I urge you to give it a try as well, and let me know how it goes!

Put it into the world and then move on

A key takeaway and gentle reminder from Renae’s presentation was to do away with seeking perfection. Put it out into the world as final as you can get it and LET IT GO. As a self-diagnosed perfectionist, this was inspiring to hear from such a powerhouse such as Renae. I feel like the idea of “perfection” is first, extremely subjective. Resultingly, seeking perfection is essentially a waste. What’s “perfect” to you will more than likely be seen as flawed by someone else. So put it out to the best of your ability and then let it go, sis.

Pat yourself on the back a little more, you’re doing better than you think, unless you think you’re not

One of the questions that the hosts asked us was to name one thing we are proud of doing. When I saw the question and proceeded to answer, much to my surprise, a number of proud moments came to mind. The realization reminded me of how far I really have come. I’ve done a lot of things in my life thus far that terrify a lot of people.

It’s easy to get so caught up in accomplishment and success that we forget to take a moment to recognize and be grateful for the things we HAVE accomplished. It all comes down to your mindset. Not to sound like a broken record, but if you think you’re doing great, those thoughts most likely are leading to actions that align to your great-doing and vice versa.

With that, I want to ask you the same question we were asked: What is ONE thing you are so incredibly proud that you did?

The dress I'm wearing is not available anymore so here are some similar-ish ones I'm currently eyeing

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