The 5 Things I Learned at the Girl Boss Rally

Hey friends! So, it’s been a bit hard for me to sit down and write about the Girl Boss Rally and it took me a while to realize why that is. I tossed a lot of ideas and excuses around in my head--maybe it’s because I’m not disciplined enough (this is very plausible), or the ‘I’m too busy today, I’ll do it tomorrow’ excuse definitely popped up more than once, too. It took some digging below the surface a bit to realize what truly was holding me back and because I promise to always keep it real with you all, I wanted to share. I always seem to get hung up on the topics I care the most about when it comes to my writing, especially the ones that require me to dig into something deeper (funny, because I had to do that to even realize this); the topics that I feel like could really be impactful, because of the way they’ve impacted me.

My day spent at the Girl Boss Rally left me feeling inspired but also insecure about my place amongst all those amazing women. I got to hear about what confidence really was and listened to amazing women talk about topics that women don’t usually talk about. I got to listen to the editor in chief at Teen Vogue speak--that alone was unreal. Teen Vogue was the first magazine that made me fall in love with creative content before I could even explain that was what it was and I still have all of my Teen Vogues stacked up in my room refusing to ever throw them away (despite them making me appear as a hoarder)!

I also left missing my mom, a lot. It was totally the type of event where I would normally pick up the phone and call her, telling her everything and explaining that I didn’t bring a resume/business cards, which sucked. She would have pointed out the good in all of it and celebrated how cool it was that I got to be there.

I think the combination of all these things left me with major writer’s block, but I forced myself to sit down at my computer and just let it flow. So here it goes...the 5 things that I learned from the Girl Bosses:

1. Confidence vs. Self Esteem

As women, we know the struggle of not feeling comfortable in our own skin, whether that means our bodies or our gifts. I’ve always felt fortunate that confidence has been something that has come more naturally to me than other women I know, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle to know my value. My mom did the best job of teaching my sister and me to love our bodies, after she struggled for a long time with an eating disorder. As she grew older, I saw her love herself and be confident in a bikini (even if she wasn’t a size two) and I honestly didn’t realize how much this shaped me until recently.

The number one thing I learned from the Girl Boss Rally came from the panel “Cultivating Confidence in a World that Stomps Daisies” with Dr. Lauren Hazzouri, Tess Holiday and Joanna Coles. Y’all, if I could find a way to transcribe this whole panel for you, I would, because their words were powerful! I would highly suggest paying the $65 for the digital rally to hear this talk--but I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite points below for you either way!

First, Dr. Lauren explained the difference between confidence and self-esteem. She said,

“There’s a huge distinction, though we can have a lot of confidence because we can be really really good at doing tons of things and still feel like shit…self-esteem is the huge deal--self-esteem is confidence in your own value…You have value because you are”

I mean mic drop, am I right?! I think it’s so easy to mix up confidence and self-esteem, or even intertwine them, and feeling confident in yourself doesn’t happen overnight.

Each of the ladies talked about how it’s a journey to feeling self-confident and that you shouldn’t wake up feeling like you are a rock star every day. You must continue to push forward and remind yourself of your value! Tess Holliday, who I felt beyond lucky to be in a room with, talked about the importance of having grace with yourself and to remember that it’s okay to not be okay. I also loved Joanna Cole’s point that if we felt amazing every day, it would be boring because it wouldn’t be human. She also said that her way of being confident is by doing the work and being prepared in whatever that is for her at that point in time (and we should, too)!

The main point I took away from this panel was that confidence is often societally-based more on our outward appearance and it has a lot to do with loving our bodies. Self-esteem is about loving YOU and who you are on the inside. Once you have the self-esteem on the inside, your confidence will shine through to the outside! And remember that every day, even every moment, can always be a fresh new start!

Stop what you’re doing right now and write down what you love about yourself physically AND on the inside, because I promise you, girl, there are a million things!

2. Success Starts from Within

The Rally was kicked off by Sophia Amoruso and then handed off to the amazing Gabby Bernstein, who has been a girl boss for the last 17 years (and was only 21 when she began her journey to becoming a total badass)! In her keynote, she offered her wisdom on how she got where she is today--and of course, it didn’t come without struggle, risk, and lots of bumps in the road. Bernstein talked about how she was “seeking success in all the wrong places” and how it was a never-ending cycle of trying to get that next high that she thought would make her feel like she had achieved what society deemed as success.

Bernstein has her own unique take on the phrase ‘success is an inside job,’ as she realized that appearance and outward confidence alone wasn't going to get her anywhere; she needed to look inward to find what was going to make her feel like she was accomplished and worthy! Throughout her keynote speech, she rewrote the lies we all believe about success: the more you push the more you succeed; it shouldn’t be easy, fun, or feel good; you can’t say no; you have to be everything right now; and, it all needs to be planned out perfectly.  

She combats each of these five lies with a truth that we all need to start believing. The first is that success really is an inside job--you have to listen to yourself and what you love in order to get where you want to be! The second is about being intentional and taking your time to know how you want to feel--what you want the outcome to be and what the intention is behind what you are doing. The third is speed up by slowing down, and let me tell you, she was speaking my love language with this one--make self-care a top priority. End of story. It’s always worth it. The fourth is taking lots of small correct actions. This is one that I want everyone to pay extra close attention to, because I really needed to hear it. In starting my blog, I’ve found myself craving to be instantly successful or where all of my favorite bloggers are, which leads me to stress and be anxious. She emphasized that comparing ourselves to others will always be the wrong way of going about things, and if we could just be in the moment focusing on our own next move, we would be a lot happier and care-free in general. The fifth and final key to success, according to  Bernstein, is having an ‘eff it, let’s do this!” mentality. She encourages you to trust your gut and to follow that spark of inspiration when you feel it--not everything has to be perfectly planned out to be a success! To me, her speech felt the most applicable out of all of the panels I heard that day because each one of her 5 steps felt like something I could actually do or change.

Is there a lie about your personal success that you are still believing or that’s holding you back...? I think it’s time you joined me and we swap out those excuses for the truth together!

3. Burnout Leads to Boredom

We all know that burnout can most definitely lead to boredom, and I think this was the one point that really hit a chord with me. In one of the panels, with Elaine Welteroth, Leandra Medine, Whitney Wolfe Herd, and Moj Mahdara, they were talking about how to sell yourself and not your soul. It was a huge topic to cover, but boy was it a good one.

It’s scary the number of people around my age I know who already feel burnt out in their everyday lives, and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t ever felt like that, too. There are a multitude of things that can cause us to want to give up, to feel uninspired, and to be over it. But before these ladies brought it up, I never realized how much boredom plays a role in me wanting to throw in the towel. I think when we get bored and/or overly-comfortable in a situation, we become complacent, which can stop someone in their tracks if they’re on a path to pursuing what they’re passionate about. Elaine Welteroth talked about how at Teen Vogue, she was bored of putting out the same content every month, so she pushed her team to produce something new that would be more meaningful and socially-relevant. She took Teen Vogue in a more political direction, not knowing if it would flop, but it ignited something in her to keep on going.

We have to find a way to push ourselves, to keep leaning into our creativity and never stop being curious! If you feel bored in what you are doing, or burnt out, sit down and make a list of what excites you and find a way to incorporate those things into your life!

4. Talk about What Matters

Surprisingly, one of my favorite panels was the one on finances and talking about money. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have the best relationship with money. I think there are three types of people out there: people who overspend and treat money like it grows on trees; people who don’t ever like to spend money; and then there are healthy people who have the perfect balance of spending and saving (please teach me your ways!). No matter which category you feel like you fall into, the lessons I learned at the Girl Boss Rally, I got to hear from Sallie Krawcheck, as well as more badass women, talking about why we as women need to start speaking up more about our own finances. For so long, money has been a hush-hush topic when you are in a group of women. Honestly, in the least man-hating way, I feel like we have let our financial futures be handled by men and that needs to change. That doesn’t mean that women necessarily have to manage your money and that men don’t know what they are doing, but rather, regardless of who you decide to let manage your money, you personally should have some knowledge of what is happening.

When was the last time you talked about money with your girlfriends? I know that I personally don’t usually discuss my finances with my friends, but I promise to start and so should you! It’s SO important that we talk about what matters--whether it’s money, sexual harassment, politics, or being open about what it’s like to be women--these hard conversations matter! I love when I can read an article that openly addresses women’s issues in a way that’s raw, honest, and humorous because what is life if you can’t laugh about the real things?

I had the privilege of attending with my sweet slash totally cool blogger & hometown friend Zoey! Check out her blog & follow her on Instagram. (I stole this photo from her... thanks Zoey!)

5. Lean into Who YOU are and YOUR gifts

Imagine yourself in a room full of about 500 women of all ages who have accomplished amazing things, from launching a foundation, to designing their own fashion line, to being a CEO of a medical company. Intimidating, right?! At the end of most panels, the floor would be opened up for questions, and a woman would stand up and announce who she was and what she had accomplished. Instantly, I would feel extremely insignificant to even be in the same room, but I realized that my insecurity was the complete opposite of the day’s purpose.

There wasn’t a single woman that spoke who said ‘you need to be this type of way,’ or ‘you need to accomplish this list of things’ to achieve success. Quite oppositely, they were encouraging everyone in the room to lean into who themselves and to their specific set of gifts. These women didn’t get to the top by trying to be something they weren’t, but rather, they slowed down just enough to listen to what it was that they were passionate about.

I had the privilege of hearing from Ashley Graham, who was one of the first ever plus-size models. She spoke about how modeling was extremely hard at first because people were always telling her something she could change about herself. It got to the point where she wanted to give up and quit what she loved, but in true mom-form, her mom pushed her to keep going forward with her modeling. From that experience, she learned:

“In that moment, I realized I had to change who I am because I had nothing except for what is right in front of me. I changed my voice, I changed the way I spoke to myself, and that’s how I found out what affirmations were. I am bold, I am brilliant, I am beautiful, I am worthy of anything I want”

Ashley could’ve easily given up because of her insecurities, or because she felt like she didn’t measure up to the people around her. Instead, she leaned into herself and trusted who she was, which helped her to flourish and positively impact so many lives!

Clearly, I took a lot away from the Girl Boss Rally! I truly apologize for the lengthiness of this post, but I needed to share with y’all the parts of my experience that have shaped the way I have been doing life since. I left feeling inspired, but there was also a lot of thinking and processing I needed to work through. It’s made me think about a lot of the things my mom always said to me--I don’t think I have a single card from my mom where she didn’t write ‘trust YOURSELF and BE YOU!’ Her words are a reminder that I carry with me always and being at the rally, I was reminded of what an amazing Girl Boss she truly was--my mom could totally have been up on that stage for the way she was fiercely herself. I’ve had this burning feeling inside since leaving the rally that I want to be held in the same regards that I looked at those women and my mom. I want to feel empowered in who I am and I want to encourage others to feel the same way!

I hope you found something in my (many) words that you needed to hear or resonated with you! I would love to hear your thoughts, feelings, or your story if you’re up for sharing with me! Please head to my contact page and shoot me an email--I promise to respond!

XO Sum

*Disclaimer most these photos were shot on my iphone 7plus, except for the ones I got from my friends Zoey, which are way better quality (insert monkey covering eyes emoji), so I apologize for the quality*