Updated: May 21, 2019
Tell us about your career and how it all started?
I’ve always loved writing. I think I was 5 or 6 when I wrote my first chapter book. It was a horrible little fantasy book called Will Owin and the Sound of Danger. Regardless, I love writing. Fast forward to my first week of college when I was raped at a party I never wanted to go to. I wasn’t drunk, I hated fraternity parties, and I was simply sitting in a room getting my phone to charge before I walked home. That was 2016. In 2018, I started to write about it. I had brushed it off from the front of my mind but it was affecting me in ways I never realized. I was irritable, apathetic, tired all the time. I was going to a therapist but never wanted to talk about it. (I’m still working through my assault with her). But when I started to write about it, I felt like I understood that it was possible to honor your past, remember it even, and still protect your present. Once this began, I started sharing my experiences with other women and the responses were incredible. Women from all parts of my life were unloading their experiences onto me. They wanted to share, but there didn’t seem to be a time or place or space for them to share before I put my soul into their hands in the form of my story. Now, I am publishing my book and continue to get daily messages about what it means to other women to relate to someone else. I am graduating from college on May 10th and I never would have imagined I would be a published author right now- I love writing, but I’m studying neuroscience not English! But, I don’t think Sunflowers is the end of my writing career. I have learned the power of sharing my voice and what it can do to help me heal and help others bloom. It’s truly amazing.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
I have two sisters (and two brothers!!) so my take on sisterhood begins with them and extends into other relationships with women. Sisterhood is the energizing fire that you feel when a woman in your life stands up for what she believes in. It is the warmth of pride in the women around you and afar when they accomplish amazing things. It is the uncontrollable laughter that arises when you talk about the oddly cold feeling of speculum being shoved into your vagina, or when you send your best friend a picture of how long your leg hair has gotten. It is the tears you weep for the anguish of other women – when your friend has her heart broken, when your mother is ill, when your sister feels ugly – and also the tears of joy when a woman gets engaged, or your friend finally feels safe enough to come out. Sisterhood is a bond, nurtured by the love of simply being women, beyond race, class, sexual identity, country, or politics.
What's your personal mantra?
My personal mantra comes from the words of my grandfather. He wrote many amazing poems, one of which I have tattooed on my body. But one that is on my wall that I read every day:
Enlarge your life and its
perimeter ever further
extending it into the future
however battered it may
become – then you have lived.
When I read it, I think about how everything in life becomes an experience of the past. When you go on that horrible date that makes you question if you have social skills, you can laugh, knowing that you have a story to tell. Or when you are parallel parked and two cars block you in with inches to spare, after your frustration and possibly tears while you stop traffic trying to do your 50-point turn, you can run to your friend and tell her what you did. Each day brings new mileage to your life’s perimeter and that is an incredible thing.
What is your superpower?
I think my superpower is making others speak. In all of my retail and customer services jobs, in my research I do now, in random passings with strangers, people just spill their lives! I love it I truly do. I’m so happy I can create a comfortable space for others to speak.
Tell us about women that inspired you and your female role models:
First, how can I not talk about my mother who raised five children while zooming up the corporate ladder? She’s a breast cancer survivor, a mother, a grandmother, a fearless, courageous, remarkable human being who puts literally everyone before herself. But also, Dr. Patti Feuereisen who wrote an incredible book, Invisible Girls; Tarana Burke, the creator of Me Too before it was a movement; my friend and colleague Ashby Leavell who is a badass, powerhouse with the most amazing hair; and my sisters, Sara and Katharyn, who have modeled success, empathy, and love my entire life.
What would be your advice for women who are building careers in your industry?
To be dangerously honest. It’s the rawness of transparency that makes writing powerful.
One piece of advice for your 18 year old self?
Oh dear, my 18 year old self, please don’t be so afraid to speak up. In class, with groups of friends, with your boyfriend, wherever, with whoever, if you have the thought, say it! It truly is worth it to just share your thoughts.
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