Erica’s Story as part of the #shebelievedshecould series
When I was working in Washington D.C. I was around a lot of powerful women and met up with some successful friends from high school passing through. During evenings out we always spoke about our journeys in life and how we got there.
One thing we all had in common is we all could speak about a time or two in high school where we were completely mortified by other girls. From no room at the popular table, eating lunch in the bathroom to being singled out for a false rumor. Ever felt that way?
I always told them one day I will bring them together; Authors, Politicians, Presidents, CEO’s, Directors at the White House, and other successful women to do a self-confidence building conference for high school girls. As a group, we needed to show them that yes there will be hard times but that does not define you! We need to teach them to build each other up and not tear each other down.
I said maybe when I am 50 and established I would put this on.
So my mentor in DC asked me, why wait? You have the motivation and connections now, so why wait.
It took me a while to flip my mind from the waiting to be more established and connected the “When and then” day dreaming to “Now and How.”
So I didn’t.
I used my event planning company to find computer space, I had a friend help me with the logo and I made the website and lined up the day sessions with speakers. My challenge was getting the students from all over the U.S. to be there. I would call the school principals and districts and they all said the same thing, why is it free and what am I selling. No one would believe this was just my dream to build self confidence in young women (to find the younger version of me, the little Erica) and help them see there is more to life the high school and the popular table at lunch. It was a true grassroots effort but I was able to reach out to young girls from church and back home and had their help with recruiting and input. In the end I had 100 high school girls attend and at the end I was speechless, I could not even get through my thank you speech. My mentor pulled me aside after and said “look at this room of young women, all talking and smiling, you did this and Smile, dry your eyes, you just gave birth to your dream, that is why you cried. Hold on to this passion and feeling because this is what you were made to be, a leader brining up younger versions of yourself. You been there so use that and keep on changing the world.”
This was a life goal, to find the beautiful, smart and shy young women who get stuck in that moment of shame by the mean girls and magazines and how the world makes you feel at 16 years old. I hit my goal at 26 years old and I could have never done it unless the women in my life supported and built my confidence up to the point that I believed I could and I did.
My goal is to bring this Young Women conference to Michigan and partner with organizations our there who are already doing this and making sure we hit those tender ages. Let’s rescue these minds at 14, 16, 18 years old and show them there is so much they can accomplish and no one’s opinion of you in high school can define you and your dreams.
Written by Contributor Writer Erica Pina. I am a Director of Fundraising for the Midland Humane Society. I have 2 amazing adventurous children and one on the way. My network of friends are all go getters and “ride or die” lol. I plan on starting my one event planning/fundraising company this January. I will never settle for mediocre.