Becoming a Woman Worth Watching
By Lauren Mendez
When you think of a “good woman” - what comes to mind?
I have grown more in the last two years than I have throughout my entire life. What I attribute the high intensity growth to is that in these last two years I became 1000% brutally honest with myself and started holding myself accountable for every action, thought, and word that came out of me. So many times, we see people telling everyone willing to listen, “I’m growing/working on myself,” but then turn around and let our actions or words speak a total different tune. I was one of those people, and anyone who knows me knows that. I love my friends for allowing me to be human and have set backs in my growth, because one thing I know clear as day is that you cannot make a change within yourself unless you invest 100% in yourself.
For so many years, I knew I wanted to make changes to myself, but I didn’t hold myself truly accountable, and I was embarrassed to admit there was so much about myself that needed a change. So often we hear the age-old saying “this is how I’ve always been, I can’t change who I am,” which I used to be guilty of saying, too. Back then, I genuinely believed that if my friends were my real friends, they would simply accept me for who I am - through the good, bad, and the ugly. Although that sentiment is true - it becomes a bit harder to agree with when your bad and ugly is outshining your good.
I have gone through so many identity changes in life, as many of us have, but the one that I think is worth sharing the most is my mid-twenty identity change because it took getting there to realize - “Girl, you are a mess.” Being a person with a big heart is a gift and curse. A gift in that you have so much love to give, but a curse when you run yourself on E (empty) trying to fill so much love into others outside of yourself. The reason I choose to share this portion of my journey with you all is because if you don’t remember anything else from this piece, remember this: YOU CAN’T DRIVE A CAR THAT’S RUN OUT OF GAS.
During my early twenties, I found myself settling for guys who were not refueling me in any way, shape, or form. I would give so much love and get the bare minimum in return. Why was I okay with this, you may ask? Because I had not yet realized or affirmed my self-worth. I remember so many times meeting a guy who would sell me a dream of what could be, when the reality was always way less glamorous, but I’d stick around because, as women, we often lead with emotion and, more often than not, think we can change someone. The truth is, we simply can’t change people who don’t want to changed and by remaining in situations like that, we continuously allow small pieces to be taken from us until we are left empty again. The younger version of myself, like most young girls, was searching for attention and the feeling of belonging. But oftentimes, we have trouble navigating what is good attention and real love versus what is artificial attention and convenient love.
When we are young, it’s easy to put up these smokescreens that make our lives seem great when in reality we are running on E. Ms. Lauryn Hill said it best, “How you gon win, if you ain’t right within?” My tank was on empty, from the guys I dated to the girls I surrounded myself with. No one was refueling me - including myself.
It is not until you meet women who want to see you shine, who want to push you to grow, who are there for your highs and lows - that you realize just how much you allowed the people in your past take from your soul.
Fast forward a bit to December of 2016 - my best friend and I were driving and engaging in great conversation, as we always do, and we got to talking about just how many women we knew in the Bay Area that we felt experienced the same things we experienced but maybe just never had the setting or opportunity to meet one another. We talked about how it would be so amazing if one day we could get all these special women together to just talk. We could share experiences, make new friends, talk about life and everything that comes along with being a woman in this generation. I remember a few weeks later, I could not stop thinking about that conversation and how I felt a little voice in my head that kept telling me, “DO IT!” I texted my best friend and told her my crazy idea to put together an event in three weeks with no prior promotion or even a fully developed idea of what it was going to be. Being the amazing friend she is - she was 100% supportive and ready to help me in any way I needed, even if we were going to crash and burn. She supported my vision and I can never thank her enough for that. It was her support that pushed me to finally stop making excuses and make this vision a reality. In January 2017 was the very first #GirlTalk event. I remember feeling like I had to beg girls to come and give this event a try, because for them it was new, it was unknown, and probably a bit scary to think of attending an event where they didn't know anyone. The very first #GirlTalk was held in our small apartment living room and our nerves were high as we waited for girls to arrive.
I remember so vividly that first knock of the night, it was a total “oh shit this is happening” moment but I knew two things for sure that night - I wanted to create a space for women where they could let their hair down and feel comfortable around other women, but more importantly, I wanted to build a sisterhood that not only motivated me to grow but gave other women the encouragement to do the same. Now, a year later, the fact that I have to have a “capacity” at my events, the fact that I have a waitlist of women waiting for a spot to open up, the fact that in 24 hours, 35 girls from all over the Bay Area signed up to be a part of what,at one time, was just a vision from a conversation with my best friend - there are no words to explain the joy I feel. I get asked almost daily sometimes - “What is #GirlTalk?” and for some reason I struggle with giving a direct answer and that’s because what #GirlTalk is to me can be totally different than what #GT is for another woman - and that’s what I want. I want women from all walks of life, women who may never have had a conversation - to come together every other month with a few goals in mind:
- BEFRIEND NEW WOMEN!
- Work on bettering themselves (whether it be mind, body, or soul)
- Get out of their comfort zones and be open to new experiences that may change your life for the better
#Girltalk was created with these goals in mind, but it was also created to hold myself accountable in truly investing in bettering myself and, in that process, inspiring other women to hop on this journey with me. I don’t paint false images and want the women that join our sisterhood to know that they’re going to have bad days where they aren’t happy with their actions or words, BUT the highest form of growth is immediately identifying that and moving forward in the right direction.
I am still very much a work in progress and am 100% okay with that. I am growing daily and love the person I am becoming. Working on yourself is the hardest project you will ever be assigned in life but man, I promise you the final product is worth every obstacle. It doesn't matter who you are now or how you have been your whole life - it is never too late to make a change for the better. I am a walking testament that you can achieve incredible change and you should never have to do it alone - become a woman worth watching - I promise you won’t regret it.