I wanted to kick off this blog with a mini project of getting some of the best 20-something female bloggers and entrepreneurs together and have them share their thoughts.
Sheena T. Abraham helps organizations tell their powerful stories and connect with key audiences through her work as a public relations specialist and photographer. She writes about life, leadership and personal success on her blog Red Sea. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @SheenaTAbraham.
Nina in Black Swan reinforces a centuries-old piece of wisdom: Know thyself.
You must break free from your greatest enemy — your own limited sight
of your rock star qualities.Here’s what Nina has going for her: she masters the art of being intentional.
She practices with robotic discipline to masterfully portray the white
swan. But this is the same side of her that for years had projected Nina
as timid and fragile, as a porcelain doll ready to break under the
weight of hollow perfection. She is so far from knowing her more human,
playful side — the black swan. She examines reflections of herself in
mirrors, subway windows and strangers and slowly breaks free from
constraints constructed by her mother, her profession and most
importantly, Nina herself. Our prima ballerina goes to extremes and
self-destructs to achieve both her roles.
The real-life takeaway: Relax and give yourself credit for who you are. Let
both the natural you and the more intentional you have their time in
How I Bring Out My Black Swan:
Nina, played by Natalie Portman, begins the movie immersed in her comfort zone- under rule of her mother, submissive to her dance instructor, in awe of her predecessor, and in a way, trapped inside an almost childlike persona. Her mental battle to break free of those internal barriers to achieve her Black Swan is graphically depicted, and though extreme, hits home to anyone ambitiously chasing their goals. In taking my entrepreneurial leap over the past couple of years, I have also had to abandon my comfort zones, leaving behind stability and an overall lifestyle. The entrepreneurial journey brings intense highs and lows, a mental rollercoaster, in which no amount of hard work or dedication will prepare you. To reach my Black Swan, I try to confront fear head on, just as Nina ultimately had to do in the movie. When scared to disappoint my coworkers and family, I addressed them each articles, Taking the Entrepreneurial Plunge and Dear Baby Boomers. When overwhelmed by the task of choosing the right growth strategy for our business, Bucks Happening, my partner and I pushed fear aside and moved forward by founding Happenings Media, LLC. Just when you think you’ve overcome the obstacle that was holding you back, there will be another to confront and each will be more challenging than the last. Don’t worry; this is a GOOD thing. The only way to truly grow is to break through your comfort zones. Accept the challenge.
Innocence as the path to self-discovery
At first glance people have always mistaken me to be overly innocent, overly sweet, judgmental, and therefore not confident. For the longest time I tried “changing my own personality” by changing the way others viewed me. Pretending like I liked going out, trying to wear more makeup and revealing outfits to seem more sensual, changing the tone of my normal “high-pitched” voice depending on whom I was speaking to. But none of these things seemed to work. At the end of the day I am who I am. The Black Swan inside of us can’t be brought out superficially. It’s the experiences you go through and the confidence you gain as a result of these experiences that help gauge the amount of freedom you exude from yourself. I personally came to terms with this after initiating my own independent projects, helping others figure out their passions, training myself mentally and physically by taking on a new skill every month, and making myself commit to something that I feared (i.e. public speaking). So for all you “sweet” and “innocent” ladies out there, just because you don’t have a rep like Angelina Jolie, doesn’t mean you can’t work hard like a badass.
Lisa Nicole Bell is an internationally known speaker, author, filmmaker, and social entrepreneur. She was named a Woman Making A Difference by the Los Angeles Business Journal, and American Entertainment Magazine named her a Hot Speaker Pick for 2011. Learn more about Lisa and her quest for world domination at www.lisanicolebell.com.
The secret to bringing out your Black Swan is knowing yourself. How many times have you heard someone say they were “finding” themselves? Life isn’t about finding yourself (Do you know of any place with a self on sale? Me neither.) Life is about creating yourself and then understanding that person inside and out. It’s about deciding who you’ll be and how you’ll show up in the world and then not letting anything – friends, family, society, pop culture – get in the way of you being the most authentic version of that person every day. After all, we’re all put here for a reason. We can engage in philosophical debate about religion, the afterlife, and other elements of our existence, but regardless of our opinions, it’s clear that we have tremendous power to shape our realities and live the lives of our
Knowing yourself sounds poetic and simple but it’s a daunting task for a twenty something, but the tremendous reward for knowing self is to wake up one day and realize that you’re genuinely happy with yourself and your life as you know it. That wellspring of happiness comes from the decision to be who you’ve decided to be, independent of anyone else’s opinions and responses. Even the parts of ourselves
that we claim to dislike should be honored. Denial is a recipe for disaster. Be your own best friend and honor your truth. Know who you are and never be afraid to own it and celebrate it.
How to bring out your inner Black Swan!
While the stress of achieving perfection ultimately led to our heroine’s demise, one lesson that I gleaned from the movie, is that as one gets in touch with their body, the more self-confident they become.
Ooh, we could really go in a more racy direction here… but today I’m focused on the concept of working out. After packing on the pounds during Freshman year of college, my confidence level was at an all time low. Working out was never a part of my daily routine (though somehow eating three bowls of sugar cereal was??), and the idea of stepping foot into the university gym was so daunting. Why would I want to get sweaty in front of guys that I might meet later that night? It took me awhile to get over my issues, but when I finally did, my confidence started to rise. Fitting into that first pair of smaller-sized jeans made me want to pirouette right into our dank college bar! To be clear, I’m not advocating the anorexic route espoused by Nat Portman and co-star Mila Kunis. But developing a workout routine and healthy eating habits will definitely boost your self-assurance and help you get closer to whatever your idea of perfection may be.
Believe. This one word can set the direction of your entire life. When you believe in yourself, you make things happen. It’s time to revolutionize the way you think about yourself: let go and be free, do what you think, engage in activities that make you feel good, surround yourself with people who think you’re beautiful, remind yourself how awesome you really are, and most importantly, show your sexy. Sexiness comes from within. Reach into your soul and find your sexy. You have it. Use it.
I, like many 20-somethings, do not want to settle for mediocrity. I have a fear of just “existing” and not living; I have a fear of just reacting and not leading. My black swan appears whenever I have those feelings.
My black swan is an artist. I found her in an uncomfortable position, where it was not easy to just be myself. My one suggestion for igniting your black swan is to get uncomfortable. Put yourself in new environments, interact with people you’ve never interacted with before, do something that sounds absolutely absurd.Then watch yourself as you react and as you change. I bet you’ll start to see your black feathers peeking out after a few tries.
We’ve all heard it before. Every woman’s magazine seems to hurl figures out each
month at us about the disastrous collision of raising a young woman to behave like a lady while also developing her skills for the competitive world we live in. In Black Swan, Natalie Portman shows young women how important it is to tap into all facets of your personality during those times when you really have to bring it, to win it. That seems to be the time when we must learn to embrace all that is behind our ambitions, and toss out any worries about others’ perceptions of our drive and motivations.
This struggle resonates with a 20-something female audience on so many levels,
in particular, women who are trying to find their way in an ever increasingly
competitive professional environment. The key becomes learning how to tap into
what your two sides are, because no two people are the same in this sense. But if
you take the time to carefully reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses you
will be that much closer to discovery.
Take a look back at time in your academic and professional experiences to when you felt you ‘succeeded’ at something. Try to breakdown the events and actions on your part that led up to that success. When you start that process, it’s far easier to figure out where you can ‘pluck’ your spicier notes from and how to balance them out with other parts of your personality. And then, you can start the freeing process of fearless drive, and the only judgment you’ll have to worry about is your own, when you look back at how you honed in and made it happen. Rock on, ladies. Rock on.
Danielle Leslie gives artists, creatives, and entertainers the branding and business development that they deserve. She is a graduate from UC Berkeley, former Sales Manager at a Silicon Valley media and tech startup, Co-Founder of GenJuice, and is currently living in sunny Los Angeles.
Get to Know Yourself, Get to Know Your Worth, and Own It!
I cannot say enough about how important self-discovery and self-awareness are in bringing out your Black Swan. If you know your personal selling points, are confident about the value you add to any situation, and own your strengths, then you will be unstoppable. During the GenJuice Tour this past summer, I spent 24/7 with the wonderful Arielle Patrice Scott and Virgilia Kaur Singh and got to know myself very intimately. On many occasions, Arielle encouraged me, “Embrace your qualities– even if they seem undesirable at the surface. OWN IT.” This sounds silly, but prior to the tour, I was self-conscious about being short (I’m 5′ 3″), having curly hair, and being neutral and unemotional most of the time. However, now, I take pride in being petite, having curly hair while most people cling to straight tresses, and I am a level-headed and logical thinker. Now it’s your turn: think more deeply about your qualities and turn the seemingly undesirable ones on their head. If you are self-aware and confident about your unique personal offering, then your Black Swan will emerge, and there will be no looking back!