As an introvert, I am typically the “Wall Flower” at social functions; you know, the person that stands on the wall and observes her surroundings? The Lord however is stretching me in this area. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend my first journalism event at The National Press Club in Washington DC. It was a “Diverse Social Media Editors and Digital Journalists Facebook Meet Up”. I had prepared myself a few days before the event, reading up on the speakers who were going to be in attendance; Sarah Glover, NBC Television Networks Social Media Editor, and Gene Demby, the Lead Blogger of “Code Switch” at NPR (National Public Radio). The night before, I printed off a few of my resumes (you can never be too prepared), I opened my fresh new pack of business cards and took a moment to pray about what I should wear to this event. As I rummaged through my closet, I happened upon a hot pink dress that I had recently purchased from H&M a few months ago, and I felt confirmation in my spirit that that was what I was supposed to wear. So I laid out the outfit with the necessary accessories and went to bed excited and a bit nervous about the next morning.
When it was time to leave yesterday, I checked and double checked to make sure I had everything I needed to make a good impression. When I arrived and stood outside of the National Press Club, I had butterflies in my stomach. I realized in that moment that this was the first step toward getting my name out to influential people in the field. Unlike others who may have been in the room, I wasn’t going to be promoting someone else’s business, I was going to be promoting me, Simply Ari. I took a deep breath and swung opened the building’s big, beautiful glass doors and walked inside. As my heels clacked on the marble floors toward the gold elevators, I rehearsed my 60 second sell in my head over and over again. In the elevator, I prayed that the Holy Spirit would bring peace to my spirit, order my steps and guide each conversation that I had with individuals in the room.
When I arrived on the 13th floor, I said to myself, “OK Ari, this is it. You’ve got this.” Nervous to enter an area with about 100 people, maybe a few more; I found a quiet corner of the room and observed the them. I saw young professionals and seasoned men and women and tried to assess where I fit in. Like a turtle in its shell, I began to poke my head out and walk around the event space, and as I was scanning the room, a young woman stopped me and complimented me on my dress. That conversation helped break the ice. She and I spoke up until the speakers took their places on the platform to get started. She went back to her seat and I found another spot toward the back of the room and awaited the hosts discussion.
Ms. Glover lead the discussion and Mr. Demby enthusiastically gave his perspective on the topics being discussed. They talked about the importance of mentorship, having people in your corner who can vouch for you, being an advocate for news and the stories that are being overlooked by mainstream media, the power of Social Media in our society, the importance of “Black Twitter”, the importance of credibility, establishing trust between a publication and its readers, and as journalists, verifying your facts. As Demby, went into depth about what “Code Switch” is, what it discusses and why it is relevant today, his face illuminated and the passion that he has for his work was evident. I was left so inspired. Shortly thereafter, the discussion part of the event was over, guests were invited to mix and mingle with each other. I began to scan the room again and got a glass of water, before venturing out to speak with anyone else. My goal was to speak with the two keynote speakers and let them know how much I enjoyed the discussion. But God took me in a different direction, I met another young woman who was in a pretty yellow dress and she and I conversed for awhile exchanging thoughts about the event, and eventually exchanged information as well. Then I got in line to speak to Ms. Glover. I took a deep breath, and extended my hand to introduce myself and share with her how much I enjoyed hearing her speak. She was kind to me, so kind in fact that she took me around the room and introduced me to other professionals that she knew, the Director of Membership for The National Press Club, along with a few others including the Digital Lead at NBC. I could hardly believe what was happening. The Lord was providing opportunities, and opening doors left and right. My heart was so full, and the more I got to talk about Simply Ari and my plans after graduation (May of 2016), the more comfortable I became. I then had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Demby and he too was kind and seemed genuinely interested in my pursuits. The icing on the cake for me was the willingness of both Sarah and Gene to take pictures with me to commemorate this exciting milestone in my life. It was a perfect end to a perfect evening, I honestly don’t think that I could have prayed for anything more. And to think it all started with a little pink dress!
It is my sincerest hope that I will be able to attend more events like this in the future. I want to surround myself with people who are passionate about the work that they do, build confidence when speaking to professionals in my field about the work that I do, and build a strong network around me of individuals who will challenge me, teach me, believe in me and who can mentor me in new and exciting ways.
I am so grateful to the Lord for meeting me, and I look forward to walking out my purpose as the Holy Spirit leads!