A while back, I had blogged
about how much I struggled with going to networking meetings and just mingling with strangers in general at any social gathering. I can't tell you how many times my eyes have casually wandered to the nearest exit (or at the very least, that open spot in the back of the room near the guacamole dip) whenever I had no choice but to chat with the person next to me and exhibit some display of cool vs. nerd.
However, despite my sometimes obvious social anxieties and attraction to guacamole dip/any available exit, I'm slowly realizing that there is actually nothing wrong with being shy or even quiet. That it may even be a strength and a valuable leadership quality.
And Jessica is proof of this.
I had met Jessica at a networking event for women business owners and as I have gotten to know her more these past few months, I learned that beneath her quiet demeanor is an articulate leader, someone who has great ideas, and a passion for being involved with organizations that help others. I am proud to know her and be inspired by hearing her express and contribute great ideas during discussions. It reminds me that being a great listener is essential in growing as a leader.
Jessica, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to capture your beautiful self in these photographs. And most of all, thank you for reminding people like me that I don't always have to gravitate towards the back of the room near the guacamole dip. =)
"I'm a pretty easy-going, creative person who likes helping others and connecting with people. I work as a graphic designer and marketing assistant and am involved in various groups, including Toastmasters and Promote Her Business."
Who or what 3 things have helped shape you to be the woman you are today?
God would have to be the first I'd list because every time I think of who I really want to be in life, it's someone who's close to Him. I'd say being an introvert has also shaped me because it taught me to look more internally for solutions and answers and has allowed me to be a greater listener.
My family has also shaped me because it was from them that I learned the value of education, friends, and family and being there for others.
If you knew then what you know now as a woman, what would you have told your 18-year-old self?
"I didn't really know myself at that age. My mind was still kind of closed off - I didn't accept myself for who I was. It felt like I was hiding from myself and the world.
The thing that really changed that was "letting go" and finding peace. If I had told myself to look for those things [at that time] I'm still not sure I would have found it instantly or even understood what those things meant. If I had to tell myself something at 18, it would be to hold on and be patient because life would work out and make sense eventually."
What is your personal motto or mission statement?
"Life is just a chance to grow a soul."
"I've always admired people who were strong-willed and determined. Nothing can stop a person who doesn't stop themselves with their own doubts and fears. I admire people who look after others and empower people around them."
"I've always been passionate about art, music, nature, and spirituality."
If you could share a message about beauty, self-esteem, or self-worth to other women, what would that be?
"I've found that what changed in my life when I really gained self-esteem and a better sense of self-worth was the way I treated myself when I failed. When I would make a mistake or fall short of my own expectations, I would assume myself to be a failure.
But when I finally embraced who I was, I would instead exercised patience and acceptance towards myself whenever I fell short. I was reassured I could still improve, that life wasn't over, and I still had time to change things. I didn't give up on myself in those moments like I used to. "
My message to women would be to love themselves compassionately as they would a friend who had fallen down and needed help getting up again.
A heartfelt thanks Ashlyn Taylor of Madame Me for Jessica's lovely hair and make up!