One of my best-kept secrets about gathering womenspiration & energy to createcreatecreate is reaching out to those whom I stumble upon and say, “Damn, girl. I want your life.” I, we, experience those moments several times a day, and I knew there was something else to be gained from it other than what-am-I-doing-with-MY-life anxiety.
Thanks to some of the good advice I gleaned from 4-Hour WorkWeek, I read about and saw for myself how seldom inspirational people are contacted — not for a job, not to help sell something, but to just talk. And hey, in some of those instances, it did lead to an incredible collaboration or a kick-ass paid job.
You. Never. Know.
I’ve been eagerly phoning my role models for years now, and while I’m kicking myself for not writing these earlier, I want to share the incredible (and free!) bits of wisdom I receive from these geniuses. Which brings me to:
What I Learned: Ruby Veridiano, GlamourMama
An international slam poetress, fashion fiend and a Top 3 Finalist in Alicia Keys’ I Am SuperWoman Blogger Search, Ruby Veridiano is using her sassy mastery of word to lift up teen girls. She’s traveled across the globe advocating expression through poetry, she’s a VJ for Myx TV North America, she’s published a book of her poetry called “Miss Universe,” she founded a writing empowerment program in Brooklyn for young APIAA ladies called the GlamourBaby Diaries…
OH. And she’s a Manilla-born, Bay-Area-raised fierce Filipina.
How I found her:
While researching for my ethnic media class, I came upon an Audrey Magazine online article, spotlighting the very traits that made my jaw drop.
It was love at first scroll.
She told me:
1. Offer something valuable
Ruby got her start in traveling through Illiteracy, a traveling spoken-word troupe that conducts shows and follow-up workshops (in which Ruby is the sole female). Illiteracy worked to package and promote themselves to different college campuses, sending press kits and proposals across the country. First, Illiteracy had to find their own way to these gigs. But as their message spread & schools began recommending them to other schools, Illiteracy found themselves answering requests instead of sending them out.
And by answering, we’re talking, “Why, yes, we will accept your offer to fly us, house us, feed us and let us do what we love.”
And by “fly us,” we’re talking Paris — Ruby & Illiteracy’s good word brought them all the way to Europe.
This tells me, don’t just toot your “Hey, I exist, LOVE ME.” horn (which is all-too-common, GenY). Give audiences a reason to want you; make them see what they’re missing that you can deliver; offer something that can be chewed, swallowed, and digested for nourishment. Real nourishment.
2. Be Prepared to Fight for your Vision
I shared with Ruby my irrational attraction to the “romance” of being young, broken & driven as all get-out in New York… to which she simply replied, “Oh, dear.” Of course, it isn’t always a glamorous life, and while the Large Fruit certainly caters to us hungry youngins, Ruby told me that you’ve gotta feed yourself with your own purpose.
“Be prepared to fight for your vision,” she said. “This city can definitely eat you alive and you’ve got to grind nonstop, but if you know what kind of change you wanted to bring, you’ve gotta defend it.“
As do most NY-related metaphors, I think her advice applies to life, as well — boredom, mediocrity, procrastination and above all, fear can eat you alive if you don’t shield yourself with a greater purpose. Haters matter little when you’re not in it for the ego, but for simple-and-terrifying act of making the world better.
3. Be About Something
30 minutes of blissful tangents had passed before I realized I hadn’t asked her the one thing I wanted: As a recognized Filipina working in the media, and with the Filipino culture gaining exposure, how do you feel Filipinas are received in the mainstream?
In a nutshell, Ruby told me of her pride in the growing acknowledgment and spotlight on Filipinos, and of course, in being one herself. But there’s more to it.
“I’d like to see Filipinos recognized for more than being just entertaining,” she noted. “This goes for every media figure I’ve met, Filipino or not — you’ve got to be about something. You need to represent something bigger than yourself.”
Hear that, GenerationME? It isn’t always about us, as special and unicorn-flavored unique we might think we are. We won’t get anywhere being a jester or being a copycat.
If we wanna make noise, that noise better be saying something.