“By sharing my life story, women can grasp hope and make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.”

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—Shalon Barnett

The ABC's of Hope


Be Authentic: Being authentic begins with knowing who you are. You cannot allow people to change you, especially when you are doing something now. Stepping into the speaking world was something new for me, and I was given all kinds of advice: dress a certain way, socialize with a specific group of people and wear your hair in this way. I was regularly told, “Your net worth is your network,” but I love talking and getting to know all kinds of people, regardless of how much money they have.

So, I had to choose to be authentic to who I am. I had to accept the fact that not everyone will like who I am and what I stand for; I had to be fine not conforming to what others expected of me or thought I should be, whether it was how I wear my hair, who I spend time with or the clothes I buy.

To know who you are is to know what you value, what you stand for and what you absolutely will not accept. To know who you are is to live in your truth rather than pretending that you are someone who you are not. Knowing who you are means taking advice from others but never doing something that makes you uncomfortable.

Be Bold: Being bold means asking for what you want then being willing to go after it. We live in a world where you can be judged for saying certain things or asking for what you need. In October 2014, I attended the Women Empowerment Network (WEN) conference for the first time in Atlanta; as I sat in the audience, I thought, “I would love to be a speaker at this conference and share my story.” I shared that desire with someone, who began to help me reach that goal. Less than a year later, I was speaking at another’s women’s empowerment gathering with the organizer of the WEN conference, sharing my story with others.

To be bold means to let go of fear, mainly the fear of rejection, to pursue your dreams. It means to be willing to ask for help when you need it and to be humble to admit when you have made a mistake or failed.

Be Courageous: Being courageous means stepping out of your comfort zone, believing that what is for you is for you. When going through the lowest point in my life, I could see myself encouraging others with the obstacles I was facing. Yet, when the opportunity actually was presented to me years later, I was nervous and hesitant because I have a country slang. I am simple, direct and straight to the point, so I wasn’t sure if I could speak to a crowd and how I would be received. I quickly realized that if it came to me, then it was for me to do. So, I moved beyond my comfort zone and began speaking publicly.

Part of being courageous is believing if a task is brought to you, then it is for you. The other part of being courageous is taking action by being brave enough to pursue or accept an opportunity, even when it looks like you can’t do it. For me, being courageous has meant stepping out of the dim light into the spotlight.

#Hope #Authentic #Bold #Courageous #Courage

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