a group hug picture with 4 different ethnic Girl Up girls

I’m Taryn Everdeen, I’m seventeen years old, and I’m from England, a member of the Norwich Girl Up Club. I’m passionate about the arts; I’m involved in the local arts festivals, I write songs and work as a portrait photographer. I also LOVE languages (especially French!) and have a bit of a thing for colourful clothes.

On September 27th, I attended the UK Girl Up Leadership Summit in London. Our day started hopping onto the train to London at 5am. Once there, we were a short tube ride away from the Disney Headquarters in Hammersmith, where the Summit was held.

Vulnerability is important for good leadership.

Walking into the lobby, I was immediately hit by the bright atmosphere, greeted by smiles and hugs, launching into conversation with the girls waiting in the queue. The event hadn’t even started and I was already feeling a connection with all these women who were here because of a common goal: to fight for equality.

Breakfast was an opportunity to socialise, and after six (!) pieces of sourdough toast with avocado and a muffin and a mug of green tea and a glass of juice, I was all set for the day. And what a DAY it was! Talks interspersed with workshops, interrupted by lunch (which was WONDERFUL). We listened, we discussed, we chatted. We learned. We shared.

Here are some of the things that I learned:

  • Vulnerability is important for good leadership – when you choose to make yourself vulnerable, that is POWER. Showing emotion is NOT weakness: it is a chance to connect, a way for others to be able to empathise with you.
  • Life begins at the end of your comfort zone; the things that scare you are the things that change you. Take a risk.
  • BELIEVE in what you’re doing, and surround yourself with people who BELIEVE in your vision, and you will ACHIEVE.
  • Don’t let feeling ‘under-qualified’ or ‘inadequate’ to do something be a barrier – go for it anyway, what’s the worst that can happen?
  • Use your platform and your voice and your privilege to challenge things; if nothing is challenged, nothing will change. Be the voice for the voiceless.
  • How you speak to yourself dictates your interactions with others. Don’t fight the inner critic – you’ll fuel it. Push it aside, instead.

Every time I go to an event like this, I come away feeling invigorated. I am reminded that there are just so many lovely, lovely people, and that there will always be more lovely, lovely people to meet. I spent a Saturday surrounded by strong, strong girls who are prepared to work hard to raise awareness of the things they’re passionate about, to continue to fight for equality, to continue to promote the issues we’re all facing. I learned so much. And now I feel so ready to use that knowledge and that power for good. For change.

Come take your seat at the table.

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