I attended the first BelongCon in the beginning of the year. BDW were supporting the organisation of the event as we recognised that a sense of belonging, acceptance and community support are our key values and aims as well.
The second ever BelongCon was last night and part of Global Sharing Week. An amazing array of events and initiatives involving the sharing economy.
I’ll be honest here, I’m trying to do a lot of things at the moment and last night was my only night to do nothing! I’m also really struggling with being a millennial woman full of rage at the moment and in those times I find it’s hard to do anything but wallow, read more things that make me angry, and then sink into a deep despair.
In the light of that, I am so glad I got off my arse and went!
Here are my 5 takeaways from the event that turned my despair into hope…
1. Sharing gives us a home
Pippa Moyle is, quite frankly, a legend. Her poise and confidence always impresses me and what she had to say about her journey to create The City Girl Network and finding her girl gangs reminded me that I have an incredible gang. I’ve never really had a ‘girl gang’ as such until Brighton Digital Women.
“Home is where the girls are” is a motto I’ll live by forever. I am surrounded by strong, intelligent and talented women every day and I thank the BDW gods/godessess for what I have. It was only the first talk of the evening and hope was already fully nested in my heart again.
2. Sharing saves lives
Dan Colliers thoroughly open, honest yet objective account of his journey into and out of despair resonated particularly with me.
Speaking to a friend afterwards we both shared that we had felt intensely emotional during the talk to the point of tears yet we agreed that had it been a woman sharing the same information and insight, the emotional response probably wouldn’t have been as intense because we have become accustomed to women sharing more deeply and more emotionally in society. THAT IS SO WRONG AND DAMAGING.
My heart breaks for men. The world expects very particular performances from them in terms of emotion and what strength SHOULD look like. Dan absolutely smashed that. That he couldn’t find any pictures of men displaying grief for his slides is a huge alarm bell. He taught me that sharing saves lives and should I ever have a son I hope to raise him to be empathetic and open just like Dan was.
3. Sharing makes people share
Now of course I’m going to mention Lana and Allegra. I’m totes biased when it comes to them. I think they’re two of the best people that have ever lived.
Back in January we had a BDW meetup focused on mental health and well-being. It was one of those groundbreaking evenings where you could tangibly feel the release of tension and stigma in the atmosphere.
Lana and Allegra had never publicly talked about their mental health issues and never outside of close friends. We had a planning meeting some weeks before and they opened up to me about their diagnosis and expressed a desire to share this with our community so that others in similar situations would feel emboldened and not alone and I commend them for this no end.
I know for a fact there have been many people who have told me, talked to each other, talked to Lana and Allegra about their mental health now that wouldn’t have before that January meetup and I am thrilled to feel even more that our community is a safe place of acceptance and openness, free of judgement and full of support because of Lana and Allegras talk that evening.
4. Sharing emboldens people
HOLY.SHIT. Claudia Barnett blew my mind. 2 reasons. 1 – I had no idea of the scope of OCD. I was firmly in the ‘cleaning things all the time’ understanding of the illness. Compulsive and intrusive thoughts about hurting people or yourself sounds like one of the most terrifying and life ruining conditions.
2. She spoke powerfully about how the media perpetuates a wrong view of OCD. The Monica Gellers and Khloe Kardashians and how it’s portrayed as funny, quirky or cute. Thoughts about murder and being too afraid to touch someone or even eat does not sound cute or funny to me. Claudia has entirely changed my understanding of this illness.
We need to change the words we use surrounding mental illness issues, the jokes we make, the attitudes we have when someone wants to share with us. We need to accept what they’re going through and be kind in all respects. Even if we ourselves are not in a place to be there for them.
5. Sharing builds community and hope
Hope and love are our only viable options in the face of what is happening in the world. Hope and love can’t be murdered. They can’t be lied to. They are a choice. We love and we hope by choice and we do this together, in communities of support and acceptance.
Sharing part of yourself with someone else builds and cultivates trust. When you have a community or gang you can trust then there is no obstacle too big that you can’t help each other get over.
Sharing in the digital sector
In the Brighton digital sector, sharing is very much at the heart of what we do, how we learn and how we grow. It is vital!
So many local digital agencies and brands are looking to share in creative and positive ways that are transformative and disruptive to the way we do business and the way we balance our lives. We need to harness this Brightonian digitally disruptive spirit and push it out to the rest of our country. We need to share it!
All images by Seb Lee-Delisle