2016 was quite the year for Brighton Digital Women. We threw ourselves into growing our community of like-minded digital professionals. We met so many new faces (and got to know quite a few very well). We built upon and shared our passion for making things a bit more equal in our industry and in the wider community.
Looking forward to our monthly meetups
Our monthly events became a welcome space to breath in an intense and hectic year. Whether we were in pieces over Bowie, bamboozled by Brexit or traumatised by Trump, we got together every month and supported each other.
We shared our challenges and fears and tried to spread inspiration wherever we could. We embraced open and heart-felt debate, even when it was on awkward topics like negotiating a pay-rise or setting boundaries with a difficult client.
End of year burn-out
Leaning on and learning from each other really helped. But none-the-less, I for one, felt pretty damn frazzled by the end of the year.
And then, just when we thought that 2016 had done its worst (not that it actually had anything to do with the year, we know – but sometimes it’s easier to hate on a date) it struck another blow.
This one hurt. She stood for everything that we hold dear. She embodied our values.
Losing a feminist role model and a mental health advocate
Carrie’s character in Star Wars was strong, unashamed, quietly confident and self-assured. She was independent, free-spirited and unconventional.
And in her personal life, she lived up to the persona of the Princess she played so well. She was outspoken, honest, fearless and compassionate. She spoke out about her struggles with bipolar and she refused to allow herself to be stigmatised by those too ignorant to understand her plight.
She was a shining beacon to many looking for a positive spokesperson for mental health. She was brave, insightful and self-aware of her own wellbeing. She was happy to share her insight to help support the wellbeing of others.
We bloody loved her. Every time she spoke out. Every time we re-watched her on screen.
Allegra, one of our co-founders shared her thoughts with me about Carrie, who she was inspired by despite (spoiler alert) not having known her as Leia:
“Confession time: I’ve never Star Wars. But if you think that’s all Carrie Fisher was about, you’re missing so much.
She confronted deeply ingrained prejudices about women, ageing and mental health, and she did it with style, composure and honesty. She was strong, open and never ashamed.
She was a huge inspiration and an incredible role model. She will be sorely missed.”
Our founder, Rachel, is a massive fan – so much so she inspired me to write these words (as she was too tearful to herself). In between sniffles, she did have this to say:
“As Leia, Carrie Fisher taught me four things in my early days as a mega Star Wars fan child:
- Strength doesn’t mean never needing help
- BUT be your own hero because you can save yourself
- You are able to save others no matter how strong they seem and they probably need it too
- Be the princess of your own life!
As Carrie Fisher the human, she taught me:
1. Don’t hide your differences, they are part of who you are
2. Give zero fucks about things that you can’t change and…
3. Raise your children without gender
Leia was my first hero and learning more about Carrie in her later life meant she became my latest hero. Gutted she’s gone so early, rest in peace, we’ll take it from here.”
We will stand up for mental health in 2017
In her honour, the Brighton Digital Women community is going to put a real focus on mental health over this coming year.
We are going to be an open space to discuss how we feel personally and professionally.
We are going to support each others’ wellbeing through sharing our experiences and being there for each other.
Together, we will try to keep each other well. And when that isn’t possible – because with the best will in the world, sometimes it isn’t – we will be here to hold each other up.
If one of us has to take some time out, we’ll be here the next month waiting to welcome that friend back.
We are your community.
We are your platform to speak up and share your experiences to help others.
We are here for you.
Our next event is on Wednesday January 11th and the focus is wellbeing.
Freelance writer and content strategist by day. Brighton Digital Women director by night. I write about health, wellbeing, and marketing. When I’m not writing, I enjoy connecting people through Brighton Digital Women’s inclusive events. I’m outspoken about mental health and believe sharing our experiences reduces stigma.