Talk Yo Sh**: Why you should advocate for yourself

“If you’re making big moves, those moves will speak for themselves.”
I’ve heard this message spun in many different ways; be humble, move quietly, let your accomplishments speak for themselves, etc.

Yes, humility is great and you certainly don’t want to be pompous or arrogant about the things you’ve accomplished. BUT it is important for you to (strategically) talk your sh** and highlight how popping you are by celebrating the things you’ve achieved.

First I want to start by saying, if you feel “bad” or “awkward” for celebrating yourself, don’t. I’ve been watching some of my high profile colleagues (i.e. people who have met Presidents, been featured on NPR, the today show … I mean, they’re basically famous) and whenever they have new work coming out, I get an e-mail about it. In fact, one of my colleagues sent an e-mail sharing an upcoming piece with links for every social media platform and suggested text for sharing. I remember seeing that and thinking, wtf am I feeling bad about advertising my accomplishments when they’re doing it, too? They’re doing it more! I should be doing it more! So whenever those sneaky little thoughts creep up,  reject them immediately. It’s rubbish, talk yo sh**. You poppin, celebrate it.

So if you are currently not promoting yourself let me tell you why you should.

  1. Networking. You can literally build community through hashtags, tweets, Instagram, etc.Two years ago I created an Instagram account (@fulbrightnoir) to highlight the projects of black Fulbrighters. I figured it was the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to display blackness in Fulbright and inspire black prospective applicants. Two years later, that platform evolved into Genesis: the first two-day Fulbright Noir conference in Brussels, Belgium. Programming focused on helping black grantees navigate their experiences as black cultural ambassadors abroad.Let that sink in.I went from featuring stories on Instagram to developing and leading programming to support black Fulbrighters in Europe. Sure, Instagram didn’t make that happen and there were many other ways to make this happen, but it was a catalyst. As I connected with people and learned their stories via e-mail, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, I saw a need and created a solution to address it.

    ANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNDDDDDDDDDDDD as a result, two other platforms @fulbrightprism (for LGBTQ Fulbright grantees, http://www.fulbrightprism.org) and @fulbrightlatinx (for Latinx Fulbright grantees) were created with similar initiatives.

    I also met one of my closest friends (Desiree Daring) and co-founder of @fulbrightnoir through Instagram. I had #Fulbright Belgium hashtag in my bio the year I was completing my Fulbright. She saw the hashtag in my bio and asked to connect because she was visiting Belgium; we’ve been great friends ever since.

    I constantly advertised the platform and talked about it as often as I could because I wanted to increase visibility of black Fulbrighters. Subsequently, my work with Fulbright Noir helped me secure competitive positions as an NIH T32 trainee and a Fulbright U.S. Student Alumni Ambassador because I could tie my accomplishments to why I would be an asset to these programs.

  2. Mentee/Mentor Relationships It’s my opinion that if you are underrepresented in your field and are doing amazing work, you kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind of have an obligation to share that. Why? Because you’ll inspire the next generation after you. You can be a resource.I can’t tell you how many people have contacted me (seriously, it’s like actually insane) asking about my experience with graduate school, Fulbright, overcoming a trash GPA, simply because I shared my story. Beyond my own professional advancement, the best part is seeing people feel encouraged to pursue their goals because I pursued mine. I mean, the number of people who didn’t know about Fulbright (like me) and are now applying simply because I documented my experiences is one of the best feelings in the world. Like yes, go abroad, get the prestigious grant, and make positive change in the world. We need more of us!Granted, I’m a naturally open person so I understand not wanting to put your life out there to the world, but there are ways to be private while also showcasing the dope stuff you’re doing.
  3. Because you’re actually poppin. Listen y’all, you’re out here doing dope work, talk yo sh** because you are the sh** and don’t feel bad about it. A whole he-who-shall-not-be-named ran for President and won, you can do anything.

If nothing else, just look at IssaRae, Youtube to HBO, or CardiB, Instagram to everywhere. Whatever floats your boat, TLDR; the more people know about the dope work you’re doing, the greater the probability of you creating a relationship that will help you prosper professionally, socially, etc. whether that be immediately or in the future. And if nothing else, you inspire others and bring people up with you as you climb.

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