Why I’m Glad I Embraced the UnknownWritten by Olivia Robertson
Olivia Robertson, founder of Gumption Girls and a participant on our 3-day professional development programme In Our Own Voices, writes about her journey and how The Young Women’s Movement will shape her personal and professional life going forward.
As soon as I read about In Our Own Voices I knew I had to take part. Creating empowering spaces for girls and young women is what my organisation, Gumption Girls, is all about, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn and develop new skills and strategies. Although I didn’t know exactly what the programme entailed when I first signed up, I was willing to take a chance that I’d get some benefit from participating — and I wasn’t disappointed!
The morning of the first In Our Own Voices session I was excited and curious for what lay ahead. I still didn’t know exactly what I was letting myself in for, but I was okay with the uncertainty and able to embrace the unknown. That’s something our courses at Gumption Girls help girls learn to do, so it was good to put myself in their shoes for the three days.
I think one of the most common fears people have at a workshop is saying the wrong thing or being judged adversely, so the group rules we collaborated to establish at the start were great way to help everyone communicate what they personally need to feel safe, and therefore able to contribute. That was one of the biggest take-aways for me throughout the In Our Own Voices course, that people need to have their most basic needs met in order to fully engage in activities. What is right for one person will be wrong for another and exploring and appreciating different preferences can help groups run more harmoniously.
And bonding doesn’t just occur during activities, but between them too. Indeed, the rest breaks can be the most important time of the day, giving people space to process everything going through their mind and get to know each other better so they feel more comfortable sharing thoughts and feelings. Good food always helps too and we were definitely treated to that at the Melting Pot, between the delicious soups and sandwiches to the amazing (and very popular) stroopwafels!
We covered so many great activities over the course I lost count of the number of ‘a-ha!’ moments I had — lets just say it was a lot! The insights I gained will change the way I approach my work and improve the way Gumption Girls courses are structured. Something that will really support my work going forward is the Presencing model Jackie shared from U-Lab. Not only has this deepened my understanding of the thought process we go through while experiencing change, it has also acted as a catalyst for new ideas for my organisation. I was bursting with inspiration at the end of In Our Own Voices and left with the feeling of having been part of something special. I made new connections that will last, which I think is testament to how much work went into making the course itself a safe space for practitioners to explore and feel empowered.
Olivia Robertson is the Founder of Gumption Girls, a Brownie Guider and a recent Creative Advertising grad. With a background in child development and design, Olivia enjoys combining the two, using creativity to help inspire girls and young women to find their inner confidence. She lives by the motto: ‘If you can dream it, you can do it!’