I am a leader in Becoming because growing up, I never had a positive role model in my life (besides my mom but she doesn’t count). Instead, multiple people have left my life. Because of this, i’ve had a repeated cycle of trauma when it came to building relationships and friendships with people. It made me very distant and hard to trust others. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling and I don’t want anyone feeling the way I felt. As you know, I’m not far from the girls age. I’m only 20 years old and sometimes it’s hard because we all want to joke and get off topic but then I have to realize that I’m a leader to them. I have to put my foot down and put us back on track.

I hope that the girls in our group will learn from my mistakes and eventually have me to mentor them and push them beyond their measures especially when they feel like they’re not enough. I want them to live by these mottos: “God is within her she will not fail” and “With God, everything is possible”. When I truly began to let go and let God and stopped half doing it, my life changed for the better. I share my trials and tribulations in hopes that they don’t make the same mistakes that I had in the past. I also try to pull out their potential (that they thought they never had) and challenge them to be a better version of themselves. I tell them all the time that when you fall down, you have to pick yourself back up and don’t ever beat yourself up about it. With that, you also have to take responsibility for your actions because no one is going to baby them as they get older. I remind them that we are still transitioning and evolving into beautiful rose, but we cannot be afraid of our thorns.

“For the beauty of the rose, we also water the thorns “African Proverb.

Now that I have grown up, I’m doing things I never imagined myself doing, let alone becoming a leader. If you told me that I’ll become a leader 5 years ago, I would’ve laughed in your face lol. If I could give any advice to any young woman out there that’s struggling like I was, it would be to forgive yourself before you try to forgive others and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are human and you can’t give your broken pieces to someone when you haven’t truly healed from your past, yet alone gave yourself time to.

“In order to conquer the enemy, you have to conquer the enemy within yourself” – Lauryn Hill

It’s important for girls of color to look out for each other because society will try to break them apart. They’ll constantly have the darkskin vs. lightskin debates, who’s prettier, who’s making more “boss moves” and society will continuously degrade us by calling us the worst words that we’ll eventually use to hurt each other in the same matter. It repeats a cycle of making us feel worthless and degrades our character. We need to genuinely understand the true definition of unity. We are not “b*tches”. We are queens.

Girls should come to this conference because not only will you find friendship in each and every one of us, but you’ll find your worth. This conference is about empowerment and we will all empower each other to become a better version of ourselves. We are a sisterhood and we have a no girl left behind policy. We are all unique and have so much potential and it honestly only takes someone to truly believe in us. Well guess what? You’re coming to the right conference! We will drill in you that you ARE enough, you ARE beautiful and you’ll get to make some long lasting connects with us! Like come on, who wouldn’t want a sprinkle of black girl sisterhood in their life? This conference will forever change your life and you wouldn’t want to have it any other way ! #BlackGirlMagic!

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About me:

My name is Atiya Gladden and I am 20 years old and I’m just now embracing my journey. I want to constantly share my story to empower and uplift young women who experienced the same thing as me. To whoever who has experienced this also, I have a few words of advice for you. 1. You are enough. 2. It’s not your fault. 3. Take the time out to heal. Go to therapy if you need to but just remember that you can’t do this alone. 4. Find the love within yourself. 5. It’s hard, but don’t give up. 6. Always remember that God has a plan and purpose for you. & 7. One day your story will be able to heal broken hearts. I am also a proud adoptee to my beautiful parents, Marilyn and Curtis Gladden. Later on in life, I want to work with young women who’ve been sexually assaulted and raped in the foster care and adopted system but right now, I just want to be rich in knowledge/wisdom and to go in the direction where God is.

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