What I Learned From Elaine Welteroth & Lupita Nyong’o

If you’re a newsletter subscriber, then you already know that I recently attended an event to celebrate the launch of Elaine Welteroth’s new book, More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say). There was a panel moderated by the one and only Lupita Nyong’o where Elaine discussed how she got her start in the media industry and how she was able to keep pushing the envelope and breaking down barriers to make room for more black women in beauty, fashion, and media.

Being in that room with so many beautiful black people was awe-inspiring. Of course I had my agenda ready to take notes. Here’s what I learned.

Purpose & Trusting Your Instincts

Elaine told us how the “best decisions” she ever made were the ones that were “internally led.” She talked about surrendering to a “higher, divine order” and paying attention to signs that we’re on the right path. You all know that I’m all about finding your purpose, so I was so into this conversation. Sometimes we ignore the signs of what we’re being called to do and go with the “cooler” seeming thing instead but the moment you do what you’re destined to do, you’ll notice that the chips will fall right into place.

Self Care

We touched on self-care and how we all need a balance as we’re shooting for the stars. “Ambition needs to be balanced with self-care,” Elaine said, and this was one of the realest things she could have said. Seeing someone so driven and successful is enough to put you into overdrive, so it’s good to know that she also takes breaks to get her mental health in order.

Another good point Elaine made was the fact that “ambition can run you into relationships & situations you weren’t meant to be in.” By this, she meant that sometimes we want to be successful so badly that we end up making the wrong choices. We stay at toxic companies because of the big name or we stay in a relationship to look happy but sometimes those things end up doing more harm than good. Her advice was to “make it work if it’s meant to be.” She said, “some things break on purpose” as in, sometimes one door closes, so a better one can open.

Whether it’s an unfulfilling job or a loveless relationship, Elaine advise us to not stay too long.

Being Unapologetically Black

In a lot of situations, being black is looked at as being other by us and our peers of other races. Sometimes we feel ostracized but Elaine let us know that we should “embrace what makes us different as it becomes our superpower.” We’re here to add another, different perspective.

She also made me realize that “authenticity can be your activism.” When you’re unapologetically black, we become one step closer in showing the world the many facets of our people. We are not one thing and we are not all the same. Embrace wearing a different hairstyle every week if that’s your thing. This will get everyone used to seeing us change up our look and not being so surprised when we come to work with braids one day, a bone straight, long sew-in the next week, and a pixie cut the following. Be you. That’s your activism.

Representation

Elaine mentioned that she wrote this book because she felt a “responsibility to give more and make it less daunting for those following” and I really felt that. As we become successful, we should be making way for more to come behind us. I feel like I have a duty to help whoever it is watching my journey and aspiring to do the same thing. Elaine talked about opening doors and pulling people in and I loved that. So many times, people preach collaboration over competition but will still be secretly competing with you.

There’s no fun in being the only one who makes it. We all need a helping hand sometimes, so I want to be that whenever I can. She also spoke about representation and creating opportunities for other people of color once she got into a position of power. Not only did Elaine make sure black girls and boys saw people who looked like them on the pages of Teen Vogue, but she also opened doors for many black hairstylists, makeup artists, stylists, and writers. She said that we had to “push representation behind the scenes” as well and I couldn’t agree more.

Transitioning moments

We also talked about how to deal with being in the in-between stages of life – in-between jobs, houses, dreams, etc. Elaine described this as an “invitation to step into a more expansive version of yourself.” Take the time to discover what you want for yourself and go after it. This may not look like what you had planned a few months ago and that’s fine. “Your life is a series of dreams realized.” This quote stuck with me because I have several different business ventures I’m looking to start and none of them look like the other. It doesn’t matter because it’s never too late to have a new dream.

Elaine encouraged us to “give ourselves permission to step into our destiny.” This will look different depending on the person but if something keeps coming back to you, give it a try. You never know where this will take you.

I learned so much in only a few hours of being in a room with these women, so I know there’s so much more to find out from the book. I’m finally starting TLM Book Club where we’ll read career, self-improvement books with a focus on topics that relate to black women and More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) will be the first on our list. Sign up here for more details and pick up the book so we can get started!

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I'm Coreyiel, founder of The Luxe Minimalist, a New Orleans-based lifestyle blog focusing on sharing life's little luxuries in beauty, style, food, travel, and wellness. My goal is to use TLM to document my experiences in life and inspire, educate, and entertain other women. Don't forget to follow along on Instagram and come back for new posts every week!

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