How to turn imperfection into inspiration: SheTalks comes to Vancouver

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15 women. 8 minutes each. 1 impactful day.

No matter how hard we try, we will never be perfect. My interview with Natasha Raey started off with all of the niceties that come when entering the Vancouver Club – a dimly lit and perfectly primed place where every interactions is met with a Cheshire smile. It was the antithesis of her message. 

The coffee arrived and was placed on the table with unnecessarily delicacy. Instead of plain sugar packs reserved for the poor, sugar sticks that looked like pieces of art were set down next to fresh cream.

She ordered soup and it was poured through a silver spout.

Was it safe to breathe in this place? Every move felt like it had to be certain, no step out of line, no wrong move, nothing beyond what was acceptable and expected so as not to give away my status.

Outside the walls of this prestigious club, sometimes this is what it feels like to be a woman in a man’s world, calculated uncertainty, poised strategy.

Then there are the moments that we get to be who we are…kind, compassionate and human. When we let our guard down and decide to be real with the world and one another, amazing things can happen. Sometimes, it takes a moment of weakness, to find the strength to accept that we aren’t perfect, and that’s perfectly okay.

That’s why there’s SheTalks.

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Natasha Raey / Facebook

Change-maker, advocate and community leader – that’s how peers have described the founder of SheTalks, Natasha Raey. With an honours degree in molecular biology from SFU and an MBA in health care from UBC, it seems like a TED Talk-inspired event for women would be a stretch for Raey.

Instead, she has refused to see boundaries and chose to capitalized on the many conferences and events she has attended to create something unique.

The first-ever SheTalks conference is a one-day event that will see 15 women give eight-minute talks on a wide range of topics. The lineup is impressive and diverse, ranging from Monika Hibbs of MH by Monika Hibbs; Author Megan Williams; Business Owner and political activist, Jodie Emery; Supermom and blogger, Jamie Khau; Founder of Ladies Who Lunch, Maria Kritikos; Community Leader, Barinder Rasode; co-founder and creative director of Luna Pads, Madeline Shaw; and the list goes on.

They will use their own personal experiences and struggles to tell their journey of pursuing and living their dreams, and reinforce the power of changing and adapting in a constantly evolving world.

Above all, they will not be afraid to admit their weaknesses and imperfections, and how they overcame obstacles to discover a sense of self-worth and happiness.

“Personally, I’ve always been very good at creating this image that I’m perfect…but I’m starting to realize that’s not how I want to go through life,” says Raey.

“I was in an abusive relationship, following that I was in another relationship that was more abusive in the religious sense, then there was a drinking problem, so I’m not perfect and I want people to know that.

I struggle with anxiety, to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning and I would stay under the covers until noon because I didn’t even want to… face the day. I think quitting drinking and realizing that it’s okay to be open with these things has made it easier for me, because I can turn to people for support and start these conversations.

A lot of people go through anxiety, it’s a lot more prevalent than we thought it was, and that’s been a part of my journey, realizing that I’m not perfect and being open with my own struggles with people.”

She referred to the old term, “King Makers,” where men would come together and raise the profiles of other men. She said that this is about creating Queen Makers, where women realize that they are better together.

“You still see women who function in the old-school way where they are very competitive and very territorial, but I think we’ve come to see that that’s not the best way to work,” she says. “The coolest thing guests of the event will see is a real range of women, who come from all walks of life, background, experiences, and they have all arrived at a point in their lives where they have some form of success but it hasn’t been an easy road to get there.

You will hear some of the women say that early on they tried to emulate men, because they thought that was the way to get ahead. Then they realized that no, they could with more of a feminine touch and passionate approach.

There are things that make us different from men and we should embrace those and bring them into how we work.”

What does it mean to be an influential women?

I think to be an influential woman it means that you are building something but you’re not just building it for you, you are building it for the community.

When you look back on that person you were a few years ago, when you were struggling, is there anything you would want to say to yourself based on where you are now?

I think probably just that it’s going to get better. I think we can all get to these points in our lives where we think ‘this is terrible, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get out of this, is the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through and I’m going through it over and over again,’ and just to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

And I have been very open, I’m a fairly religious person and my relationship with God is the most important relationship in my life, and with everything that I have gone through, that has definitely helped me to see that everything is happening and its going to lead to something and to just be patient.”

Learn more at www.shetalksyvr.ca.

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Nicolle Hodges Journalist/Reporter for VancityBuzz, Editor of @Valley_Buzz, Freelance Journalist Black Press and CTV Vancouver Promotions Host. Follow my journey on Instagram: @nicolledoubleL
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