When you’re given an opportunity to show your strengths, it’s easy to get lost in what you think will work, and what you already know will work.

I had the premeditated notion that this fellowship was going to be hard. I was right. The first day for me started off shaky, and as much as I tried to keep my cool and remind myself I belonged, things just weren’t working out as planned.

My story pitch had too many gaps, potential subjects were hard to identify, and my “perfect plan” was slipping away. I wanted to give up, I really did. I told myself, “Maybe they should just pick another person who applied.” But that thought was cut short by my mentor, Jeanette Woods. She told me, “Okay, now let’s think, what can we work with.” We went back to the drawing board, and I got it.

Prior to starting with the pitch I had, I told Jeanette about this amazing Uber driver I had with a crazy background in the health field. I had already envisioned him as the perfect subject and we both liked the idea. But it didn’t last. Why? I’m not sure, but I think it had something to do with thinking I needed a more intense story to fit the intense program.

Jeanette reminded me that my original idea was great in it’s own way, and to let my work speak for itself. We went with my original plan and it was just like I had envisioned.

With the help of my mentor and the Next Generation team, I was reminded that it’s okay to believe in what you have, and to have the confidence that it will be enough. We have the power to make stories memorable and riveting, but it’s up to us to believe we can do it.

Thank you Jeanette and Next Generation for giving me a week that I will always remember. I’m just getting started.

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