Gal
Photo: Ben Sage Photography

 

“What's Galentine's Day? Oh, it's only the best day of the year”

 

Galentine’s Day is the relatively new unofficial holiday that takes place during the Valentine’s period – usually the day before or the weekend that follows. G-day is an opportunity for girls to get together and celebrate each other, a chance to celebrate the ladies you love, and the ladies who love you. G-day originally came into fruition during an episode from American sitcom Parks and Recreation called ‘Galentine’s Day’ a while ago in 2010 and showed itself again in another 2014 episode. During the recent years it seems to have taken off and become a thing for girls worldwide- whether single or taken it’s more about celebrating friendships!

 

“Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home and we just come and kick it breakfast style.”
Parks and Recreation, Galentine’s Day S2E16

 

Being all about girl power and female empowerment at You Make it, we are, of course in support of this special day! Galentine’s Day celebrates girlhood, fun, and togetherness – a message of loving yourself and your girls.

 

 

Photo by Ben Sage Photography
Photo by Ben Sage Photography

 

Sisterhood, togetherness and authenticity is at the core of You Make It (YMI) and there is always space in the programme to show this. Galentine’s Day is every Friday (or some Thursdays) at YMI - depending on when workshops take place. Women get the opportunity to try new activities together like Kundalini yoga, poetry, visit new places together such as the Tommy Hilfiger showroom or just explore their local area and dig deeper into their personal identity; visiting galleries that allow everyone to converse and share insight to create discussion about spirituality, strength, difficulties growing up and more. 

 
“I feel YMI screams sisterhood. Each workshop taught us how to come together as women, encourage each other and share experiences, ideas and even work together on each others projects.”
(Jade, YMI Alumni)

 

 

Gal
Photo: Ben Sage Photography

 

My YMI Experience

 

I joined the YMI programme in 2018 and while I thought I knew what I signed up for, I found the 6-month experience eye-opening and not just in terms of career development. Through the programme we were exposed to 22 weekly workshops that rotated around different cultural, city and creative organisations, all with a different theme and focus. Having the sessions to look forward to was great, because you knew you were going to be enriched creatively, mentally or emotionally. It was always something to look forward to.

 

Below, I've noted a few of my key takeaways from the workshops.

 

Boosting Self-Esteem & Self Love Together 

 

At one session hosted by Morrison Foerster, the YMI team encouraged each of us to write down each other's good attributes and then asked us to read aloud what others saw in us. Some of my comments were heart warming, sweet and even surprising. One of the letters written to me said: "sometimes you're hard on yourself even though you're doing ok" - it's the kind of affirmation that everyone needs. These letters were then gathered and given to us as a booklet with our names on it. I found this so powerful as it offered a self-esteem boost, because some of us don't know how we come across and struggle to see the positivity we hold within.

 

With all this comes the need for self-love, and the YMI team encourages us to foster strong relationships with ourselves first and foremost. They journey of self-love is never easy or straight forward, but it's one that is powerful for us as women:

 
"I'm still learning self-love and care but without YMI I think I wouldn't even had the realisation."
Devinya, YMI Alumni
 
"I think that [self-love] was one of my main goals when joining as I have been through a lot in life and this programme showed me how to completely love myself again and not be too hard on myself. I couldn't be happier."
Jade, YMI Alumni
 
Celebrating Our Brilliance

 

In a workshop with Leyya Sattar from The Other Box we learnt the benefits of making a list of our achievements. With many of us struggling with imposter syndrome, this was a great tip to further boost self-esteem and recognise success even when it feels like you’ve done ‘everything’ wrong! In times like this we learnt that we have the power to "become our own solution to the problem" as described by Loretta, another alumni from my cohort.

 

Being Authentic and Proud
 

Even though a lot of YMI focuses on enhancing yourself and creating a better you, it's never to wipe away who you really are. The focus on authenticity ran through the programme and one session with Gestalt Psychotherapist Wanjiku Nyachae allowed us to explore who we are, how we want to be remembered and what our values are. Yes, of course there were tears – this comes with the programme (at first I was quite uncomfortable with this reality –  but you get used to it). The sessions usually feel like a mix of constructive girl talk, advice, creative outlet, a place to cry and not forgetting some very functional business and career talk which can leave you feeling empowered. Loretta further described this process of finding comfort within the sisterhood:

 
"YMI encourages women to be open in a safe environment, to have discussions that we can overcome fear, doubt and challenges into the workspace. Through truthful feedback and guidance, the sisterhood helps us build our awareness in our wellbeing, developing strategies and finding solutions."

 

 

Gal
Phoot: Ben Sage Photography

 

Connecting Through Openness and Honesty

 

The workshops were never just about getting tasks done, but also acknowledging how we felt. At the beginning of sessions, the YMI team would ask how we felt in in that moment, creating a space for truth and allowed some to go deeper with their feelings. Just a simple question like “who feels low today?" or "who didn't sleep so well yesterday?" would make the interactions more human. As the team shared their feelings and experiences, we felt comfortable to speak about struggles we face with race, class, mental health, making progress and even relationships. Together we bonded over the similarities as well as differences and not just with the women on the course, but also others who we met. Devinya, a previous participant shared her insight on how women are conditioned and how YMI changes that:

 

"I think in general a lot of girls feel like they're in competition with one another and with that it's hard for some of us to connect. But YMI allows us to see the things we have in common, whether it be by race, culture/heritage, or the area you're born in, which for me is what makes YMI unique."
 

 

gal
Photo: Ben Sage Photography

 

To share yourself in a non-conventional and somewhat pure way really shows that you’re human and most importantly not alone in your thoughts and struggles. Being with so many people on the same journey but at very different stages was endearing. There was so much value in there being  someone ready to nod with understanding or embrace you with a hug. A lot of us had gone through similar struggles with mental health and were able to articulate it, which was quite surprising, and inspiring. The impact stretches beyond the programme and Lorraine, another YMI Alumni summarizes this up perfectly: 

 

"Through shared experience, bonds are made and this helps us to be open with women outside of YMI too."

 

Finding Sisterhood

You didn't have to be the closest of friends with each person in the group, but the mutual love and respect was always there - as women, young ladies, creatives, and sisters. Everyone had something to share and everyone had someone willing to listen. The journey of love within yourself is an even changing one but it's one that must continue to grow. I know that cultivating healthy honest relationships is an act of love to yourself and others, and YMI is the perfect place to build that foundation. Jade, a fellow YMI alumni also felt the power of sisterhood whilst on the programme:

"I've always been very independent and not very social, but when I joined this course, everything changed and every single girl on that course became one of my sisters. I felt like I had someone to talk to when I was having a bad day, or if I had a certain idea every single one of them would give me the encouragement to pursue it further. It definitely changed the way I see women and girls."

 

 

gal
Photo: Ben Sage Photography

 

Every Friday is Galentine's Day!

 

If there was a chance to do Galentine’s every Friday I’d assume it’d look like the You Make It Introduction to Vlogging session delivered by Media Trust and hosted by Vice Magazine where we worked in teams to create our own vlogs. Or even the preparation day for Trading Places (a market-stall project for creative makers) where we came together to support our sisters trial their crafts at Old Spitalfields' Market. The beauty of these sessions was that we all got down to business with our own ideas whilst enjoying, celebrating & sharing each other's passions. Because that's what sisterhood is all about!

 

If there's one thing I've learnt about life is that you make it what you want, you can take a step into your journey of self-improvement. 

 

gal
Photo: You Make It

 

Need more than one Galentine's Day?

 

Maybe you need a sisterhood, want to work on self love or maybe your business idea needs to blossom? If you're hungry to thrive and access some support, message our Programmes Manager Roxi for a chat to find our more and see if you can embark on that journey in 2019.

 

Sending love from the YMI participants, alumni and team - Happy Love Day!

 

Lovingly written by Bemi Onadeko. Bemi graduated from our 2018 YMI progamme and is passionate about all things to do with wellbeing, mental health & creating positive change.

 

Check out our YouTube and Instagram for more girl power and inspiring stories.

 

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In these difficult times, You Make It is an important scheme that not only provides a safe, nurturing space for unemployed young women, it enables them to tap into the power within themselves and realise their potential.
Irenosen Okojie , Celebrity Ambassador