When I first met Sapphire Andersen, I could feel her passion. A powerful advocate and activist, Sapphire is an individual who uses her voice to create change. I had the amazing opportunity to speak to her about the Tell Her She Can campaign, a project she recently started in October 2017 to showcase the amazing power of women. It was inspiring to hear her stories and insights, and I am so excited to share her journey.
Q: What inspired you to start the Tell Her She Can campaign?
A: The Tell Her She Can campaign is a project that is a culmination of many years of my ideas, experiences, and passions. Why Tell Her She Can? I was struck by an American University and Loyola Marymount University report that found that women are much less likely than men to think they are qualified to run for office. Women are less confident in their abilities, so much so that they need more encouragement to run. Studies show that when women are recruited, they respond just as positively as men. So why aren’t we encouraging more of our friends, young women, colleagues, and leaders to run, to achieve their ambitions, (and) to gain confidence in their own abilities? Sparked from the ideas of political involvement, the Tell Her She Can campaign extends to women from all walks of life pursuing their callings from all different fields—whether in the boardroom, in the lab or classroom, on the legislative floor, or on the court or field.
Q: What has been your favorite part about running this campaign?
A: My favorite part about Tell Her She Can has been running the #InspireConfidence campaign. One of my favorite things from the #InspireConfidence campaign is that participants are asked to identify themselves using three positive adjectives. They are also asked to brag about themselves by sharing what they are most proud of, whether that is an achievement or award, a life event, or other special moment. This is a small practice in inspiring self-confidence in itself, and I love seeing the responses that come in. We often don’t get to brag about ourselves enough, so what a cool opportunity to share with a supportive community about the things that make you, you!
Q: What have you learned from the women you’ve interviewed and work with?
A: Confidence looks like many different things. Being a more reserved and introverted individual myself, the way that I define and exhibit confidence will look different from others. One of the questions that we ask participants of our #InspireConfidence campaign is: “Can you tell us about your personal journey with confidence?” Because confidence is exactly that: a journey. But there’s no final destination or stopping point in that I feel like finding confidence in yourself is only half of the battle. A lot of what I’ve learned from the stories of others echoes that sentiment in that confidence and exploring self-worth are difficult journeys that continue throughout our entire lives.
Having been an involved student and a campus leader myself, I think back a lot to what I’ve learned about myself and my own leadership style. While I’m hardly ever the loudest person in the room, my style of leadership doesn’t take a strong presence at the front of the room. Instead, I thrive in collaborative spaces and my biggest leadership strength is not speaking up—it’s listening. We all have differences and embracing those differences is what makes our communities strong. The stories shared on Tell Her She Can have helped me to realize that.
Q: What advice do you have for young women wanting to make a difference?
A: Everyone has to start somewhere. Take advantage of the incredible people in your life that will stand with you no matter what.
I feel like one of biggest challenges that I’ve faced (not just with Tell Her She Can, but during my high school and collegiate career or life in general) has been my struggle with “imposter syndrome” or the feeling that I am not quite good enough.
During high school and my early college years, I sometimes felt uncomfortable landing a leadership position, winning awards, or accepting scholarships. I was plagued with doubts like, “What if I’m not the right person for the job?” or even telling myself and others that “I must have just gotten lucky.” I know this is a problem that many young people face and that I am not alone in this self-doubt. With the support of cheerleaders around me (friends, family, and teachers), I took ownership for the things that I worked hard for and earned. Instead of asking “Why me?” I started demanding “Why not me?” My hope is that every woman looking to make a difference can get started on her journey without being plagued with self-doubt.
To learn more about this campaign and potentially share your story, connect with Tell Her She Can on Twitter or Instagram at @TellHerSheCan. To read their blog, visit tellhershecan.weebly.com, or you can contact Sapphire via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.