At the end of the story submission process, we invite each contributor to participate in a retrospective conversation about the impact of engaging with BlackFemaleProject and sharing her story.
From Vanessa Siverls: At dusk staring down the Manhattan Bridge, Chloe and I attempted the impossible: an interview in the streets of Brooklyn. I thought I knew how to share on the fly, but then other memories came up and I was borderline going on a tangent. Lol. But it was great to be in my hometown remembering back to the first time I spoke with Precious...and the rest is history.
CR: My name is Chloe Rice, I’m 29 years old, February 27th, 2018. And I’m speaking with Vanessa Siverls, my very good friend, and we’re recording this interview in Brooklyn, New York. So, what’s changed for you since you started writing and sharing your story?
VS: So much has changed. When I first started to share for the BlackFemaleProject, I honestly didn’t realize how much “stuff” would come up. And ever since discovering that “stuff,” it’s forced me to take a look at what I’m really passionate about, why I do what I do, who I’m doing it for, and making sure that it all makes sense for the goals I have in life. So it really has changed and I’m glad for it.
CR: What does it mean to you to thrive professionally?
VS: It’s always a process, but right now I’m discovering that the thing that I love to do—the things that I love to do—combine with the things that I’m really good at. Of course the icing on the cake is the things that people are willing to pay me for… That sweet spot in between those three is what it means for me to thrive professionally. rior to that, it was always, I gotta work really hard, I gotta work hard, for this person, for this person, for that person, to pay that person, so that person could pay me. Now it’s no. What is Vanessa good at, that she loves, that someone is willing to pay her for her service?
CR: Absolutely. So can you share a bit about your writing and sharing process and how that’s impacted you?
VS: When I started, I didn’t know where I was going; I didn’t really know how to start or where I was going to start. So, I went back to my professional career. Which was at the tender age of 16 years old. And it was really interesting because high school was a blur to me and now I see why. I literally was on the clock every day. I went to school for just a couple of hours, left school half a day and went straight to work. My first job, I was a receptionist at an oil company. And day one I noticed the differences between men and women and Black and white. And I believe that had played a huge role, impact, on my career going into Lehman Brothers and National Football League … I’ve been in corporate America all my life. So as I’m writing this stuff down, I’m thinking to myself, “Vanessa, what did you do for you? Vanessa, what did you build?” Was it always you doing what other people wanted you to do? So in my writings, it was a huge discovery that the male-female thing and the Black-white thing was my whole professional career. And that was a big discovery for me. Now, as I move forward with the things I want to do and build what I want to build, it’s about the value that I see. There’s no more Black-white, male-female, just value. Shared value. So when I was writing and [thinking about] sharing with the young women that are going to read my story, I’m hoping that they see that discovery and the process of that discovery in my writings.
CR: Absolutely. So, what words of wisdom would you share with your 18-year-old self?
VS: Girl, bye. Literally. If I had to show up to my 18-year-old self, I would say, “Girl, bye. Please… Why you working for this person? Why you working for that person? Why you not working for yourself? It’s okay; jump, thrive, go out. Try something for yourself.” So that’s what I would tell my 18-year old-self. First, “Girl, bye.” She’s gonna know I’m from the future. And secondly, “It’s okay, you’re young enough. Go out there and try to make something. For yourself.” That’s what I would tell my 18-year-old self.
CR: Well thank you so much for taking the time today Vanessa. It’s been wonderful.
VS: Thank you.