“Being you means being resilient.”

Cerys Evans and I reflect on identity. Evie Harman, The Girls' Network Ambassador

Last month in Brighton, the PlusX Innovation Hub welcomed The Girls’ Network to host their first ever #BEYOU event in their new and exciting coworking space! I - Evie, an ambassador, advocate and now blog writer(!?) for The Girls’ Network, was a Network Lead at the #BEYOU event. For me, the day consisted of finally getting to meet Zak in person (we’ve worked together a lot remotely for The Girls’ Network,) learning how to #BEBRAVE from Afrori Book’s founder Carolynne Bain and being introduced to the lovely poet Cerys Evans. Cerys kindly joined me, from the tiny square of my screen as a Zoom call, to reflect on the true meaning of #BEYOU. 

Cerys Evans, a writer, performer and artistic director, found the day inspiring: “Especially to see so many young people with drive and ambition. You could see that there was a real want for success.” This event was the first time Cerys had ever performed her work in a conference that included so many people from Gen Z! And believe me, her performance truly suited the theme, especially the poem “Am I Woman Enough?” which tackled discourses around personal identity conflicts from the perspective of being transgender. 

When asked about what factors contribute towards Cerys and her authenticity, she thoughtfully listed:
Poetry - for it's ability to platform compassion, vulnerability and anger
Creativity & the creative people around you - “It's a Brighton thing!
Identity Politics - especially in female spaces and the internal dialogue of “Do I fit in?”
Resilience - “Being yourself creates more opportunities.”
Values - “Lots of people would do different things with £1million. Think, why do you want the £1mill? What do you value?” 

Like the natural poet that Cerys is, her values (which align perfectly with the rules of alliteration!) consist of creativity, community, compassion and courage; this is what motivates Cerys and her work. In business, where (it can feel like) everyone “must be the same and fit perfectly into a cookie cutter,” it can be hard to stay true to your individuality, likes/dislikes and values. But, as Cerys shared from her poem ‘Dear Perfectionism’ you too can ‘hold your spine straight in a world that tries to keep you down.’ “Things are always changing and there will be a time where you feel better.”

So, as a final on conclusion on what it means to #BEYOU, I hope the event and this interview helped you to reflect. You are all of the emotions you feel, the values you hold, the creativity you possess and the people you choose to surround yourself with. I think that’s pretty cool! I also think it’s pretty cool, in fact, VERY cool that we were able to attend an event as empowering as this, so thank you to everyone listed below for making this happen, you really are unlocking potential!

- Grace Veenman, Ambassador Community Lead at The Girls’ Network
- The Ambassador Champions:  Zak our host, Aliyah, Amy and Farheen
- The amazing guests: Cerys Evans, Aflo The Poet, Living Proof World, Carolynne Bain, Zoe Garsh, Honey Health & IntoUniversity.
- Enterprise-Rent-a-Car for their generous sponsorship.