Alice Bray

HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY YOUR PASSION AND THE WORK THAT SATISFIED YOU VERSUS WORK THAT JUST PAID THE BILLS?

I knew I always wanted a career that made positive impact. I’ve always felt a sense of urgency to help, support, encourage other people and I get a huge rush of energy seeing people succeed. It’s something I have always felt deep down, so it became less about identifying it as I got older and more about how can I make it happen. Joining the public sector where we serve our community over profit was a natural fit, but in 2018 I wanted to do MORE and created my instagram channel Consciousness NZ. Consciousness came out of the need to both inform and inspire people to be exposed to positive information, whether that be about a not-for-profit needing support, a sustainable clothing brand launching a new garment, volunteer opportunities in their community – anything that was social impact, ethical, sustainable and filled with love. It was about disrupting the content on instagram to put out information that cycles back to impact for good.

WHO WILL ETERNALLY BE A WOMAN YOU ADMIRE AND RESPECT, AND WHY?

Just one?! The women I admire and respect are badass and kind, powerful and soft, strong and sensitive and they speak their mind. I will always have huge admiration, appreciation and respect for the likes of Maya Angelou, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Meryl Streep, Jacinda Ardern and Tarana Burke, but I am actually focusing this year on admiration and respect for myself. I think we unintentionally overlook our own successes everyday, because we have so many other icons and role-models to celebrate. If everyone felt the deepest sense of admiration for ourselves, our physical bodies, our minds, our spirits, and respected them all too – we would have some POWERFUL women on our hands. So I’m learning to walk that walk at the moment.

IN LIGHT OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR HASHTAG #WHYITRIBE, WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE WHO WE ALREADY ARE TODAY?

From experience, there is always more you can do. Perfection is subjective. And that’s coming from a recovering-perfectionist! If we continue to strive for more, for better, for bigger – it almost discredits the achievements we make along the way as ‘not enough’, when really each step is just as important as the one before and the one after. Whether that is applied to our habits, goals, achievements, pursuits, it’s so important to celebrate the small with the big. This week I didn’t get to my gym classes, but I went for a swim and it felt GOOD. The job I took a year ago wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, and now I landed a new one and it is EPIC. It’s important we celebrate ourselves in a world where are told we aren’t enough. Step one is not listening to those voices, but step two is believing in yourself and your power so much that you can’t even hear them anymore.

NAME A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU SAID SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF/HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

I caught myself in a negative self-talk spiral the other day. I was feeling down, tired, bloated, just yuck. I talk a walk outside to get some fresh air and sat down in the sun to centre myself and began by asking myself – why are you talking to yourself like this? Is it serving you? It is supporting you? Is it challenging your growth? No. So I took a deep breath in, and said to myself ALICE YOU ARE POWER. You are a lover, a giver, a supporter, a listener, and today will be a good day because I am choosing it to be. My whole energy shifted. I felt drawn back into a positive, balanced, relaxed state. The power of self-talk is incredible, when you realise how positively you encourage and support others but don’t echo that for yourself, your whole world can shift.

WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN SHY AWAY FROM CELEBRATING OR PRAISING THEMSELVES SO MUCH?

I think women shy away from that for many reasons, but one that feels constant is because of fear of judgement that we might be taking up “too much” space. The old and archaic box women had to (and still do in some cases) fit into that said they had to be small in stature, petite in size, have a quiet voice and stay in the background are still perpetuated in so many ways – which is where the lack of celebration and self-praise fits in. We don’t want to be judged by others to be “too” loud, “too” confident, “too” ambitious. I think to break this cycle we need to always lift ourselves and each other up, and catch ourselves before we continue to perpetuate this belief, especially with other women. I read recently that success isn’t a pie, one person’s gain does not mean your loss – and it’s true.

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE TENDENCY TO DISCREDIT COMPLIMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN?

You learn to stop self-sabotaging yourself, and that is a hard habit to unlearn. Much like shying away from celebrating or praising ourselves, women can be so quick to discredit or downplay their own achievements incase they are perceived as arrogant – tall poppy syndrome is so detrimental to our goals! When someone compliments you as a women, pause, soak up that compliment and simply say “thank you”. I spent time after time in front of a mirror saying “thank you” to myself because it felt so uncomfortable taking that compliment and responding but with anything other than a bumbling “oh no, it’s nothing, it was easy, not a worry, anytime”. Practice the words coming out of your mouth, and watch the new habit form.

HOW DOES SOCIETY REINFORCE THE IDEA THAT WE, AS WOMEN, ARE NOT ENOUGH AND HOW CAN WE TAKE THAT POWER BACK?

100%. This has so many different layers to it, it’s hard to unpack sometimes. Elements like women being “scientifically” categorised as less than a man, society telling women that they cannot exist without the permission, approval or agreement of a male figure, women having to be the wife, mother or the working woman label. All of these ideas fuel each other and fall on our shoulders as burdens we are told we must bare. I think we take that power back by calling it for what it is, a lie. Enough what?! We are MORE THAN enough. I am MORE THAN enough. You are MORE THAN enough.

ARE WE TOLD ENOUGH AS YOUNG GIRLS THAT #WEAREENOUGH? IF NOT, HOW CAN WE CHANGE THIS MESSAGING FOR YOUNG GIRLS TODAY?

I think this messaging is continuously getting better. I see story books like Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and illustrations like ‘Our Wāhine’ by New Zealand artist Kate Hursthouse which celebrate women and their achievements and I wish I had more of that in my childhood. I feel this energy that more and more women are standing hand in hand and empowering each other to be bolder as women, and I see a social change in what it means to be a women, or womxn, and how we are moving past binaries to let people be themselves. I think young girls growing up now have huge challenges in front of them, but I also think they have a society that is progressing with them, or where it’s not, they are learning they have a right to challenge it and be heard.

WHAT WOULD YOU GO BACK AND TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF, TO ENCOURAGE SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-LOVE?

I would tell my younger self to be kinder to myself. I was – and still am at times – overly harsh and critical of myself, even when I have achieved something. It’s detrimental to our holistic health to continue living in that negative bubble, and as you get older you realise the huge impact people around you have on your self-esteem and self-love. I would give my younger self the biggest hug and say there are always lessons to learn, but loving yourself is the most important. Self-love gives way to healthy habits, routines, boundaries, expectations and opportunities that you make for yourself and that you set for others. Self-love goes hand in hand with self-respect and I want to teach more women the importance of both.

WHERE DO YOU THINK THE NEED TO COMPETE WITH OTHER WOMEN COMES FROM? IS IT TAUGHT?

I think there’s an inherent animalistic-type competitive drive that is biologically ingrained in all of us – but there is a specifically socially crafted element of that competition that gets pinned on women vs. women. It’s horrible to watch women tear down other women, and whether it comes from a place of fear, jealousy, unkindness, sadness – it comes back to this notion that someone’s success is your loss. Except life isn’t a competition, there’s no awards at the end of race. I think self-love and self-respect have a big role to play in dismantling this competitiveness. If you are confident in yourself, know your power, and respect yourself then you see black and white how utterly ridiculous tearing down someone else is. It does nothing but reflect back on yourself your own insecurities. I think it’s definitely taught, both consciously and unconsciously by language and media, but I think the 2010s have brought with them a challenge from women all around the world that we are not at war with each other, and we are putting a stop to it. That challenge is important.

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT?

The TRIBE is critical because mindful conversation and empowerment are critical. Maya Angelou said, when you know better, you do better. But you can’t know better without raising your consciousness, learning and growing. That’s no easy thing! But collectives like the TRIBE give a platform for this kind of growth. Celebrating success, championing change, empowering action, and affirming what we know to be true – WE ARE POWERFUL, and we don’t need to feel ashamed or guilty about it.

Occupation: Public servant and consciousness-raiser

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Instagram: consciousnessnz