Tonight marked a turning point for me, as I ventured into unfamiliar territory at an event called "Wine, Women, and Wealth" hosted at a place called Nurture, A Wellcare Marketplace. This place, though dressed in promises of authenticity, reeks of facade and a manufactured sense of belonging. As I drove up to the building, my stomach clenched in apprehension. This was a place I loathed, yet I was determined to embody the everyday bravery I teach to others, to step into discomfort.
Nurture, with its grandiose claims of well-being, seems to prioritize an exclusive demographic – those who tick the boxes of whiteness and affluence. The atmosphere rekindles memories of high school cliques and attitudes, an environment where authenticity was an endangered species. The event I attended, "Wine, Women, and Wealth," was meant to empower women to seek financial abundance, but the reality I encountered was far from the non-competitive and empowering space it claimed to be.
From the moment I stepped inside, I felt the stifling air of haughtiness pressing against me. The sense of inadequacy, carefully cultivated by Nurture, engulfed me once again. Whether it was the glorified Walmart greeter at the concierge desk or the snarky hosts and guests indulging in overpriced, digestively perfect food and drinks, the room radiated performative insincerity. I donned my own social mask, a shield against the judgmental glances and whispers that permeated the space.
In a room of 75 women, each introducing themselves and striving to promote their work, I saw through the thinly veiled attempts at connection. Indeed, the repetitive “I like brunch” refrain echoed through the room like a desperate attempt to fit into a prescribed mold. The shallowness of these exchanges left me squirming, yearning for authenticity that seemed to be a rare commodity in that space. This was an emotionally unsafe room, a painful reminder of how women can inadvertently perpetuate a toxic environment of comparison and judgment.
As the event continued, the leader attempted to empower us by sharing tidbits from the book "You Are a Badass with Money." However, her regurgitation of positive thinking advice fell short of addressing the complexity of changing thought patterns. The toxic notion of eradicating negativity, instead of learning to navigate and challenge it, echoed loudly.
It was a night of insincerity, culminating in an odd prize drawing that only added to the surreal experience. Amidst the awkwardness, the drawing added another layer of discomfort. I winced with each name slip drawn, secretly hoping my name wouldn't be chosen. But fate had other plans, and a butchered version of my name, "Loooshia Soversan," was called out in a tone that seemed to imply embarrassment for having a name that didn't conform to their norms. It was a stark reminder that even in the midst of attempting to celebrate achievement, the event managed to highlight differences and trigger a sense of unease.
Despite the discomfort, I recognized the value of this evening. I confronted my fear and walked into a space where judgment loomed large. It was akin to training at a mental gym for bravery. The experience left me acutely aware of the vapors of inadequacy this place cultivates. But more importantly, it reaffirmed my resolve to create a different reality for women, one rooted in courage to shed societal masks.
Leaving Nurture behind, I stepped out into a world where I have the power to define my culture for women. This event was just one group's reality, a stark reminder that I have the agency to choose a different path. Tonight, I embraced discomfort and emerged stronger, more confident in my ability to navigate a world of my own making.