“ONLY THOSE WHO RISK GOING TOO FAR CAN POSSIBLY FIND OUT HOW FAR THEY CAN GO.”
One of the best parts of childhood is being able to run up to another child, say “tag, you are it!” and with that, you have the start of a budding new friendship. If only that was how you made friends as an adult. It seems especially hard to make friends in Vancouver, particularly, if you have moved here as an adult.
I had moved to Vancouver in 2021 just as summer was packing up its bags and the rain was ready to start its reign of terror. I found myself yearning for community, but I couldn’t seem to break into one in Vancouver.
Since moving to Vancouver, I realized I spent countless hours looking out at the cloudy skies and the pouring rain, wishing I was back in Toronto with the community I had found there. I was beginning to feel depressed and alone – the darkness outside was finding its way within.
It was at a time when I was on an incredibly challenging project at work, one with extremely high burnout that no one wanted to be on. My days were spent working and then feeling so drained that I went straight to bed to sleep; rinse and repeat, and then waking up to do it all again. My sense of self-efficacy, optimism, and purpose were at an all time low. What’s worse, as a Jamaican, I was taught that “if you want good, your nose have to run” – in other words, in a country where opportunities are scarce, grit and resilience is highly valued, even if it comes with an unbearable toll on one’s mental and physical health. So I did what my cultural upbringing taught me. I stiffened my upper lip and powered through. But there comes a point where even a power drill gets shorted out.
That was when I reached out to Dress for Success Vancouver. Several years before when I had first moved to Canada, I had reached out to Dress for Success Toronto. Dress for Success had helped to suit me, provided job searching services as I looked for jobs, and matched me with a professional life coach. It had been a lifeline to me as a newcomer and so I reached out to the charity again for help.
After reaching out to DFS Vancouver, I was selected for the Professional Women’s Group and found I was “re-finding myself” in the process. Each month, I met with my peers and we shared our ‘ya-yas’ (our newest achievements or things that had gone well), as well as our challenges and talked it through. I felt a part of a community again, surrounded by hardworking, driven women -many who were newcomers, many who were also racialized, many who were building a foundation in Canada and all inspiring in their own way.
Each week, we had speakers join us to talk about our personal values, personal finance (a super important topic in a city as pricey as Vancouver), and communicating with confidence and power. We also were paired with a mentor. My mentor’s presence in my life made me feel listened to and invested in. The PWG workshops and mentorship prepared me for the tough conversation I needed to roll off that challenging project at work and equipped me with the tools to advocate for a promotion. On the personal front, it helped to rebuild my confidence as I continued to navigate my new home in Vancouver – this time as a new Canadian.
Dress for Success is a lifeline to so many women across Vancouver and Canada for many reasons. At different points in my journey it provided different levels of support from suiting to job search support to professional development to community. In order for its good work to continue and for other women to benefit, it requires all of us to pitch in and support, I hope you don’t mind if I invite you in.
Tag, you are it.
You can help make more dreams of confidence, community and connection come true by empowering women like Alecia into good jobs, financial independence and personal success by donating today.