“My Home Team Means Everything To Me”
Meet Rachel McGowan. She’s a 20-something ENFP (high emphasis on that E) with a heartbeat for social justice and the ability to make anything awkward. She’s fascinated by people’s stories and prefers to have conversations about the things that don’t usually come up at the dinner table.
We talk to Rachel about her “home team” and more, like:
- Motivation that’s found in self-love.
- How even introverts can benefit from a community of support.
- What to look for in your own support squad.
Interviewing Rachel is DTGS Founder and a proud member of Rachel’s support squad, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Villa. Alright, here’s Rachel!
#1–Finding motivation in self-love regardless of the season.
Lizzy: You are so wonderfully self-aware and intentional, so I’m going to start by putting you on the spot for a check-in. How do you feel about your physical self these days?
Rachel: I’d say reflective, motivated, and scattered. Reflective on the last year, how I’ve been good to my body and the ways I haven’t been so good. As I set goals and make plans for 2017, I’m feeling motivated to think of ways I can take better care of my physical self. And I feel scattered because, well, it’s a lot to think about. And it comes with it’s own insecurities and fears! I’m human.
L: Looking back further, what have you learned about your physical self in different seasons of your life?
R: I notice that in my most stressful seasons, I take worse care of my body. But it also seems like my body knows I’m stressed before my mind does. So I’ll be more lethargic, sleep less, gain or lose weight, without really knowing why. I’ve found it’s my body’s way of telling me to check in.
L: What’s important to you about your physical space and physical self?
R: It’s important to me that I talk about my body positively, especially in my job. I work with high school and college girls, and I want to set really healthy expectations for them as I mentor them. Body positivity is crucial, and it’s important that girls learn to speak kindly about themselves during their formative years so that they can maintain those habits for life.
L: I love that! We don’t always get to control negative thoughts, but we can get into habits with our words. Are there any labels you’ve claimed, found, or shed?
R: Curvy! I know it’s become a buzzword lately, but it took me awhile to own it. But I am proud of the way my body curves and bounces; it reminds me of my Latin roots and my feisty attitude.
#2–Even introverts can benefit from a community of support.
L: Speaking of your job, can you tell us about I AM THAT GIRL, your role there, and why it’s important to you?
R: IATG is a nonprofit that provides confidence and leadership curriculum for girls in high school and college, where they lead their peers in having conversations about things that matter and join us in our goal of shifting girl culture.
I am the Program Director for the organization, managing the strategy and growth of the Local Chapter Program. It’s important to me because growing up, I always sought a place where I truly could belong — I always felt in-between and not good enough. IATG empowers girls to create safe spaces in their local communities where everyone can feel seen, heard, and like they belong.
There has never been a better time for girls to step up and create a better story than the one currently available to them. As they go through our program, they discover their own voice and feel empowered to take up space in the world.
L: I’ve gotten to see some of the IATG community in action, and it’s pretty amazing.
Why is it important for individuals to develop a community of support? Even (ahem) introverts?
R: I think we all were designed for community in some aspect — every type of human needs connection. It’s one of our most basic needs! So developing the community of people who uplift you and bring forth your best at crucial stages of life like high school and college really sets our girls up for success as they navigate different seasons in life.
L: How has your support squad impacted your life?
R: My support squad — my home team, as I call them — means everything to me. The permission to simply be myself, without judgment or fear of rejection, makes me feel so seen. I truly have found friendships that feel like home to me — and it reminds me that our very best friends are the family we choose.
I have felt empowered by my support squad to make decisions that reflect my values and goals, and I have also felt inspired to push myself beyond what I think I can do. They love me for me, and have given me a sense of belonging in the world.
#3–What to look for in a support squad.
L: What should someone look for in a home team? P.S. I love that name and am stealing it.
R: Authentic connection is so important, along with a shared desire for each other to be the best version of themselves. It’s also important to surround yourself with people who look different than you, who have different stories and experiences than yours. When we open ourselves up to people who travel through the world with different eyes, we are then able to see things in new ways.
L: What makes a person or organization worthy of being part of your support squad?
R: For me, it’s all about honesty and communication. I’m a firm believer that conflict creates deepened connection, so if someone is willing to go to the hard places with me and still continue to grow together, then they’re on my team for life. Selfless love, in it for the good times AND the hard ones, and able to see past the surface to truly call me out on my shit. Can I say shit?
L: Umm yes! Do you have any tips for someone who is interested in finding a supportive community like IATG?
R: DIG IN. Be brave for yourself by showing up for those around you — find the people who your soul connects with, and cultivate friendships with them that are based on honesty, empowerment, mutual encouragement, and a true love for life. Be honest with yourself about the friends + community that surround you — are they calling forth your best? Do they make you feel like you’re worthy of love and support? Lean into these questions for yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask your friends if they’re finding this in their own lives as well. We’re way more alike than we are different — I bet your friends are yearning for the same kind of community that you are.