Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Inspired by Convention: Melissa d'Arabian

Welcome to the fourth post in the "Inspired by Alpha Chi Omega Convention" series! Thank you, Kelly Kilgour, for sharing what most inspired you in this guest post!

I love going to Convention. I love seeing my Twitter sisters in real life, meeting my team of specialists face to face, and reconnecting with my favorite Texans. Each Convention is different but still a wonderful experience. If I had only known what the weekend in St. Louis was to bring, I don't think I could have ever prepared for it. I laughed, cried, and reflected more in those 96 hours than I probably had my entire life. This Convention was the absolute best I have attended, in so many ways. Because it would turn into a novel if I tried to write about everything that inspired me, I'm just going to focus on the one person who inspired me the most: Melissa d'Arabian.

Melissa first spoke to us during her acceptance of the Award of Achievement, given to outstanding alumnae who have made significant contributions in their field or profession. It was a teaser speech of what was about to come later at the National Housing Corporation (NHC) lunch, but I didn't know it yet. She spoke fondly of Alpha Chi Omega at Vermont and the support she received when she lost her mother at only 20 years old.

I'll admit, I hadn't watched her season of Food Network Star. After she won, I heard that she is an Alpha Chi Omega. I watched her show a few times, but I didn't know much more about her than that she was a stay at home mom who won a reality TV show with a prize of a show on the Food Network.

During her speech at the NHC lunch, I learned about Melissa's life and why she does the things she does. She grew up with a sister and her single mother, and watched as her mother put herself through medical school to give her daughters a better life. Melissa then lost her mom to suicide. Before marrying her husband and having four children, Melissa earned her MBA and worked in consulting and finance. There was so much more to this woman than I had ever imagined.

Through what seemed like years of deep introspection, Melissa was able to articulate beautifully how to live each day to the fullest. Her goal was to give us one lesson and two challenges, but I instead gained a longer list of wisdom from her:
  • Lesson: You take you with you wherever you go. Happiness is an inside job.
  • Challenge: Take 3 minutes and develop your personal life mission. Then, don't do anything that doesn't further your personal life mission.
  • Challenge: Know what's really important to you, then allocate your resources to that.
  • Life is easier when you sit in the front row.
  • I want to raise women who know that it's okay to say "no" to people and still love them.
  • We don't need to be afraid of failure; we need to be afraid of success at the wrong thing.
I left that room of 900 people feeling like she and I had just had an intimate one-on-one conversation. I could relate to her and everything that she was saying. Thanks to the recent lengthy Atlantic article, there's been much debate lately on whether or not women can "have it all" and how to make it happen. As women, I feel that we constantly try to please and care for others long before we care for ourselves. We feel pressure to do it all and be everything to everyone, and we feel guilty if we try to sneak in some "me" time or do something that solely benefits ourselves. We find it hard to say "no" to people, and it all keeps piling higher on our plates. Millennial women are burning out before 30, before adding marriage and children into the mix. While it may seem that Melissa "has it all," she is actually just focusing on allocating her resources to what's most important to her and only saying "yes" to things that further her personal life mission.

Melissa inspired me to really think about my personal life mission and what's important to me, which is exactly what she hoped we would all do. So now I challenge all of you to do the same things. What is your personal life mission? What is important to you? How can you further your personal life mission by allocating by allocating your resources to what's most important to you?

Photo credit: Iota Psi chapter of Alpha Chi Omega, Elon University

Kelly Kilgour is an initiate of the Kappa Nu chapter (Carnegie Mellon University). She currently volunteers as the Lead Technology Specialist, helping alumnae chapters to utilize technology in new ways. She is also the president of the Chi Chi (Pittsburgh, PA) alumnae chapter and the finance advisor for both Kappa Nu and Delta (Allegheny College). Follow her on twitter at @QueenKellyLynn.

1 comment:

  1. I agree Kelly - you felt like she was talking to you one-on-one. She was intelligent, engaging and moving.

    Ames - what is her brother's name ... can't remember ... FSU Music College ...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...