Rene Syler opens her closing keynote by saying to Kelby, “I love Type-A because I love. that. bitch. Can I say that?”
Everything Rene needed to lean in life, she learned in high school. She went to school in Sacramento. She grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and was one of three black students in her school, She wanted to be popular, so she tried out for cheerleading. It didn’t work out. So Rene went out for Color Guard, but she wasn’t coordinated enough for the two little flags, so she tried to get one of the big flag spots. There were eight spots and nine people who tried out. She was the only one who got cut.
But she realized that wasn’t her place. She was supposed to be the star of her own show, and not in the background. She went out for the track team, and she was really good at it.
Know where you fit. Know where you’re supposed to be. Know your tribe.
On a really windy day, Rene was doing an amazing job in the hurdles…until the 9th hurdle. The wind blew her too close to the hurdle, and she had an epic fall. She went from a close second place to dead last place. But she did finish the race.
Sometimes you will fall, and it will be an epic fall. Just get up and keep going.
What helps you get strong is when the wind is in your face and you have to push harder and give it your all. If you’re comfortable in your space, you’re not growing.
Sewing class taught Rene that she’s a lover, not a fighter. She and Tammy the Giant did not get along. Tammy hit her in the back in the hallway one day. Rene hit her back in the solar plexus. When Tammy the Giant double over, Rene ran, and she ran to the principal’s office. Despite the fact that Rene really wanted Tammy the Giant to like her, but not everyone is going to like you. And you just have to accept that.
Rene never learned long division. And today, that’s okay, because we have calculators, and she can pay someone to do that for her. She learned enough in pre-algebra to pass and graduate.
Women can be so mean to each other. Life is hard enough without all of that. Don’t be a mean girl. Be nicer. You don’t know everyone’s story, even if you think you do. Be more compassionate. If someone lowers their voice and says, “Have you heard…?” Don’t be a part of that negativity.
It ain’t over until it’s over. And when you think it’s over, it’s still not over. The thing you thought you wanted might not be the thing you need. It hurts, and it’s frustrating. But keep going. Carry on.