Breaking Stereotypes and the Importance of Mentorship

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BY: ALYSSA MAHADEO

The saying goes, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ As a woman, it defines you and brings out the strength in character you didn’t even know you had. Multi-faceted, millennial entrepreneur Pauleanna Reid was born in Etobicoke and raised in Brampton by hard-working Trinidadian and Jamaican parents.

Strong believers of the Christian faith, Pauleanna’s parents were very traditional, instilling values of working hard in order to reap the benefits of life. Like most parents who have immigrated from the Caribbean, they were not very out of the box thinkers, and as a millennial woman, Pauleanna’s imagination and passion to follow her heart didn’t always align with her parents’ traditional way of thinking.

Throughout her childhood, Pauleanna was dealt with many challenging and emotional obstacles. Her parents believed that growing up as a woman of colour, she needed to take the safe route and find a career path that would provide her security. “I believed that I was capable of so much more than leading a life of mediocrity,” shares Pauleanna. 

While attending elementary and high school, Pauleanna struggled with her identity, body image and finding the courage and confidence to take charge of her life and live it her way. “As young girls, we are taught that we can be anything and everything we want to be, and as we enter our teenage years we are then told we have to be realistic, and shelf my dreams away,” she explains. She found herself receiving conflicting messages, and it was very confusing for her to comprehend.

Pauleanna was also a victim of bullying. The other girls at her high school would bully her, calling her names, or make fun of the way she dressed and carried herself.  As an athletic girl, her body wasn’t as shapely or slim as the other girls and she never fit in. She found herself in a deep depression, always feeling like she couldn’t live up to anyone’s expectations. Also in line with not feeling like she could fit in, Pauleanna was aware that she was struggling much more than the other students when it came to her school work. Never having been diagnosed with a learning disability, it was frustrating for her knowing that she wasn’t up to the average learning standard, causing her to fail some of her courses in high school.

The only place where she found her escape, discovered true passion and saw her potential was through her creative mind. She would find herself daydreaming and journaling about what she would do if she were pretty, or confident or smart, composing stories and poetry that spoke of her potential. Writing made everything perfect. It became her place of comfort and happiness that took her away from the other conflicts dominating her life.

During her senior year of college, she decided that enough was enough. Half way through one of her final exams, she ripped up her exam paper and walked out, knowing it wasn’t the path she was meant for, telling herself that she would figure it out.

Going through that period of uncertainty, she was tired of living with depression and seeing other people enjoying their lives. In order to take the next steps in her life, Pauleanna knew she had to break the stereotypes she was so tired of hearing and take back control of her happiness.

She created a vision board and found mentors who provided her with the guidance she needed to move forward. Taking the advice of her mentor, and her dream of becoming a writer, Pauleanna established an online presence through her blog, investing in everything she could ever want for herself. 

Pauleanna has come a long way… forging a career in journalism and becoming a nationally published writer at the age of 22. The next four years would take her on a whirlwind adventure producing news reports for many major news publications and conducting interviews with some highly revered public figures. In addition to her career, she also published her first novel Everything I couldn’t Tell My Mother, which became an Amazon bestseller after only two weeks on the market.

Her latest projects see her mentoring young girls and millennial women, providing assistance with life planning, career strategies and personal style, and creating a sisterhood network of women aiming to blaze their own trails. “Be a woman with both beauty and brains,” says Pauleanna, “There’s nothing sexier than a woman who’s confident and smart, lay the foundation for your future.”

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