On the 4th of July, we couldn't help but remember the story Sahar Paz told at Emerging Women's Power Night Boulder.
Not just because Sahar is a firework of a woman. Which she is. "Smokin' is the word that comes to mind," said Emerging Women founder Chantal Pierrat.
When Sahar walked out on the stage, she was absolutely owning it. Don't believe us? Just take a look at her amazing shoes:
But she didn't start off owning it.
Sahar was born in war-torn Iran, where she never knew from one day to the next if all of her classmates would show up at school, or if the sidewalk in front of her apartment would still be there. She got the feeling that if she just stayed very quiet and very still, everything might be okay. Despite the bombs.
When she moved to America as a young girl, she was stunned by 4th of July fireworks displays. How could these sounds mean celebration and Independence when to her the soundtrack of explosions had always said live in fear and know your place?
In that environment of fear, her personal inner voice was shamed and shushed out of existence before she was 10 years old.
Instead, she aimed for perfection and quiet in an attempt to mitigate "the burden of her existence." As she got older, the voice of perfection turned into wanting to please not just parents, teachers and friends, but also men. She habitually turned to others to define her value.
Looking around, the direct line to that value seemed to be MONEY.
Her tireless work ethic eventually took her to a corner office in NYC, complete with a view of Manhattan and the Queensboro bridge - the whole bit. From the outside, she appeared to be living a "Sex and the City" life. She was check, check, checking all the boxes, but she was not happy.
What was once a hopeful sadness turned into a hopeless depression.
But Sahar turned things around. How did she do it? She found her voice.
"We all have a war of words within. I learned how to get out of my war way faster because I was dealt a lot of shit way earlier. But that’s probably the only difference between you and me." Now, Sahar has stepped into a state of permission.
"Turns out Maya Angelou was my guardian angel," Sahar said.
She bought a ticket to Emerging Women Live 2014 specifically to see the incomparable poet. And though Maya Angelou passed before the event, Sahar knew she needed something and decided to go anyway.
And she didn't just go casually. She showed up. "I needed to be in the spit zone," she said. She sat in the front row as woman after woman reflected versions of her own experience back to her, albeit in different contexts and with different words. She found strength in those women. And strength in herself.
She especially connected with the theme of permission.
"Chantal gave herself permission in front of all of us. She was vulnerable, right at the start, and gave herself permission to eff up during the weekend." Sahar was moved and gave herself permission to do the same - to show up as her true self, to let her inner voice speak, and to trust that if she eff-ed up, it wouldn't be the end of the world.
"I was not holding on to that voice of failure," she realized. "That's only one voice within me. That is not all of me." She knew her inner voice had more to say than just censorship, criticism and judgement.
Sahar's journey has led her from a quiet perfectionist to a fierce woman, embracing her inner voice and encouraging others to do the same. We are thrilled to share her voice with you as an Emerging Short speaker at Emerging Women Live 2015.
"We exist in a world of abundance. All scarcity is here," Sahar said as she pointed to her heart.
"There is an abundance of pain in this world," she echoed, "so that means there is also an abundance of opportunity." Are you ready to take it?
Sahar Paz is going to change the world, but she knows she cannot do it alone.
In one of our favorite moments, she said, "Do not take the voice of comparison - we gotta hold each other’s hands. I’m standing on your shoulders. And I’m reaching for the UN."
Then she gave herself permission to deliver a badass rap, full of her voice and straight from the heart. And it was smokin'.
What are you reaching for? And whose shoulders are there for you while you do it? We would love to know - please share with us in the comments.