Ain’t I A Woman: Valencia Callens
Wow! Ain’t I a woman! Yes I am, a woman of faith, a woman who is no stranger to hard work, a woman continually pushing past insecurities, anxieties, and fears. A black southern woman who has based her whole business on empowering women to feel worthy and motivating them to pursue a music career where across the three creative roles they make up the 12.7%, I aim to change that.
I am from Montgomery, Alabama, received my Masters in Music with a concentration in voice and opera. Yes, opera as a black woman, cool right? Well, might not be as cool as you’d think because my degree came with a lot of judgement, critique, missed opportunities and comparison. I always felt like I was not good enough, that I didn’t measure up and that I didn’t fit in. The token I was. Always surrounded by white people. I started to lose my identity, my cultural roots. It was not until I moved to New York full of diversity where my cultural roots deepen. After I finished my Oral Comprehensive exam, the next day I was on my way North. I packed my 3 bedroom, 1 ½ bath into my Jeep Liberty and began to drive those 11 hours to New Jersey. I stopped half way at my friend’s house, because whew chile, that’s a long drive. I can tell you something about courage and hoping for the best, I had never seen a toll in my life and had no idea what to do. I was embarking on so much uncertainty but I told myself I could do it, it would all be worth it to pursue the dream, my music dream.
I lived on a friend’s couch for two weeks because I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t find a roommate in NY so I stayed in NJ, but my mind was made up, I was going to move to NY, that’s where the music was. God provided me with a wonderful family to stay with for six months until I finally moved into their basement. I stayed in NJ, for two years. Talk about a detour. I was so close, but cultural shock is real so I needed to prepare for NY and prepare, I did.
While in NJ, I still needed to pay rent so I ended up working as a server, sales associate, and eventually got a full-time job and started to settle. Thinking this isn’t so bad. However, this isn’t my dream right? My mind is always racing. I just can’t stop here in New Jersey, could I? I didn’t come this far just to be a receptionist, did I? I asked myself. I thought I could just be home in Alabama with my family and be a receptionist, I’ve come all this way, I have to go all the way. So I created a three month game plan to move. I had too. I would not live my life with regrets.
However, while I anticipated my move to NY, I still wanted to be productive and I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur so I sat at my full-time job in silence ( it was a very quiet place) and thought what could I create that I will never give up on? What could I create that I am passionate about and that could make a difference? And hence, So Am I-Worthy was born. Why So Am I-Worthy? I’m glad you asked. Throughout my life I struggled with my worth not feeling good enough, and always comparing myself to others. I was always a high-achiever and very talented, my alma mater was “excellence in all things” shoutout to Booker T Washington Magnet but I still felt like I didn’t measure up. I remember running home to my mom and telling her how great the other person was and how they could do this or that. And she not fazed at all by my commentary would look me straight in the eye and say “so are you,” huh what did you say ma? So are you? So am I Yes, So are you, you can do too. You can sing just as good as them, don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t do it, you are not less than.
So Am I-Worthy established in 2017 my business, my passion, my heart and I will never give up on it. Resides deep within me. I will empower how I was empowered, I will motivate how I was motivated, I will sing and song write with a passion and help other women especially minority women to sing and song write with a passion too, because I know what it feels like to have a dream deferred and no financial support to make it.
I am still on my entrepreneurial journey, grinding it out in NY. The black female CEO and founder of So Am I-Worthy, success will come, it has too. I will not let it die. While I hold a full-time job on my way to promotion, as I song write, strategize and lead, as I cling to my faith, as I strive to stay mental sane despite the racial exhaustion, the pandemic, the uncertainty, as I stay far away from home, missing my family like crazy to pursue the music dream, Ain’t I a woman? And a woman with God? Yes, he will see me through, there is no turning back no matter what I may go through.
Thanks for letting me share, Valencia