Real Women of Rochester | Sydney Bell

Sydney Bell | Age: 29 | Podcast Co-Host / Major Gifts Officer

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Q: Tell us about your journey through womanhood:

A: So much of what I’ve focused since graduating from college seven years ago is finding my identity. As a woman, as a biracial person, as a perpetual people-pleaser… There’s a lot to unpack. Actively seeking to educate myself has been the best thing for me. Finding like-voices, or voices and identities of strong, vocal women has changed everything for me since then. 

Q: What would you say to another woman who may be going through something you've been through?

A: Seek help!! Doing some homework and searching to seek out women who have overcome the same struggles, or have ways they’ve educated themselves will help move you forward. Finding my voice as a biracial women came from seeking out resources that were written by, spoken by, and lived by black women and biracial women. It opened me up to a dialogue I had been missing.

Q: What surprised you most about your photography experience?

A: That I had so much fun! I laughed and smiled and felt so confident because there was someone who was making me feel like I was on top of the world. I didn’t think I’d ever be that happy in front of a camera. 

Q: How do you feel when you look at your favorite photo of yourself from your shoot?

A: I remember thinking I could not imagine how being so uncomfortable behind the camera would produce the best photo I’ve seen of myself in a long time — it made me think that maybe if I could push myself to be a little more uncomfortable more often, maybe some really beautiful things could happen.

Q: What would you share with a woman who doesn't think she is beautiful enough to be photographed?

A: I would say that Natalie finds a way to bring out the very best in each person she photographs. She finds what is unique and special about each person and zeros in on that — she will take a million photos and show you that each angle you take can produce a different feeling, and she will help you find the one that you love, because she’s taken so many phenomenal photos. She makes you feel beautiful because you are beautiful. 

Q: What message would you like to share with other women?

A: Get comfortable with rejection. The more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll probably get rejected, but learn how to push through it. If you’re someone that needs to take a breather, take it, but don’t let it stop you from giving it another try. None of us are special, all of us are going through something, and if something/someone rejects you, that’s just part of the journey, not the end of the story. 

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Q: What are your thoughts on beauty?

A: That beauty is different for everyone, and you need to come up with your own definition. 

Q: What are your hopes for the next generation of women? What advice would you give to them?

A: Get off your phone! Kidding… but seriously! Getting sucked into whatever narrative is hot at the moment will steer your course, and you should have every opportunity to make decisions for yourself. Also, take some solo time and do some active work on yourself. Read books to figure out what your values are, work hard, and don’t be discouraged if your “thing” takes awhile to figure out. Enjoy the learning process. 

Q: What would you say to your sixteen year old self?

A: “Find your strengths, and run in the direction that allows you to live them every single day.”

Q: What empowering message would you like to share with young women today?

A: Never stop learning! It does not have to be in a classroom, but continue to read and educate yourself. Challenge your way of thinking, connect to different people, find what makes you look in the mirror and say “I love this person, no matter what.”

Q: What's the biggest hurdle you've overcome career-wise as a woman?

A: Taking on a new podcast, grad school, and working full time — I didn’t think I could manage all of them, but I don’t think I ever challenged myself to take on so many things that would make me happy, and here I am doing it!

Q: What's the most empowering experience you've had as a woman?

A: Knowing that fighting for our rights as women is as important today as it always has been, because somehow someone else thinks they have control of my body, my mind, my actions, and my emotions, is something that I never take for granted. 

Q: When do you feel the most beautiful?

A: When I’m laughing with my friends and family. 

Q: What do you love about being a woman?

A: I love that women are so many things to so many people. We are powerful beyond measure. It is absolutely incredible what we’re capable of, what we overcome, how we overcome, and how we talk about our lives.

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Sydney is the other half to Queen Speaking Podcast (make sure to check out co-host Breanna’s RWOR interview, too!). You can also find Sydney on Instagram at @mindbodysyd!