Conversation No. 29 – Talking with Erica

Erica is from Harlem, New York City. At the time of her interview, she was living in Brooklyn and spending her days “working, being heavily involved with the young people’s ministry at my church, spending time with my sister, and reading a lot more.”

Erica’s Most Likely To is: Most Likely to Impact Change

Listen to “Conversation 29 (Erica)” on Spreaker.

We talked about what Erica is currently reading:

“Well my current book is The Five Love Languages. It’s pretty interesting…it’s really great. It’s really helping me learn how to interact with people in general. It’s like [learning how to] read people better, and getting to know them on a different level.

It’s opening my eyes a lot…just truly understanding why certain people are receptive or non-receptive to certain actions and behaviors.”

She explained what kind of change she plans to be a part of:

“Right now it’s on a smaller scale…I am involved with the young people’s ministry at my church, so I am around young people a lot. Through the church, I also go out to the juvenile detention center and I talk with kids there as well.

So my biggest goal right now is just to bring them a certain sense of hope, and just showing them love and impacting them in that way; because there are so many youth out there right now who are lacking love from home, and from their parents, and [from] certain relationships.

…Being that light-bearer, that hope-changer for them in a sense, it’s just a huge task and something that I live daily. [Something that] I pray and I need help with, because it is huge and it can be a bit daunting at times, but right now that’s the focus of impacting change for me.”

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We talked about her path to the young woman she is becoming:

“The Erica [of] six, seven, eight years ago was totally different from who I am now. I’ve had a wealth of life experiences that kind of curated who I am now. I would say [back then] I was completely lost. Really confused. Very hurt. Full of pain and anger.

No one would have ever guessed that though, because to everyone else I was like the happiest person alive, like nothing bothered me. But deep down I was like crying every day. Just hurt, and in lots of pain.

…I would say that this path has been a very treacherous one. I’ve struggled with these things for years, [but] I’ve had people along the way who have truly helped me to just embrace who I am. To truly just learn to love myself.”

Erica shared how her faith has changed her life:

“So after going through years of that phase and realizing that everything I was trying to do really wasn’t working for me, my turning point truly was two years ago when I made the decision to follow Christ.

I would say that I believed in God pretty much my whole life, but I really didn’t take it seriously until about two years ago when I decided to get to know God for myself and to build my own personal relationship [with Him]. And the results are amazing.”

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We talked about how her experiences in college helped shift and shape her outlook on life:

“College was a huge eye-opener for me…I grew up my whole life in predominantly Black neighborhoods and in Black schools, I really wasn’t exposed to much else. And it wasn’t until one particular experience in college: I did this [week-long] program after the year finished called LeaderShape.

It was pretty much a program where 50-100 students came together and it was to help build leadership skills…through team-building exercises and pretty much just making ourselves vulnerable to one another.

…And on the second-to-last day, we sat in groups of about two or three, and we just spilled the beans about a personal issue. And it was so interesting that I sat there with two other girls who had two completely different cultural backgrounds [from me], and two completely different social class [backgrounds from me].

And to see that we could relate on so many different levels [because] we went through some of the same things in our lives…for me that was mind-blowing, because I would have never guessed that before.”

Erica talked about what she sees for her generation:

“I definitely do think we’ll get it. There are an amazing amount of young people who are involved in community and giving back, and they aren’t highlighted. Only the negative parts of our generation are highlighted.

But I just feel like there’s a certain level of awakening in our own personal lives and in the communities around us. I feel like once we get there, things begin to change.”

Listen to our full interview with Erica

Check out some of the organizations that inspire Erica: