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  • Writer's pictureEmily Sharp

Returning to the "Real World": Disruptive, Decisive, and Driven - Final WWD III Thoughts

My time in Phoenix can only be summed up with one word: belonging.

I feel like so many people in their lives are in constant pursuit of that feeling. It drives us in so many of the decisions we make: the community we devote ourselves to be surrounded by, the extracurricular activities we fill our free time with, and the jobs we take throughout our careers that make up the majority of our days, months, and years of our adult life.

For me personally, I have also aggressively sought reassurance that I was on the path of fulfilling my purpose, to achieve a sense of belonging.

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I have carried a strong belief from a young age that I not only had a desire to make an impact for the betterment of women, but, it was in fact what my purpose was.

So, whenever I continued to take an opportunity that felt further and further from what I had always envisioned for myself, I would justify the decision as that my “purpose” must have been to make a difference in that field alternatively. Despite contriving that narrative, because it was created as a justification for a decision, I slowly started to lose my purpose.

Losing my sense of belonging would soon follow.

Ok – you’ll also recall that I am a former competitive figure skater, so, you can see my tendencies for the dramatic come into play here. But, I have always been a firm believer that you better fill your time in life being fulfilled, because you only have one chance to do so. So, I’ll risk sounding dramatic here to properly convey how strongly I feel about this mentality.

This past year, I’ve been cognizant of being in an environment where I felt like the “odd man out” and it has weighed on me every single day. I recognize and envy the sense of belonging my peers possess that I continue to lack.

November 7th, Day 1 of Women With Drive III, was the first time in a long time that I too possessed that feeling of belonging. I finally felt like I was sharing the same passions with the individuals that surrounded me at The Barn.

I looked around too many times to count and knew this was exactly where I was supposed to be. I had this inexplainable calmness yet strong confidence that the solution to my missing feelings was inside this room with me.

Women With Drive III gave me that confidence, as it did reassurance, that I wasn’t “lost”, but rather just on a winding career road. A path that so many women had traveled before and had credited their success to – one particular story that I will hold close to me, was that of Phoenix Raceway President, Latasha Causey. Nobody could be more inspiring!!

This summit was so much more than just a networking event. Now, I absolutely did make some incredible connections (I currently have 10+ LinkedIn/email chains going with new connections made), with some promising potential opportunities as a product of those. But I was also provided with lifelong tools, knowledge, and benefits even if I had left Phoenix Raceway without a single business card in hand.

Dare I say, I too gained a competitive advantage going into potential job interviews between reclaiming my confidence, learning insights on what worked for some of the industry’s most successful professionals (hint: the not-so-secret to success is to approach every scenario as disruptive and authentic as possible) and being so easily accepted into the most badass community you will find.

Regardless of what you are seeking to achieve, whether it be knowledge, career advancement, networking, or sponsorship opportunities, Women With Drive will help you accomplish that.

Because every single woman behind the summit and everyone in attendance all ultimately share the same desire to help each other achieve their goals. Every goal achieved, no matter how big or small, works toward the final objective for an industry inclusive to all. Which is why this event’s existence is so crucial on both the individual and industry levels.

While only a week has passed since the conclusion of Women With Drive III, I am confident that I will look back years from now and still consider the days spent in Phoenix as a key moment in my career.

With that, I leave the summit excited for all that is to come in the next year as I eagerly await for the official dates of Women With Drive IV so I can book my ticket to Indianapolis.

I also want to leave you the reader with one final message that we were imparted with at Women With Drive III: if you are following your passion, it’s going to be hard. The “hard” is why Women in Motorsports North America and Women With Drive were created. Thank you to the women who have and continue to show us that the “harder” is well worth it.

See you next year!!

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