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United We Are a Force, and Individually We are W.O.N.

Image Courtesy of Rachel Micheletti

Women of Note celebrates the unique talents of women of Hampton Roads and seeks to raise awareness of issues women face in the 21st century. We are well aware of the many hats women wear throughout the day as well as throughout their lives and we would like to give women the opportunity to share their experiences juggling these with our community. By sharing our experiences, we hope to inspire others, learn from their perspectives, and foster a dialogue that creates solutions. Today we spot light Rachel Micheletti.

Affiliation(s) (past and present):

Tidewater Community College alumnus (AA in liberal arts)

Penn State alumnus (BA in psychology)

University of the Cumberlands alumnus (MA in professional mental health counseling and MA in addictions counseling)

Chi Sigma Iota Member

American Counseling Association Member

Owner Hipnotic World Fitness Center

Owner Live Body Brave, LLC

Director The Feral Showgirls

Lead singer/songwriter Rachel & the JellyCats

How long have you been (working in/participating in) your field? How did you get into it?

In its current iteration, my field is more self-designed than anything. I am currently completing my residency as a professional mental health counselor, though began this journey as a dance teacher and performer. I have been dancing and performing for nearly 20 years, and I have been working in mental health for about 3 years.

How long have you been working/ living in in Hampton Roads?

I have lived in Hampton Roads for more than 30 years and have been working here for about 20.

What advice would you give young women going into your field?

Make your own way. From a very young age we are asked to label ourselves, to explain ourselves, and to try and make other people understand our hopes and dreams. This can lead to feeling as if we must follow the tried-and-true path which others have traveled before us in order to move forward, or even to be accepted. But when you have a passion and purpose leading you somewhere new there is a reason for it. Get comfortable opening your own doors and creating your own opportunities. Be bold enough to seek out what you need because you deserve it. And as simple as it sounds when you do create those opportunities SHOW UP. Be reliable, be responsible, and do what you say you are going to do. Achieve in gratefulness and grace each and every time.

It certainly doesn’t make sense to everyone when I tell them my ambitions related to mental health counseling incorporated with the power of dance, performance, and body kindness. But these ideas don’t have to make sense to everyone. They need only make sense to the people who will benefit from the experiences I hope to cultivate. I know my reasons for working toward my dreams, and those reasons are the people who will experience life on their own terms through my programs.

What accomplishment is your greatest triumph?

I like to think my greatest triumph is anything I have most recently accomplished. Some weeks this might mean getting through another Monday, other weeks it might look like graduating from college. I think we too often place so much of our worth and value on being the “after” version of ourselves, but the journey is just as important as the end result, if not more so. I don’t think we magically become our best selves after we get the job, earn the degree, or reach whatever goal it might be we are working toward. Life is about all those spaces we take up in between the big stuff; the smiles we bring, the joy we share, the experiences we have. What is the overall impact my existence is making? Those things are the triumphs.

What has been your greatest challenge and what have you learned from it?

Dealing with imposter syndrome has certainly been an on-going challenge for me. Although I’d like to say the feeling of not fitting in, not belonging, and not deserving a seat at the proverbial table will dissipate after a certain point, I have not found that to be the case. I think for many women, especially those taking up space outside of what is normally expected, it can feel particularly isolating when facing the realities of being a woman in the professional world. Although I haven’t been lucky enough to find the absolute cure for imposter syndrome, I have found connections to other strong women through mentorship, community, and support have been some of the most impactful parts of my professional journey. A great mentor is someone who will have compassion, empathy, and experience, but will also provide objectivity across myriad situations. Both having a mentor and being a mentor are exceptionally powerful tools in the fight against imposter syndrome.

Any closing thoughts?

Its not too late, you are enough, and your dreams and goals are valuable. A lot of what we face in the world is designed to make us question ourselves, the legitimacy of our hopes, and own abilities. But what I know for sure is when a woman finds her truest purpose and passion there isn’t anything that can stop her, even when the going gets tough. Especially when the going gets tough. And even on the hardest days please remember YOU are an inspiration to someone out there, so don’t ever let anyone dull your sparkle. We need you out there doing your good work.

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