Women are powerful all on their own, but when they come together to share their experiences they find strength in numbers. Our friend, Jaymie of Bushwick Shop understands this and created a book titled: Shit Nobody Told Me, a series of personal essays where women share with the world all of the things life has taught them about being a woman and how they have survived, overcome, and moved forward through adversity. I admire Jaymie's dedication to creating a much needed platform of honesty and depth. Sometimes, I wish I could go back and tell myself to believe in myself more, to understand how valuable time is and learn to trust God everyday. Life is full of lessons and we need to be more open to sharing our experiences with one another to celebrate our growth and victories.
Shit Nobody Told Me covers topics including Family, Beauty & Confidence, Love & Sex, Abuse & Assault, Self-Love, Career, Religion & Spirituality and Race & Culture.
In the second edition releasing this Fall, I chose to cover career. Read my personal essay below where I share how I started my career in social media and music, the doubt I felt in the process, the failures and why it's important to always listen to your heart:
The year was 1998. Lauryn Hill released Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Hip-Hop was at it’s Golden Age. Later that year, Outkast would be releasing Aquemini and Mos Def & Talib Kweli would be debuting their first album as a hip-hop duo, Black Star.
Lainney was 9 years old and in fourth grade. Lauryn Hill’s “That Thing” was the first Hip-Hop song she memorized word for word. “Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem, babygirl. Respect is just a minimum,” she would sing along with her friends during recess. When she came home, she’d play The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album, admiring the album art and reading the lyrics from cover to cover. Hip-Hop began to be a part of her personality, she realized how much it spoke to her because of the lyrics and rhythm. Hip-Hop turned life lessons into songs. It turned something ugly like struggle, into a work of art, and she knew it was something special.
Fast forward, Lainney is 19 and signs up for a Facebook account shortly after being accepted to UC Irvine. She heard great things about the social network and wanted to have a head start making new friends. She was often shy around her peers at school and found it easier to make new friends online. Lainney added everyone in the UC Irvine network and began to spend hours talking to them after she got home from school. When she began her first day on campus everyone in the orientation class knew who she was. This was the first time she began to realize the power of social media.
In college, Lainney had no idea what she wanted to do. She considered being a journalist because she loved the power of words, but her parents didn’t feel like it would be a good career for her to make a living. It didn’t make sense for her to spend $20,000/year when she was still figuring out her passions, and in her second year at UC Irvine she decided to drop out. Her mom encouraged her to try nursing. Being Filipina, she felt it was right of passage to become a nurse. Her parents sacrificed a lot to give her opportunities she had and she decided to give it a try. She booked a one-way ticket to the Philippines and stayed there for a year to become an L.V.N. It was a good move, because she realized how strong she was independently. That if she can move to another country for a whole year and make new friends and thrive, she can do anything she put her heart into. Her heart was happy after graduation, but something was missing and in the back of her mind she was still thinking about music.
When she came back from the Philippines she began to seriously question her path in life.
“Why would I do something that doesn’t make me happy? Am I really going to let money dictate how I live my life?” She asked herself. Lainney told her sister how she felt, and her sister gave her the confidence she needed: “You don’t need to do something if you don’t want to do it. Listen to your heart, this is your life.” Music had always helped her through the toughest parts in her life, but she didn’t think it could become a career. Afterall, she didn’t want to disappoint her parents, they worked too hard for her to follow a silly dream. She weighed the options in her mind. Sure, nursing would be a good career, but she wouldn’t be happy. She’d be able to pay the bills and be stable, but she would be unfulfilled.
We'll flashback to 2009. An 18 year old Lainney was a freshman at college and she made friends with her roommates in the 201 hall, they called themselves “201 Legends” because their resident advisor mentioned to them that Mesa Hall, the building they lived in, was where legends were made. Past aluminis went on to build businesses, win awards, etc. Lainney and her friends often hosted Hip-Hop dance parties in their hall. These themed dance parties got intense: there were Caution Tape areas for dance-offs, disco lights and everyone always had a good time. Their parties was known as one of the best parties on campus. If Lainney wasn’t on the dance floor, it wasn’t a party. The drive and creativity are there, but they just seem like distractions.
In 2012, Lainney moved to Los Angeles with her sister. Browsing Facebook, she came across a posting for Duck Down Records, a hip-hop record label that had artists including Talib Kweli, KRS-One and B-Real of Cypress Hill. They were looking for an LA Rep, someone who could attend local hip-hop shows and represent the record label and collect e-mails for their newsletter. She e-mailed them on a whim and surprisingly, they hit her back up. From Talib Kweli, Pete Rock to 9th Wonder, she covered all the shows. Making contacts and building new friendships in the hip-hop industry, she began to realize that yes, you can have a career in music. She wasn’t sure where in hip-hop she’d find herself, but Lainney made a promise to herself: She would try.
One night during Rock the Bells, she saw one of her favorite rappers, Nas, perform “One Mic”. He rapped, “All I need is one mic, one try, one breathe, I’m one man.” She was in the front row, surrounded by the crowd, and hearing every echo of that lyric made her heart feel alive. This was it. This was her element. It was as if Nas was talking right to her: “You have one life. Make the most of it.”
Lainney came home to send over 100 resumes to the top PR agencies. She didn’t hear back from one. With Nas’s lyrics still in her mind, she realized she had to do something different to make herself stand out. She put her personality in her cover letter and quoted Nas’s “One Mic”, using his lyrics as an analogy to what she wanted to do with her career: to go further, make noise and hustle. She heard back from one of the top agencies she applied for and ended up getting the opportunity to work with some of the most successful brands in the world. She learned about social media, branding, marketing and the importance of personality and building meaningful relationships.
Lainney realized she can go further, she began to believe in herself more. In 2013, she made one of the best investments she could of made for herself. She went to Miami to cover the first-ever Revolt Music Conference. This was Diddy’s music conference with Revolt TV, and the speakers included the leading music industry professionals. Randomly, she met Roslynn Cobarrubias. Lainney had read about Roslynn through her research reading Billboard’s Top 30 Music Industry Professionals Under 30. Roslynn was a legend in her eyes and most importantly, she was Filipino just like Lainney. Lainney never saw any brown female like her dominate the music industry the way Roslynn did, and from her example, she realized this: It’s possible.
In 2015, Lainney co-founded Dizon Dreams with her sister. Dizon Dreams is a social media and events agency that specializes in hip-hop parties and marketing for music and emerging brands. Their first client was the iconic Hip-Hop group, The Pharcyde, a referral from Roslynn. The rest they say, is history.
I share this story with you to make you realize, success is not a straight line. You will doubt yourself, you will be confused. It is a part of the journey. The most important thing you have to do is to listen to your heart. Your heart will always tell you the truth. If it’s been done before, you’re capable of doing it as well. Save time for your future self: Believe in yourself NOW. You can dictate your future with your actions. Put yourself in the best possible position you can to succeed, whether that be at something crazy like having a career in hip-hop and social media or something simple like paying the bills on time. Don’t give up no matter how shitty things get, because the ball might just bounce your way one day and if you're not there to catch it, you'll regret it for the rest of your life.
Lainney Dizon, 28
Los Angeles, CA.
Co-Founder, Dizon Dreams
If you're interesting in sharing your story read the details here or support the first edition of Shit Nobody Told by purchasing the book here. 100% of the profits are invested into the Bushwick Gives grant which awards funds to a woman pursuing her education or entrepreneurship goals.
Stay tuned for the release of the second edition of Shit Nobody Told Me coming in Fall 2017.