The IRL Panel hosted by Emma Gannon and Laura Jane Williams

I am a creature of the internet and comfort. I’ve met my best friends online, found the people that get me and become a part of communities of people that get it. However, I am not one to go to events or places alone. This was challenged when I attended the IRL Panel last week.

The IRL Panel is the brain child of Emma Gannon and Laura Jane Williams off of the internet which took place at the Twitter UK headquarters in the heart of London’s Piccadilly Circus. The event is all about “women with a lot to say” and is an event which drops the usual status quo of industry events, where follower count is everything and there’s a whole load of standards thrown at you. The event is open to anyone, which was one of the main reasons I was drawn to go. The theme of the discussion including panellists Freddie Harrel, Heather Taylor Portman and Bridget Minamore, was permission.

Emma – @girllostincity
Laura – @superlativelyLJ
Freddie – @FreddieHarrel
Heather – @heathery_tp
Bridget – @bridgetminamore

The event started by us being shown into Twitter itself and having a mingle. This is when I started to have a little fear. What if no one wants to speak to me? What if people think I’m boring AF? Am I being too much? But all those worries were quickly throw out of the window as everyone I spoke to was welcoming and a heap of women at the event had also come on their own which seemed to set the whole room at ease. As well as the free booze.

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The panel raised some really interesting points and valuable lessons which in a typically cliché, movie type moment, were things I really needed to hear after a life dip.

“You always have the permission to change your mind”
You should never feel stuck in a position. Be that work, location or relationships. Be empowered to realise something isn’t right and change it, you don’t have to settle for something that no longer makes you happy or doesn’t feel right.

“You have the right to have and stick with an opinion”
This point really stuck with me. Growing up I fell into a group of friends who I felt I had to impress in order to be cool or be accepted therefore share the same view point. I feel now that having your own opinion and views on something is way more important and also provides scope for discussion and debate.

“We are all limitless”
This again is something everyone needs to remember. You should never pigeon hole yourself. Go out and explore, challenge yourself and learn. Have the confidence to believe in yourself and live the life YOU want.

“Weed out shit friends”
No one needs shit friends. Friendship breakups suck but sometimes you just need certain people out of your life and that’s absolutely fine.

“Be a good friend to yourself”
On the topic of friends, be a good friend to yourself. Many of us are unbelievably harsh on ourselves for no real reason especially when dealing with negativity. As Emma so rightly shared “When you get negative comments, you’re allowed to wallow for 24 hours. Does this person have a point? Is this person just a dick? Go through this 3 step process to help you cope with negative feedback.”

“Give yourself a chance”
There have been countless times where I’ve found situations and opportunities which I know I’d be perfect for and have been too scared or just waved them off with an “oh I’m under qualified” or “they wouldn’t like me” when I know I actually believe the opposite truthfully. Give yourself a bloody chance.

IRL is one of my favourite events I’ve attended in a long time and I feel it’s one to be on everyone’s must go to lists. I met some really lovely women and had such interesting conversations and in a weird way, felt really at home in a room of complete strangers. We also managed to get half a million eyeballs to know about the event which was really exciting.

Lastly, I’ll leave with you with my favourite quote from the evening… “You don’t get to tell me who I am, but I love you anyway.”

To read more about future events, head over to the IRL website.

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