WRITER, SPEAKER, AND CREATIVE
A delightful person to have lunch with, Arielle Estoria is a multi talented creative based in Los Angeles. We sat down to chat with her about her experiences as a woman, the inspirational women in her life, the best advices she's ever received, and much more. Enjoy!
What do you do?
I've managed to narrow it down to three categories: writer, speaker, creative. Writer is spoken word, blogging, and I have two books on amazon that I released with other poets. The speaker side is emceeing conferences, keynoting, speaking about various topics, and doing workshops as well. Workshops looks like writing workshops and also, worthy workshops - conversations of value and worth, especially with us as women, and how do we define those definitions and associate them with ourselves. The creative aspect is, I run social media for people, it's my side gig, conversations about branding, and what does that look like, I have grown in really in love with social media, and the people I have met through social media. Travelling places, and being able to connect with someone in those places and vice versa. Then I also recently started modelling, which is weird to say out loud, and I do very small acting is on the side. So, a lot of things, each day, each week looks very different. And, to pay bills, I just started working in a yoga studio week next week. Writer, Speaker, Creative are my core three though.
Who are some women that inspire you?
Lots! My mum is the first one, she's kind of always being that resource for me of discernment, and guidance, and she's like my soul sister, and we're very in tune with each other. I also admire who she is as a woman, as a wife, as a person, and the different thing she has her hands in. My parents have always been pastors, my dad will speak, my mum will speak. Watching my Mum bloom in what she does best has been so cool to watch. Adele is another, I have loved her since her 19 album, every time she has come out with an album, I was about to be that age. So it's just resonated so much with my own life, and direction, and her being who she is, and the size she was was always so big for me, because I was always the bigger girl in my friend group, always taller, always curvier, always all the things extra. Watching her, and how she was "I'm not here to look good for people, I'm here because I have a voice and I need to use it, and if people just see me, but don't hear what I'm saying, then what the heck am I doing". That resonated with me a lot.
I have had a ton of mentors in my life, that have kept me on the path that I'm on right now. One of my best friends Kayla, is the person who has always encouraged me to be my boldest self, and to be okay with taking risks and putting myself out there. Brittany, who has been a saving grace, I was her intern. I'm very, type A, and when I first started working for her, we'd be planning an event, and her response would often be "just dream it out", and that baffled me, I couldn't write that down in my notebook. I really look up to her ability to dream things out, and live her best life.
I have this friend group, and they're an amazing source of inspiration for me. I live with a family, and the Mum is bad-ass, it's the only way I can describe her. She is a mum of four, a freelancer, a crossfire trainer. I'm a mum of none, and I don't even have a body like that. She's always encouraging me to put myself out there, and take risks.
Those are women off the top of my head that I can think off, but there is an entire list, that I was to sit with each season of my life their would be a different women for each, each with a different impact on my life. My current love is Julia Michaels, and she sings "Issues". She's being a songwriter for pretty much everyone, up until "Issues" and she decided she was going to be the one to sing it, and not give it to anyone, and she freaking killed it, and now she has an EP. Her season of paving a way for everyone else, and then deciding it was her time has resonated with me a lot. That's a current female influence.
What are you passionate about?
Lots of things, I'm passionate about equipping women, and helping them work out their purpose, and calling, and how to live that out boldly. There's so many instances where a certain percentage of women don't even apply for the job, because they don't feel like the meet all of the qualifications, versus men apply to identifying with only one of the qualifications. So I'm passionate about conversations with women about their worth, and value. I'm also passionate about how powerful it is when women leaders, and creators gather together, when we connect and what happens when we do.
I'm passionate about personality tests, that's the psychology side in me. Understanding ourselves, how to communicate with, and love other people is so important.
I'm passionate about healthy, and full communities, and not using that as just a buzz word, and what that actually means. Who's challenging you, but also encouraging you, and equipping you to your best self, and letting you know when you need to sit down.
I'm passionate about conversations surrounding dating, and relationships, and talking about purity culture within faith, and outside of faith. I wrote my senior thesis on purity culture, and how detrimental it is to us now as women, and men as well, but I'm clearly more familiar with my experience as a woman. 90's purity culture, and we are at a detriment because of the conversations we had, and didn't have in that season of life. Very passionate about that.
I'm passionate about coffee and the art and craft of it. I've really loved the conversations that have happened around a cup of coffee, and how beautiful that one thing is, and its ability to connect people.
I'm passionate about a lot of different things.
"I'm passionate about how powerful it is when women leaders, and creators gather together, when we connect and what happens when we do. "
- Arielle Estoria -
What's the best advice you've ever being given?
I don't know if it's necessarily advice, but I'm not a person who really chases my own desires. When people ask me what do i want, it really throws me off. I never really thought about that, I don't know, I can do that? So the situation I was in, my mentor was like, "well, what do you want?", and my response was "psssst, you can't ask me that. It doesn't really matter what I want." He said "ahh, yes it does, you're allowed to be happy, and to choose what it is you desire. That's not really advice, but I think about that conversation all the time, particularly when I notice I start to ask what everyone around me wants, and put other people first. The second one, was when my grandpa was passing away - same mentor - we were driving in the car - Now, I pretty much shut down in situations where I don't have words, because I like to be able to think about it, how I want to respond, and how I want it to sound when I do respond. So when I feel stuck I'm very quiet - I wasn't crying, I was just sitting there, really stoic, I knew my mum would be there, and she would be hurting, and I'd have to be that person, the strong one, and be there for her. So, he looks over at me and says "You know you don't have to be strong right now, right. Between now, and the time we get there (to the hospital) you can just not be okay, if you need to not be okay." That was so big for me, because as someone who has always been in leadership, who's always been the oldest child, being looked to while in ministry. You never give yourself grace, you never allow yourself to have those moments. Him, saying, "you don't have to be strong right now" is something that I have to think about so often, in moments where I'm like "I could literally cry, and ball my eyes out right now, but why am I choosing not too - because I've got to be this, or I've got to be that", no screw that. If you need to weep, and ugly sob, then you need to do it. That's a huge reminder for me, because event the whole me not asking for help is me not wanting to be weak, or be seen as weak or unequipped. Those are the conversations I still have to think about all the time.
The last one, would be another mentor, one day sitting in her car, talking about heartbreak and all that, she said "you are just as deserving of a beautifully handcrafted love story". I still think about that, to this day, because i know how I would like to be loved, but I never knew what that would look like. For someone else to paint that picture for me, like, what a concept of a love story, of a love story that's beautifully handcrafted. There's so much intentionally, and connection in that purpose, and meaning. Instead of just something that is thrown together, and like "it kinda worked out, and we made it work" there's something so intentional about that. That is still something, especially recently that's been in the forefront of my mind.
"Do the things that scare you. be willing to jump, even though is no guarantee you'll be caught."
- Arielle Estoria -
ARE THERE CHALLENGES YOU'VE FACED SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE YOU'RE A WOMAN / WOMAN OF COLOUR? IF SO HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I actually really haven't very many instances, there's more so being micro-aggressions rather than blatant moments. I performed in a pretty massive church, and every speaker (and every speaker happened to be male) had this huge background, with their name, and what they did, and their picture, except for me. My dad asked "where was your thing behind you?", and I was like, "I don't know, I just get up on stage and do my thing, I didn't receive an introduction, or anything behind me. It was just "do what you do", I got off stage and a person said to the audience "you know, what Arielle said", but no one knew, I hadn't received an introduction. Then, the initial conversation when I got off the stage was not asking about what I did, and how do I keep doing it, instead they asked about my husband... umm, I don't have one, just me, just me doing what I do, great things. There wasn't even a desire a ask about who I was, or what I continue to do, or what I just did on stage. It was, where's the other part of you, that's is probably the more forefront part of you, and that's something I've always seen within the church.
The biggest thing for me is I grew up in a Baptist church, and my Mum's first sermon, she was not allowed to preach on the pulpit, she had to preach it from the floor so that she was level with everyone, and I remember that so vividly, because two weeks before that, a twelve year old boy was able to preach from the pulpit. It was a moment of "why does she have to be on the floor? She's doing the same thing he was doing, and she's older, and has more experience than he does. But, he's a man". That's probably the hippie bitterness in me, as my dad calls it. He calls me a "liberal Christian hippie", and he's so good about being supportive with my Mum, but there is still this thing automatically in their minds of "can the women speak?". I went to a conference a couple of months ago, and all the men were 'Preachers', but all the women were 'Teachers', and I was like, why can't women be Preachers also? And, he corrected himself! He said "and we Miss XYZ who is going to come and preach, I mean teach for us" and I said, "I'm pretty sure she's preaching...", and I turned to my mum, and said "this is why I'm not Baptist anymore", and she was like "stop". But seriously, this was why I'm not Baptist anymore, and why I didn't go to grad school at a Baptist university, because they would tell me I can't do what I'm already doing, and I know I'm called to do. So there's that, as a woman.
As a person of colour, I've been fortunate and blessed to not deal with any blatant - and I will say blatant, because it's always kind of there - encounters where I was seen as less than in conversations, except for so many instances where I was lowballed, and that has to do with being a woman, and a person of colour. People, always trying to diminish your worth while you still have to fight for it. So, I think I haven't conscious of the coloured part of me until really recently, probably in the last two years. All these things happening this world, and me feeling like I was choking from it, and not understanding fully why. I wrote my first power, about me being a black woman, and a woman of colour, and I was so terrified to put that out, because it was going to be this conversation of "oh my word, Ari's black", and how does this change things, are people going to start asking me different questions, than they would normally. And, I had people who dug 7 years into their Facebook friends to find me, and ask me why Black Lives Matter. The fact that we hadn't talked in seven years, and that they had to dig to find me to have the conversation, is exactly why Black Lives need to Matter because, there is no one in their immediate community where they could have that conversation, that's why. I would try to be the most grace filled.
Being so hyper sensitively aware of me as a woman in so many church contexts, and people already assuming/asking "Where's your husband?", "he doesn't exist, I'm just really good at doing what I do on my own, and when he does come along, I'll still be really good at doing what I do on my own. He will not heighten or lessen that value, only compliment it, if anything. In conversations as a person of colour in the creative world, especially in LA, I will find myself in so many instances where it is just me! It's just me in these conversations of being a creative, because of that, I have had a lot of doors open, of "I know what you guys stand for, and I know what your brand stands for, but visually, and aesthetically you don't connect with people who look like me". Now that I'm involved, they see me, and there like "oh, there is one more person, there is someone can connect with". Being able to have those conversations with other creatives, and organisations about "Hey, you're not connecting to a whole wide world of women! You're just connecting to a very small portion, who live in LA, who are Caucasian with fun husbands, and we need to expand this".
That's a really all over place response, but those are the instances where I have found myself more sensitive or aware of either being a woman, a woman of colour, or both, and what that looks like in the context I'm in. I've been blessed with really cool opportunities, so that's not in the forefront of my mind, or a fear where I'm trying to figure out "how am I going to be viewed in this situation". So far I've been blessed that people seem to recognise my gifts primarily, but you never know what can happen.
"If you need to weep, and ugly sob, then you need to do it"
- Arielle Estoria -
Why do you do what you do?
I do what I do what I do, because I know I was made for it. I to college, studied psychology, I did theatre, and I thought "this is what I'm supposed to be doing, great!". Then I started doing student development, working with girls in college, and I was like "cool, THIS is what I'm supposed to be doing, and I was pretty set on that, on being a resident director at a University, and sticking with girls dorms, and working with college aged women, getting my masters in leadership, and that was my plan. Then there was this tugging, and push towards this non-packaged plan, so I do what I do, because I know it's exactly what I'm supposed to be doing right now. I did not plan to be a poet, or to freelance, or to speak, or to do any of that. I think when I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher, and I was set on that. Then I got to college, and I was for sure I was going to work in student development, and I'm going to be in a college environment for a good long time, and I honestly can see myself going back to working in colleges, because I really love that age. I think it's so important, and so missed, even though it's assumed that it's not, but I think that from college to that weird age of 35, women get so missed, in terms of focus.
So having those conversations is important. I do what I do, because it's the only thing that makes sense right now. I'm passionate about it, and every time I'm on stage, and it never makes me feel less giddy, like every time I leave the stage, the adrenaline is still the same, that purpose feeling is still the same, and I did it, because there's always a moment of "me too" at the end of it. Sitting in a room full of strangers, talking to people I've never met before, sharing some of the most vulnerable encounters, life experience and realisations I've had, and will get off stage, and someone in some way, some capacity will say "those were my thoughts too, that was my heart too, those were my fears too". That's probably why I kept doing it, there's someone, somewhere who always needs to hear the story you have to tell, and their life is changed because of it, who am I to just keep my mouth shut, on behalf of what, just being afraid? So, that's why I do what I do, because I'm made for it, it's the only thing that makes sense ride now, and I love hearing that something resonates at the end of the day. It's such a beautiful, and intimate way to connect with people, something we are so afraid to do 90% of the time.
Any last thoughts?
Do the things that scare you, be willing to jump, even there is no guarantee you'll be caught. I think, especially as women, we're so easily limited, and there's so many different spaces, and opportunities that will limit us. We have to choose not to let them, and be conscious of that choice, and that can be fear, other people, it can be our gender, our race, so many things that are set up to limit and to hinder us. So, everyday we have to make the active choice to not let it, and it's hard, but it's so worth it, because when we're able to walk fully in who we are, and who we were made to be there is a confidence that is necessary to exude so other people have an example of what it means to do that. I'm reading this book, it's called 'Lionness Rising, and it's about this woman who had this dream about a lions, and she made it her mission to ignite, not only the lioness within herself, but within other women, and how beautiful, and how strong, and how powerful lioness is, and how each and every one of us has a lioness inside of us. It's so assumed to be quiet, to be weak, and to sit down and know your place. Your place is exactly and wherever you want it to be. To just experiment, life is so full, and so beautiful, and we have no concept of when it will end, and if we're not living our most full and beautiful life, did we live at all? Do the things that scare you, jump anyway, even if you're scared. If you are scared, do it anyway. Forget fear, live your most full and beautiful self, confident in who you are, and what you were made to do. I think we as woman have the ability to turn this world completely inside out, and upside down, if we only believe that we do, and not let other people believe that for us, but believe it for ourselves.
*photo credit: Catherine Marsh