We’ve just marked 12 months since we first went into lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. For anyone who feels they have “lost” a year, activist April Reign has shared some wise words on the Anthems Women podcast.
Sometimes, we just need to listen to a great woman who’s been there, done that and got the lesson to share with us. In the latest Anthems Women podcast series, exceptional women share their original manifestos, speeches, stories, poems, and rallying cries that celebrate and contemplate what it means to be human.
Among these amazing women is campaigner and activist April Reign, whose episode focuses on what she thinks the concept of time really means for women today. For anyone who feels anxious about “losing” a year to the pandemic, it’s a reassuring listen.
Reign, who worked as a campaign finance lawyer for 15 years, is best known for launching the #OscarsSoWhite campaign back in 2015 to call attention to inequality in Hollywood and the lack of representation of people of colour in the Oscar nominations. This year’s nominations were the most diverse yet, but Reign says there is still a long way to go, which is why she continues to campaign. Alongside this, she has launched #SheWillRise to support getting the first Black woman appointed to the US Supreme Court.
Basically, Reign has a voice we must continue to listen to. And that’s why, when she spoke to Stylist over Zoom to talk about the Anthems Women podcast earlier this week, we took note of the timely life advice she has to offer.
“It truly doesn’t matter when you accomplish something”
Explaining why she chose to explore ‘time’ in her podcast episode, 50-year-old Reign says it is partly because of the fact that she started the #OscarsSoWhite campaign when she was 44. She doesn’t want women to feel pressured to reach milestones by certain ages.
“As my kids grew older and I was able to reclaim more time for myself, I had an interesting analysis about how I was best using it,” she tells Stylist. “At the same time – because I’m very active on social media – I was able to see folks half my age having these conversations about things like the ‘women under 30’ lists and whether they can accomplish X things by Y dates.
“It struck me that it truly doesn’t matter when you accomplish something, as long as you are on a journey that is full of joy and accomplishment regardless of how you define it. In so much of our lives I think we live through a reflection of how other people are seeing us, as opposed to how we see ourselves. Like ‘are you going to be a failure if you do this?’ or ‘what are your parents going to say?’ and ‘what is your job going to say about that promotion?’
“After a while, as you get older and realise that none of those things are important. What is most important is how you reflect on how you are living your best life.”
“Sometimes you’re doing such great things and you don’t even realise”
Asked what she thinks about the idea of the last 12 months being a ‘lost’ year because of the pandemic, Reign replies: “I usually travel a lot for work and this past year I haven’t had the opportunity to do that. I’ve had to sit and really evaluate what was happening in my life professionally and personally.
“I’ve not been able to run away from it, to get on a plane or get on a train and throw myself into work so that I didn’t have to sit with what was going on in my life – positive or negative. Sometimes you’re doing such great things and you don’t even realise it because you’re already onto the next thing, there’s something else that needs to be done.
“So having that time to sit and reflect over the past year has been incredibly helpful in grounding me and also for helping me to set my intentions for the year ahead.”
“It’s hard and I acknowledge that”
For anyone who has decided that they do want to make a big life change in a post-pandemic world, Reign says: “It’s hard and I acknowledge that. When I stopped practicing law, that was a big deal because I’d gone to school for so many years, it was something that my parents did, and I was helping to pay the mortgage… but I wasn’t happy. “
“I know it sounds fanciful but if people can move towards doing those things professionally that bring them joy and make them happy, I truly believe that the money will follow because you’ll work even harder for that thing.
“I would never just say ‘quit your job!’ – always make sure you have a safety net. Sometimes it’s important to start off with whatever your happy thing is as a vocation – as a hobby – before you make it a vocation. And don’t ever do it for free!”
You can listen to the full series of the Anthems Women podcast, including April Reign’s TIME episode, on podcast streaming platforms throughout March.
Images: April Reign, Broccoli Productions
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…