SXSW 2016: The Time FLOTUS Changed Me

SXSW

So it is officially the end of March which means the sadness and realization that SXSW has come and gone is sinking in.

(Awhile back I chatted about why you be apart of this amazing festival. You can find it here)

I have to say this year was one that I will never forget and changed my life in so many different ways. Each year SXSW has a new adventure for me to take part in, and this year did not disappoint.

This will be a lengthy because so many things happened over the 10 days that I can’t hold anything back. So get comfy!

Although this was my 6th festival, this was the first year I attended any panels and/or keynotes that would personally apply to my career. I was so fortunate to attend the interactive portion of the festival on behalf of the company I work for. All I have to say is WOW.

I sat through a 5 hour workshop that specifically applied to my field of work. Let me tell you, I was so inspired, motivated, and eager to come back and present my information. I truly have found an area of the digital space that gets me excited, keeps my attention, and makes me hopeful for what’s to come. Guys, I laughed at tech related jokes because I understood the humor. Although I have only been in this industry a little over a year, I was not once confused on anything they were referring to. That to me was so exciting.

I got to show two coworkers/friends the city of Austin and the amazing things that SXSW has to offer. We Instagrammed our entire trip and I even had someone approach me that she recognized me from our Instagram. I had a Z-List celebrity moment there for a hot minute and I loved it.

Check out some of the pics below:

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After the Interactive part of the festival was done, I took off my paisley crossbody and put on my Crew Chief snapback. I was ready to get started with the festival.

I am going to tell a story, so bear with me. I had a moment in life that I did not think would move me as much as it did.

Here’s a little back story: if you were not aware, the President and First Lady of the United States were keynote speakers at this year’s festival. When I heard about it I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would see them at the festival. Personally, I was just geeking out to be in the same city as them.

I was lucky enough to be asked to help man the crowds for the FLOTUS panel. Then as my reward, I was able to attend it. I was going to be listening to the First Lady talk about empowering women with such STRONG women (Queen Latifah, Sophia Bush, Missy Elliot, Diane Warren). My feminist self was having a low key freak out walking onto the 4th floor of the Hilton.

The panel was so inspiring, more so than I thought it would be. All of them were so humble, and compassionate that it opened my eyes to so many things that I realized I was ignorant towards. Their passion for women’s rights, and equal rights was life changing. Check out 62 Million Girls.

At the end of the panel we were asked to help make sure everyone got out of the ballroom quickly and efficiently. As I was walked up to the stage to help advise people to leave, I realized that all the women, including the First Lady, were walking down taking pictures and chatting with everyone. As the First Lady came to where I was, something magical happened.

Guys, it was like the sea had split and it was just Michelle and I. She then reached her hand out for mine, and said to me dead in the eye “We need to empower women, you are the change!”

It was maybe a 5 second interaction, but man, it felt like a lifetime. I had tears in my eyes, which I could not wrap my mind around. I never in my life thought I would be moved by a handshake and a phrase like I did. Normally that stuff seems cheesy to me, not genuine, but something about the whole interaction struck a chord with me. No phone, no camera, nothing but the authentic memory of a sweet moment.  It’s a memory, a moment, in my life that I will tell my future children. It was something I checked off my bucket list that I didn’t even know I wanted to have on there.

The festival just got better from there. Unexpectedly hung out with 4 of my favorite bands, stumbled into seeing two bands I love (check out Turnover and Citizen), danced too many times to Troye Sivan, and missed Ron Pope for the 4th year in a row. I drank a lot of free drinks, ate way too much pizza, and rode the struggle bus more times than I like to admit. Even though I was sick for 90% of the time, I got to be with the people I adore in the city that changed me. Made new friends, got reacquainted with old ones, and danced with my bests.

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I feel very fortunate to do this festival year in and year out. This one was one for the books and I cannot wait to start planning for 2017.

Keep things weird and go be the change AA-ers,

Ale
P.S. — McDonalds and YouTube know how to party and Fireball you kill me.

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