Sarah Whitman is fierce, intelligent, and a total lady boss. She is a young woman who has found great strength by diving deep into some real emotional challenges. She is someone who isn’t afraid to face herself or life’s unexpected turns. Underneath the tough persona, she is someone who feels deeply. She’s a fighter for a good cause and seeks to make the world better. And honestly, I believe she is going to do just that. Because there are two types of people in this world. Those that look in the face of a challenge and see defeat and then those who look forward for a resolution. Watch out world, Sarah Whitman is coming for you ––with the brains, boldness, and grit to match. #LadyBoss
To be a Millennial Nomaad means:
SW: To wander not necessarily physically, but in the political and social landscape that has been created in our generation. To face things you thought you might not have to and traverse them in the best way you can.
MN: During our conversation, we talked about the importance of getting Millennials to engage with politics. While there has been an increase in voter participation within the last couple of years, our generation is still caught in a polarized limbo. Some feel apathetic towards politics, while others feel the struggle to push for change. Why do you think we are experiencing this divide? Do you think Millennials are more or less politically active than previous generations?
SW: I think the two biggest struggles are social media and older generations. Social media is great in some aspects. We can connect with old friends, spread our message across the globe, and easily market our product. The problem is that the product has become people. Millennial men and women are obsessed with social media: how they appear, how many followers they have, how many likes. “Did that person seriously unfollow me?” We get sucked into this world that can have more of a negative effect than a positive one and causes people to obsessively compare themselves to others. We forget about what’s going on around us and only focus on our screens and our image. The second part of this is the older generation. Baby boomers and Gen X are constantly telling Millennials that we’re ungrateful and that we don’t actually understand what the world is like. Actually, they’re the ones that don’t understand. My grandma recently told me that she went through college, it cost her $55 a semester. I paid $13,000 a quarter, for classes alone. Older generations just wanted to graduate, make money, and pop out some kids. Millennials want to be fulfilled, be happy, and not work for companies that are helping to destroy the planet. When older generations are constantly putting us down and putting us in our place, it crushes our ideas, hopes, and dreams. Millennials are so powerful and we have to start lifting each other up.
With all that being said, I do think Millennials are more politically active than older generations, just in different ways. Although social media has its cons, it allows us to easily spread messages and know about what’s going on in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people connected for the Women’s March through a Facebook event. SameSide allows people to email their political representatives in less than 5 minutes. Many young people are looking for information and ways to get active, but we don’t want to read a 5-page article. We want a short, digestible blurb or a one-minute video talking about the issue. If we’re interested we keep reading. Different news platforms like Buzzfeed and Insider allow that and keep us engaged.
MN: You work for SameSide, which is such an awesome organization aiming to increase engagement in civil matters, social causes and politics. What makes SameSide unique? What are some key programs or ways in which you and your team have experienced success in uniting communities and increasing civil engagement?
SW: SameSide is the first business of its kind. We are working with hosts to curate fun and uplifting experiences that involve grassroots activism. We help people galvanize their network to create social change by combining low-touch activism with the experiences that they’re already doing ––like brunches, dinners, cocktails, or yoga classes. We’re also not asking you to donate money. The money that you’re paying for the experience is going to activities you’re doing. You just get some activism on the side.
One of the biggest ways we united communities was around the midterm elections in November. It was pretty amazing to see how many individuals, influencers, and businesses all came together to elect a new class of representatives, who are younger and more diverse than most people have seen in their lifetime. We made hundreds, maybe thousands, of calls for different candidates and our guests ranged from their early twenties to their early seventies! People also loved our voter guide, which made lots of difficult information easy to understand. Plus it looked pretty. That’s really what SameSide is all about: we make hard to understand things fun, accessible, and Instagrammable by changing the narrative of activism.
MN: There is so much fear circulated throughout media ––sometimes for a valid concerns, sometimes not. How do you balance the understanding that real issues exist and actively work to address those issues v. retaining hope in humanity and progress for the future? What advice would you give to Millennials who want to become more involved with social causes, but don’t know where to start? What is a cause most dear to your heart?
SW: This is a tough question. Honestly, the news does get overwhelming sometimes. I used to listen to a political podcast, but with the work I do every day, it got too stressful to listen to more politics in my free time. However, if you don’t work in this industry, I would recommend podcasts like Pod Save America or The Daily. Pod Save America is really funny and clever and talks about the most relevant issues at the moment, while The Daily goes in depth about one big issue a day. To retain hope in humanity, I look to other people. When you pay attention to this administration, their followers, and the negative headlines, you really can feel like nothing good will happen again. But then I look at people like my boss who founded SameSide because she wanted to make the world better. I look at women like Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, and Katie Porter who are badass women who take no sh*t and work hard for what they believe in. I look at the SameSide hosts who are using their influence to make a difference. And then I look at videos of dogs, because they are too pure for this world.
The advice I would give to millennials who don’t know where to start is to check out SameSide. We are giving young people the tools to make a difference. You can also check out our blog posts for the latest on some of the toughest issues to comprehend.
The cause most dear to my heart is criminal justice reform, specifically juvenile justice reform. I could go on for hours about this topic, but I’ll keep it short. Children of color and poor children often go to underfunded schools with teachers who are not paid enough for their jobs. These kids may have single mothers or two parents who work, which means there’s no one to watch them after school. They also have to deal with the peer pressure of gangs and drugs from the older kids who they ostensibly look up to. Combine all of these factors and you get kids who are pushed out of school and end up in the justice system and are then blamed for their actions. I want to work with kids to encourage them to stay in school and work with their particular needs to break the school-to-prison pipeline and fight mass incarceration.
MN: Happiness. We are living in the age of “Think and Be Positive” where everyone seems to be searching a way to find joy. How do you think one can experience happiness? What role do you think negative feelings or pain play in self-discovery?
SW: I think happiness is subjective. Something I think most Millennials have learned but still struggle with is that everyone looks really happy on their social media. We see people going out, going on vacation, or with their significant other, but you never actually know how happy someone is. I think that happiness comes with finding your passion, whether that turns into a career or not. To be happy, you need to find something that truly makes you feel alive.
I do think that negativity plays into self-discovery. I personally would not be the woman I am today without facing some of the hardships I did. I would be less confident and less willing to fight tooth and nail for what I believe in. However, I don’t necessarily believe that everyone needs to be broken down to be lifted up, and I certainly would never wish any pain or hardship on a person. I think sometimes tough situations give perspective which then allows someone to become a better and stronger person.
MN: Living in the polarized and rapidly changing world that we do today, what are some ways in which we can promote unity and greater compassion in day-to-day life?
SW: Make more of an effort to talk to people and learn about themselves and their experiences. The way someone seems on the outside may not reflect who they actually are. People often think that everything comes naturally and easily to me, but if you take the time to talk to me you’ll learn that I’ve had to fight through personal, family, and relationship issues to get to where I am today. Even if you think you have nothing in common with someone, a conversation with them may give you a new perspective on them, a specific issue, or yourself.
MN: During our talk, you share some details about your personal life experiences. At such a young age, you have developed this incredible sense of character and inner strength. How do you deal with vulnerability so that it makes you a stronger person? How have you been able to rise above your fears and push forward?
SW: Vulnerability is tough for me. I really want to succeed in everything I do, and I sometimes have a need to be the best, so when I’m not or I’m criticized, I can retreat. However, after that initial reaction, I often take the time to self-reflect and purposefully become better. I have also learned to turn some of my traits that typically have a negative (and sexist tbh) connotation into something positive. For example, I have been told that I am high maintenance. I used to take that as a criticism and be insecure about it. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that being high maintenance means that I know what I want, when I want it, and I’m not afraid to ask for it, which means I get shit done.
I’ve been able to rise above my fears because of what I’ve been through and the support of the people around me. I’m afraid of failing in the sense that I don’t want to disappoint people, but I know my family, my friends, and my boyfriend (and my dogs), would still love me if I did fail. I’ve also learned that you can’t be good at everything all the time. It’s okay to ask for help. I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn't ask people for support when I was having a hard time, and if I didn’t surround myself with people who would do anything for me.
MN: Love. What's your take on the modern concept of “soul mates”? What differences or similarities do you see between how millennials view relationships versus your parent’s generation? Do you think people fear intimacy? If so, why?
SW: I’m honestly not sure if soulmates exist. I think the idea of having one person that you’re destined to be with is kind of scary. What if they don’t have a cell phone? What if they hate sushi? What if they’re a Republican (kidding). I think that we’re more compatible with some people than others, but I think that timing has more to do with who we end up with than some sort of fate.
I think Millennials are more willing to fail in relationships. In my parents’ generation, it seems like people wanted to find one person, wanted it to be long-term, and that’s it. Millennials are more willing to date around and have less commitment. Now that sex is less of a taboo, we are able to test the waters in relationships instead of marrying the first person we see. Although I’m sure people in my parents’ generation view this as a negative, I see it as a huge positive.
I do think people fear intimacy. It’s scary! Intimacy goes back to the vulnerability I mentioned before. Again, we often have this image of people from social media, so breaking down that wall and showing someone who you truly are can be intimidating. Also, more casual dating means more opportunities to get hurt. But, think that although people fear intimacy, most people truly at their core just want to be loved. |
Interested? For more information on SameSide, roam to: https://onsameside.com/