From the time she can remember, 21-year-old Hailey Rodgers dreamed of positively impacting the world. “I have always been a dreamer, but somewhere along the way, I lost sight of who I was and tried to be someone I was not, believing that was the key to success,” she said.
Following her first year of University, Hailey suffered from anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Attending therapy helped her realize that she was blocking out the trauma she endured. Still, she felt like she lacked direction and support in her life.
But everything changed right before she started her second year of University. “I came across a powerhouse of a woman, Ampai Thammachack, on Instagram who started a non-profit called Step Above Stigma,” she said. “I knew I needed a community and a sense of purpose, so I decided to apply. Since joining SAS, my life has turned around completely. I can attribute all of my successes to mental health advocacy.”
“I believe it is my mission to help others embrace and love their authentic selves."
Now, Hailey has dedicated her life to storytelling and continuing her mental health advocacy journey. “I believe it is my mission to help others embrace and love their authentic selves, she said. “That is why I have invested my heart and soul into mental health advocacy and will create things, like books and my future business, that will act as tools to encourage others to become their true selves.”
Hailey is an author, blogger, podcaster, aspiring life coach, and entrepreneur. She published her debut novel, See Me, in December 2019 and will be publishing a second book in August 2021. She is a founding member of Step Above Stigma, which promotes mental health advocacy and works to end the stigma surrounding mental health.
As an exceptional Gen Z’er using her voice for good she was honored for her work in the Mental Health space through The ConversationaLIST. Hailey strongly believes that storytelling is a catalyst for change. As she worked on her novel, she realized that she could amplify her voice through her writing. “At the beginning of my writing journey, I had no idea what I was writing about,” she said. “I started off writing one story, and then another, and after writing over twenty stories, I was able to string them together into something beautiful and enriching. These stories, despite their incredible uniqueness, all demonstrated the power and art of authentic living.”
“No one can inspire someone the same way that you can, holding back only prevents the possibility of changing a life."
Hailey believes that everyone on the planet has a unique voice and can enact change in some way. “No one can inspire someone the same way that you can,” she said. “Holding back only prevents the possibility of changing a life. You are unique. You are powerful. Your voice can be the game-changer in someone else's life.”
In the next five years, Hailey wants to create and scale a youth life coaching company. She also wants to write more books and grow her social media platform. “I hope that my epitaph reads: ‘Remembered for her creative mastery and uncanny ability to help and serve others,’” she said.
While she’s looking forward to the future, the past year has helped her realize the importance of living in the moment and finding joy in the little things. Mainly, she has come to value meaningful conversations. “I have become a lot better at putting down my phone when I have a conversation with someone,” she said. “Being fully present is essential because if you're so focused on the future, you're not living for today. I don't want to wake up one day and realize that I've missed out on my entire life. I want to be here, in this present moment, today.”
Hailey said that The Conversationalist’s mission ties directly to the mission of her book. “I am deeply inspired and impressed with The Conversationalist's ability to create such a strong, empowering, and driven community,” she said. “I love meeting new people and having deep conversations. I always find myself learning and growing when I meet a Gen Z’er who has enacted change in their community. It shows that we are capable, powerful, and will transform the world for the better.”
She believes that Gen Z can create a more unified world by supporting each other instead of criticizing. “As a generation, we must encourage and uplift new and innovative ideas if we want to change the world,” she said.
“Anger and this whole idea of 'cancel culture' does not create a better world. Respect and learning do.”
When it comes to approaching a difficult conversation with someone she disagrees with, Hailey recognizes that disagreements aren’t personal and that responding with anger doesn’t serve anyone. “Acknowledging that opinions are formed by experiences, environments, social networks, and a handful of other things will allow us to become more kind and respectful towards one another,” she said. “Anger and this whole idea of "cancel culture" does not create a better world. Respect and learning do.”
The Conversationalist couldn’t be more grateful to Hailey Rodgers for her big heart and mission to inspire others to live an authentic life. Keep up with her on Instagram and follow Step Above Stigma to learn more about her work.