Level Up

By Shanae Godley

Level Up

By: Shanae Godley

The pop song “Level Up,” by Ciara, has a cool beat and hot lyrics, plus it motivates and inspires while making me want to dance. Giving me that “I’m winning, like on every level” vibe!

When I wake up in the morning and don’t feel well, I can listen to it and my spirits are lifted; and it’s not just me. This song has the same electric effect on millions of people around the world.

As an author and speaker, I can only hope to one day touch the souls of people in such a way; To inspire hope in people who want to give up or to give guidance through my art. This weekend I was surrounded by people who are embracing this song and leveling up in their everyday lives.

I attended the “I Am We” Conference, hosted by Dr. Eveangel Savage, here in Greenville. It was nicely set up, with beautiful colors and decor. The conference itself was all about community engagement and self-empowerment, embodying the Nguzo Saba (or Seven Principles of Kwanzaa). Well-attended by prominent African American leaders in our community and with inspiring speeches from visionaries who are doing some amazing work, I left with more wisdom than I could have ever imagined.

Following the event Dr. Savage asked me, “What were some takeaways for you?” My response is, simply this… It’s time to Level Up!

As many of us have heard, we must think “outside of the box.” This hypothetical box of boundaries and limitations that can keep us bound and unproductive seemed to resonate throughout the room when one speaker encouraged us all to “get rid of the box.” Fitting so well with the theme of the conference, it was clear that we can all experience freedom when we free ourselves of the boundaries and boxes that bind our creativity and keeps us at war with others in our community. This new mindset is going to require all of us to Level Up in the way we think and approach our challenges.

Another presenter shared how he had gone out into the community every day for almost one year to observe and see what issues people faced. What he reported to us was both profound and perplexed. My takeaway from his message was that we can’t keep looking over the issues that are affecting our community and ignoring them, as if they don’t exist. We must Level Up in our service to others.

People were given awards during the conference for being Community Champions, each one just as deserving as the others. I can honestly say that it was an honor to engage and bond with such amazing people.

Now, I believe it’s time to push forward. To take our ideas and dreams out of the box and work together for the betterment of our community. Having learned the principles of Nguzo Saba early in life, I’m glad to say that I incorporate these principles in my life daily. I believe that in order for our community to Level Up, we must all do the same.