My First Expo: Exactly where I was supposed to be

During Copy of _SUI7029-9 (1)high school, one of my teachers would say, “You are exactly where you are supposed to be right now.” This quote has stuck with me, but I have never felt a sentiment hold so true until this weekend when I had the privilege of attending the 2017 Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, Maryland. Aside from being an incredible opportunity to learn about the natural products industry and my potential role in it, this experience gave me a sense of appreciation for both the work of Protect Our Breasts and for all of the organic pioneers and members of this industry that are consistently striving to make our world less toxic and more sustainable.

Last Wednesday at about 5:00 a.m., I packed into a rental van with the seven other women that compose our National Executive Board. They were near strangers to me, since we had only started together a week earlier. Although we laughed, exchanged stories and discussed what  Expo East would entail, there was still that tangible sense of hesitation that one feels when they are thrust into a new situation. Four days later we repeated the long six hour ride; this time as lifelong friends. Whether it was the copious amounts of samples we consumed or our mutual passion for the organization we represent I will never know, but something happened this past week that allowed us to bridge a gap from unacquainted peers to a united force on the same mission to change our world.

When we first arrived at Expo, I was simultaneously intimidated and stunned to navigate the sea of branded products from organic pillows to Kombucha tea. After two days of walking the floor and interacting with countless brand representatives, I felt a noticeable shift in my demeanor and lack of confidence, awkward pitch turned into a fervent desire to share my knowledge of and our mission to anyone who was willing to lend me an ear.

By far my favorite moment was when the entire E-Board attended a talk moderated by our executive director, Cynthia Barstow. Before the talk began, she asked us all to rise and acknowledged us as an organization that is immensely invested in empowering women with information and safer alternative products. In that moment, as I stood proudly next to seven other intelligent college women, all clad in the same vibrant green scarf and jet black dress, I realized this was, without a doubt, exactly where I was supposed to be. Despite facing an enemy as detrimental and potentially fatal as breast cancer, we stood confidently knowing that our little green army could make a real impact on the prevention of this terrible disease.

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