“When I first wore heels in my adult life, a guy told me, ‘You shouldn’t wear those. You’re too tall.’ So then I just went and bought like six more.”
Shakia Hollis told us this story as she laced up her 4 inch high heels after riding her longboard around Monday Night Brewing Garage. Shakia is killing it, six feet tall and dressed in all black. Her dark jean jacket has a large patch of a wolf howling at the moon on her back, one of Monday Night’s mascots.
Shakia has been working with Monday Night for the past two years. On the brewery’s “About Us” tab of their website, they have Shakia listed as their Senior Private Events Manager, Community Engagement Lead, and “Tall Drink of Water.” She is in charge of all private events for both locations — weddings, social events, and fundraisers. If anyone is booking an event, they are going to go through her. She is, more or less, the one to connect the brewery to the community. But being a woman, especially one of the few women of color in the craft beer industry, has brought some challenges.
First starting out on the sales team, part of her job was to meet up with different bars to sample them on Monday Night’s products. But as soon as she would walk in, she could feel those people looking at her and doubt her competence on the beers.
“It came to the point where I had to walk in and be like, ‘Hey, I know what I’m talking about. I’m a freaking cicerone. And I’m not sure if you are, but like, we’re about to sample these beers, and you’re going to buy this. And it’s going to be great for your business.’”
She’s had to prove herself, exuding confidence to gain respect. And growing a thick skin was just a part of that. But in spite of her toughness, Shakia’s friends and coworkers describe her as one of the most loving people they know. One of the owners of the company even refers to Shakia as “a person for the people” or “the human for humans.”
“There doesn’t have to be this big difference between being perceived as someone who is loving and gentle and soft, and also someone who is going to take care of business and be a boss,” she said. “Because those things exist within each other extremely well.”
While talking to us, Shakia shared the unique place she’s found herself in: a place where she can be loving, but also where she’s not going to be a pushover.
We did a little Q&A with Shakia on how to be this loving towards other people while still loving yourself.
One of the most unique things we have noticed about you is your ability to love patiently yet relentlessly. What do you think drives this love that you have?
First off, thank you! This is so kind. I know that the love I have received from some absolutely incredible people in my life (my mother, my best friend, etc) has taught me so much about what selfless love looks like. When you receive as much love as I have in my life, you cannot help but to hold it in your heart and pay it forward. I also know that my relationship with Jesus has truly shaped the amount of love and grace I am able to give. Because I know how much grace and love I receive from Him whether I feel like I am in a place to receive it or not.
The older I get, the more I realize how non-circumstantial love is supposed to be. I have had to learn that the amount of love/grace you give to a person cannot be based off how much they give you. Of course there have to be healthy boundaries within that, but relationships, in my opinion, should be 100/100 not 50/50.
And a lot of my ability to give love stems from the amount of love I have for myself. I know that the level of self-love (that has taken a VERY long time to grow into what it is today) I have has changed the way I even define love. It has allowed me to be self-aware of when I am not loving properly outwardly because I have not taken the time to evaluate my own stock of emotional wealth. Relentless love for self sets your heart in such a posture to relentlessly love others. Simply put: an empty vessel cannot pour. Love is such an empty concept until you evaluate what it means for you, as an individual, and the most healthy way it is given or received.
Does giving so much to others ever leave you ever feeling drained or tired? How do you recharge?
Yes it sure does! So often. And spending time evaluating my feelings and thoughts is how I process. If I have not had time to process, I absolutely cannot recharge. That looks like writing, coloring, and meditating for me. If I have a particularly strong/immediate reaction to something, I have to take a while and even write about it before I can address the situation. I always attempt to address my own feelings and concerns before I address anyone else involved. Just to make sure I am actually upset, and not just projecting an issue I have not resolved within myself onto another person. ALL that is a very verbose way of saying that spending time with myself and processing my thoughts and feelings (good or bad) is how I recharge! I have recently started living alone, and it has done wonders for my emotional/mental health!
How do you receive love?
I best receive love through handwritten letters for SURE. There is something about someone taking the time to put pen to paper and write out words to me that makes me feel so full. It is a lost art unfortunately, but maybe that is what makes it so dear to me. Words are important to me (I was a rhetoric major) and I have felt both their weight and their freedom in so many different ways in my life. Letters mean the world to me.
What are some ways that you practice self-care?
I practice self care by writing out my feelings, taking myself to the movies, having weekly me-dates where I take time out to do something fun alone, going on runs, reading fiction, studying astronomy and marine life, coloring, and being outside!
Shakia holds a balance within herself that is so beautifully whole. She is fierce and kind, passionate and compassionate, assertive and empathic.
“I live in the tension of strength and gentility,” she told us. “There is no weakness in being gentle.”
Victoria Marie Ward is co-founder and head writer for Release the Women. She has a passion for empowering and sharing the stories of women and other marginalized groups. You can follow her journey on Instagram @toriamarieward.