Women Like Us with Mecca Wilkinson

About Mecca:

I am currently in law school getting my JD/L.L.M. In international human rights – I intend to work in Human Trafficking policy and prevention. Before I chose to go to law school, I had a career in HR and social responsibility where I managed our immigration, global philanthropy and giving, global volunteerism, etc. I like doing the work that needs to get done because someone depends on it. I like knowing there is still something that I can do before someone is really on their last leg – everyone deserves that help and support.

1. Tell us about yourself.

If I had to describe myself, I’d say I am a [hahaha] this is a funny way to describe it. Is like an educated alien baby. I’m so introverted and focused on the things that I am really really focused on but I do draw a lot on the energy from the people around me. That energy motivates me. I’m focused and I’m energetic and all these really great things, but  I definitely rely on the support around me and the energy around me (like a baby alien haha). I’m definitely an introverted-extrovert, I guess is another good way to put that. Right now in my life, I don’t have a lot of time for fun. But for example, my favorite things to do are to cook, or watch something on tv, or go for a run. It’s all very solitude. It’s because I exert so much and I feel so much energy around people that when it comes to being focused and needing to relax, I tend to retreat back into myself.

2. What tactics have you found to be the most useful for building your self-confidence?

I think, for building my self-confidence, it’s like self-reassurance every once in a while.. So often, myself included, we rely on reassurance and that confidence boost from other people. For me, I have to feel extra confident and reassured myself. I can go through anything in my head and if I feel good about it, I’m going to go do it and I don’t care what anyone says. The fact that I know I’ve made good decisions in my life up to now, reaffirms that something is a good decision for me. I like where I’m at now. That little pep talk I give myself pushes me to say “you’re going to be ok, you’ve got this” and remind myself, “look at where you are now” and it helps me with anything that I’m nervous about doing or I’m unsure about.

It’s funny, Josh [Mecca’s boyfriend] and I were talking about that this morning. I know it’s never easy getting a job or something just off of paper because so much of it is based on networking and people getting to know you or what other people have to say about you. So the fact that I know I can get certain opportunities just based on the things I’ve accomplished on paper makes me feel good about myself. 
That’s professionally but I guess personally on the day to day the thing that helps me with self-confidence, is the understanding that no one else’s perspective is actually life or death. The people who don’t support you or have something negative to say about you, aren’t the people for you. The things that are meant for you will be for you. That’s my perspective. I can’t get bogged down day to day and wonder what everyone is going to think and ruin my self-confidence. I need to just focus on the things that are there for me and what’s going to help me for myself. If I don’t apply for a job or wear a certain outfit, I’ll never know If i would have gotten it or if people would have loved it and the “not knowing” is more terrifying to me than something not working out.

Also, confidence is extremely magnetic. People know when you’re confident and when you have that “umf” and people are attracted to that. Second guessing yourself does nothing but fail you. You’re never going to win if you second guess yourself.

3. When you’re having a bad day, what helps you get out of the funk?

Honestly, music. Music. Because, even though music can be chaotic, I have always been able to get lost in it. When I listen to music I can kind of get back into my head. It’s funny, my friend and I always talk about this. She hates being in her head and I love being in my head because it’s all rainbows and butterflies. I can get overwhelmed when  I get hyperfocused on school or work or whatever I’m focusing on that day. With music, I only have so much capacity in my brain and the music can kind of allow me not to be there for a minute.

It used to be running, which was much more health-focused but with the weather in Chicago, that’s not really feasible year around. I also started running at a difficult time in my life, so I’m trying not to tie my need to relax and calm down to that so much.

Photo Credit: Vishal Shah

4. What are the key areas you focus on for your beauty routine (cleanse, haircuts, eyebrow styling, massage, etc)?

I have eczema so I think the priority for my routine would be moisturizing and making sure that I am actually clean, like my pores are cleared out. So having a really good cleanser and mask and a super hydrating moisturizer is above all else. Cleaning and moisturizing are the two biggies for me and anything else is extra for me.. recently, something I’ve started to do since I’ve really been enjoying moisturizing and now that it’s winter, is doing lymphatic draining skin massages. They are extremely rejuvenating for the skin and take me back to my skincare specialist days at Miraval. 

After my skincare, Honestly. It might be doing my nails. That is something that I know is a luxury people like to get done. But for one, I’ve been doing my own nails for like, ever so I’ve gotten really good at it. It’s also gratifying in the end, seeing your nails all done and knowing you did that. It reminds me that pampering yourself doesn’t have to be expensive, and being a student is a humbling experience when it comes to finances.

After that, it would probably be my hair. A few years ago I bleached it and now I’m trying to nurture it and bring it back to health. That consists of making sure it’s hydrated and moisturized and getting all the nutrients it’s missed out on from being bleached. I’ve been doing deep oil or moisturizing treatments weekly and I’ve been wearing it natural again to help protect it from heat damage. It’s definitely something that takes time and patience because it doesn’t happen overnight, but I know in the long run my hair is thanking me. 

5. Do you wear makeup? If so, what does your makeup routine consist of?

I wear very little. My makeup is mascara and a little bit of highlighter. And that’s again mainly from my eczema, I try not to put too much on my face. However, when I have an event or something I definitely love to go all out. For example, this halloween I was an alien (haha) and I was super excited to use these silver shadows and highlighters that I normally would NEVER use because they are almost holographic. However, they were so much fun to work with to make a cute alien look and I also got to use some of my body jewels. So for me, makeup is really an art that you can play up and make your own even if you don’t use that same product every day. I think you should have something you use for special occasions or that you save for a rainy day, it’s kind of like a little surprise! 

6. What is your favorite self-care activity before bedtime?

I like to do my hair before bed. Because I’ve been wearing my hair more naturally and taking an effort to really nurture it, I have to make sure that I put it in a style before bed or if I’m washing it I do a deep conditioning. Making sure my hair is moisturized so when I do my hair in the morning it is not dry makes it so much easier to manage. Like I said, it’s pretty damaged from the bleach and knowing I won’t be touching my hair for 6-8 hours while I sleep is nice. 

You know what, drinking tea is also something that really calms me down. I drink green tea all day but at night I’ll drink a really calming tea and I can just sit with it and I’m not just drinking it because it’s my drink of choice. It’s warm, I can relax and I can just sit with it, and I can go full circle from the day. I’ll sit with my tea and my cats will come over for kitty massages and I’ll drink tea and that’s just really decompressing for me.

7. If you feel comfortable with this, what is your favorite feature about yourself? What is or was your biggest insecurity?

I feel like my favorite feature about myself is probably my openness and positivity. I definitely try to look at everything with a glass half-full lens. And that’s honestly where a lot of my confidence comes from.

“What’s the worst that can happen? Go for it.”

“What’s the worst that can happen? Go for it.” And people like to be around me because of my positive energy. That’s my favorite thing about me, I tend to air on the positive side and generate that vibe. 

Something I maybe don’t love is, when I come off as so positive, that I can be a little naive and that ends up hurting me. Especially with friendships or relationships. I let things slide all for the sake of keeping peace and being nice. That’s my biggest gripe with myself, I can be a little naive. 

Also, I have no *butt*. [laughs a lot].

8. How have you learned to love yourself over time?

MMM. Trauma. And I mean that in the best way possible because I would not be who I am without having gone through what I did. I think that me mentioning my positivity and my upbeat demeanor really is a positive for me, and it’s surprising to me in keeping that trait in myself even through everything I’ve been through. Because it would have been extremely easy to become cynical or even jaded. So I think going through the different things that I have whether it be friendships, family, relationships, jobs, whatever it may be, has pushed me to cherish all of myself. I do a really good job of getting through it, dealing with those emotions, and then applying them to the future so that I don’t make the same mistakes. And looking back on who I was before any particular event, makes me really proud and love myself all over again. 

For example, my previous relationship was not the best. And I know, most adults at this age have been through pretty cruddy relationships. This was different. I was living in another country with him and it was unhealthy so I came back. After having broken up and ending that relationship, I was having such a rough time getting my life back on track, but that was something I had to intentionally do. I was also starting law school at the same time, I didn’t have my job because I stopped working to go to  school, so I didn’t have an income. I had just lost my best friend and lover. And I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want people to judge me for a failed relationship. Learning to deal with that and juggling everything that I could and giving myself the grace to sit down, deal with that, go through the emotions, and still come out on top, that’s really cool to me.

9. If you have one piece of advice for women out there fighting to overcome insecurities and building their confidence, what is that advice?

Hmmm.. Hmmm..  I would say, “If not you, then who” because no one on this earth acts the way you do, thinks the way you do, looks the way you do. Every single person on this earth has something extremely specific to offer. We’re waiting. So just do it. Go for it. 

I think, in this political climate especially, there’s just, we’re just waiting for women to really step into their role as humans, as people, as contributors. It’s more than just in the workplace. It’s creating a presence and  I think the world is really ready for women to do that. We are literally all ready and waiting for you to contribute and do whatever you can.

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