Image courtesy of Kacey Venning
After being diagnosed with depression at the age of 16, KaCey Venning embarked on a journey of personal reflection and made a very empowering discovery: that your life experiences create the building blocks for your future. The newly minted author recounts how her personal experiences built her to be stronger and more purposeful.
“My entire career has been about building relationships.” she says. As a professional, Venning worked in the public school setting, in local and international nonprofits, and in local government. Each of those entities required her to develop strong relationships in order to accomplish some very big goals.
“The beauty in working in a field that requires relationships is that it gives you the opportunity to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening in the lives of people. It keeps you from making decisions that are good in theory but horrible in practice. Even now, with the release of my first book, Built For This: A Young Woman’s Journey to Self-Discovery and Empowerment, it is filled with life lessons based on relationships and how they shaped me into the woman I am today.”
What Venning is today is an overcomer. She says her favorite affirmation is one she created for herself during a time when felt like life was beating her down. “I am built to overcome everything meant and sent to break me. During the times where I am overwhelmed and discouraged, this affirmation reminds me that I am strong enough, worthy enough and loved enough to overcome the challenge that wants to break me. It is that nudge I need to keep going.”
Mentoring has been a huge factor in her career and personal life. “I believe that there is something so beautiful about sitting at the feet of someone who has gone before you. I have mentors that are my age, one who is younger than me and definitely a mentor who has a few decades on me. Each of them pulls something different from me. But it is equally important that I also find someone to pour into and mentor as well. Mentoring allows for you to be the student and to continue learning something new about yourself and pushes you, if you are willing; to do things you were once afraid to try,” she says.
Risks are important and necessary for a fulfilled life, and according to Venning, “Everyone should have something they are willing to risk it all for. It may sound cliché but it’s true, where there is no risk, there is no reward. I recently had the opportunity to leave my comfortable and stable 9-to-5 job. While others would be looking feverishly for another employment opportunity, I am taking this change to bet on me. To risk the comfort of a direct deposit pay check to see what it is I am made of and how far I can take my own success. It’s already begun to change who I am and for the better. I make more assured statements and decisions. I know what is worth my time and what is going to make me money.”
How does she get it all done? Venning says learning to let go of trying to be perfect has helped her accomplish some awesome things. “Waiting for perfection in a project, relationship, or the perfect timing, will have you waiting a long time. Understanding the difference between being ready and being perfect will be the difference between you being able to launch something successfully and missing your optimal time for success.”
Folks who know Venning say, “If you need someone to cry with you, call KaCey.” Being empathetic is a core characteristic for her. “I am unusually attuned to people and their emotions and there is this instantaneous impulse that I have to fix something for someone,” she says. “But it has also opened my eyes to pain, hurts, challenges and distractions others are facing and it helps me become more aware of what to look out for as I embark on new journeys. Overall being empathetic helps people to know I care and I believe that even business relationships aren’t solely built on what you know, but on whom you know and if they care about you.”
Throughout her journey of personal discovery, Venning has learned the importance of showing people gratitude for their support. It gives her, “A sense of joy,” she says. “It fills me up spiritually to know that I have the openness and the willingness to accept help and then be grateful for it.”
While obtaining her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Georgia State University, it was during her tenure at the illustrious Morris Brown College that Vennings decided what kind of woman she wanted to be, someone who would use her life to impact the world. She has done this as teacher, a National Service AmeriCorps member, and a co-founder of a nonprofit, Helping Empower Youth Inc. (HEY!). She is also a newly minted author of a new book Built For This: A Young Woman’s Journey to Self-Discovery and Empowerment. Venning resides in the historic Washington Park area of Atlanta with her pitbull baby, Riley.