De`Vonte Parker reflects on his experience as an Emerging Leader participant at The Well, a community-building event curated by New Profit that brings together social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and other social impact leaders to listen, learn, and create brave spaces for honest dialogue with a strong bias for action.
Shawn Dove and Tulaine Montgomery speak at The Well. Photo by New Profit.Jessica Yurinko
Growing up in economically distressed conditions with my family in Houston, Texas, my mother always told me, “your attitude will determine your altitude.” As a child, I never truly understood what she meant by this, but it would soon occur to me throughout my journey in life. The attitude and energy you decide to exude are your biggest weapon in progressing life the way you want. With this mindset, I’ve had the blessing of securing an ivy league degree and a corporate salary-paying job. Originating from my background that I did, these accomplishments were very rare, which is why I used to doubt myself. As the famous poet Maya Angelou once said, “ I have written 11 books, but each time I think ‘Uh-oh,’ they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’ll find me out.” Despite Maya Angelou being a fiercely talented individual, she, too, held self-doubt.
I had no idea what to expect coming into The Well as an Emerging Leader, granted this was my first conference. Being selected as one of the 40 young and talented leaders from across the country was an absolute honor, yet, that invasive imposter syndrome part of me couldn’t help but think it was a mistake. I thought, ‘Surely someone brighter, more intellectual, and impactful could’ve taken this spot.’ I could have never been more wrong.
Stepping into The Well was a life-changing experience I never knew I needed. Walking into an environment with so much power circulating in the atmosphere and surrounded by so much love was breathtaking. I remember sitting in those auditorium seats with goosebumps running down my arms and chills rushing down my spine. The sheer strength and weight that every one of the speakers emitted during the conference honestly left me with so many emotions. I was inspired – by hearing voices on that stage that resonated with my unconventional journey and leaders who looked just like me. I was hopeful – surrounded by various philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders collaborating on ways to enhance our communities. I was proud – no longer afraid to be all I was in any space I entered.
I mattered while at The Well as an Emerging Leader despite the difference in seniority levels or net worth. I found myself in many inspiring dialogues and debates where I could contribute my unique perspective and talent. It was encouraging to look around the room during these moments and see groups of all ages, backgrounds, and job titles nod their heads in agreement and fully engage in my input. Before entering The Well, it was always difficult to appreciate my accomplishments and praise myself. My tunnel vision solely focused on areas where I didn’t reach my expectations, and every time I fell short, I used that as “evidence” that I didn’t belong. However, throughout my 3-day experience, my thought process has completely transformed. We tend to be ashamed of and bottle up Imposter Syndrome, but the problem is so many people have felt this invasive feeling. Being at The Well with so many like-minded leaders have made me realize that I am indeed powerful and possess everything I need to make the change I want to see. That spark I’ve been suppressing due to my self-doubt has once again ignited, and I’m more confident about my purpose than ever. Being selected as one of 40 Emerging Leaders wasn’t by chance or some error in the system; that spot, and any other spot at the table, was mine from the beginning.
De’Vonte Parker was born in Houston, Texas, the second youngest of six, raised by his mother. De’Vonte currently works with Dell Technologies, where he’s been for the last year and a half, working with the Brand Marketing team on showcasing the company as a top technology business. He is passionate about finding ways to help underrepresented youth get exposed to college opportunities and mentoring them throughout college. Find him on Instagram @thatsdevo