Kylie Wharton, founder, It Starts With Us

If you’re not happy, do something about it. If it doesn’t work out, you’re in no worse position than when you started …

After being inundated with unsolicited advice from friends, acquaintances and well-meaning strangers, it occurred to Kylie Wharton that women are subjected to a huge amount of expectations every day – from themselves, other women, men, the workplace, media and society. It was this realisation that provided the motivation to create a company that is dedicated to empowering women to deal with all of these expectations and even use them to their advantage. Presented by It Starts With Us, Great Expectations: fearlessly facing the unknown, is the first of a series of events that encourage women to invest in their personal development to feel empowered and confident, while providing the opportunity to reflect, connect and aspire. The Weekend Edition Gold Coast caught up with Kylie ahead of the event at Kirra Community Centre on Saturday July 18.

Tell us about the Great Expectations: fearlessly facing the unknown event?
I’m a high school teacher and when I took a year off to have a baby, the expectations that women in particular are subjected to became increasingly clear. Every decision that I made was criticised or commented on, suggestions were made and opinions were shared with me despite the fact that I might not want to hear them or they might not even know me. I always knew that women had a lot of pressure on them but having a year off really reinforced that so I decided to do something about it. I went to a few different events and I couldn’t find anything that was perfect for me so I created an event that I really wanted to go to and that’s Great Expectations: fearlessly facing the unknown.

What are some of the topics the speakers will cover?
Magdalena Roze is the headline speaker and her background is meteorology, which is typically a male dominated field. She’ll be talking about how she navigated those expectations and how she was able to take on any challenges to make herself more diverse. She also came over to Australia as a refugee and couldn’t speak English so she had those expectations to deal with as well. Lise Carlaw has a really broad range of jobs; she’s a mum, a blogger, a model, she emcees a lot of events and she does keynote speaking as well. She’ll be speaking about the expectations she’s dealt with particularly in relation to her appearance and how she’s used that to become the woman she is today. She’ll also be talking about fashion choices and how what you choose to wear can help you feel more confident and deal with expectations a lot better. And then we’ve got Stephanie Pickett, she’s a young musician that goes by the stage name of Ella Fence and is just cracking the music industry. She’ll be talking about strategies to get where you want to go.

What do you hope to achieve from the event?
I want women to walk away feeling happy and that they have gotten something out of the day. I can’t guarantee what that will be as it will be up to each and every woman to take away what they want to take away from it. If they walk away with one idea, that’s amazing, if they walk away with ten, that’s even better. I definitely want women to feel as though they’ve invested in themselves. The women that I am exposing the audience to are ladies just like you and I, they just had the drive and the vision to be where they are so I want people to realise that if they have a vision they can do it too. If you’re not happy, do something about it. If it doesn’t work out, you’re in no worse position than when you started.

Expectations are something we’ve all experienced in one way or another but most of us haven’t done anything about it. What gave you the motivation to step up to the plate?
It was actually my mum. She pointed out that I am obviously really passionate about the issue and that it won’t just go away so I may as well give it a go. My husband is also super supportive. It’ been hard but it’s definitely worth it.

You’re also a high school teacher. What do you believe are some of the biggest expectations imposed upon young women today?
I think the biggest one is that they should know what they want to do before they finish school. When you’re in school, you’re such a different person to who you are down the track. I feel that sometimes we have to remind girls that there’s more to life than right now and it’s okay to change. If we can share that message sooner rather than later I think they’ll be more well-rounded as women and adults.

Can you give us any tips harnessing expectations to create a positive change?
Oh that’s a tricky one! I recently heard a quote that stuck with me, it was ‘jealousy is just dreams unfulfilled’. If you find yourself being jealous of someone, listen to why you are jealous and if you can change it, do it, make it happen. I think having expectations drives you and if you have a positive mindset you will go in a positive direction but it’s up to you to make that decision.

If you could give your teen self any advice, what would it be?
I would say be more balanced in your approach to life. I was a very dedicated student but I think that I needed to be more aware of the world around me as opposed to just my immediate world. I guess it’s an adult thing to say but have a better work life balance. Also, keep calm and prioritise better! Do the things that have to be done and leave the things that don’t have to be done; they’ll still be there tomorrow.

This Great Expectations: fearlessly facing the unknown event is the first of its kind for It Starts With Us, are there plans for any future events in the pipeline?
Absolutely! Regardless of how this first event goes I’ve always wanted to do a series of them because I don’t feel you can gauge success from one experience. I’ve got quite a few ideas in the pipeline, some are ridiculously huge and then some are smaller. There is definitely more to come.

What’s the blue-sky dream for It Starts With Us?
Is it appropriate to say world domination? Just joking. I’m taking baby steps at the moment, and by baby steps I mean let’s just run a whole day program with really great speakers. Essentially my goal is to enjoy what I’m doing and keep doing it while I am enjoying it.

What inspires you?
Women inspire me, my mum especially. When I was growing up, she knew everything; it’s my goal to be like her. People who don’t actually know the impact they are having on others in a positive way is also inspiring, it shows strength in character.

What has been your biggest learning when it comes to managing expectations?
You have to ask for help and you can’t expect to know it all and do it all. Prioritising is another one! Women aren’t usually very good at that but you have to be good at it if you want to be better at what you do. When people offer help, accept it! Put aside time to keep learning.

What are your essentials for a well-spent weekend?
Definitely family and technology-free! We love going down to the beach and just living, doing something that is different to work days is really important.

Only a Gold Coast local would know … that Great Expectations: fearlessly facing the unknown event is happening this Saturday!

Perk up … Raw Energy at Coolangatta.
Relax … Rainbow Bay beach.
Indulge …  Max Brenner Coolangatta.
Dine …
 Bin 72.
Be inspired… 
Hanging out with my little boy.


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