Our August Power Word


Self-Actualization

I remember when I first thought of the idea that would spark the start of Spire & Co.

I was a senior in high school, sitting in my social studies class. My second one of the day, in fact. I loved how history told a story, of leaders, change makers, and choices. I took as many classes as I could get my hands on.

But it was senior year, during the height of college applications, standardized tests, and, for me, a competitive sailing circuit that was taking us all over the Eastern seaboard. If you looked at my planner, you would have thought I was Sheryl Sandberg or Beyoncé. Every moment of my day was optimized for productivity purposes (which also led to some major burnout, but that’s another story). As I was sitting there, learning about the Constitution, my mind was in 15 different places and at least four to do lists had been drafted.

So what does a perpetual planner think about in September? What they are going to give their sister for Christmas, of course. (Yes, I see the absurdity in this as well.)

My sister was just starting her freshman year of high school, and as I was hanging out with my thoughts during social studies class, I was thinking about freshman year of high school. It’s both incredibly exciting and terrifying. You’re a big kid, but you’re not. You have all of these new opportunities in front of you, but you have no idea which ones are worth your time. And, simply put, you have no idea who you are or where you fit.

There was so much I wanted to tell her. But I wouldn’t be here for most of it. I’d be on some college campus figuring out what on Earth I’m doing with my life.

While I didn’t have all the answers, I figured I’d jot down every lesson I learned that would potentially benefit her and her high school experience.

It ended up being a 100+ page book of how to’s that I wrote for the next four months. I covered everything from what teachers to take to how to feel confident when you feel like garbage. And to my surprise, it was incredibly fun to create.

It was in writing that “Big Sister’s Guide” that I learned something that would spark the idea for Spire & Co: We are all just trying to find our place.

Whether you are a freshman in high school, a freshman in college, or a freshman in life, we are all walking the halls of life with not a clue what we are doing. We are in a time where we are no longer striving to be like someone else. We just would like to figure out who we are as individuals. Sure, there are people who want to emulate someone else, whether it’s a celebrity or the resident cool girl, but I’d say most of us are just hoping to be our best selves, and to determine who she is in the first place.

When I look back at all of the content that we have published since that very first magazine in 2012, that intention–to uncover who we are as young women–seems to be the constant. We’ve evolved over the years, as every publisher has had to do in the maze that is digital media in the present day. But for better or worse, we prioritized our mission above all else because we felt that that would always lead us home.

As we rolled with the punches and threw out a few jabs of our own, I was asked hundreds of questions about Spire & Co along the way. (Thankfully, because I do love to talk about it.) But there was one question I was never asked, until a few weeks ago:

If you could describe Spire & Co in one word, what would it be?

Well, jeez. That’s a loaded question, isn’t it? I mean, we aren’t a product company, so I can’t take the route of saying something like “candle” or “shoes” or something. We create lifestyle content that covers everything from style to spirit.

Without even thinking about it, I thought back to that social studies class. What was I thinking about with that book?

Self-actualization.

That was it. Self-actualization.

I knew what the word meant, but out of curiosity, I looked up the definition on my phone: “the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.” Um, YESSSSS!!!!

You know when you read something that feels so right, you get a burst of energy? That happened.

Then I started hearing the word everywhere. On podcasts. In conversations. TV shows. I could read any Spire & Co article, no matter how dated, and fit the label. It was like the Universe was confirming that I chose correctly. And sure, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but I like the idea of simplicity and something about choosing a single word to describe this big idea that has become Spire & Co was calming, you know?

The challenge, though, with a concept like self-actualization is that most of us don’t feel we have achieved it. We all know our general likes and dislikes, but cutting below the surface? Beyond what the world has told us to be and believe? Training for a marathon is easier.

Self-actualization is quite feasibly our greatest task in life. It’s essentially the discovery of why we are here to begin with.

I think we often get tastes of who we are at our core selves. It comes in the moments of peak trial and peak triumph, but it can feel fleeting. One moment we think we know exactly who we are and the next, we are in a state of panic because we feel lost in the Universe.

However, I believe that panic is a sign that we may be closer to knowing our core beings. We have raised our consciousness high enough that all the noise of the world, all the pressures and responsibilities, have been muted even for just a moment to make room for our true selves to speak. The first step to hearing her may just be acknowledging what we don’t know.

Self-actualization can feel like a mystery, but it should never be frightening. After all, is there really a better quest than getting to the bottom of exactly who you are, what you care about, and why you are here?

This month, we are not picking a Power Word so that we can talk about a subject matter that we believe will amplify our human experience. We selected the word that is at the core of that experience, and for that matter, at the core of who we are at Spire & Co. You guessed it, our Power Word this month is self-actualization.

While we’ve been seemingly covering this word in its many forms over the past five years, this month will be the first time we’ll dig into what it means to be a self-actualized young woman. We’ll feature women who have discovered meaning in their lives. We’ll talk about the challenges that make us who we are. We’ll publish pieces written from the soul by women you’ve read before and a few new faces.

Whether you feel confident standing in the truth of who you are or are trying to just get a hint of your true self, we hope that this month will inspire all of us to raise our consciousness and walk closer towards the girl we have silenced within.

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Emily Raleigh

Emily is the Founder of Spire & Co. Since starting the brand in high school, she has spearheaded business development, community development, and marketing. Emily is a recent graduate of Fordham University, where she studied marketing, communications & media management, and digital design. When not working on Spire & C, Emily can be found reading, exploring New York City, or on a bike–either finding her SOUL at SoulCycle or riding her rusty beach bike at her home on the Jersey Shore.

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