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Meet Trailblazer Yves Jeffcoat

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yves Jeffcoat.

Yves, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I was in elementary school, maybe in the first or second grade, I wrote a story. I can’t remember what it was called now, but it had something to do with a princess. We’d picked words out of a bucket that we were required to use in the story. And after I read the story aloud to my classmates and teacher, I knew I wanted to be a writer. That sounds like a fairy tale, too, I know — but I feel fortunate to have understood that so early, maintained that love for words, and had that conviction and clarity of purpose. That’s not to say that my goals aren’t constantly shifting. But ever since I started reading, I consumed books like my life depended on it. At least, my happiness and fulfillment did. I even volunteered at a library when I was young over a summer break — yes, I was a nerd, and nerd stories from my life abound. I hardly remember disliking anything I read as a child. Books were warm hugs. They were friends who stayed up with me at night and showed me worlds that were nothing like my own. I wanted to fall into them. I felt like I could live between the lines. Books were magic, and I wanted to be the maker of that magic.

So, in the abridged but romantic version of my life so far, my love affair with words, stories, and language is what brought me here. In the boring version that got canceled, if it even got picked up in the first place, I went to art school, continued writing things and sharing those things, started editing, and somehow ended up podcasting. I love and am good at and do other things besides put words on paper, but writing might as well be a vital organ. I don’t think I could function properly if it weren’t a part of me.

On other things: Art, yoga, and trying my best to be a good person and student of life are also big deals for me right now and I hope always will be. They, too, have helped get me to where I am today.

Has it been a smooth road?
Any part of my road that has been smooth was that way because my family, ancestors, teachers, supporters, and other people who helped get me here me made it that way. Of course, moments have been tough. Illness and strife in the family; my own diagnosis with a chronic condition; overworking and working jobs I didn’t like and that didn’t pay me enough; fear of failure, disappointment, and inadequacy; severe anxiety and panic attacks and even upsets over the most trivial of things have affected the journey. But a moment is a moment. I’m not minimizing any of those difficulties. But I know that there’s always been something better waiting for me on the other side of each one. As a person who only feels compelled to talk when it’s absolutely necessary and would much rather stay at home and read than speak in front of a crowd, I can say with confidence that I never thought I’d be conducting interviews or hosting podcasts and live panels with people I admire.

I feel like I’m just starting my journey too, but I’d say to other young women who are just setting out on their winding roads, try your hardest to be in love with or respect every part of the process. That way even when it’s not easy — and expect that it won’t always be — it will be worthwhile. Stay open-minded, and don’t be afraid to seek and ask for help. But I’d also say this to young Black women, specifically: Remember that you are loved. You are supported. You are more than capable. You are worthy. You have plenty of time and nothing to prove to anybody, so stay real, work hard, and rest when you need it.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I write stories, essays, and articles that I hope hit at least one person in the gut, each. They explore identity, history, connection, love, morality, art, shared struggles, place, and body, among other peculiarities that define the human experience. I also host and write podcasts alongside a bunch of cool people who turn those podcasts into a real, living, breathing things. I’m proud of my tenacity and willingness to grow and learn. I’m also proud of the authenticity and riskiness in my writing, though it’s something I want more of, always. I don’t have a spiel about what sets me apart from others besides… I’m me, with my own, singular thoughts, experiences, tendencies, cares, and habits, and I work hard to maintain a balance of unpretentiousness, playfulness, and risk that keeps my work honest and meaningful but fun. But in the end, I feel like I am another person with a story and a mind whose work is affected by those very things, and I think there’s inherent value in that.

What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
I’m really bad at picking “mosts,” “bests,” or “favorites,” so I’ll refer back to what I said earlier.
But I’ll add that while money is an important tool, no amount of money will ever meet your “worth” — quoted because you are not a body at auction — or better your mental health, so it’s really worth it to find things that feed you and are also fulfilling.

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