More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are by Elaine Welteroth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There is a divine order, a divine flow to our lives. We don’t need to have all the answers. But our job is to keep on dreaming and trusting enough to put on foot in front of the other.
“More Than Enough” by Elaine Welteroth is a perfect snapshot of a biracial woman who reached such a historic career pinnacle at a young age and is willing to share her climb on the ladder, knowing based on race and upbringing that her climb is unique.
I found myself finding a lot in common with Elaine. I’m a Black woman editor with NorCal roots who had similar dreams but mine took me elsewhere and, like her, there were signs already putting me on a path that I didn’t see then. She starts her story from her childhood, pulling out certain memories that she now knows signaled her destiny. For example, she would make her own magazines for her fake beauty salon in her backyard with her friend. Like a lemonade stand, it made her realize her entrepreneurial and creative spirit.
By the time she gets to college, she’s in a toxic relationship with the boy she followed to Sac State (being from Sacramento luckily a rep from that college told me my grades were too good and I should go to my dream school). She mentioned it on her book tour and in her book that she regretted not applying for her dream school, Stanford, because she was following a boy, a common mistake. But in college, she meets a lifelong mentor, a professor whom she connects with over their similar parentage (Black mother, White father). On a trip, she shares with the professor and another student that she wants to be a magazine editor-in-chief at Essence. They praise her confidence to follow that dream.
When she does earn the Essence internship, the Ebony editor-in-chief she idolizes finally contacts her after she bombarded the editor with messages and asks her to work with her on a photo shoot in Malibu. There, Elaine suggests the model, tennis star Serena Williams, wear a blue bathing suit. She notices her faux pas, but it turns into an assistantship in which she lets go of her dream internship to pursue the opportunity. After being on the fast track, she’s let go at Ebony and worries about being pigeonholed in Black media. But because of her networking, she finds her way into Conde Nast, first at Glamour then at Teen Vogue, with eventually taking the top editor role at the now esteemed teen publication. Once there, she realizes being the first Black woman in charge holds a lot of responsibility, and that means navigating the direction of content to include all teen girls.
What I enjoyed the most about this book is the candidness. She admits to her stumbles, goes into details over those stumbles, and lets the reader know she thought it was the end until her life took another turn. Before every chapter, one of her quotes is highlighted, and it shows how carefully she chose her words to inspire others with her story. The book is on the long side with over 300 pages (like Michelle Obama’s Becoming), but it reads smoothly as you see her growth. Since I am in the same field and from the same area, I felt a strong connection with her and felt inspired by her moves, but it’s a memoir with a positive message that can transcend to women of all ages, but particularly those who are in college and their early 20s when they’re still trying to find their way when it comes to their careers.