WHY BERNAK IS OUR GIRL? Gosh, we love the internet. It’s so easy to befriend amazing humans around the world without being in the same city or getting introduced by someone. It’s all up to you to make beautiful connections. You just DM someone you feel connected to or someone who is fighting for the same purpose. Both were the case when it comes to beautiful Bernak. We instantly felt that this girl is someone special. By now we have met her in real life and were blessed to have her at our first Femme Fatale Event as an inspirational speaker. The best thing about her? She is honest to the bone, funny and has a huge heart. Here she speaks about her passion projects and personal journey.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Bernak, and I'm living and working in Berlin. Last year I launched the media site "The Devi", which is publishing educating and entertaining content targeted predominantly towards young women. We also host events here in Berlin, and in October I started a podcast called "F-TALK". Next to my own babies, I also recently started to work at the business side of VICE Media Group.
2. How did you come up with your idea of founding The Devi?
Until autumn 2018 I was working at a place that wasn't really the best for my mental well-being. The workload wasn't even the issue, it was moreover a rather toxic work environment. So, I decided to quit. During that time, I realized that sexism, mental health and career are still huge issues for women, and I felt this inner urge to empower others along with myself. And then, I came up with The Devi. Most people around me were very supportive because they saw how I was growing and in which way The Devi was something that was not only good for me, but also for others.
3. With your blog as well as your podcast you feature amazing topics that speak to women. What is your vision for The Devi and F-TALK?
It's so easy to talk about self-love, about personal growth or professional growth, but to truly include these topics in your life is damn hard. I'm constantly trying to learn, and grow (but believe me, I also got those "fuck it" days, I'm human in the end). I use self-help books, podcasts, my therapy or get inspired through the people in my life. The Devi and F-TALK should be tools for women like me to become better versions of themselves in an authentic and modern way.
4. In your opinion what does true and real empowerment look like?
"Live and let live" has a lot to do with it. Empowerment means giving power to others, but it's firstly important not to force your opinion on others and accept other choices and secondly not to forget to empower yourself along the way. Self-love should be your first love.
5. Growth and evolvement are almost always connect to change. How do you react if negative or toxic voices rise up because of someones own personal development?
What's fascinating when you start to grow as a person, you will quite quickly see who is on the same path in life and empowers you, and then you will see who is far away from that and feels threatened. trying to bring you down through negativity. Change isn't always the best for everyone. It can even be quite hard for oneself, but in the long run, it's definitely the best way to go in life.
6. Growth and evolvement also almost come together with making a decision. What would your advice be for all who 1. have a hard time with making decisions, and 2. how to make the right decision?
We all seek validation from the outside. And I don't mean only through our looks, I mean getting any sort of approval of others. Friends, family, co-workers. But whatever you decide to do in your life, you have to be happy with it. I struggle with this up until today. It's daily work to realize that if I like what I do and I'm confident with this decision, then it's the right one. There will always be people who love how you decide, and there will always be people who don't. It's important to visualize every decision and try to think about the feeling you would have with that certain decision. If it feels right, then go for it.
7. Personal Growth is becoming more and more important. What do you think about it?
Personal growth is very important, BUT it's also ok to just chill. We cannot all be always super woke and on top of everything. We make mistakes, we're sometimes lazy, and all of it is also okay. In order to become a happier and healthier person, it's though essential to learn and grow. And this includes all fields of life. Mentally, emotionally and professionally. Personal growth has a lot to do with independence. And that's definitely something more women should seek (if they want to).
8. You were born in Iran and grew up in Germany. Looking back at your personal development: how would you describe it?
When I was 4-5 months old, my parents had to leave Iran and so I grew up in Western Germany. Looking back I didn't really understand certain things. Self-love for example. That was something which wasn't taking a big part in my life. Not only while dealing with all sorts of struggles around me, but also in terms of being the only Middle Eastern girl in my elementary school. Seeing how everyone wanted to play with Barbie (including me), and how being skinny, tall, blonde and white was glorified and taken as the standard of beauty, affected my self-esteem. It's pretty hard for children to grow up and not to see any role model they can look up to (especially in the media). All of this changed when I moved to London and Berlin, and also got out of my teenager's insecurities, but up until this day, it's still something that needs to change around the world. Because representation matters and diversity & inclusion are more than important.
9. Keyword toxic people: We read a lot about how we should just let go of toxic people in our lives. In real life, it sometimes looks and feels way harder. It sounds way easier than it actually is. What is your take on this?
Imagine you start to work on yourself. You deal with your childhood traumas, the issues at work, in your relationships, with people in general, you go to therapy and analyze all these negative patterns you've built up in your life. Suddenly, you will at some point realize "I am worthy" and from there on you will stop to let negativity in your life. It's so hard to then realize "Wait, one of my closest and oldest friends isn't good for me". That's something that happened to me, and trust me, it sucks. Setting healthy boundaries is crucial in order to grow, but of course, it's not easy to build up space or even cut the contact to people you sort of love. I needed to do it, and it made me way stronger. But up until today, I can only imagine that those rather toxic relationships, which are built upon fear, jealousy or anger, can only heal when other people also start to work on their issues. But that's not your job. It's theirs.
10. Why is it so rewarding to go against all odds?
It doesn't have to be exactly against the current/trend. Doing your thing is an essential point. No matter if the people around you like it. No matter if it's hip at the moment. It feels so freeing to be your true self. No matter if it is about your beliefs, your style or your sexuality. To be fair, doing your thing isn't easy. Cause we all wanna be liked, it's simply within us. But try to think about how you would like to look and act and in general life. And work slowly towards it. Without having the voice of your parents or partner in your ear. Just your own.
11. Keywords setbacks and having patience with yourself: How do you handle it?
Being patient isn't one of my strongest traits. But you know what, we all struggle with things or fail at some point in life. BUT it helped me tons to feel all the feelings, to talk to myself in a kind way. We're so harsh to ourselves. And honestly, instead of saying something like "Idiot, how could you do this?" change it to "It's okay. You're human. You will do better next time." Positive self-talk really helps. And if you cannot do it on your own, ask a friend who could forward you the needed positivity or find a paper, write it down and take it out when needed. (Tipp: read it out loud. It feels so good to get the voice out of your head and right into the real world).
12. Keyword: Self-confidence: Has it changed for you? How was the process?
This is such a long process. I always thought that I'm overly confident, and strong. But I realized quite quickly that deep down I couldn't allow myself to feel any pain and vulnerability. To be really confident with yourself has a lot to do with accepting your dark and sunny sides, the good and the bad, strengths and weaknesses, simply everything about you and learn to be okay with it. In this way, I grew and became really confident.
13. Often times the desire for growth and evolvement hits us after struggle. Have you had such experiences?
Definitely. Usually, I would have numbed any bad feelings with all sorts of self-destructive behavior. Everything to not feel this particular negative feeling. Through therapy and tools like yoga, I learned to process what happened in certain moments in life, and therefore understand it. Only then, we can break out of cycles and do it better the next time. In general, we cannot control what happens in our lives. There will always be breakups and losses. It's about how you react to those events. And that's something we all can learn.
14. What is your best take away, your best learning experience so far?
Self-love is the key to everything in life. If you value yourself, you will treat yourself with the best people, best places and best decisions. And I'm still growing, but it's okay. There are better and worse days. But in the end, it all just takes time and is a never-ending journey (cheesy, but so true).
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Photo credit: Katja Vogt