ACTIVIST, AUTHOR + POET
Aija Mayrock is no ordinary woman on the rise. And, she's here to remind us, all women are on the rise. Listening to Aija as she gracefully and powerfully shares poetry (check out @aijamayrock), we read her wiser than years words and sat a little straighter in our seat.
"I think that we, as women, are born with our full potential, but it’s the societal structures that have been constructed to inhibit us from fully shining. Something that I really focused on in my new book is how girls are raised versus how boys are raised. The ideology that builds these structures is taught, it’s learned. It’s learned from how our grandmothers and mothers are raised. It’s taught to us and our daughters. We have to be very conscious of how we raise the next generation."
TAJ: What's your favorite F word?
Aija: “Fierce. Step into your power, be untamed, and chase what sets your soul on fire!”
TAJ: What rules have you broken to be where you are?
Aija: “I’ve always gone down the untraditional path. It’s not necessarily something that I wanted to do, but I never really had a choice. I’ve been a rule-breaker from the beginning and proud. I was raised by 2 rule breakers. When I wrote my first book at 16 “The Survival Guide to Bullying,” I didn’t have any connections or way to get it published, but I started pitching all the major publishers. Instead of giving up, I decided to self publish. I marketed the hell out of that self-published book. And it was picked up by Scholastic. I started school at NYU and was working full time on the book, book tour, marketing, and social media. I pushed for the book to come out within 5 months of it being acquired which is UNHEARD OF. But I knew there was a window of time for this book because I was still a teenager when I sold it and I didn’t want to miss that window of relatability. I put together my own tour. I did this over the course of 4 years while begging my teachers and structuring my school schedule in the weirdest, but most productive way possible. I wound up speaking to 4 million students in 4 years across the country, having my book published in 18 languages, building a global community online, and selling my next book upon graduation.”
TAJ: What's one piece of advice you have for anyone starting out in their career?
Aija: “My biggest piece of advice for working is to fall in love with your work. If you aren’t in love with it, don’t do it. Find something else. Because when you are really in love with what you do, then it’s not work. You won’t mind waking up at 3 AM or writing for days to meet a deadline that will only result in rewrites.”
TAJ: Do you think stereotypes exist in your line of work and how do you break through them?
Aija: “I think there are always stereotypes to some extent, in every line of work. One stereotype as a writer is that you must have been great at English class or that you’ve studied poetry extensively. I have learning disabilities and I REALLY struggled in middle school and high school. There were years where I almost failed out. I always felt that the barrier to entry for poetry was so high and impossible for someone like me - who never did well in poetry assignments in school."
TAJ: What's the best compliment someone can give a woman?
Aija: “Something that is genuine and something you actually feel when around that woman. I try to give compliments not based on physical appearance, but perhaps someone’s power, talent or compassion.”
TAJ: If there's one thing people take away from meeting you, what do you hope it is?
Aija: “Don’t ever let rejection make you stop chasing your dreams."
TAJ: What do you love about Fall and Winter?
Aija: “I love how the changing of the seasons can be a time for making new goals, planning your dreams, and cultivating time with loved ones.”
TAJ: What kind of accessories do you love? How do accessories make you feel?
Aija: “Rings and earrings! I always wear these little gold rings I have and hoops. It makes me feel complete even if I’m just in sweats."
TAJ: You're at a cocktail party, how do you meet people. Any secrets for breaking the ice?
Aija: “I used to be so intimidated and just flat out scared by parties. I would get so insecure and just be quiet in the corner. But now I do this thing where I force myself to go up to people, say hi, join their conversation. If they are rude or uninviting, you probably won’t see them again anyway. Or just think of it like - it’s not you, they’re uncomfortable with themselves. But you never know how one bold move could change the course of your life forever. It’s worth the risk."
TAJ: At Accessory Junkie, we talk about how accessories are the “modern girl’s armor”. You put them on, you’re ready to take on the world. Accessories speak to your unique style, your superpowers. What’s your superpower?
Aija: “My resilience."
TAJ: Lipstick or gloss?
TAJ: We always say the world is bursting with talent - so we travel to every corner in search of new talented designers. New York is bursting with energy, events, and things to do. What’s your favorite thing to do?
Aija: “I am part of the HER USA community which two of my friends Babba Canales and Marika Frumes founded. They have incredible events with women in every field and stage of life. I love going to those events.”