Who am i? with Ryan Vincent.

Ryan Vincent is a UK-based American writer whose work, passion and life centres around diversity and inclusion. He recently joined one of our 'Who am i?' virtual retreats, and has kindly agreed to share his experience.

Matthew Shaw news editor at the bbc supporting gay mens mental health and wellbeing

Who are you?

I’m Ryan Vincent - a (self-published) author, diversity and inclusion consulting, cooking obsessed, G&T loving American who’s found himself living overseas for nearly a decade now. I’ve been more or less settled in the UK since graduating University and now work as a D&I consultant, working with some of the biggest organisations in the world to try and make them more equitable, fair and inclusive places to work and thrive.

How did you find yourself doing what you are doing?

Well, that’s also a bit complicated! I started off in fashion and quickly realised it wasn’t the place for me, moved to advertising and marketing and still wasn’t quite there. At the end of my postgrad I got into an internship with a D&I consultancy through some work my dad had done with them, advocating for LGBT+ inclusion in corporate, and absolutely loved it. I learned very quickly and moved from intern to consultant in just under 2 years. I’ve never been great at long-term planning for myself, so am feeling very fortunate to have landed in a current trajectory that suits me and work I love doing.


I’ve always had a bit of a creative streak as well though so I’ve kept up some of the creative practices that led me to original explore a career in fashion and then in advertising, namely writing. Over quarantine I managed to self-publish my first book and I plan on keeping it up, even if no one is reading it!


What have you learnt along the way?

Quite a few things - namely that sometimes not having a plan, or not abiding by it completely, can sometimes be the best plan and that you should always always always make time for activities that restore your creativity. I take a broad definition of creativity here too, not necessarily just ‘making art’ or producing something, but anything that allows you to think a bit more freely and is somewhat of an escape. Getting to know a few things I can sit down and freely do for an hour, or several hours, has been incredible for my mental health. For me it’s writing, cooking, exercise, and a bit of drag (she's a bedroom queen). I think the other thing I’ve learned is to be honest with people who can support you about how I’m really feeling, things you need to complain or vent about, no matter how menial, and of course doing the same for them- keeping it all inside is not great for you.


Why did you get involved in the ‘Who am i?’ programme?

I’d never done anything quite like it before and was very curious. I’m a big fan of anything that makes space for me to be a little bit uncomfortable and step outside of my comfort zone for the sake of personal development and wellbeing, and taking part in a mental health and wellbeing retreat with a dozen or so strangers fit the bill.


Did you make any changes off the back of the retreat?

I’m definitely more reflective about myself and my practices - personal and professional. I’m my own biggest critic and so I’ve started giving myself credit for the work I do, rather than always being overly judgemental of myself.


What relationship do you have to the LGBTQ+ community?

With two gay dads, I was immersed from a very young age in LGBTQ+ rights and the community as well. With my mom, she’s one of the biggest advocate and allies I know, and has been since I was a kid. Growing up in Indiana, a pretty conservative state, and being religious and wanting to raise my brother and I in the church, she made absolutely sure that whatever church she took us to as kids wouldn’t tell us my dads’ lifestyle was wrong. This was massive, and I’m only really realising things like this as I’m getting older. Knowing what my dads went through, and my mom’s advocacy growing up, have been huge inspirations for me to carry this through for others, and a massive reason I’m in the role I am now.


What’s the biggest challenge you’re working through?

Long-term planning! I’m still struggling to take time out to assess my own life goals and aspirations, thinking in the short term quite often. While I said earlier sometimes not having a plan is a great plan, it’s good to have those things in mind, so very much trying to figure out those big questions now.


Have you learnt anything new about yourself since the retreat?

I’ve learned that so much of my personal history has impacted me in loads of positive ways I haven’t fully appreciated, and am continuing to evaluate and understand. I’ve grown to appreciate how my upbringing and life experiences have shaped me into a person I’m quite proud to be - and this is something prior to the retreat I don’t necessarily think I could have said so confidently.

How do you ‘Create Space’?

Continuing the good habits I’ve built over the years, creative practices and exercise mainly, and starting some new ones - practicing more conscious positivity and reflection rather than self-critique and unhelpful rumination.


@ryan_thelion5


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