“Be fearlessly authentic” were the three words Hailey Rodgers began to embrace in her second year of university.
Hailey Rodgers is currently a third-year Commerce student at Queen’s University. In December of 2019, she published her first book, See Me, at age 20. See Me addresses the importance of living authentically as a young adult. This book serves as a tool to help readers stay true to who they are amidst the pressure to conform to societal norms. It aims to inspire young adults through guiding principles and the encouraging stories of others who consistently work to lead an authentic life.
In high school, Rodgers was a quiet, timid girl who never showed others who she truly was. “I was compelled to be someone I was not, believing that was the only route to gain societal acceptance,” said Rodgers. Neglecting her social life in favor of earning high grades, she struggled with extreme depression and anxiety and did not know who she was or where she fit into the world. Even after acceptance into one of the most competitive university programs in Canada, Rodgers still experienced extreme unhappiness and the same hopeless craving for success.
Midway through her first year of university, she started writing for Her Campus, a platform for young women to publish articles. She began to realize it was easy for her to share who she truly was through writing. Suddenly, writing authentically began to translate into other aspects of her life, and Rodgers began to live authentically, in turn, becoming happier and achieving more of her goals.
Rodgers also became active in Step Above Stigma, a Canadian nonprofit formed at Queen’s University aiming to improve the accessibility of mental health care across Canada. Through fundraisers, sock sales, and other events and initiatives, Step Above Stigma has worked towards educating the public on the importance of mental wellness and donated 100% of their profits to mental health organizations across Canada. Rodger’s work with Step Above Stigma augmented her passion and love for mental health advocacy and encouraged her to share her personal experiences with mental health and how they contributed to her journey of healing.
In January of 2019, her close friend, Julia Sun, introduced her to Creator Institute, an organization looking for passionate writers to create books. Rodgers was doubtful she could balance schoolwork, working part-time, participating in various extracurricular activities, and writing an entire book in less than a year, but chose not to succumb to self-doubt.
She began to contemplate the question she had asked herself earlier in university: “Why can’t we be authentic now at this young age?” Rodgers decided to write a self-discovery book for young adults, providing her insights on how they can lead and why they deserve an authentic life. Incorporating her own experiences and stories from twenty other individuals, the goal of her book was to inspire authentic living in young adults because everyone deserves to feel confident in who they genuinely are.
Rodgers self-published and has sold hundreds of copies of See Me. Significantly surpassing her goal of inspiring a single reader, she has received much positive feedback. In early April, she gifted 100 copies of the eBook version of See Me, and amongst the COVID-19 pandemic, people have felt, “this is exactly what I needed right now.”
Through writing her book, Rodgers has realized that she wants her life to revolve around this core mission: helping and serving others. In the future, she hopes to start a podcast to continue sharing her message about the value of authentic living and interview those who she believes are truly authentic. In the next 1-2 years, Rodgers hopes to become a certified life coach.