Through fortnightly connection sessions, Just Be has created an authentic, judgment-free community of passionate and supportive women.
A community encouraging women to Just Be themselves
Natalie Short and Tess Robertson gather together a group of women on Zoom every fortnight for an hour or two of conversation and connection.
This get-together is Just Be, an initiative the duo founded to create authentic relationships and foster a strong and likeminded community.
Sign up for the next Zoom session on Wednesday, 10 May, at 6.30pm.
Just Be came from Nat and Tess’s shared realisation that creating deep connections during adulthood is difficult. They also wanted to be involved in a community that provoked honest conversation.
“When I lived up in Queensland, it was my first time moving out of home. I didn’t know anyone where I moved to and I found it really hard to make friends as an adult,” Nat says.
“Then, when moving to Adelaide and meeting a lot of likeminded people and just really [feeling] accepted for me as I am, [it] made me more passionate about being able to create spaces like that for other people – especially girls.”
After gaining inspiration from a similar initiative for men called Hey Mate, Nat and Tess wanted to create a platform focussing on women, opening up a space to be vulnerable and create authentic connections.
These ‘community’ Zoom sessions begin with a general topic, which range from self-development to mental health. Tess says the discussion is then opened up to the group and the women are invited to share opinions and connect with others.
“We have three to four questions to pose to the group and whatever comes up, comes up. It’s a safe space — there’s no judgment,” Tess says.
“[Just Be encourages] learning more about yourself and finding a community of people who are really going to drive you and support you to do the things you want to do.”
“[Those who attend] leave feeing like they’ve done something that’s good for themselves,” Nat elaborates.
Although Just Be’s aim is to create companionship, their Zoom offerings also include ‘mini masterclasses’ – which Nat describes as an “interactive podcast” – where educated speakers join in and discuss their knowledge on the call.
“We thought that getting the right education was really important for women, and obviously we’re not experts in a lot of the things that we discuss,” Tess says.
“We reached out to people who are either doing really cool, high-performance things or are experts in their area to come in and provide a little mini-masterclass of education that you might not necessarily get for free just Googling yourself.”
Many societal groups could benefit from stronger community ties, and Nat and Tess say they established Just Be with a female focus to combat narratives of women seeing each other as enemies rather than friends.
“We’re both women and we know those struggles more personally and we’ve lived through them,” Tess says.
“Humans are social creatures so I feel like we always need community, but just because we’re social, it doesn’t mean whatever community you’re in is going to be healthy.”
Nat and Tess believe this negative narrative can be stopped at a younger age, and have goals for future school sessions and education workshops focussed on teenagers.
“Whether it’s society, or the way we’re raised or whatever it is, makes [women] think that we always have to be fighting for a spot around the table, which I think can cause girls to not necessarily be super friendly when they’re younger,” Nat says.
“I think that there’s probably things we can do to help girls understand who they are, which will help them in turn be more accepting of others.”
Tess began to think about how female connection is framed in younger people after the birth of her daughter, Nina. She worried the sisterhood of contemporary society would not be a caring space for Nina’s generation.
“I just thought it’s really important for me to get a community of really healthy-minded and supportive women around her so that she feels that whatever she wants to do, she can be,” Tess says.
“I think it’s so important for [younger girls] to realise they’re not alone, and the girls next to you aren’t your competition, they’re your sisters.”
Connect with Just Be on Instagram for more information and to join the next Zoom session on Wednesday, 10 May at 6.30pm.