Girl Talk inspires Sheridan women at Marquee



Nova Browning Rutherford shared her struggles with depression to the all-female crowd at the Marquee. (Photo by Rachel Lee-Thomas/The Sheridan Sun)

When you hit it a wall, it’s to see how far you’ve come, motivational speaker Nova Browning Rutherford told the crowd at the Girl Talk event at Sheridan College on Feb. 2.

“I wouldn’t know how resilient I am any other way,” she said after talking about her struggles with depression. “You’ll truly get to a point in time where you would be almost thankful for those lessons.”

The personal development coach has appeared in various media outlets including CTV’s The Social, CBC Radio and the Oprah Winfrey Network. She has won several awards for her work as a speaker and her work in the community.

Rutherford spoke to around 50 students at the all-female event about the struggles many girls face, including insecurities, comparisons and negative self-talk.

The dimly lit, intimate atmosphere could have been a scene from any slumber party, with a steady stream of girls lining up at the candy bar and manicure station.

Rutherford candidly shared her personal stories to show how women, if given the right tools and surrounded by the right people, can overcome any difficulties.

She opened up about her experience with hitting rock bottom. It started in college where her environment was chaotic, unorganized and she lived in a dorm room the size of a parking space. It was heightened when she was sexually assaulted and suffered depression for four years.

Through these traumatic life events, Rutherford found her journey toward healing and she spoke to the eager crowd in hopes they learn something from her experience.

With humour and a casual conversational tone, Rutherford offered advice and insight into how women can leave behind any “fear-based thought,” like not being good enough, the fear of being alone and the idea that things will never get better.


“Now is the time to start learning these coping skills. Now is the time to start recognizing the warning signs, the triggers for what happening and what’s to come,” she said. “I’ll say this, and I’ll say it again, it’s happening for you, not to you.”

A phrase she kept repeating was: “It’s not what you’re doing but why you’re doing it.”

She tackled the fear-based thought of, “If I just had this, I’d be happy.”

Rutherford emphasized the idea that if she could give it to you, whether it’s money or weight loss, she could easily take it away. Instead, she encouraged the crowd to “get rooted into what’s real,” and the qualities that make them unique as opposed to comparing themselves to the idea that everyone’s life is better.

“The comparison, often what you’re seeing is a temporary picture, and to compare yourself to that, it’s just not fair,” she said.


A candy bar and manicure station were popular attraction at the Girl Talk event. (Photo by Rachel Lee-Thomas/The Sheridan Sun).


She also talked about comparing on Instagram and how it only showcases the best parts of people’s lives, and comparing someone’s life to that person’s is like comparing their Chapter 1 to that person’s Chapter 12.

“We’re going to stop that, because we know that’s just a highlight reel of someone’s life, and the same things you don’t post, she doesn’t post,” she said.

Rutherford also touched on the topics of negative self-talk, which she called the “evil twin,” and girl-on-girl hate, both of which she said has to stop.

“We need not bash each other, we need not make it harder. Everyone is dealing with a struggle you know nothing about. Their treatment of you has nothing to do with you. It’s not personal,” said Rutherford.

She ended her speech with a list of self-care activities that helped her during her rock bottom. It included taking naps, going for a walk outside and doing activities she enjoyed.

“You’re all women in the prime of your lives, celebrate and enjoy that,” she said.

Although there were manicures and a candy bar competing for the women’s attention, it was Rutherford’s message that resonated through the audience.

Sarah Alphonso, a second-year Interior Design student, found out about the event from the posters on campus and attended to get a break from school. She found Rutherford’s speech inspiring.

“My favourite part was her talk, especially when she talked about self-help,” she said.

There was a Q & A after her speech and many of the crowd took advantage of it to ask Rutherford for advice.

Second-year Social Service Work student Savannah Johnston found it helpful and relatable.

“I liked the questions people asked,” she said. “I realized that I’m not the only one thinking this.”

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