7 years ago today, I didn’t know it at the time, but my life changed forever.

It seems like yesterday, but in the same breath, a century ago.  There have been so many highs, lows, successes, failures, and lessons during this roller coaster and adventure.

This past weekend, I spoke at Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference and in preparation for my speech, I found myself reflecting back on the past 7 years, but also found myself looking to the future.

I started our organization, Future Female Leaders in 2012 in the most unconventional of ways, but my childhood was conventional in almost every way. I was raised with true American values like personal responsibility, patriotism, and independence. An American Flag was always flying out on our front porch and nights before dinner, my dad and I would play a game of being able to recite the US Presidents in chronological order or quizzing each other on the capitals of each state. Yes, Millard Fillmore was really a president and yes, we were kind of nerds. Politics was frequent discussion at the dinner table and one of my favorite activities was watching the news with my dad when he came home from work.

Soon, I was off to college and I got my first real taste of backlash for being a conservative, but don’t worry, this story has a happy ending because I survived college without becoming a liberal. 2012 was the first presidential election I was allowed to vote in. I took that responsibility very seriously. The left had spread the talking point that the Republican Party was waging a war on women. I was being told by the media and the left that I hated myself or I was pushing my gender back 50 years or voting against my rights.

I have to be honest, at the time, their words shook me. I knew I was a conservative and why I was a conservative, but sometimes I couldn’t help but feel so alone in my principles and beliefs. I truly felt like I didn’t have any community of fellow like minded young women. I craved a place of support that I could discuss politics and current events beyond my family’s kitchen table. 

My family whom I love very much suffered the consequences of this hole in my life, as they were often on the receiving end of my daily political rants. In fact, my mother once told me in a tough love fashion,  “Amanda, you get on your soapbox more than Rush Limbaugh” 

I wanted an outlet to share my opinions, but also grow confidence in my beliefs. One July night in 2012, in my childhood bedroom, I opened my laptop, pulled up Twitter, made an anonymous Twitter account devoted to sharing my political beliefs. So let’s put some added emphasis on anonymous. I was so uncomfortable with sharing my political views as a young, conservative woman with my friends, my classmates, and the world, that I stayed completely anonymous for years. In fact, much of my family and friends didn’t even know the account was me over a year after I started. I wish I could say the fear I felt was just me or an isolated event, but I’ve come to learn that it is a feeling so many conservative women constantly feel each and every day. 

When I created this account, I didn’t do it to try to change the world, but purely as a sounding board for my daily soapbox. Those musings included the highs, the lows, the good days, the bad days. To my surprise, my tweets ranging from politics to those feelings of being a college age American woman began resonating with thousands of conservative women across the country. 

Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone anymore. 

Knowing there were other women out there that were like minded was reassuring. I was getting tweets, messages, and emails daily from women who were on their liberal campuses and would come home feeling defeated from a day of listening to their liberal professors and peers, only to read FFL’s tweets and find comfort in them. 

I wanted something to unite us as a group and symbolize our newly found camaraderie so with my paycheck from my part time job in college, I bought a few hundred koozies, or drink holders. They were bold, but feminine and sassy. They were pink and green with a GOP elephant and the term I’m Always Right. It was quite the big investment to a young college woman, trying to make her way in the world, but I was soon shipping these koozies across the country in between my college classes. Then, it was Election Day 2012.  Unfortunately, we lost. Barack Obama was reelected. 

The disappointment I felt with the election results and the direction of our country was insurmountable. So much so that the thought that I still had hundreds of koozies on hand in my college apartment paled in comparison, but I still didn’t know how I was going to explain this investment gone wrong to mom and dad.

What happened next surprised me. By the end of the week, I had completely sold out of the koozies that I thought I would be sitting on for years. I didn’t understand it then, but it was because it represented so much more than a sassy conservative koozie, or drink holder. It represented the community of like minded women and they wanted that support and encouragement now more than ever with Obama’s second term on the horizon.

Together, each of us got a little stronger.

Together, each of us stood a little taller.

Together, we shined a little brighter.

Together, we  finally knew we weren’t alone.

It was then that I felt it was my responsibility to try to create a community I, and so many other women across the country, had wanted and craved for so long. 

What started out as a simple Twitter account for my own personal outlet turned into something bigger than myself. It had truly become a place of support and encouragement for the next generation of conservative women.

Now today, Future Female Leaders reaches millions on social media each and every day, has a network of thousands of women across the country, and has hundreds of products in our store that represent the same thing that pink and green koozie did – the pride and confidence in being a conservative woman even when the world can be less than friendly to us. In fact, sales from our store fund over 90% of our operations, activities, and our efforts. So when you shop the FFL store, know that with your purchase, you are supporting our efforts to help spread conservatism and American values to thousands of young women across the country each and every day. 

I wish I could say all the problems that I, and countless other conservative women, faced defying stereotypes and thinking for ourselves are all solved, but there is still more work to be done. 

We are working tirelessly to spread conservatism to young women nationwide and actively support hundreds of thousand young conservative women in a world that has and is becoming so much more hostile toward them. I’ve found that these women need every ounce of support we can garner as they fight the good fight and carry the banner of our causes in their community, neighborhoods, high schools, colleges, corporations and organizations throughout the country.  

These young women face tremendous backlash for their views and passion almost everywhere they turn, yet they stand firm in their beliefs and have worked to become more educated in many of the important topics and to support each other when sometimes it feels like the world is against them.  I see them in action each and every day, and let me tell you, they are truly a force to be reckoned with.  

They are fiercely patriotic and unapologetically sassy. 

They are strong and they are bright.

They think for themselves.

They believe in America. 

They don’t need permission to be conservative. 

They believe that all issues are women’s issues. 

They hold their head high and confidently and inspire other countless women to do the same. 

They inspire me each and every day. 

The great Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

These women are the next generation of freedom loving Americans. I am truly optimistic in what they will accomplish.

They are truly the Future Female Leaders of America.

There is so much more we want to accomplish as we continue to build, cultivate, and empower the next generation of conservative women. Help us continue our efforts by making a purchase during our sale today in honor of our 7th birthday. You can shop our store here or support us through a contribution here.

Amanda O