10/18/2017 10:57 EDT | Updated 10/22/2017 22:06 EDT

How Brittany May Stopped Hating Feminism And Started Learning From It

The Fierce Female Project was born out of a broken heart.

Brittany May/Twitter

Have you ever felt like you're the only one who feels trapped in a relationship, or alone out of a relationship, or helpless in finding your life's direction?

It's not easy to share your personal experiences if you see them as failures. So often we keep them trapped inside. They sit there. They gnaw at you. They make you feel alone. But imagine if by sharing them, they could inspire you.

Imagine if by sharing them, they could inspire others.

In the wake of a broken heart from an emotionally abusive relationship, Winnipegger Brittany May went into a tailspin. After four years with her boyfriend — whom she always thought she needed — he broke up with her. It made her believe she wasn't good enough for someone else. And now alone, she felt lost.

Instead of dealing with her inner monster that told her she wasn't good enough, she created a monster. She still doesn't know what it is. But it's bigger than she hoped for, and it's fierce: Fierce Females Project.

A post shared by Brittany May (@brittanyjlmay) on

It's a place to find mentors, peers, and professionals. And a place to see how women of today have been influenced by women of yesterday and how they can help women of tomorrow, whether through sharing stories, ideas, projects, successes, or failures.

"I started looking to other women for inspiration and Fierce Females presented me with the opportunity to learn from and meet incredible women from all over the world. It also became an emotional safe space for my heart and my mind, a way to keep busy. It was built out of pain. As the late Carrie Fisher said, 'take your broken heart, make it into art,'" May tells HuffPost Canada.

Because of feminism's stigma, she avoided it 'like the plague,' until she embraced it like a lifesaver.

As Women's History Month celebrates the contributions of influential and inspiring women to Canada's rich history, Fierce Females is an ongoing project that celebrates and connects the past with the present and the present with the future.

The 27-year-old says it took her 24 years to discover feminism. Because of its stigma, she avoided it "like the plague," until she embraced it like a lifesaver. In the wake of her struggle, she realized how women's shared struggles unite us.

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"Feminism has evolved from only fighting for women to fighting for all things that affect ALL women. All women encounter the sexism part, but only some women encounter racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc., and that's something that needs to be recognized."

So May isn't necessarily just teaching feminism with her project; she's learning from it. That's why she highlights women that society doesn't — or hasn't — always talked about. It's easy to overlook their stories, but once you read them, you can't dismiss their impact.

These women's personal stories are akin to an exercise in self-awareness and self-reflection.

From a Swedish band of sisters, to an American makeup artist on BuzzFeed, to broadcasters to business owners to human rights advocates and beyond, "unconventional" women from around the globe join the project by connecting with May, or by a referral from a participant.

Each woman answers a set list of questions, which leads to sharing personal stories, which are akin to an exercise in self-awareness and self-reflection.

Fierce Females Project

Not only for the woman featured, but for its audience too.

One of those women is Canadian-born activist Amirah Sequeira.

May says, "Her heart is one of the biggest I know. Since I can remember she has helped raise awareness and money for AIDS research. She has dedicated her life to human rights."

And May says the project has taught her she's not alone.

"Every single one of these 50-plus women have struggled and endured. It's what makes us who we are and instead of letting the struggle ruin us, we let it drive us."

But May finds common threads amongst all Fierce Females: Perseverance, confidence, and bravery in the face of disbelievers. "Not to mention badassery, if I'm even allowed to say that."

(You badyourass you can.)

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May's project was borne out of the ashes of failure and has given birth to a successful, growing network of females.

So, it may take a village to raise a child, but it took a failure and vulnerability for May to create a community to elevate women.

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