Reflecting on 2018: 13 Journal Prompts and My Answers

Self-Help

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I can’t take credit for this blog post idea. This post was inspired by a good friend of mine, Kaleigh. She’s a yogi, a healer, a model, a content creator, and one of those badass women that just makes you feel good to be around. Kaleigh had invited me and my partner, Matt, to a class at Kilo’s Kava Bar where all of us could practice yoga, try new CBD products, mediate, and journal to honor the Winter Solstice. It was a wonderful night filled with all of my favorite things. It started with enjoying some Kratom, a meditation practice, CBD treats, yoga, and then finally my favorite part – journaling.

We all huddled inside on the big cozy couch next to a random dog that was wrapped up in a blanket like a burrito and didn’t budge for hours. He must have been very interested in our conversations. Once we all got settled and went up for more tea, Kaleigh asked us a series of journal prompts to help us reflect on the last year and set our intentions for 2019. Kaleigh does these questions herself every year and I can understand why. I normally do a stream of consciousness journaling, but I usually don’t do prompts. But these ones really helped me feel grateful for all that happened in 2018, that I wanted to share them with you!

If you have some time before you get thrown back into your daily routines and head back to work, I recommend answering these journal prompts yourself. It’s so easy to forget how much can happen in a year. It’s good to quiet your mind and really reflect on 2018 and how you plan on growing in the new year. It leaves you with such a feeling of hope and possibility for the year that lies ahead. The first 8 prompts are from Kaleigh, and I added another 5 at the end I that I wanted to reflect on to get me in the right headspace for 2019. I wasn’t planning on sharing all my responses with you, but I thought it might help you all get to know me on a personal level by learning about some of the ups and downs I’ve had in the past year and my plans moving forward. If you try some of these prompts yourself, please share your reflections with me! I would love to read them!

1. What went well for me in 2018?

I feel so lucky that a lot of things went well for me in 2018, even if it didn’t feel like it at the time. 2018 was the year when I learned that everything happens for a reason. Things that felt like the end of the world always ended up leading me down a path of self-growth and better opportunity. The biggest thing that comes to mind was graduating and moving in with my partner. I was scared out of my mind to enter the dreaded “real-world” that everyone always talks about. I was scared to have to support myself, to work a full-time job, to live with someone new, and to even find the right job for me. But as stressful and nerve-wracking as it was, it went well. Matt and I both had each other to lean on and we got through the transition just fine.

2. What did not go well for me in 2018?

The one thing that did not go well for me in 2018 which actually started in 2017, was my anxiety. With such big transitions coming up I started having bad anxiety and for some reason, it gets triggered now by public speaking. And I LOVE public speaking. All throughout my schooling I have loved public speaking and would actually get excited to give speeches. I even took public speaking early in high school because I just couldn’t wait to take it and I thought it would be fun to take the class with the older kids for an extra challenge. (Yes, I realize how abnormal and strange this sounds). But since I have gotten anxiety, I can’t give speeches without my heart pounding out of my chest, feeling like I have to throw up, feeling blood rush to my head, and my whole body getting sweaty. I hate that something that I loved to do so much has now turned into one of my biggest fears. So that is something that definitely did not go well for me in 2018. And if any readers have suggestions that could help me with this issue, I would love to hear from you!

The other thing that did not go well is I started to experience depression again while I was in-between jobs. I had bills stacking up, but no income which was incredibly stressful. It affected my confidence, my relationship, my writing, and my motivation. It was a difficult period, but luckily it didn’t last too long, and I’m finally feeling like myself again.

3. How can you change that?

I’ve done many lifestyle changes to help, so the anxiety and depression have gotten better. I don’t have anxiety attacks and public speaking is not as crippling as it was before, but the problem is still there. I think that continuing to meditate and do yoga will make a difference, as well as finally seeking help.

4. What accomplishments did I have?

If there’s one year that I’ve been the proudest of myself, it was 2018. This past year I made Flagler College 100% smoke and tobacco-free, helped people get access to free cessation services, and inspired students to give up smoking for good. I also wrote the Flagler College Smoke and Tobacco-Free Policy! It was the first year where I ever accomplished something that made an actual impact in my community which felt so fulfilling. I also graduated from Flagler College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Strategic Communication. I took a graduation trip where I visited 8 countries, 11 major cities, and made life-long friends. I went on my first vacation with Matt to Costa Rica, a country I’ve been wanting to visit for years! I also got my first real job out of college, moved to Saint Petersburg, and started a life with Matt. Lastly, I started becoming serious about my blog and spent weeks coming up with Social Media Strategies, writing my heart out, and creating amazing images for my readers.

5. How did I improve my life?

I didn’t realize how much I had done to improve my life until I heard this prompt. So thank you, Kaleigh! This past year I completely gave up dairy which was on the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I also became very interested in health and fitness and worked out for 47 days straight. I’m now in the best shape I’ve ever been in! I’ve been seeing a Chiropractor for months now and my scoliosis and “text neck” has gotten so much better, so I no longer have to live in constant pain. I moved out of my parent’s house which gave me the space I needed to really decide who I want to be in this life and what I want to accomplish. And for the first time ever I got rid of the fear of what people think of me and pursued my dreams without holding myself back. Until this year I was terrified of what people thought if they read my blog, saw my modeling photos, and heard my beliefs about topics like spirituality. I kept so much of my interests and passions a secret for fear of what other people would think of how I live my life. But for the first time ever, I grew into my own and let go of that. I even spontaneously flew across the country to visit my best friend and take a spontaneous helicopter ride which has been on my bucket list for years. And lastly, I started practicing acro-yoga. All the things that I was too nervous to do before. I found my strength in 2018.

6. How did I improve my relationships?

In 2018 I was lucky enough to meet some new girlfriends who I can open up to and call when I need support. I think I improved these relationships and invited these new ones into my life because I opened up and shared myself with them without fear. Without worrying that I would scare someone away if I talked about my anxiety, or going through depression, or struggling with this big life transition. I think that’s the best thing that I did for my relationships was just being honest and being myself. But also, stepping away from the toxic relationships that were holding me back and preventing me from reaching my full potential. 

7. What do I wish I had taken more time for?

One thing that I wish I had taken more time for was seeing friends. I always get so caught up in what I have to do that I forget to nurture my relationships with friends that live in other cities and other states. There are several people I met this year who I really connect with, but I rarely keep in touch because I just don’t remember to pick up the phone and call someone in my free time. I usually just pick up my computer and start writing. I also wish I had taken more time to do yoga and journal because those two things make me feel a million times better. I always come out of that flow feeling calm and feeling a jolt of inspiration and creativity that I have never experienced from anything else.

8. 19 things I want to do in 2019!

The last question from Kaleigh she heard through one of my favorite Podcasts that I recommended to her a few weeks back. The Podcast is called “Happier” by Gretchen Rubin, a happiness and habits expert. For the new year, she asked her listeners to create a list of 19 things that they wanted to do in 2019. This one was my favorite prompt because it gave me such a sense of possibility and hope for the new year. It also gave me an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I’m healthy and have a whole other year ahead of me to better myself and accomplish my dreams. So here is my 19 for 2019 list. I’ve added some more since then so it’s more of a 25 for 2019 list, so I won’t share all of them. But I hope that it inspires you to create your own 19 for 2019 list, and if you do, please share it with me!

1. Donate or volunteer with a charity that helps women who have been sexually abused
2. Practice acro-yoga every week
3. Learn more about Ayurveda and incorporate it into my everyday
4. Learn how to do a split
5. Get a yoga membership
6. Attract more like-minded & spiritual people into my life
7. Take a trip out of the country
8. Get back to daily journaling
9. Call a friend once a week
10. Try something new
11. Make time for friends
12. Learn how to be more patient & manage anger
13. Meditate & oil pull every day
14. Master a handstand yoga pose
15. Master a headstand
16. Visit the springs
17. Grow Lost Online to 1,000 followers or subscribers
18. Stick to my social media marketing plans
19. Post consistently, every two weeks for all of you!

And now, a few of my own journal prompts I’ve done that helped me reflect on 2018 and the year ahead.

9. 2018 Was the year of…

After jotting down notes for a while, I finally decided that the one word that best describes 2018 is: transition. 2018 was the year of transition. Graduating, moving out, starting a life with Matt, getting a full-time job, starting new hobbies, pursuing this blog, and changing my life-long dietary habits to become healthier all happened this past year. I feel as if 2018 was a stepping stone into a better version of myself. The much healthier, more confident, grown-up version of me who will go on to do wonderful things over the next few decades.

10. 2019 Will be the year of…

Creation. This year I’m focusing my energy on Lost Online. I used to come to this platform over the last year and write whenever I felt like it. I posted when the inspiration struck, and I shared random images and had no social media plan. It was just a side hobby that I absolutely loved but never thought would possibly turn into anything. But this year, I’m lucky enough to have found a fabulous photographer, Ray Reyes, who believes in my message and wants to help me spread the word about how we can stay grounded during the digital age. We’ll be creating photos together for each blog post. I’ll also be creating Instagram stories, Instagram posts, tweets, and countless Pinterest graphics. And I’ll be creating new posts every other week, instead of randomly when the mood strikes. I’m diving head first into this platform that I’m incredibly passionate about, making this year my year of creation… and if I’m being honest with myself, the year of hustle.

This year will also be the year of creation as I’m pursuing new creative interests by enrolling in a six-week yoga course to start the year off on a positive note. I’m practicing acro yoga 1-2 times a week, and soon will be starting pottery. As someone who was always terrified to express myself in any creative way, I’m so happy to be breaking out of that headspace in 2019 and declaring it a year of creation. 

11. This year will be the best year ever because…

Well, I have to say, 2018 will be a very tough year to beat. A lot of firsts happened in 2018, but I’m not going to let that make me believe that my best year is behind me. 2019 will be the best year ever because I’m finally able to be me and live authentically. I’m out of school, in a new city, and finally making a regular income. This is the first year of the rest of my life. I can pursue my passions without taking constant negativity and judgment from my family or my professors who think 1) that they know how I should live my life 2) think that they understand my life path more than I do 3) think that my dreams are stupid because they aren’t the same as theirs 4) think that none of my ideas or opinions are worthy of sharing and 5) think that anyone who lives slightly differently than they do is wrong and ignorant.

I can finally for the first time in my life practice yoga at a studio without getting into screaming matches about how it’s a waste of money. I can finally eat dairy-free without getting into fights because for some reason that I will never understand, it makes my family so angry that I don’t eat the same as them. I can write a blog without taking on constant judgment for expressing my personal beliefs and life experiences. I can model without having to get into fights because people think that a photographer will use my pictures to sell me into sex trafficking.

2019 will be the best year ever because I can finally be surrounded by people who lift me up! People who think my that opinions, my beliefs, my hobbies, my dreams are valid even if they are different from their own. I can go to classes and meet up with other creatives without catching eye rolls and passive aggressive comments when I come home. I can finally make simple choices without having to constantly justify myself. I can simply be me without judgment and criticism or without my family thinking it’s a phase because they’ve never taken the time to really get to know and accept me. 2019 will be the best year ever because I can finally have the space to be completely and unapologetically myself.

12. What do I want to manifest in 2019?

This year I want to manifest my dream. My dream of creating content that inspires people every day. On the same note, I want to manifest a tribe of friends, readers, and supporters who can come to Lost Online to share their experiences about how they live well during the Digital Age. A tribe of people who lift each other up, encourage each other and help each other stay grounded during such an overwhelming time.

13. I will show myself compassion in 2019 by…

If there was ever a person that needed to be more compassionate towards themselves it is me! I’ve struggled with negative self-talk and self-doubt my whole life without realizing how much harm it was doing me. But now that I’m growing into myself and have lots of plans for the future, I can’t afford to continue to treat myself the way that I do. This year I will show myself compassion by no longer getting down on myself about not being able to do it all. I expect myself to read, write, meditate, oil pull, workout, stretch, journal, use a foam roller, learn something new, listen to at least one podcast, take supplements, and more, all while constantly achieving goals that I set for myself. If for some reason I can’t do it all in a day, I feel as if I’ve been extremely lazy and I’m not well. I beat myself up and feel guilty all night. This year I will no longer expect myself to accomplish everything all at once. I’m not superhuman and I no longer have the same amount of free time that I did in college. This year will be the year I will be less hard on myself about what I can get done in a day especially since I don’t have alone time to fully immerse myself in my old rituals. I will do what I can and simply feel happy and proud of myself even if all I had time to do was meditate or stretch before bed.

That’s it for my 2018 reflections! I know that was a lot. I hope this post inspired some of you to sit down with a journal and reflect on how 2018 went for you and what you want to focus on in 2019. And if you did your own reflections or came up with some other prompts feel free to reach out or let me know in the comments!

Finally, I want to end with a quote that I’m loving right now from Mel Robbins, “You are not supposed to be the same person you were a year, month, day, or even five seconds ago. You are designed to grow.”

Photo by Ray Reyes. @rocketsciencephoto

Happy New Year, Everyone!

My Favorite Lessons and Quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert’s, Big Magic (The book that inspired Lost Online)

Self-Help

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Hello friends! It’s time for me to disclose another embarrassing and rather private truth about me for all of you to read: I used to think I wasn’t good enough to express myself creatively. I desperately wanted to express myself my whole life and I tried dozens of new projects hoping that I would stumble upon my thing. The one thing that I was automatically extraordinary at and passionate about. I tried writing, pottery, acrylic painting, flower pressing, decoupage, collages, poetry, drawing, watercolor, photography and many more. But the same thing would always happen. After one day of trying out my new project, I would get in my own head, and it would go something like this…

I would suddenly feel inspired to begin painting (or some other artistic endeavor), but I told myself that I couldn’t do it. After painting for all of ten minutes I realized that I’m not talented enough to be “a painter.” I don’t have some sort of natural, God-given ability to paint incredible works of art without struggle. And if I was going to be “a painter” I’d have to incredible at it and be taken seriously as an artist. I’d have to be talented and get my paintings in museums. I would have to be known by friends and family as Heather “the painter.” I couldn’t do that.

There’s no way I could paint or model, or take photos, or blog, or do pottery unless I was known for it. Unless I was acknowledged and recognized for it. My mindset was like this throughout every single creative idea I’ve ever had. A simple idea that I would have to take a photo, or create a painting, or write an article, or do poetry, meant that I had to be really good at it. I couldn’t possibly do it for fun, just because I felt like it.

Until I came across the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I bought it and loved it so much that I finished it in one day. I couldn’t put the book down for a second. Not only did I absolutely adore Gilbert and her voice, but the message of this beautiful book inspired such a change in my life that I view it as my bible.

Gilbert’s book gave me the courage to try several new pursuits over the last few years. It inspired me to follow my creativity just because I wanted to. To be creative for me and no one else. To create a blog because it made me happy, to create a decoration because I wanted to, and to model just because I felt like it.

Without Big Magic, I would have never gathered the courage to launch Lost Online in the first place. For anyone who hasn’t read Big Magic, I highly suggest it! So in honor of my blog’s one year anniversary (as of this past Thanksgiving), and in honor of my recent relaunch… I decided to talk about the book that inspired it and the lessons that I learned from Elizabeth Gilbert’s, Big Magic.

“I think a creative life is the most marvelous life there is.”

– Elizabeth Gilbert

1. Being Fearful Kills Creativity

The first truth about creative living and the one that I think is important for everyone to hear is that fear can kill creativity. Fear causes people to get in their heads and think about all the reasons why they shouldn’t do something, which prevents their wonderful ideas to take shape. One of my favorite parts of Big Magic is when Gilbert lists off dozens of different reasons about why we’re fearful of living a creative life. Reasons like having no talent, getting embarrassed, and upsetting family. Something struck a cord when I read this list.

Gilbert shared these fears because they’re nothing new. These are the same fears that millions of other people experience that paralyze them when they try to create. Think of all the people who have decided to not create artwork out of the fear of judgment. And for what? Just out of their own anxieties. We prevent ourselves from living a creative life because we’re scared of the reactions or the outcome, but it only leaves ourselves disappointed. So why bother getting so worked up about our fears? Why let them keep you from pursuing a dream? If everyone lived in fear of sharing their own creations, life would be so boring and so bland. There would be no movies, music, paintings, or books because everyone would be too scared to put themselves out there.

2. We Are All Creative Beings

I don’t know about you, but there are many days when I believe that I don’t deserve to be a creative person. As if it was a right that only a few are born with. Big Magic helped me to get over that ridiculous idea I had made up in my own mind, by making me realize that everyone in the world is creative. It’s not reserved for only a certain kind of person. It’s not reserved for the “emo” kids that used to go to my high school, it’s not reserved for the famous, it’s not reserved for the people who have their work hanging in museums. We are all innovative, gifted, original, quirky, unique individuals who have been born to express ourselves creatively however we please.

Gilbert shares that human beings have been creative for a very, very long time. It’s a natural impulse for us. So much so that the earliest form of recognizable human art is over 40,000 years old. On page 87, Gilbert shares one of my favorite lines, “Which means that somewhere in our collective evolutionary story, we decided it was way more important to make attractive, superfluous items than it was to learn how to regularly feed ourselves.” And we’ve been making artwork and pursuing our creative interests ever since. There’s no need to consider whether or not we can or deserve to become a creative person because we already are. All of us. It doesn’t matter who you are and what you do for a living, you are born to be creative and have a right to create just as much as anyone else.

3. You Don’t Need Permission to Live a Creative Life

Growing up, I used to think I needed someone’s permission to live creatively. Whether it was my friends, family, teachers, or followers. I thought I needed someone else to agree that I was a half-decent creative individual who was allowed to express themselves. I believe I got this idea because when I would express myself, people didn’t seem to understand why and would usually pass judgment. So I grew up believing that in order to be creative you had to have permission somehow. That you had to have societies stamp of approval. That you had to be a creative genius in order to have the right to do what you please. FALSE.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to be creative. You’re parents, friends, significant other, followers, professors, or dinner party guests, don’t need to understand why and how you choose to express yourself. People will try to talk you out of being creative for the rest of your existence, so waiting for another’s permission is the kiss of death. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission or else you’ll be disappointed and never have the pleasure and fulfillment you receive for doing what you want. If I waited for other people’s approval to do what I please, I would have never done any of the amazing things that I’ve done over this past year. Like traveling Europe, doing acro yoga, taking a helicopter tour, starting a blog, modeling, starting to write poetry. This year was the best year of my life because I stopped waiting for permission to do the things that brought me joy.

4. Creativity Should Be Folded Into Everyday Life

In Big Magic, Gilbert talks about how creativity is something that should be folded into your everyday life. If you have a passion or a calling to try something new or pursue a creative endeavor, you don’t have to quit your job, move somewhere else, and devote every second of every day to it. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they couldn’t be creative in their current situation. That you have to find a way to break free of all of your responsibilities and obligations so that you can live a life spent in a state a perpetual creative bliss. Unfortunately, that’s not true and definitely not realistic. Yes, it would be lovely to not have to do anything besides listen to music while I sit in my apartment writing blog posts and doing yoga for the rest of my life. But who has the luxury or the time to drop everything and focus solely on their art?

Instead, creativity should be worked into everyday life during our free time. All it takes is setting aside a little bit of time every day to do whatever you feel called to do. Gilbert was very much inspired by her father, who was a chemical engineer but spent his free time as a Christmas tree farmer, beekeeper, and goat farmer. He had no training, no experience, but just simply started his new interests whenever he had the time. Most people don’t drop everything and devote their lives to their creativity, they use “scraps of borrowed time” as Gilbert would say, and follow their passions whenever they get the chance. My favorite example Gilbert shares is her friend Susan, who decided to start figure skating at 40 years old simply because it brought her joy. She didn’t quit her job to pursue a career in figure skating or attempt to go to the Olympics. She simply bought a pair of skates and woke up early three times a week to twirl around on the ice and enjoy herself. For me, I do it on my days off and in the evenings when I can sit alone a quiet room and write until my heart is content. And that’s all it has to be. You don’t have to make a living doing your hobby, you can simply just do it because you want to.

5. Don’t Expect to Become “Successful”

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to living a creative life, is that they become focused on success. I’m not pointing fingers, trust me I do this too! People often expect that by being artistic or following their hobbies, they should eventually reach fame and success. By doing this, they’re demanding that their creative interests fulfill them AND provide them with purpose, while simultaneously paying the bills, attracting a fan base, and bringing them massive “success.” I’ve seen this the most with musicians who have an end goal of becoming rich and famous through their music. Not that there is anything wrong with them for wanting that, but that’s a lot of expectation and pressure on a simple creative impulse! What a burden for creativity to carry! Now, if they don’t achieve their expected outcome, there’s the misconception that they have somehow failed and shouldn’t have bothered making music in the first place.

“What does any of that have to do with the quiet glory of merely making things, and then sharing those things with an open heart and no expectation?”

– Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic taught me that I shouldn’t ever expect my passions and creative impulses to support me, or bring success and money. When I first started blogging, I thought I had to make money and becoming a “successful” so-called “content creator.” But I don’t have to, and I can show up on this platform and write just because I want to. And you can too. You can make music, write a book, make paintings, figure skate, design jewelry, start a garden, or whatever you want to without putting pressure on your creativity to bring you success or outside validation.

6. What Others Think is None of Your Business

You cannot and should not care about how others perceive your artwork and the way that you choose to express yourself. Everyone has some kind of creative impulse that exists inside of them, and the point of us having these impulses is not to impress other people. It’s to make ourselves happy. To feel alive. It’s to create simply because it brings us joy and adds color and excitement to our lives. Caring about what other people think, will only dampen your own happiness and ruin the fun in the work that you choose to do.

Let me tell you, no one I’ve been close to has ever once understood or was supportive of what I chose to do for fun or to express myself. If I listened to them, I would be miserable right now. I now pursue whatever creative impulses I have, even if it’s short-lived. Without these creative outlets, I would live a plan, dull, unhappy life, just because someone else didn’t approve of what I created in my own personal time. Funnily enough, once I let go of what other people thought, I actually got better! And in turn, people started to respect my creative endeavors more. Worrying about what other people thought only turned out to be a waste of time and energy that I could instead put into my hobbies.

“The greatest prison that people live in is the fear of what other people think.”

– David Icke

7. Art Doesn’t Have to be Important

Another common misconception that Gilbert shares is that art has to be important. Believing that will only weigh you down and hinder your ability to reach your highest potential and create something wonderful. And it’s ok for art to be completely and utterly frivolous. I love Gilbert’s quote, “Your own reasons to create are reason enough.” You don’t have to justify why you want to pursue a hobby or creative interest by deciding that your work has to help people, or be important, or move people to tears. It could be simply to entertain yourself. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece that’s admired in a gallery while wealthy people stand around and drink champagne. It doesn’t even have to be incredibly original or helpful.

This may seem like common sense, but it’s surprising that when we go to create something ourselves, we set the bar a hundred times higher than we do for others. Which we do intentionally because it helps us to justify why we’re creating. Unfortunately, this will only set us up for failure.

I know that I’m no Hemingway, or Picasso, or Rumi. I will never be a world-renowned anything. And I’m completely ok with that. I express myself in ways that I want to and no longer feel like it has to contribute to the world in a major way. My work doesn’t have to change the world. Letting go of that mindset was like taking a weight off that I’d been carrying forever.

“Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

– Elizabeth Gilbert

8. Inspiration Will Come and Go

Inspiration sometimes will hit you like a ton of bricks. I’ve had to suddenly hop off a treadmill, or pull my car over, or hang up the phone because the inspiration came so suddenly. I love when these moments happen. The inspiration appears easily and gives me a rush of creative excitement that keeps me preoccupied for a whole day. Other times, the inspiration doesn’t flow so easily. Sometimes as much as you want to create you can become stuck in a rut and find it difficult to get the inspiration back. I used to be hard on myself when this would happen, but Gilbert helped me to realize that it’s a normal part of creative living. It happens to everyone, even the New York Times Best Selling Authors like herself! Sometimes the creative juices won’t come when you want them too. Sometimes you’ll struggle to come up with your next big idea or project. It shouldn’t lead you to believe that inspiration has abandoned you forever.

“Holding yourself together through all the phases of creation is where the real work lies.”

– Elizabeth Gilbert

9. Ideas Are Alive

One of my favorite lessons from this book is when Gilbert shares her belief that ideas inhabit the world in the same way that people, plants, or animals do. Just as we are walking around this planet going about our day, so are ideas. Ideas are born and they float around the world searching for a human to collaborate with to be brought into fruition. If you’re lucky enough, a brilliant idea will choose you and you’ll have the pleasure of bringing it into existence. If not, then you will simply let it go and pass it off to someone else. But either way, ideas are out there dancing around us, waiting for someone to grab hold and nurture it until it’s finally recognized.

This took some of the pressure off of being creative because it makes me feel as if the ideas that come to me are not completely mine. I don’t feel guilty or bad if I’m not able to create something that I thought up because it wasn’t really mine, to begin with. If I couldn’t help bring this concept to life then it will simply move on and find the best person to collaborate with who will bring it to life. Those ideas didn’t first originate in my mind before it did in anyone else’s mind in the world, and it will continue to visit others after me.

10. Ideas Won’t Wait

One of my favorite parts of this magical book is when Elizabeth Gilbert shares that ideas will not wait for you. Ideas float around and look for a willing person to grab hold of it and see it through. If we get consumed by our own negative self-talk and get caught up in life’s distractions, the idea will simply move along to someone else. Someone who will be willing to nourish it to its potential. That’s why sometimes you’ll be watching a t.v. show and suddenly a movie trailer came on that you swear you came up with the idea for. Or you’ll see a commercial for a product that you swear you thought up. Maybe you’ll find a book at Barnes and Nobel that you planned on writing someday. Ideas are real and they desperately want to be brought to life, even if it means moving onto someone else. Ideas will grow impatient.

11. Creativity is Magic

My last lesson and most favorite lesson from Big Magic is that creativity is magical. The proof is simply in the way that we feel when a magnificent idea comes to us. Our hairs stand up on our arms, our hearts race, we feel dizzy and excited — almost like we’re falling in love as Gilbert explains. We’ve all felt it from time to time. You feel the inspiration coursing through every cell of your body. How could a simple creative impulse cause such feelings if it weren’t magic? And when this happens the universe will arrange itself in order to help us to pursue the new idea. Coincidences and synchronicities start to happen. We may just happen to meet the right people when we need them and notice signs in our daily lives.

“And when I refer to magic here, I mean it literally. Like in the Hogwarts sense. I am referring to the supernatural, the mystical. the inexplicable, the surreal, the divine, the transcendent, the otherworldly. Because the truth is, I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment — not entirely human in its origins.”

– Elizabeth Gilbert

Another way that you can recognize just how magical creativity and inspiration are is through “flow.” Flow is that state you’re in when you’re completely absorbed in creation. You lose all sense of time and awareness of the surrounding world. You fully lose yourself and become immersed in what you’re doing. It makes you forget to eat, shower, or sleep. The only thing that exists is the pen or paintbrush or the movement of your body while you’re dancing. That’s a state of flow. The best feeling in the world in my opinion. There’s nothing that feels so mystical and so lovely as becoming lost in a creation. Gilbert describes the feeling of flow perfectly when she writes, “I can feel myself being gently propelled by some exterior force. Something is carrying me along — something powerful and generous — and that something is decidedly not me. You may notice this feeling. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve made something wonderful, or done something wonderful, and when you look back at it later, all you can say is: ‘I don’t even know where that came from.’”

“Perhaps creativity’s greatest mercy is this: By completely absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, it can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are.”

– Elizabeth Gilbert

And the reason why this feeling when we create is so important is that….“We all need something that helps us to forget ourselves for a while.” It’s a relief to be free from ourselves and our own complicated minds for that one moment. 

There you have it, my top takeaway from my all-time favorite book, Big Magic. I’ve read it cover to cover at least six times and will probably be reading it many more. This book came to me a perfect time when I wanted to express myself so badly, but I didn’t have the courage. Without this book, I would still be in a pile of self-doubt feeling frustrated that I didn’t create what I had a burning design to do. If you’re a creative person or have a desire to try new things, this is the book you should read. It’s inspiring, uplifting, and funny. I hope the book will bring as much magic into your lives as it did to mine.

Photo by Allen Fajardo.

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.”

– Elizabeth Gilbert

 

 

Have you read Big Magic? What are your thoughts on the book? Did you have any big takeaways? Did it help you overcome some kind of hurdle or self-doubt? Let me know in the comments! I love hearing from you!

Life After Graduation: Dealing with Uncertainty and Unemployment

Self-Help

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Dépaysement (n.) when someone is taken out of their own familiar world into a new one

If I had to pick one word to completely describe my life right now, it would be this one. I truly do feel that when I walked across the stage to receive my diploma in April, I came out on the other side and was propelled into a different dimension. My life has completely changed in the last few months and has been filled with so many wonderful experiences. Since graduating, I launched a campaign that I’ve been working on for a year, I won an award from the American Cancer Society,  I traveled Europe for a month, I moved to Saint Petersburg, I started a life with my boyfriend, and I spontaneously visited my best friend across the country. I’ve also used my new found time to get more serious about my blog, make new friends, get in shape, and focus on my mental health. It really has been an incredible few months, and I feel blessed that I had this opportunity to better myself and have new life experiences.

But, life after graduation is not all glamours.

My entire life I had always known what was coming next at the end of the school year, but for the first time, I had no idea what to expect or what would happen. As much as life has been filled with wonderful life experiences, life has been equally filled with the unknown, uncertainty, and unemployment.

In the months leading up to graduation and in the few months after graduation, I could not have been more thrilled to move out and move on with my life. Then, something happened. The closer I got to approaching this major life change, the more I was starting to have anxiety about the future. It’s funny how you can go your entire young adult life dreaming about the day you get to become an adult, but when the day finally comes, you start to panic. With each passing day, the excitement slowly went away and my fears grew louder. My inner voice started to sound something like this…

What if I’ll never be able to travel again?
What if I never find a job?
What if I get stuck doing something I hate?
What if I drain my savings paying my bills?
What if I don’t make friends?
What if I don’t ever find my way around?
What if Matt and I hate living together?
What if I become a boring adult who doesn’t have fun anymore?
What if I don’t make enough money to cover my rent?
What am I going to do with my life?

On a few occasions, my fears about the future were crippling. I would lay in bed with anxiety that was so bad, it was physically painful. Combined with the anxiety that I was already experiencing, the job hunt was not going well. The first few months after graduation was exciting, but now my time was spent paying bills with my savings and collecting rejection emails. I just couldn’t find a position that met my qualifications and interests. And when I did, nothing would come from it. Every job I applied for turned into a dead end. I’d get nothing in return other than an email that said, “Sorry, we’ve moved on in the hiring process.”

Slowly, the stress from this big life change and being unemployed was starting to affect my daily life. I started to feel lazy, unmotivated, slightly depressed, and self-conscious. It felt like I had nothing to do with my life and no sense of purpose. So, I coped with these stressors in the usual way, writing about them, and talking to just about anyone who would listen.

Everyone tried their best to cheer me up and give me a pep talk. They would nod along to what I was saying, because they too have dealt with moments of uncertainty in their lives, especially after graduation. But a common theme that I’ve noticed during my conversations, was people saying, “You shouldn’t be feeling this way, everyone goes through this.” Or, “You shouldn’t be so anxious and hard on yourself, you’re doing the best you can.” Or, “No one can really plan for the future, so there’s no sense in you being worried about it.” Followed by the usual comments like, “relax,” “calm down,” or “just breathe.” I will say that these are all thoughtful, rational comments that I received. I appreciate everyone who tried to cheer me up and take the ease my worries about the future.

But as much as people tried to make me feel better, I often left these conversations feeling worse than I did before. I heard the same cliques over and over again about how I should relax. Fun fact, no one has ever told me that I should relax, calm down, or “not be so hard on myself,” causing all of my negative emotions to evaporate into the wind – never to be seen or heard from again. That doesn’t happen.

And for some reason, these conversations always began with someone telling me why I shouldn’t feel negative emotions like anxiety, nervousness, sadness, etc. I know that this is how we naturally want to comfort others. From an outsiders perspective looking in, you can see when a friend or family member is being overly hard on themselves and making the problem worse. You can tell when someone is feeding the negative emotions, and you want that person to calm down and see all of their amazing qualities and potential. Although it comes from a place of love and good intention, it often makes the problem worse by telling someone they shouldn’t be anxious, depressed, or angry. It’s the complete opposite of what they need to hear.

Why?

Today, we’re surrounded by thousands of images and videos of gorgeous, rich, smiling, and happy people on the internet. My generation in particular shapes our views of ourselves and the world around us based on what we see online. So, there’s already so much pressure to look perfect, have our lives figured out, and be as happy as everyone else looks on Instagram. Then, at the end of the day when we talk to those around us about feelings of uncertainty and stress, hearing statements like, “You shouldn’t be anxious,” contributes to the problem. In the world that we live in, people are made to believe that we’re supposed to be happy all the time… because everyone else looks happy all the time (at least from the outside looking in). So, if we feel depressed or anxious, then there’s something wrong with us.

But that’s far from the truth. Sadness and depression are both parts of the human experience. Negative emotions are part of the human experience. Feeling uncertain, scared, nervous, fearful – all part of the human experience. And wondering what your life plan is and facing challenges… all part of the experience. Wouldn’t it be bizarre if everyone was born immediately knowing what they wanted to do with their lives and were comically happy all the time? It would actually be pretty creepy. Something meant for movies about alternative universes.

How to really deal with the uncertainty…

1. Know that your feelings are valid

Those icky feelings that creep in when you don’t have a job or don’t know what your next step in life is, are all ok. It’s completely ok and completely normal to feel nervous, anxious, and uncertain. Even feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, and unfulfilled are all a part of it. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that these emotions are unacceptable. Because then, you’ll still have all the other feelings as before… now you’ve just thrown guilt into the mix! Why make yourself feel guilty for feeling anxious? What good will that do you?

2. Do what you can

Don’t push yourself too hard to a point where you make the situation worse. It’s important to take breaks and clear your head. When I was looking for a job I always felt like I didn’t do enough. Whether I sent out 10, 20, 30, or 40 job applications, I always felt like I should be doing more. As if I’m a robot whose sole purpose is to fill out my address 150 times a day on applications and write a never-ending stream of cover letters. But it was just overkill. As important as it is to work hard and do what you have to do to pay your bills, it’s equally important to stand up, go for a walk, take a break, and clear your head. Just do what you can and allow yourself to step away.

3. Do something that your future self would benefit from

No matter how terrible or stuck you may feel in your current situation, you must take care of yourself. It’s normal that when we feel crappy, we want to reach for comfort food, avoid the gym, sleep all day, etc. Don’t! Continue to eat well, sleep well, and exercise. Letting yourself give up on those things, will only make you feel worse later. So do something that your future self will thank you for. Don’t let the running shoes collect dust in the back of the closet. Use them. Taking care of yourself physically will make you feel better mentally too. Plus, it could be the difference between feeling confident in a job interview or behaving timidly and blowing your chance.

I’m happy to share that I now have a full-time job as of this week! So all that anxiety is behind me, just as I’m finally posting this blog. Sorry for the delay (: But I hope this helps if you’re currently dealing with uncertainty and unemployment. Graduating college and transitioning into a new world comes with some many life experiences, challenges, and emotions. Oh, so many emotions…

Photos by Mohammad Khalil.

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments! Are you currently dealing with uncertainty in your life? How have you coped and learned to accept the stress that comes with it? Thanks for reading!

My Apple Watch Turned Me Into a Workout Junky

Health, Product Reviews

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The Apple Watch

You may be as surprised as I am, given that I’m always warning against being consumed by technology, but I’ve officially joined the Apple Watch club. After hearing my boyfriend talk about “closing the rings” for the last six months, and about how his watch inspired him to get to the gym every day, take afternoon walks, and feel more motivated, I decided to see what all of the hype was about. Since coming back from my trip to Europe, I found it especially hard to get myself to exercise, so I was curious to see if the Apple Watch would somehow be able to motivate me to get to the gym too. I’m happy to say that now that I’ve bought the Apple Watch, I quickly discovered why the people love it.

For those of you who don’t have one, or don’t know how the rings on the Apple Watch work, the blue ring is the Standing Ring, the green ring is the Exercise Ring, and the pink ring is the Move Ring. Every hour throughout the day you have to stand up and walk around for at least one minute in the hour to get one notch closer to closing the Standing Ring. The Exercise and Move ring are the two rings that you can customize by choosing how much time you want to spend working out each day, and how many active calories you want to burn. As long as you continue to move around throughout the day, exercise, and burn your active calories, you close your rings and the Apple Watch rewards you with a very satisfying swirling of the rings!

I wanted to share my experience because, after the first few weeks of having an Apple Watch, my habits completely changed. As I talked about in previous posts, I’m a personality type that cannot do something for my own benefit unless I have a form of outside accountability. (Shout out to Gretchen Rubin and her Four Tendencies for helping me realize that I’m an “obliger”). This is why I do things like write down my goals before I go to bed or use the Strides app to keep track of my reading, writing, and meditation. I need to be held accountable and I need to able to “check it off” or visually see my accomplishment to stay motived. Which means that those three little, brightly colored rings that sat on my wrist were enough to turn me into a workout junky in a matter of a week.

The Challenge

Since I am a bit of an all or nothing person, I decided that in order to celebrate this new purchase and get on the right track, I would exercise for an hour a day and close my rings for an entire month straight. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would actually be able to do it. The first week or two was really hard since I was so far away from accomplishing my goal. Then as I got over the hump, it became extra motivating (and also stressful), because I was afraid to have come so far and then miss a day.

Let’s be clear, I didn’t give myself this challenge because I wanted to look better or lose weight, I did it because I wanted to develop the healthy habit of regular exercise and feel proud of myself at the end of the month. And this new watch and exercise challenge was the perfect way for me to get on track. I wasn’t expecting anything exciting other than feeling accomplished at the end of the month and hopefully feeling a bit more energetic and excited about exercising. But the biggest reason why I chose to do this challenge, was because I believe that by accomplishing something that you didn’t think you could, it gives you confidence in other areas of your life.

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My Method

One of the things that helped was that I decided that I wouldn’t stick to a routine. I knew that if I wasn’t in the mood to run three miles, or do legs, or finish a core workout, it would be so much harder to do it for 30 days in a row. I would instead go to the gym and do whatever exercise I was in the mood to do that day. It usually involved half of the time doing some sort of cardio, a few minutes of abs, and the rest would be weightlifting. However, some days all I wanted to do was run, and other days, all I wanted to do was lift weights. This method made going to the gym seem less daunting and boring and prevented me from getting burnt out.

The Transformation

The transformation started rather early and was mostly mental. Since the very first day, I was actually excited to go to the gym. The Apple Watch made getting up and going to the gym feel like less of a chore and more of a hobby. I was excited to go work out because I could watch the rings get closer and closer to closing. It was the first time that I started to feel like working out was fun, which started to change my relationship with the gym as well. I used to refuse to work on a certain muscle, try a certain exercise, use a specific piece of equipment, but I no longer felt that way. I felt much more conformable at the gym than I ever had before. As a result, I was getting a more well-rounded workout, instead of solely focusing on something like cardio. It made me more confident while I was at the gym and becoming more familiar with the equipment, and it made me feel confident outside of the gym too. Every day I walked myself get closer to my 30-day goal. Once I passed the two-week mark, that’s when I really started to feel proud of myself –  I had beat my record of working out 14 consecutive days!

The two-week mark was always when I started to see progress in my workouts. I noticed that I could now run farther, lift more weight, and do more reps. I was building up my endurance which meant that I was even able to accomplish more when I was at the gym. It had been a long time since I worked out enough to start to see myself getting stronger, that I forgot how good it felt. One of the best benefits of exercise, in my opinion, is that watching oneself become stronger physically, allows you to feel like a stronger person in other aspects of your life.

To make the two-week mark even more exciting, this was also when I started to see changes in my appearance. I guess I have never worked out consistently for an extended period of time to where I was able to see results like this. But after two weeks of stair stepping, planking, weight lifting, and jogging, I started to notice visible changes in my lower body. Everything was becoming firmer and a little less… jiggly. Slowly, there was less and less fat in areas that I used to be self-conscious about. After every couple of days, I noticed that my butt was becoming much firmer than it was before, and there was less fat on the back of my thighs.

Around week three, was when I noticed the most in my physical appearance. By week three, I noticed that I could see my bicep muscles start to come in. I never had definition in my arms before! Ever! It felt so incredible to see that change. After a few more days, my triceps were less jiggly. I used to have what people call “bat wings” under my arms because I never exercised my triceps before. But since I took on this challenge, each week that area became less noticeable and a little bit firmer. By the end of the month, I was even seeing my back muscles start to develop!

A defining moment for me was when a photographer I’ve been working with for over a year said to me during a bathing suit shoot, “Have you been working out? Your body did not look like this before.” (Thank you, Allen, I will forever love you for that!) Knowing that someone else was able to see my transformation was so flattering and so incredibly gratifying because I worked so hard for it!

I was so blown away by how I was completely changing my body and my mentality, just from one month of regular exercise. It started to become addicting. I had come so far without missing a day that I didn’t want to stop and deny myself from seeing that next result. Not only was I able to accomplish my initial goal of working out for an hour a day 30 days in a row, but I WAS ABLE TO REACH 47 DAYS! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to exercise during the weekend I was moving from Saint Augustine to Saint Petersburg, Florida. But 47 days is my new workout record, and I’ve never been more proud myself than I was after making it so far.

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My New Favorite Product

Since having the Apple Watch, I now workout so frequently that I’m even encountering problems that I’ve never had before, because I didn’t exercise this much. My exercise clothes have become worn out, my shoes collapsed, some acne has popped up, I find little calluses on my hands, and sometimes I have the urge to exercise when I can’t get to the gym. These might sound terrible to someone else, but when I started to see these little problems arising, I was so happy. It meant that I was serious about my health and regular exercise for the first time in my life. I’ve had to invest in new shoes, clothes, and insoles that hold up and now I’m in the market for women’s weightlifting gloves and resistance bands! My Apple Watch has turned me into a workout junky.

I’m so thankful that this new piece of technology came into my life. I’ve always been someone that has hated going to the gym, and now I absolutely love it. I go every day and I’m still seeing changes in my body even though I’m past the challenge. If you’re struggling with going to the gym and are unable to motive yourself, I strongly suggest getting either an Apple Watch or another product like it. Instead of sitting around thinking “I should go to the gym today,” it changes the inner dialog to, “I want to go to the gym and close my rings.” To me, it feels more like a game instead of a chore or an obligation. I hope my experience motivates you to try out a product like this or start a challenge of your own. I promise, your future self will thank you and will be so proud of you.

Thank you for reading! Let me know in the comments if you have an Apple Watch too and if it motivated you to change your behaviors! Also leave a comment about where you are in your health and fitness journey right now what products, challenges, or routines helped you along the way.

My Daily Gratitude Practice 

Self-Help

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The holidays are officially here, bringing lots of love, traditions, old and new memories, smiles, and laughter. It’s the time of year that reminds us all to forget about our problems to reflect and feel thankful for all that we’re blessed with. One of these times is that delicious Thanksgiving dinner when we gather hands and share with our loved ones what we’re the most grateful for. So in honor of it being Thanksgiving, I wanted to talk about gratitude!

The word gratitude is one of the biggest buzzwords in the self-help community. Every self-help blogger, speaker, yogi, influencer, YouTuber, entrepreneur, and innovator talks publicly about gratitude and how it has transformed their lives. After all, even Oprah swears by her daily gratitude practice. Since then, the daily habit of practicing gratitude has become trendy. It’s right up there with juicing and brewing Kombucha. We all know what it means, we all understand why it’s important, right? But because gratitude is mentioned so frequently in self-help and so frequently during the holidays, has it become more of a concept rather than a daily practice?

In the words of Jim Kwik, has it become “shelf-help” rather than self-help? Is it like the Kale that we buy at the store to feel healthy, but then slowly rots in our refrigerator? Do we sit around the table at Thanksgiving dinner, but come Monday do we forget about how blessed we are? 

I’ll admit it, I forget to feel grateful. I go about my day not thinking at all about how lucky I am to have a home, a family, and a partner. I don’t eat breakfast in the morning and think, “I’m so grateful for this food and for not having to worry where my next meal will come from.” No, I go about my day thinking about the next thing on my to-do list while complaining about traffic and how many blackheads I have. Although I don’t think it’s possible to fill yourself up with the feelings of gratitude all day, 24/7, it is possible and hugely beneficial to incorporate gratitude into everyday life.

What Practicing Gratitude is so Important 

Since I started my own daily practice, I’ve noticed a huge shift in my mental and emotional state. Especially after I kept the practice going for a few weeks, I noticed that my mood was improving a little bit each day. It made me happier, helped me sleep better, and shifted my attention away from things that were materialistic or superficial. The more that I practiced at night, the more I felt those feelings of happiness and gratitude naturally and noticed what I was thankful for throughout the day. 

Also,  according to the internet, grateful people have higher income, get better grades, have fewer fights, are more satisfied with their relationships, get fewer illnesses, and live longer. And we all know that everything you read on the internet is true. 

“Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject – so you know you’re getting the best possible information.” – Michael Scott (The Office)

How I Practice Gratitude

Many months ago, I decided that I would completely change my bedtime routine so that I was spending that time in ways that were beneficial for my mental health instead of numbing myself online. One way that I did this was by creating a gratitude practice right before I fell asleep at night. 

Each night before bed, I open up a document on my computer and I start writing about something that I’m grateful for. I don’t just pick a topic like health and write about how I’m thankful to be healthy and happy. It’s never general or basic. I make sure that I’m writing about something specific rather than a broad topic, and that it pertains to my day. By doing this, I’m able to connect with what I’m writing on a deeper level and have stronger feelings of gratitude. 

For example, I’ll write about how thankful that I am for having a deep conversation with a good friend of mine. Or I’ll write about how thankful I am for my boyfriend taking care of me when I’m sick. Or about how grateful I am to get a job. It can be big or small. It can be a simple gesture that someone did that made my day, or it can be a big life change. I write as much as I feel like writing on that day. Most of the time it’s one paragraph. Other times, the words keep flowing and I write a whole page. When I feel that I’m done writing, I close the computer, shut my eyes, and meditate on those feelings of gratitude. 

When I do this before bed, all of the negative self-talk, the stressors, and the conflicts from my day all melt away. It’s impossible to hold onto negative emotions when I’m doing this exercise. I’m able to drift off in a state of happiness, gratitude, and bliss. That’s what I fall asleep to – not self-comparison, not my to-do list the next day, and not what I have to buy at the grocery store. All I remember before I fall asleep are these feelings of love and gratitude. 

The Other Methods

This is how I personally was able to work gratitude into my daily life in a way that works for me. This way might not work for you. I’ve heard of dozens of different ways that people practice gratitude daily, and everyone who practices has there own technique. Most people usually do it in the morning so they start their day off on the right note. But I’m not a morning person AT ALL. I will sleep in until the last possible second and be in a rush all morning. So adding something else to my morning would not work for me, but it may for you. 

Some other techniques I’ve heard include: 

  • Write down one sentence about what you’re thankful for.
  • Write down everything that you’re thankful for and don’t stop until the page is full. 
  • Write down two things… 
  • Write down three things…
  • Write down five things…
  • Do it first thing in the morning.
  • Do it right before you go to bed.
  • Repeat it to yourself throughout the day. 
  • Buy a gratitude journal that you only use for this practice. 
  • Write down what you’re thankful for morning and night. 
  • Visualize and meditate to three things that you’re thankful for right when you open your eyes in the morning. 

You get the idea. There’s a lot of different ways that people make this practice work for them. It’s important to figure out which method you enjoy, what time of day, and how much time you want to spend on it. You don’t want to use someone else’s method if it doesn’t resonate with you and bring about those heightened feelings of gratitude. Otherwise, it may feel like homework. Your practice could look completely different than mine. But as long as you find what works for you, you’ll be able to stick with it, and feel thankful every day of the year – not just on the holidays. 

Remember

For most of us, being grateful every day is more of a concept. It’s something that we think about during the holiday season or randomly when we’re reading a self-help book. On occasion, an influencer might open up about their daily gratitude practice and how it’s helped them, which inspire us to try it for a couple of days. But, it’s almost always forgotten about as we get back to our regular routine. I think that noticing our blessings and feeling thankful for the little things is important even after the holiday season or after the initial inspiration has passed. I would love for everyone to find their own method for incorporating a daily gratitude practice into their lives. I can say first-hand that this simple 5-minute practice can be so beneficial for emotional, mental, and physical health. 

Photo by Allen Fajardo.

Thanks for reading! Do you have a daily gratitude practice? What is it and when do you work it into your daily routine? Have you noticed any benefits? Let me know in the comments!

Why We Don’t Want Each Other to be Happy & How to Change it (One Conversation at a Time)

Self-Help

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In a previous post, How I Freed Myself From the Opinions of Others, I wrote about my own struggle of sharing my aspirations with the people in my life. And I shared that there’s a simple solution to this problem… not telling anyone. Let me just say that this tactic has worked wonders. I now have the freedom to pursue what I want to do in life without taking on wrath from those around me. I’ve taken so much criticism in the past for following any dream or creative project that I’ve ever had. So I’ve gotten used to this idea that if you have a dream, the best way to keep it alive is to keep it a secret. One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Steve Harvey when he said, “The quickest way to kill a dream, is to tell it to a small minded person.”

However, in the last few months, I’ve noticed this same phenomenon in other aspects of my life. I recently decided to cut out several bad habits and replace them with better ones in an effort to become healthier, both mentally and physically. The two that I’m talking about specifically involved my decision to go dairy-free and my decision to exercise every day. (I’ll be talking more about these changes in later posts). But what completely baffled me was the negativity that I took from those around me for making those changes. I used to think that it was only the big decisions that people got up worked up about, but I’ve been experiencing this criticism in everyday conversation. 

Somehow, my decision to stop eating cheese and to peel my butt off the couch and go for a run, brought on lectures about why I’m making bad decisions. According to others, the changes were drastic, unhealthy, and unnecessary. I’m met with comments and criticism about how eating a little bit of dairy is healthy for me (even though I’m lactose intolerant). I have people trying to force me to eat dairy, trying to trick me into eating it, trying to get me to say that I hate being dairy-free and wish I was eating dairy again. I’ve also had to listen to people discuss “how the body works” and why I shouldn’t be exercising daily because it’s “unhealthy.” I’ve been also been told that my decision to switch up my exercise routine with weights, ab exercises, running, walking and cycling is somehow wrong. Everyone seems to have their own ideas about how my personal workouts should be done and what my diet should look like. 

Yet all of these people add into the conversation “I could never give up diary” or “I could never exercise every day.” So it’s obvious that they wish they could muster up the will-power to do what I’ve done in the last few months, but they don’t want to. After going through this with just about everyone I talk to, I have a theory that will most likely be dismissed for its negativity by anyone who reads this post. But here is it anyway:

I believe that we do not want to see each other be happy.

I know that this theory makes us out to be evil creatures, but the truth is, humans are naturally competitive with each other. We simply do not want other people to be healthy, happy, successful, and accomplished. It reminds us of everything that we are not, and everything that we wish we could do. When we see someone else accomplishing something, we stack it up to our own accomplishments. Similarly, when we see an attractive person, we compare our looks to theirs. People are naturally competitive and want to out-do others. It’s biologically ingrained in us. Not only do we want to be successful and happy, but we want to be more successful and happy than others. 

Before anyone gets upset about this, I don’t think this is that off-base. It’s why I’ve come across dozens of quotes online that say things like:

  • “Admire someone else’s beauty without questioning your own.”
  • “Someone else’s success does not take away from your own.”
  • “Living well is the best revenge.”
  • “Supporting another’s success won’t ever dampen yours.”
  • “The best revenge? Happiness, because nothing drives people more crazy than seeing someone actually having a good life.”  

It’s why we get jealous when someone we know publishes a book or a blog, starts a podcast, wins an award, travels the world, loses weight, wins money, gets an appearance in a magazine, has a stay at home job, etc. It angers people if someone is living happily and unapologetically. 

But here’s the real issue…

The problem is that we’re all capable of making ourselves proud, of being a better version of ourselves, and of following our dreams. However, it’s hard. It takes courage, motivation, and above all – self-discipline. Not everyone has those traits. Which means that it’s easier to — talk someone else out of exercising, to peer pressure them into drinking, to spew advice about how they should be living their lives, or to convince them to start eating cheese and junk food again — than it is to make those changes ourselves. Our precious ego is protected and we don’t have to do any extra work.  

I’ve felt this way for a long time, but I always wondered if maybe I was being too harsh or too negative. But after going through this pattern for years, I’m finally convinced that people do not want each other to be happy. It’s the only way to explain why people get angry or annoyed and try to stop me when I’m bettering myself, or pursuing a hobby or dream. 

The reason why I’m sharing this is because I want to do something about it. I want to use this platform to help educate people about a major flaw in our society: we don’t support each other. But I believe that we can change it if each and every person decided to take a step back and resist their initial impulse to argue or compete. 

Here’s How We Can Change

1) Listen

Have you ever spoken to someone that really listened? Who you poured your heart out to and you could tell that they cared deeply about what you had to say? With someone who had no judgment at all in their voice? Isn’t that the most incredible feeling when someone soaks in your words like a sponge?

How lovely and how rare is it to simply be heard…

However, when people are having a conversation, most of the time we’re busy thinking about our response instead of what the other person said. Other times, we interrupt and cut each other off in the middle of a sentence. When we do this to someone, we’re not fully understanding or comprehending what the other is saying. We’ve approached the conversation with a closed mind and a closed heart.

Our minds have already been made up based on past experiences, personal opinions, biases, and what we want to say. It becomes obvious when we care more about our opinion than listening to another. It’s as if we’ve become accustomed to approaching each conversation as a debate, rather than a polite conversation. Of course, not everyone does this, and not every conservation is this extreme or one-sided. But many of us engage in this bad habit more than we think.

Here are a few things to remember if you find yourself being a bad listener:

  • Think about what they’re saying. Don’t think about how you’ll respond to their story, opinion, or feelings. Sit quietly, look them in the eyes, and focus on their words and their words alone. Don’t jump ahead.
  • If the other persons’ mouth is open it means they’re not done talking. It’s a simple trick that a friend told me, that I remember when I find myself becoming too eager to jump in. It may make you feel like little kid telling yourself that, but it works and reminds you to be polite.
  • If you noticed you cut someone off, apologize and ask them to continue. It’s easy to think it will be less awkward if you just keep talking, but it actually makes it worse. By acknowledging that you cut someone off and apologized it shows that you respect them. A lot of times someone will let you continue to speak, but greatly appreciates you taking a moment to step back and acknowledge them. 
  • It’s ok if there is a pause. We tend to think it’s awkward if we pause in conversation because we’re not used to the silence. But by pausing after someone is talking, it shows that you’re focused on listening to them which they will appreciate and admire about you. 

2) Be Supportive of Others

Next time someone is talking with you about their decisions, their dreams, and their choices, remember above all to be supportive. Trust me when I say that having no emotional support from the people closest to you does affect mental well-being. Having to keep your spiritual beliefs, life plans, and creative endeavors a secret from friends and family is completely emotionally exhausting. 

Imagine a world where you should tell anybody your political and spiritual beliefs in conversation without being met by harsh criticism and judgment? See what I mean? Simply supporting each other and not being met with negativity could cause so much good! Yet it’s so rare to come across. It’s as simple as keeping our opinions to ourselves and offering kind words. You don’t have to agree with someone to be nice and show support. Remember that it won’t take away from your day or your happiness.

3) Remember That We’re Not in Competition 

It really is a natural instinct to compete with each other. Don’t believe me yet? Have you ever had to outrun someone on the treadmill next to you? Lift more weight than the person who was on the machine before you? Buy a nicer car than your neighbor? Own a more expensive handbag than the girls at school? Make more money than your sibling? We all do this in some way, even it’s not obvious to us. And believe it or not, these competitive attitudes come out in conversations. Like when your single friend tries to convince you to break up with your boyfriend. Or when your family who has never been out of the country tries to convince you to not take a graduation trip. Or when an overweight friend tries to get you to stop working out.

Although it’s a natural human instinct to compete, that doesn’t mean it should stay that way or be acceptable. This one can be tricky for many people to do because it involves being self-reflective and self-aware. It involves noticing when those insecurities, personal dramas, and competitive tendencies start to manifest in normal conversation AND shutting them down when they do. It also helps to remind yourself that someone else’s life decisions and plans do not really impact your life. It takes regular practice, but with time it will change. Soon, being supportive will be the automatic reaction. 

4) Keep Your Opinions To Yourself

I think it’s safe to say that we have all been met with unwarranted and unexpected criticism in our lives. We all have been through the experience of someone else thinking that how we live is their concern. In reality, how someone else chooses to eat, exercise, or live is really no one’s concern. Therefore, people don’t appreciate hearing your opinions on it. For example, when someone tells you that their vegan, that is not an invitation to share your offensive opinions about their lifestyle. I believe that social media has amplified this problem in recent years. People are so used to sharing their opinion on Facebook and Twitter and automatically receiving likes from those who agree with them. Therefore, we think every opinion that crossed our mind is golden and should be shared at any given moment. False. 

It has created the illusion that everyone wants to know our opinions when in actuality they don’t. If someone wanted to know your opinion about their lifestyle or diet, they would ask you about it directly. Them simply speaking about themselves is not an invitation for judgment or lectures. Otherwise, you’ll be added to the list of people that they keep secrets from to avoid drama. 

5) You Cannot Take Someone’s Testimony Away

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend who said something that stuck out to me. He said, “You cannot take someone’s testimony away from them.” I believe that this simple phrase is something that everyone needs to hear. It means that someone’s life experience is their own. It’s not mine, it’s not yours. It’s not the neighbors. You did walk in their shoes or live through all of their experiences. Which means that you cannot tell someone that their experience and their feelings are wrong. Yet many people will try to do this regardless. 

For example, I have shared with people that I feel better not eating dairy. When I do, people try to tell me that it’s not true. Or I have told people that I’ve seen full body transformations since working out daily, yet people have told me that I’m “over exercising,” therefore my body would be incapable of having progress. Or, I’ve shared that I’ve experienced side effects from a prescription drug, yet people tell me that I’ve imagined it. These are all personal experiences that only I have ever experienced, therefore, no one can take my testimony away from me. How could someone else know better than me how I’m feeling or what is going on in my physical body? They can’t. 

Since hearing this, I’ve noticed myself even making this mistake. We’ve become so focused on sharing our opinions from our experience, that we try to take away from another. It’s important to remember that you did not live someone else’s life and share the same experience as them, EVEN if you have been a part of their life for a long time. 

I know that it may not be a popular opinion that humans are competitive with each other and don’t want each other to be happy. But I do believe it. However, I don’t believe that every single person is like this. Unfortunately, due to our natural instincts, sharing opinions on social media, personal dramas and insecurities, this problem is becoming more apparent. I believe that it can be changed simply by keeping these five things in mind.

Photo by Matt Rutski.

Do you believe that people don’t want to see each other be happy? Or do you have a different perspective? Have you seen someone’s competitive nature come out in conversation before? I would love to hear your experiences. And what are some of your own suggestions about how we can be more supportive of each other in conversation? Comment below! 

My Hair Loss Story: How I Cured Androgenic Alopecia Caused By The Birth Control Pill, Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo

Health

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Today, I’m writing something very different than what I normally do. This post may come as a surprise since it’s so far from my usual topics, but it’s about an issue I’ve been wanting to talk about publicly for years. I used to be on the birth control, Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, for four years before I realized that it caused horrible side effects. The worst of them was the hair thinning known as Androgenic Alopecia, which is hormonal hair loss that mimics Male Pattern Baldness. When I went through this, I remember it felt like the worst thing that had ever happened to me. As a young woman, you feel so much pressure to look beautiful and desirable, and then to realize that you’re balding and have no idea what to do about it… that’s the biggest hit to confidence and self-esteem that I’ve ever experienced. Luckily, through digging online, I found hundreds of women who have shared the stories of their horrible hair loss from Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo. Hearing their experiences and how they were able to grow their hair back was so incredibly helpful. So I finally wanted to open up about my experience on Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, and how I was able to put a stop to my hair loss in hopes that it will help someone else who is going through this.

My story…

When I was a teenager I remember having horrible cramps and period symptoms that were so bad I was constantly missing school. I couldn’t stand up from the pain, I couldn’t focus in class, and I bled like crazy. So I did what my doctor and all of the girls I knew told me to do, which was going on the pill. I wasn’t informed about birth control or what it did to your body. All I knew is that everyone in my high school raved about it like it was a miracle pill. I was told that it made cramps go away, made your period less heavy, stopped symptoms like breast pain and bloating, cleared up acne, made you lose weight, made your hair grow faster, made your boobs bigger, etc. It was everything you could want and more. So without hesitation, I decided to go on the pill. It took all of 30 seconds for my doctor to put me on birth control, and I was happily on my way.

I had first gotten on the pill when I was around 15 or 16 and I stayed on it in college. I didn’t think much of it after I started taking it, but I noticed that my period cramps did, in fact, go away! Along with the aches, breast pain, and all that other fun stuff. However, I noticed that weird things were happening with my body. I was very tired, had extremely dry skin, and became severely lactose intolerant. Just one small sip of milk would have created that most terrible stomach issues for 24 hours straight. I also started to experience depression. Unfortunately, I  remember thinking, “Oh well, I’m a Cancer. We cry all the time, it’s normal.” But it wasn’t normal, I would sob every day. Whenever I was alone, I would cry uncontrollably, for no reason at all. I also noticed that I would get a cold every year that would then turn into a sinus infection and last for months. No medicine, or antibiotic, or natural supplement could help me. Last, but not least, was the problems that I started to encounter with my hair. 

Hair Loss

Over those few years, my hair had completely changed. My hair that used to be shiny, bouncy, soft, and long was now extremely dry and brittle. It actually felt like horse hair. I could put a hair mask on top of my head for an hour a day, but when I washed and dried it, it still rough and dry. I also remember that the ground in my dorm room was covered in hair all the time. It would stick to my rug and everyone would see it when they came in. Friends would comment on how gross it was to see hair all over. Still, I thought nothing of it. All of the changes happened so slowly over the course of several years that I never could figure out why these things were happening. So I just continued on vacuuming my room and conditioning my hair all the time. Until one day I was washing my hands in front of the mirror in my dorm bathroom and the fluorescent lights shined down on my head. My hair was pulled back in a braid and I realized at that moment just how thin my hair was. I could see my scalp perfectly and for the first time I realized that I didn’t just have “thin” hair, but I was actually blading. I took my braid out of my hair and ran my hand through it. Every time I did that several strands came out. I did it again and again, the hair wouldn’t stop coming off of my head. 

I was completely shocked and had no idea what to do. Since I was a kid, I was so overly obsessed with skincare and hair care that I couldn’t believe this had happened to me. I used to spend every single free moment on my computer researching shampoos, hair masks, beauty supplements, etc. I was more knowledgeable about hair care at 15 than most hairdressers. It was a full-blown obsession of mine. But that day, it dawned on me that maybe I should stop spending hours a day researching shampoos, supplements, and hair products, but I should actually research hair loss.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo

Within the first few minutes of scrolling on my computer, I saw an article that said something along the lines of “my birth control caused hair loss.” At that moment it was like I heard glass shattering or a light bulb turning on over my head. I realized that every problem that I was having with my hair was all internal and hormonal. 

Next, I came across a discussion page where hundreds of women that had all taken Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo for years and had major side effects, particularly hair loss. They all wrote about how they had drastic hair loss and hair texture changes. Every single one of them was currently balding from Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, was now off of it and trying to regrow their hair, or had been off of it for a few years and was offering advice to the rest of us. Seeing that hundreds of other women were experiencing this made me feel so relieved that I wasn’t alone. 

To my surprise, they also reported a bunch of other issues they were having from it such as becoming lactose intolerant or having mood swings. I was so happy when I realized that I wasn’t crazy and that these were all real side effects from Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo. It wasn’t something I had imagined. The discussion page also gave me hope since many of them said that after stopping the pill, their hair grew back and their texture became more normal. However, they all said that it never completely went back to normal. Their hair was always less thick than before they started the pill, and their hair texture was different than what they had been born with. For example, many women said that their hair lost its curls. Now that I’m writing this post four years later, I can’t seem to find that same discussion page. It must be Lost Online (lol) among billions of other discussion pages out there. But if I do happen to find it, I’ll update this post with the link!

Seeking help

When I realized what was going on, I had no idea what to do for hair loss, so I immediately went to see my doctor and my dermatologist. To my surprise, they didn’t believe me and tried to make me stay on the birth control pill! The told me that I wasn’t balding, that it was all in my head, I just had extremely thin hair, and nothing was wrong. Even when I told them about the hundreds of women that are reporting this online, they still didn’t take me seriously. Finally, I was sick of arguing and demanded that they check my vitamin levels and hormones. 

After the results came back, the doctors finally saw that I wasn’t crazy! No sh*t. They saw that my hormones were completely out of whack. I had extremely high levels of testosterone. According to my doctors, the high levels of testosterone were creating high levels of DHT or Dihydrotestosterone, which is what attaches to hair follicles and causes the hair follicles to shrink and the hair to fall out. In turn, your body stops supplying nutrients to the follicle and the hair doesn’t grow back. This creates what we know as Male Pattern Baldness. Once the doctors saw this, they admitted to me that I was, in fact, experiencing hormonal hair loss known as “Androgenic Alopecia” a.k.a Male Pattern Baldness. They assured me that my hair would grow back after a few months as long as I took care of it and listened to their advice. 

The Treatment 

Below, are all of the steps that I took to treat my Androgenic Alopecia and includes a mixture of the advice of my doctors and advice from my own online research. Keep in mind that I am not a doctor, this is just what worked for me and what I recommend! If this is happening to you, make sure you go to your doctor and get your hormones and vitamins checked as well!

1. Minoxidil 2% for Women

The first thing that my doctor and all of the online articles about hair loss told me, was to use Minoxidil 2% for women. If you don’t know what this is, it’s basically Rogaine. However, you can buy Minoxidil cheaper without paying for the high price of Rogaine. Minoxidil works by blocking the DHT to prevent more hair from falling out and stimulating the hair follicle so it can receive nutrients and begin re-growing hair. It can also extend the growth phase. I applied this topically once or twice a day for several months. I didn’t experiment with different brands of Minoxidil, but I did have a side effect which was painful acne on my scalp from the product being extremely oily. However, I dealt with it since I was desperate for new hair growth and scared my hair may still fall out. 

2. Biotin

My doctor also instructed me to take Biotin every day morning and night. I told him that I’d been taking it for years, but it never made a difference in my hair. He explained to me that I wasn’t taking the right dosage of Biotin. Most of the supplements contain 5,000 mcg of Biotin, which is not enough to see a change in your hair. In order to see a difference, I was told to take 10,000 mcg morning and night for many months. Only then would it be enough to see a real change. I started doing this and to this day taking 10,000 mcg of Biotin morning and night is my biggest beauty secret. It’s the one thing that I know works for certain. 

I also used to have extremely thin, bendy nails that I could never grow out. If there was just a tiny bit of white at the end of my nail, my fingers literally hurt. I was never able to grow them out even slightly. They would have to be completely cut down for me to be conformable and not have any nail bending. Taking this amount of Biotin was a miracle worker. It made my nails grow back so much stronger and now I haven’t had any nail problems in the last four years. I highly recommend it. 

When you’re buying Biotin make sure to buy a real Biotin supplement, not one of those “Hair, Skin, and Nail” vitamins. If you look at any of the “beauty supplements” or “hair supplements” out there, they all do a wonderful job at their packaging, marketing, and getting us to believe that it works. However, if you look at the ingredients there will not be enough Biotin to see a difference in your hair. Many of them only contain about 3,000 mcg. And if you look at the ingredients, you’re actually getting fewer vitamins for your money. You’d be better off taking a daily multivitamin which contains so much more.

3. Iron

When I got tested at the doctor, one of the things he told me was that I needed a lot more Iron. I had an Iron deficiency which contributed to hair loss, dry hair, pale skin, and weak nails. I believe that Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo caused this too. For the few years I was on Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, I craved hamburgers and steak all the time, even after I ate those foods. I would want a hamburger every day and I was always going out for meat. With the amount of red meat I ate during those few years, it doesn’t make sense that I wasn’t consuming enough Iron, but I believe that Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo effected my absorption of it. Once I stopped Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo and took Iron supplements for a few months I completely stopped craving meat. 

My doctor put me on a prescription Iron supplement with an extremely high dosage of Iron you can’t buy at the store. I was told that I should be taking it every day along with my Biotin. Iron helps with overall hair growth by carrying oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles. Make sure to consult your own doctor before you try this method since I’ve found many articles that warn against taking too much Iron. By taking too much you can actually make hair fall worse. So it’s important to talk to a doctor and have them check your Iron levels!

4. Vitamin D

Another important vitamin that I was lacking was Vitamin D, which makes sense because I lived in Wisconsin where I could go a week without ever being able to go outside in the sun. The sun came up late, went down at 4 pm during the winters, and it would be too cold to go outside. So it’s no surprise that I was lacking Vitamin D. My doctor told me that I should be taking a Vitamin D supplement morning and night that I could pick up at a drugstore. I took 5,000 IU of Vitamin D in the morning and night along with my Biotin and Iron supplements.

If you live in an area where you may experience this too, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of the vitamin either through your diet, a supplement, the sun, or light therapy. Lack of Vitamin D can also contribute to hair loss. The vitamin stimulates hair growth and regulates the growth cycle. There are also Vitamin D receptors in the hair follicle that have to be fed while your hair is growing. Which means that if you’re not getting enough Vitamin D, your hair can’t grow optimally. 

5. My Miracle Hair Mask

If you’re trying to prevent hair loss, regrow hair, or make your hair healthier it’s important to do a regular hair mask. Through my research online I found two ingredients that are real miracle workers for hair growth and used them to create the perfect hot oil hair mask that I used on my hair once a week for months. I still do it sometimes, and it’s one of the beauty secrets that I absolutely swear by.

Here’s how to make it:

Once a week (I did it every Friday), put about a 1/4 cup of Olive Oil in a small bowl and warm it up in the microwave for around 30 seconds. Once it’s warmed up put three to four drops of Dottera Rosemary essential oil in the Olive Oil and mix it together. Make sure it’s not too hot! Rub a small amount on your palms and fingertips and slowly massage it onto your scalp until the whole scalp is covered. With any remaining oil, I like to put it along the hairline near the forehead and temples where hair loss is the most visible. Next, gently run that extra oil through the ends of your hair to act as a leave-in conditioner. Lastly, put your hair in a bun and cover it with a shower cap. Leave the mixture in your hair for an hour and then hop in the shower to wash it out with shampoo.

Why It Works:

Olive Oil – Using Olive Oil helps stop the production of DHT and prevents it from attaching to your hair follicle. Thus it will prevent further hair loss. It’s also a source of antioxidants with promotes scalp and hair health, so it can help your hair even if you don’t experience hair loss. Olive Oil is also a very common household ingredient so it’s always an easy hair mask to make.

Rosemary – Rosemary has been a beauty secret for years and has tons of different beauty benefits, but it’s most known for its ability to grow and thicken hair. In fact, in several studies, Rosemary has been proven to regrow hair as well as Minoxidil, which is why many hair loss products use it as an ingredient. So if you don’t want to spend a ton of money on that product, try putting Rosemary essential oil in a cup of water and then slowly pouring it on your scalp and letting it air dry. This way you’ll receive the natural benefits of Rosemary all day without spending a ton of money on products.

Using Rosemary essential oil also stimulates blood circulation to the scalp so more nutrients and oxygen gets to the follicle the hair can grow faster. Rosemary unclogs hair follicles and removes any product build-up that can be affecting healthy hair growth. It’s also high in nutritional value, antioxidants and is a natural anti-inflammatory which all promote healthy hair. Lastly, it’s known to and add shine for those of us who experience dull, lifeless hair.

Side note: I would not recommend picking the first Rosemary Oil you find off of Amazon or the drugstore shelves. Those products are diluted with water and don’t have the concentration that you need to receive benefits from the oil. I recommend using a trusted brand like Dottera or Young Living where you’ll get the real thing! Don’t cheap out on Rosemary, or you’ll never see how helpful this natural remedy can be.

Massage – The reason the massage is so important is that it will evenly distribute the oil through the hair and to each hair follicle so you receive maximum hair growth. Another benefit is that a scalp massage will strengthen the root of the hair to support the existing hair. Head massages will also stimulate the follicles and causes more blood flow to the scalp. I know I’ve mentioned this a few times, but if you have any hair loss issues, it’s super important to wake up those follicles to get the hair growth started. Otherwise, the hair follicle will continue to remain dormant.

Hot Oil – I have tried dozens of hair masks over the years in order to condition my hair and help it grow back, but nothing works as well as a hot oil treatment with Olive Oil. Hot oil treatments help the oil to penetrate the hair instead of just sitting on top of it like other products and conditioners, which means that it’s able to moisturize the driest and most brittle hair better than something you could buy at the drugstore. Hot oil massages will also strengthen any existing hair, prevent split ends and breakage, and add a beautiful shine. From my own experience with this treatment, I also know that by doing a hot oil treatment it enhances hair color and shine tremendously. I remember that every time I would do a hot oil treatment with Olive Oil, friends and family would ask me if I went to the salon or colored my hair! Keep in mind that in order to receive the full benefits of a treatment and notice a difference in growth specifically, you have to leave it on for the full amount of time.

Side note: If the oil is too hot it can damage the hair, just like anything else! So you have to be careful.

6. Switch Shampoos

If you’re loosing hair or very concerned about hair care, chances are that you’ve tried tons of different shampoos and have already done some research. However, if you’re losing hair, just using “natural” shampoo or “growth” products is not enough. There are actually DHT blocking shampoos on the market to prevent further hair loss. I switched to a DHT blocking shampoo and used it until my Androgenic Alopecia was cured.  Make sure that whatever you’re using is meant for hormonal hair loss specifically. 

7. Don’t Shampoo Everyday

Many people have heard this advice before and have already made up their opinions about it. Let me tell you, I have very thin, very oily hair, and I now live in a hot and humid environment. You don’t have to tell me about hair being “too oily” and how you must wash it every day. Trust me, I understand the greasy hair life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how gross it may look if you wait 2 days, 3 days, 4 days. The longer you can go without washing your hair, the better. Leaving the natural oils on your hair will help the health of your existing hair and support hair growth. If you can only wait two days before shampooing that’s fine. Whatever your normal shampooing routine is now, extend it. Eventually, your hair will adapt and it won’t be as oily. Most people just haven’t waited long enough to actually notice the change. 

8. Out of Sight, Out of Mind

When you’re having a hair loss issue as a woman, the best thing that you can do is to put it back. Once I noticed that I was actually balding, I put my hair up in a ponytail every day and wore a baseball cap. A lot of articles I found have urged people to not to put their hair in a hat or a ponytail, because it could cause more hair loss and breakage. But I noticed the opposite. While my hair was down, I would constantly be looking at it in the mirror, playing with it, moving it around, and always thinking about it. It was always on my mind which made the hair loss that much more stressful, and by messing with it I was causing more damage. Putting it up with a hat on meant that I also didn’t have to witness the hair loss if it was happening. I wouldn’t see strands of hair on my clothes throughout the day and begin to panic again. Plus, the Minoxidil I used was extremely greasy, so I didn’t want to look rough all the time. 

9. Avoid the Salons

Many people recommend that when you’re going through hair loss, it’s best to go to the salon and have it chopped off. I would recommend avoiding the salons all together. Don’t try to have it cut or colored. The hair is already extremely delicate, and if you’ve ever gotten a haircut, you know there’s nothing delicate about what the stylists do. There’s so much combing, tousling, blowdrying, applying products, and shampooing that it’s not a good idea until the hair loss has stopped. I stayed away from the salons for at least six months until I was sure that a trip to my stylist wouldn’t set me back 500 strands of hair! Plus, most hairdressers are very knowledgeable about hair care, cutting, and styling but not about hormonal hair loss. In my experience, the stylists I knew personally did not understand the severity of the problem or how to help me through the transition. 

10. Nighttime Hair Care

When experiencing hair loss, simply going to sleep at night could cause more damage and loss of hair if you’re not careful. The best way to prevent further damage, hair loss, and help your hair grow in is by keeping your hair back at night in a loose braid. Every night before I went to bed, I put a small amount of coconut oil on my hands and would gently run the oil through the ends of my hair. Then I gently braid if back in a French Braid before going to bed. This conditions the hair overnight and prevents the hair from getting tangled or pulled out if your tossing and turning in your sleep. 

11. No Styling or Heat

This is pretty obvious but very important. If your experiencing hair problems, you may try to cover it up by styling it regularly in hopes that people don’t notice. However, it will only make the problem worse. Heat and styling will cause more breakage, loss, and dryness. The best thing to do your hair health is to leave it alone and allow it to grow.

12. Use a Wide Tooth Comb

Another thing that you’ll want to do to help the hair grow is to not brush it! A big mistake that a lot of people make it brushing their hair too frequently, and brushing it when it’s wet. This will cause more hair loss and stretch and break the hair that you want to protect. You’ll want to only comb it once a day and use a wide tooth comb. It’s the most gentle way to get rid of tangles and knots in the hair. 

The Results

If you’re like me when I was going through this issue, you’ll be dying to know how long it took for the hair to grow back and if it regained its fullness. The most important thing to know is that I was determined to grow my hair back, and I did all of these treatments and supplements religiously for at least six months! New hair growth does not happen right away and it needs a lot of help after you’ve had a major stressor or hormonal changes. You’ll have to stick to this advice for a long time until you notice it coming back. 

It wasn’t until many months later when I found out that I was moving to Florida that I wanted my hair to look decent for when I moved to my new city. I rewarded myself for going through all of the emotional stress of balding as a teenager by booking an appointment for a cut and color at my favorite salon in Madison. 

This was probably a year after I realized I was balding from Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo and went off the pill. Towards the end of my appointment when my hairdresser had cut, colored, washed, and blow dried my hair, I looked in the mirror and could see through the salons’ fluorescent lights that I had tons of new hair growth. It actually looked like a halo or a crown over my head with all of the new hairs peaking up. It was about two to three inches long and because of the blow drying and fluorescent lights, I was finally able to visibly see the hair growth that had come in. My hairdresser also checked and made sure that it wasn’t breakage, but actually little baby hairs that were growing in. I will never forget how relieved I was in that moment to finally know that I wasn’t loosing hair anymore and it was actually coming back! So there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can grow your hair back, but it will take time and dedication to proper hair care. 

Four years later…

As for all the other symptoms, I’m still lactose intolerant ever since being on the pill. But the depression I experienced from Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo did completely go away about six months to a year of stopping the pill. It did take some time for my hormones to adjust, so I got a little bit worse after I went off of it, and then I slowly got better. Ever since my body adapted, I’ve actually felt normal. I don’t sob uncontrollably and feel like I’m losing control of myself like I did when I was on it. It blows me away what I went through on this pill and how I didn’t feel normal for four whole years while I was on it. To this day, I’m so thankful that I’ll never have to feel that way again.

When I look at my hair today, I’m not sure if my hair ever regained its complete fullness. It’s hard to tell because I’ve always had very thin hair. I was not born with a beautiful head of hair like many people I know. I was always self-conscious of my hair even as a child. Experiencing women’s hair loss definitely made that much worse. However, my hair is much healthier now and I don’t have any sort of hair growth or hair loss problems anymore. My hair also went back to feeling soft again, it no longer feels like rough horse hair like it used to. So if anyone is going through this, know that there is hope! I understand the emotional stress and loss of confidence and self-esteem that comes when you’re a young woman going through this, but it will get better. Get off that disgusting pill that wreaks havoc on your body, do the steps listed above, and trust that it will grow back.

How I Broke My Bad Habits: Netflix, Junk Food, Procrastinating, and Shopping

Self-Help

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Let me paint you a little picture of what my evenings used to look like for a long time…

After I was done for the day with school, internships, or work, I would always pass the time in the same way — I would climb into bed with whatever junk food I felt like eating at the time and would sink into the Netflix hole. You know the one where your computer asks you if you’re still there? That one. It wasn’t pretty. This time would also be spent online browsing and shopping for things that I did not need at all and getting to stupidly high levels of Candy Crush. My levels on both the Soda Crush app and the original Candy Crush would shock you.

Until one day, in one of this Netflix black holes, I came upon a documentary called “Minimalism.” If you know me at all, you know that I’m the exact opposite of a minimalist. I’m 100% a maximalist. But I watched this documentary and instantly became inspired by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Seeing how they stepped out of traditional lives, sold all of their possessions, and lived with intention was uplifting. I’ve been reading their website and books and listening to their podcast ever since. I believe I’ve talked about them in past posts as well.

Anyways, I’m definitely not a minimalist, but I’ve found that listening to what they advocate for helps me to recharge and refocus on what’s important. Their conversations about digital media and consumption have helped me tremendously to curb the shopping habit and make sure that what I spend my time and money on adds value to my life. Their message came to me at the perfect time, towards the last year of college before I would be thrown into the real world and would have to decide for myself what I wanted my life to look like.

However, a major turning point in my life happened when I was listening to one of their podcast episodes. I heard the episode many months ago and I remember Joshua asked his listeners to do a little exercise as a way to show them how people often spend time in ways that do nothing but fill the hours. His exercise showed that as a result of bad habits and (let’s be honest) laziness, people prevent themselves from becoming the best version of themselves they could possibly be.

I did his exercise back then, and because of that day, my life has completely changed. I was able to break so many of my bad habits and slowly become a better version of myself. One that doesn’t waste all of my precious time eating junk food, Netflix binging, procrastinating, candy crushing, shopping, and Instagraming. So today, I’m going to show you how this exercise worked and how I executed it in my life to get on the right path. Side note: This happened so long ago that I can’t find the exact episode. Therefore, this may not be the exact “minimalist exercise.” However, this is what I did and this is what I recommend if ever you find yourself slipping into bad habits and farther away from your ideal self… If you want to see how this could work for you too, get out a pen and paper and follow along.

Step One: Write down every one of your goals

Think about everything that you’ve ever wanted to do and accomplish. All of your life goals. The BIG things. The things that might even be so embarrassing that you’ve never told anyone before. Like a backpack through Europe, become a full-time travel blogger, launch a company, become a famous athlete, or write a New York Times Best Seller. Those dreams and life goals that you wouldn’t want to tell your mother because she would roll her eyes and say it’s unrealistic. Spend some time thinking about what you really want out of life and be completely honest with yourself. Most of us are so busy going through our day to day routine that it’s easy to lose sight of what we really want. This exercise will help you refocus on those goals that may have been forgotten.

Step Two: Write down your values

This one is super simple, and all you have to do is write a few words on a separate sheet of paper. Do you value your health, relationships, creativity, community, family, travel? Take a few minutes to really think, what do I care about the most? Anything that comes to mind that you personally value, jot it down.

Step Three: Write a schedule of your average day

Now, turn the page. Create a full schedule of what your average day looks like and don’t hold back. If you do this right, then it might be even more embarrassing than the first step. You have to be brutally honest with how you spend your time from day to day. Like if your alarm goes off and 8 am, but you stay in bed hitting snooze until 9 or 9:30. Or you come home from work and play on your phone for an hour while sitting on the couch. Or you go out to a bar every evening and drink wayyyy to much. Or maybe you binge-watch Netflix every night from 7 pm until you’re so tired you can’t keep your eyes open. Write it all down, the good and the bad.

Step Four: Compare the lists

The next step is fairly simple. Compare what you saw between those three lists and really study it. Then wait for that ah-ha moment… You see, when I first tried this exercise, that’s when I really noticed what the problem was. Those three steps were enough to wake me up to how I was spending my time and what I really needed to do to turn my life around, be successful, and make myself proud. To feel happy and fulfilled with the work I was doing and how I was spending my free time. My values showed health, relationships, writing, etc. and so did my goals, but my day to day activities didn’t reflect that.

It was like a lightbulb went off over my head and I finally found the motivation that I needed. I didn’t want to look back and realize that I never fulfilled my dreams and accomplished the things that I wanted to do, all because I watched too much Netflix and played too much Candy Crush. And neither do you! You don’t want to wake up one day and realize that you never started your dream company and now are unhappy and upset with yourself for not really going for it. Notice the difference between your day to day life and the dream you have, and prepare to make changes.

Step Five: Replace the bad habits

Now that you’ve noticed the little things that you’re doing to fill your time rather than becoming the person that you want to be, you need to replace those habits with better ones. I use the word replace because I believe that one of the biggest problems is that we encourage people to stop their bad habits instead of replacing them with healthier habits. I once went cold turkey and tried to stop all my bad habits in one day which did not work at all. I didn’t think far enough ahead about what I would do instead. This step involves studying your day to day activities and then creating a better daily schedule. For me, the time that I used to spend laying in bed, playing on my phone, and online shopping I now spend reading, writing, listening to podcasts, and meditating.

Figure out what you can do each day to incorporate your goals and your ideal way of life into your daily routine. Play close attention to when you hear yourself saying “I should…” statements. I should write, I should read, I should exercise, I should call…, I should plan…, I should learn… All of those things that you tell yourself you should do but have been putting off for whatever reason, start to do it now. Do just a little bit every day. Soon, you’ll look back and do so proud of everything you’ve accomplished once you started to spend your free time with intention instead of distraction.

I hope this exercise works for you as well. Seeing as it’s been such a tremendous help in my life, I wanted to share it in hopes that it would help someone else get on the right track. And if you were coming here in hopes of some quick and easy tips for breaking a bad habit, I’m sorry to disappoint. I believe that we could use all the hacks and the tricks in the world to help us stop bad habits, but none of that works as well as self-reflection.

Did you try this exercise? Did you notice a difference between your goals, values, and habits? What were some of the bad habits that you had to replace? What did you replace them with? Let me know in the comments!

Photographer: Ken McBride.

Why The Grand Tour Is So Important

Travel

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This past summer, I took a trip that I’ve been dreaming about since I could remember. I had just graduated and didn’t have any solid plan yet. I didn’t know what my next step in life would be, but I knew that this was the perfect time to take a break and travel before I would be thrown into adulthood. Being an adult could wait, but fulfilling a lifelong dream and my #1 bucket list item could not.

My dream was to drop everything, pack my bags, and travel through Europe. I wanted to see those beautiful landmarks that I’d only ever seen in photos. I wanted to make lifelong friends that I otherwise wouldn’t have met. I wanted to eat and drink all of the delicious foods from other parts of the world that I can’t go buy at my local grocery store. But most importantly, I wanted to discover things that I never knew and expand my mind beyond my own country.

I had been out of the country a handful of times before, but I wanted to do something bigger. I wanted to be away longer and tour with a group of people I had never met. Traveling was just as important as pushing me outside of my comfort zone. I actually wanted to be a little bit uncomfortable the whole time I was away. I believe with all certainty that stepping out of my own little world and what feels safe and familiar is the best way to grow. The truth is that great things don’t come out of our comfort zones. They come when we do something that is a little bit risky and a little bit scary, but completely worth it.

This past June, right after I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, I went on a month long trip abroad that I booked through EF Ultimate Break. This trip was going to be a tour of all of the major cities in Europe. It started in Rome, Italy and ended in Barcelona, Spain. 8 counties, 11 cities, and over 30 complete strangers traveling together.

Day two of the tour, I was standing right next to the Roman Colosseum listening to the best tour guide I’d ever had. (Side Note: If this woman would have taught my AP European History class back in high school, I’m sure I would have done a lot better.) Every bit of this tour was fascinating, but the part that caught my attention the most was when she started telling us about an old tradition known as “The Grand Tour.” There I was standing right next to the Colosseum and hearing about the concept of The Grand Tour for the first time. I had no idea that there was a name for it, or that this trip was so popular throughout history. All I knew was that I had to take this trip before I “kicked the bucket.”

 

What is The Grand Tour?

The Grand Tour, for anyone who isn’t familiar with the concept, is a cultural tour that used to be taken by young, upper-class men at the end of their education. At the time, it was viewed as a right of passage. Women and lower-class people could also have taken this tour if they found a generous sponsor, but it was not very common. This tour would loop throughout Europe and could last anywhere from a few months to even years. It was believed that by traveling and being exposed to different languages, cultures, music, and artwork that these men would return cultured, sophisticated, and well-rounded. And they didn’t just walk around museums and admire other cultures. There was a lot of studying done too. Throughout this tour, the men would study languages, art, and politics with the help of their teachers and guides (and also chaperones) known as a “cicerone.” Sometimes they would also bring family, teachers, or friends along for the tour.

On top of an already exciting trip, these young men would have an unlimited supply of money seeing as they came from Europe’s richest families. They would return home with crates full of books, fine clothes, artwork, sculptures, scientific instruments, and other artifacts. Could you imagine traveling Europe for 3 years with an unlimited supply of money as a right of passage? That’s the dream!

Not surprisingly, this trip involved a lot of shopping, mischief, and overall shenanigans. Drinking, sex, and gambling were also strong themes during this journey. They did not spend all of their time studying! It was a very interesting tradition indeed. A time meant for young people to learn, explore the world, and make mistakes. How lovely.

This tradition mostly happened in the 17th and 18th century, but actually stopped once traveling became easier and more affordable to us peasants. What a shame!

 

Years and years later, The Grand Tour tradition has died off. But I wish so badly that the concept would come back. I’ve found many different tour companies online offering affordable trips throughout Europe that are meant be act as The Grand Tour, just like the one that I had been one. It’s marketed as a way for young people to celebrate being done with their education, have a wonderful experience traveling the world, and expand their minds further before settling down into a profession. And that’s exactly what I did, but unfortunately, it’s nothing like it used to be. It was a rather short trip compared to what used to be taken, and there were no chaperons that traveled along with me to teach me different languages, or to teach me about art and culture. Maybe that should change.

Why is The Grand Tour so important?

I think the world could benefit so greatly if young people were encouraged to travel by their parents and teachers. Encouraging young people to visit different cultures to actually study them and giving the freedom to roam and to meet people everywhere could lead to world peace and acceptance. Especially if this tour didn’t just visit Europe, but other continents and countries too. Traveling is what makes people realize how small their own reality is. It opens them up to new people, new possibilities, and new ways of life beyond what they’re familiar with at home. It reminds people that they’re actually not the center of the universe!

It’s a shame that this concept of The Grand Tour ended the moment it became accessible to women and lower-classes because everyone could benefit from an experience like this. I encourage anyone who wants to travel do it! It’s the best investment you will ever make. And I encourage parents and teachers to inspire young people to take time off and travel, for a few months or even a few years. College students spend up to $100,000 on their education now (at least that’s what mine costed). But why don’t we encourage young minds to put that money elsewhere and invest it in the greatest classroom of all?… the world. There’s so much more we can learn by hopping on a plane and going across the world then we will ever learn from a textbook, four walls, and a professor one year away from retirement who clearly does not want to be there. Am I right or am I right?

Lastly, I want to leave you with this.. One of my favorite quotes by Anthony Bourdain that perfectly embodies my feelings towards travel and it’s importance…

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

-Anthony Bourdain

What are your thoughts on the concept of The Grand Tour? Do you think it’s important for young scholars to take an extended tour abroad? Have you gone on a trip like this or encouraged someone else to? Comment below!

 

Social Media and Finding Your “Thing”

Digital Dilemma

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I challenge you to go to anyone’s Instagram feed right now who you follow. It could be any friend or any content creator and I promise you that you will spot a theme. There will be a clear theme, colors, and captions that all go together. It’s aesthetically pleasing, and most of us appreciate the hard work that someone puts into their Instagram by taking the time to create an account carefully and thoughtfully. But what I’ve realized in the last few weeks is that you could literally put anyone into a category based on what you see on their Instagram feed. That guy is the one who does pottery in Utah… that girl is the yoga instructor from Hawaii… that girl is the Instagram model… that girl is the travel blogger… that guy does surf photography… the girl can do awesome hairstyles… that is the blonde vegan girl… I’m sure you get the idea. There is always an obvious theme that places that person in a certain category.

Strategically speaking, this makes sense. In order to attract followers, you want to have an aesthetic/a theme/a niche. You use certain colors, post about certain topics and slowing craft an online image for yourself so that like-minded people will follow. It makes sense in terms of growing your account and getting the glorified engagement that everyone thirsts for.

Unfortunately, yet another problem with social media is that we have all of these young people growing up online and following all of these celebrities and “content creators” who all have a strong theme, profession, and aesthetic. These young adults follow them, see their photos all of the time, and then being to internally struggle with the question, “What is my thing?” Am I going to be “the surfer”, “the makeup artist”, “the cook”, “the photographer?” But what happens is by choosing a theme, we place ourselves in a category, and that category bleeds into other areas of our lives as well. For example, the vegan girl from Hawaii now has long blonde hair, wears flowy bohemian pants, gets tattoos of waves and seashells, and places herself more and more into that specific persona.

This did happen well before social media too, but now it’s amplified because of the time spent online, and because we now have “content creators” running the show. But now, this persona or theme, whatever you want to call it, is very carefully crafted and then blasted out to the massive internet world so that anyone, anywhere can click on our “profile” and say “that is a ____fill in the blank_____.” When my generation started out of social media as teenagers, none of us had a theme. I remember slowly watching everyone’s persona grow stronger and stronger as time went on. I kept thinking about why this happens in the first place. Why this switch went off in our heads back when we were growing up that we have to find our “thing” that we would be known for by all of our friends, followers, and family. After sitting with this for a while, I came up with a few reasons why I think that young adults have this experience and how it leaves us so vulnerable to the unhealthy effects of social media.

1. Vulnerability

As a teenager or a young adult, you are already vulnerable and impressionable. You have a young, developing mind that soaks in all of the information surrounding you like a sponge, and you try your best to understand it. It’s why so many young women have eating disorders because they see Instagram models, girls on magazines, and sex icons on tv with a waist that’s smaller than their head. So they think “I should look like this.” Humans naturally go through this phase, because it’s all part of growing up. Consuming constant images of people who are sexy, well-traveled, popular, and photoshopped play on that vulnerability and makes it worse.

2. Finding your place

Another part of this growing up process involves trying to find your place in this world. Again, this is natural and is not a product of social media. Young adults go through several years of growth and self-discovery while they try to figure out “this thing called life.” What is different, is that today, we all go through this transformation publicly in front of anyone who decides to become loyal followers and watch our lives unfold online. People in my generation publicly went through these stages and documented themselves searching for their place in the world, one day, one week, one year, and one decade at a time. Anyone who followed us, witnesses as we went through various stages of self-discovery to find a place and carefully craft the person we became today, for good or for bad.

3. Leaving a mark

Similarly to finding one’s place in the world, it’s natural to want to leave a mark. Even as a teenager and young adult, we realize that the human life is not very long and we wonder what is the purpose of life. So naturally, it’s ingrained in us that we want to leave some kind of a mark and we want to be known for something. We want to leave behind photos, books, blogs, art, even a change. Although most people don’t realize this, the way that we post on social media is a natural reaction to wanting to leave an impression on the world and on people. To say, “Hi I’m here, this is what I’m about.”

4. Acceptance

Of course, the need for belonging, love, and acceptance has to be mentioned as part of the young adult experience. It’s even on Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. Right after we have food, water, oxygen, and safety, we have to feel loved. This need for belonging and social acceptance is magnified so strongly on social media. Because we can see just how accepted and liked we are in a little pink notification that shows up in the form of a number. You are liked by “150” people today. 150 people pressed a button because they like your photo… congratulations.

Which remind me of something I heard this week in a podcast, “Your Own Magic.” One of my girl crushes is Allie Michelle, a yogi, and poet living in Hawaii, who also has this beautiful podcast with her “soul twin” Raquelle Mantra. In one of their episodes, Allie Michelle admits that even she has days where she’s feeling less than happy with herself and she turns to her community of a half a million Instagram followers for validation. She once said something in a podcast along the lines of “Has been worth been externally validated today? Ok, thank you internet world.” This is how it is for so many of us, no matter what age, gender, social status, sexuality, we all need to feel socially accepted and loved. And many of us do this by choosing a persona or theme and then having that validated by our followers. So, simply put, we conform based on what we see is well-received by our online community and we follow it through.

The issue is…

There are plenty of problems with social media that we can talk about. But the big problem with this specific “Digital Dilemma” as I call it, is that humans cannot fit into a category. Humans aren’t a product that you can pick up in a specific section in a department store. We are multi-faceted. We have completely different interests, hobbies, and goals. We have friends that all come from different backgrounds. We experience sadness, vulnerabilities, and hardships. We are very, very complex creatures and cannot be organized and stored with the help of a few containers and a label maker.

Although we try so hard to place ourselves in these categories for reasons mentioned above, it affects us on a day to day basis, AND on a much larger scale. I believe that by placing ourselves into categories, it keeps us from growing. It shuts off our minds to all the different possibilities in life. From opportunities, from different people that we could meet, and from different projects that we could pursue. Placing yourself in a box doesn’t give you much room to expand, to move around, and to try new things. It forces us to live a much smaller existence instead of wandering around experiencing new things and growing as much as possible. I wish that I would have had this realization earlier in life when I was first thrown into social media… but better late than never.

The point of this post is that it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be just one thing. You don’t have to be “the poet”, “the photographer”, “the yogi”, “the painter.” The irony is that people put themselves into categories to stand out and be unique, but what really makes us unique is leaving ourselves open. So if you’re reading this and you’ve noticed that you yourself have fallen victim to this “Digital Dilemma,” remind yourself that you can be free to be your authentic self. You can explore and try new things, even if it seems like it’s not your “thing” and if it’s outside of your persona. You don’t have to place yourself in a specific category and do just one thing for the rest of your life. You can have multiple passions and multiple interests.

Be you. Be curious. Be open.

Photographer: Kendid Visuals.

As always, please comment below if you’ve experienced this Digital Dilemma. How did you personally step outside of this idea that you had to find one thing that you were known for? What projects or hobbies did you start to pursue that maybe didn’t fit with what you thought you had to be?