Battling Imposter Syndrome While Chasing a Dream & How to Overcome It

Self-Help

Imposter Syndrome: referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”

Let’s talk about the issue of imposter syndrome. I realized I’ve been going through it personally for a year or two, without even knowing that I was or what it was called. All I knew was that I would think back to the accomplishments I achieved, like creating a smoke-free policy on my college campus or landing a job and think… well, I just got lucky, or I had help. I couldn’t have landed that job if it wasn’t for so-and-so looking at my resume. I wouldn’t have created that no-smoking policy if it wasn’t for other people. Why should I take credit? I couldn’t admit to myself that I had done something to be proud of. Until I came across a post on LinkedIn.

A girl around my age was accepted into the Harvard Business School, something she had dreamed about for years. In her happy post, she opened up about how she was dealing with imposter syndrome and worried that she didn’t belong there like everyone else. That’s when it hit me–I was experiencing the exact same feeling!

The accomplishments that I did have I couldn’t take credit for, and when I pursued a dream or a project I would have an overwhelming fear of people discovering that I was a fraud. That I, in fact, had no idea what I’m talking about. That I was not nearly as smart or creative as I led people to believe.

I’ve been following all of the wellness bloggers, influencers, and content creators for years and stared at their work in awe. They were not much older than me, and they directly impacted the lives of young women all over the country. It was my dream to be like them, but I continue to think to myself, “Who do I think I am? I’m me. Heather. I don’t have 100k followers. I don’t have a book deal. I don’t have a podcast. Why would anyone want to learn from me and my wellness journey when they could learn from someone else?”

This is my passion. This is what I envisioned myself doing for years before I started Lost Online. Yet I keep having fears that others think I’m not cut out for it. Since learning more about imposter syndrome, I realized that I don’t just do it with my creative endeavors and my passions, like my blog. I do it with work too.

Throughout college and after graduation my plan was to be in communications within the health and wellness industry. Very recently I landed a position as a Wellness Ambassador. In this position, I’ll be writing blog posts, creating social media posts, coordinating events, interviewing people, developing promotions, and speaking on podcasts. It’s a position that I’m more than qualified for. I’ve done so many of these duties before and I was clearly excited about this job. It had even felt like I landed a job that had been perfectly designed for me, but the day after I was offered the position … imposter syndrome seeped in. Those thoughts started to gnaw at me. “What if my new boss thinks I’m terrible? A phony? A fake?”

So, what is Imposter Syndrome? How does it manifest?

Imposter Syndrome is a widespread phenomenon that occurs when you believe that you are not as competent as others believe you to be. Seems simple enough and easy to understand, right? Well, it turns out it gets even more complicated than that. After reading other articles and blog posts, I realized that many people have imposter syndrome and don’t even know it, or have imposter syndrome that manifests in different ways. There are actually five different types. If you struggle with imposter syndrome, let me know what type you are in the comments and what you do to manage it when you feel those feelings manifest! WARNING: this list might lead to a deeper understanding of yourself and a life-changing epiphany about your own mindset and behaviors.

1. The Perfectionist

The perfectionist is someone who loves to set very high goals for themselves, but then experiences major self-doubt when they failed to measure up to their own standards. If you look up perfectionist in the dictionary, it will most likely list me as an example. Perfectionists like us are often called “control freaks” by friends and loved ones, are accused of micromanaging, have a difficult time delegating, have insanely high standards for ourselves (standards that other people would never expect from us), feel like we have to be perfect 100 percent of the time, compare ourselves to others, have difficulty celebrating accomplishments, and often take on so much that they burn out. Perfectionists create a reality for ourselves that’s filled with so much pressure for no good reason.

I believe that we perfectionists also lean toward a fixed mindset because having a growth mindset is something that requires people to be OK with making mistakes and learning from them. I know that I tend to not want to do or try anything that I know I wouldn’t be perfect at because it shows how inadequate I am.

2. The Superman/Superwoman

The superman types can be very similar to the perfectionists. The supermen push themselves to work harder and harder to measure up to others. They are often called “workaholics” by friends and loved ones; they are the last one to leave the office; they get stressed out and feel unproductive when they have downtime; their work and their career is their hobby; they could have multiple jobs and be in multiple groups or clubs; they feel like they haven’t earned their titles making them work even harder to earn it; and they could find it difficult to receive constructive criticism.

Supermen and superwomen put themselves at high risk for burnout and their work can often affect their own mental health, physical health and relationships. I believe that these types of people often have a very hard time saying “no,” even if they are having serious problems from overworking themselves. It can be hard for them to stop and relax even when their body is telling them to slow down.

3. The Natural Genius

The natural genius believes that their competence is based on how smart other people perceive them to be and how quickly and easily they can come up with information and facts, as opposed to the efforts they put in. The natural geniuses set their own bar very high and feel deep shame and self-doubt if they don’t know, understand, or get something right on the first try. If they can’t do something quickly and effortlessly, it upsets them. They often have a track record of a 4.0 GPA, A+ assignments, and honor rolls. Their friends and loved ones call them “the smart one,” they swear off the things they think they’re bad at, they’re in all AP classes, they may not like having a mentor because it reflects their own incompetence, and they have a very fixed mindset.

I don’t know about you but I know some natural genius types that say something confidentially and pass it off as a fact, even if it’s just a hunch or a guess. Sometimes the types will even defend their best guess when they’re wrong because they are scared for people to know that they, in fact, don’t know everything. In my opinion, I believe that the natural geniuses question their own identity if they’re not viewed as a genius or a smart one. Receiving a bad grade or constructive criticism can be soul-shattering. I remember that my natural genius friends back when I was in a private middle school would cry over an A- on a test.

4. The Soloist

The soloist is the type that cannot for the life of them ask for help, even if they need it. They feel that asking for help from others shows people their inadequacies and exposes them. Asking for help is a sign of failure to them. They have a problem delegating. They’re often the person in the kitchen who does all the cooking and won’t ask for assistance. If they’re a leader or a manager, they will do most or all of the work and they’re often referred to by friends and loved ones as being “independent” or a “lone wolf.”

5. The Expert

Experts base their competence off of what and how much they know. Just think of Reed from “Criminal Minds.” They’re the friend with all the random facts and statistics that you have no idea where they came from. They constantly seek out training and certificates so they know more. They’re always trying to build their resume. They often have an advanced degree and they don’t apply for a job unless they perfectly meet all the requirements. Experts feel as if they never know “enough” and they actually don’t like being referred to as an expert because they don’t feel as if they can live up to the title. They may still feel as if they don’t know enough even in jobs they’ve worked for years.

Did you learn something about yourself?

I don’t know about you, but after reading this list, I realized that I don’t fall right into the perfectionist category like I thought I did. I’m actually a bit of a mixture, and I think many people are too. Imposter syndrome can manifest in so many ways. Maybe you’re a perfectionist and a superman? We as humans are messy and don’t just fall into one particular label.

It may surprise you to know that you have imposter syndrome in the first place, or that it’s such a common issue that people struggle with. Many people may struggle with imposter syndrome but not even notice that they have difficulty internalizing their accomplishments. It does require a level of self-awareness that not everyone has.

When I researched online, I saw so many statistics about how many people have imposter syndrome. I feel that most people have it, regardless of what the numbers in online articles say. I would be willing to bet that most people deal with imposter syndrome and struggle with it in private. No one’s fragile ego is protected. Even celebrities.

Why do we feel this way?

I have a theory. Imposter syndrome is so widespread largely because of the internet. Everyone looks perfect through Instagram filters. Social media has distorted our understanding of ourselves and of the world around us because other people seem to be rich, famous, successful and stupid happy all the time. We watch highlight reels while we’re having a bad day, sitting on the couch wearing no makeup and destroying a bag of chips. The results are that we think there’s something wrong with us and everyone else is flawless and has their sh*t together.

In the article, 21 Proven Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome,” by Kyle Eschenroeder, he says, “This problem is only getting worse as more of us rely on our online presences. We’re in this weird culture where you’ve got to sell yourself aggressively while remaining ‘authentic.’ You think you need to be perfect but you also need to feel free to fail. You need to be yourself and more! It’s all set up to make you feel like a fraud.” I couldn’t agree more.

Today it’s also expected that we look “professional” and “hirable” all the time and that we’re always moving up career and corporate ladders. The pressure to have a “good job” and bring home $100,000+ this year is enormous. We’re always trying to keep up with the Joneses by constantly moving up socio-economic brackets. We tend to feel inferior to other students, co-workers, neighbors and peers, forcing us to try to reach higher.

Unfortunately, as soon as we do reach an accomplishment, nothing really changed. We don’t feel like we’re complete, we don’t feel as if we’ve made it and we worked hard, and we don’t feel proud. Instead, we immediately focus on the next goal. (Side note: I know I’m like this with milestones in my blog. As soon as I accomplish something or make progress, my mind instantly goes to the next project or post that I have to do to make it better.) Our restless minds want to jump to what’s next, instead of slowing down.

Last, there’s social expectations and family expectations. This is the kind of pressure that we get about how we should be living our lives, the hobbies we should have, the food we should eat, the house we should buy, the way we should behave, the things we should say, the things we shouldn’t say, the opinions we should and shouldn’t have. There’s all this pressure to meet expectations from the groups around us. It can be too much. We’re so busy trying to fit an image that others want us to be that when we do reach accomplishments, we’re so wrapped up in the outside world it’s hard to calm down and just feel proud. Probably because we do things for the external validation (from society, family, and friends) hoping that it will bring us internal validation in the end, while being able to view everyone else’s success 24/7 on our smartphones … but it doesn’t work that way.

A message to my fellow dreamers out there

The ironic thing about imposter syndrome is that it limits your potential. You would think that it makes you work so much harder so you’ll able to accomplish more and reach your goals, right? No.

Constantly telling yourself in your mind that you’re a fraud, you’re not capable, you’re stupid, and you’re not worthy of your dream will prevent you from ever reaching it. You’re literally sabotaging yourself every moment of every day. The time that you wasted thinking about how you’re not worthy would be much better spent lifting yourself up, working hard and being your own damn cheerleader.

I’m a big believer in the Law of Attraction. If you’re constantly telling yourself that you don’t deserve success and you’re a phony, then you’re making that your reality. I also want to add that you’ll likely have bad days. It happens. Honor them when they come, and let yourself work through it. But don’t let that become your everyday life. Silence that negative voice in your head or it’s going to be an extra weight that you have to carry up the mountain of being successful.

It gets worse before it gets better (everyone’s a critic)

So this is probably not a surprise to anyone, but the moment you decide to really go for what you want in life people will try to stop you. People will question you, people will judge you, people will tell you “you’ve changed,” and people will be confused. You’re becoming a person that is so different than the quiet friend or family member that went along with what they thought they were supposed to do.

They’re probably going to lose their minds because people do NOT like change. They’re going to be thinking, “What the f*ck is going on? This person in front of me is different than the person I know. They’re no best-selling author, they’re no Emmy winner, they’re my cousin, sister, daughter, brother, niece, friend…”

You’ll take concerned, nosy questions from family members like bullets. You’ll be unfollowed by friends and acquaintances on social media. People don’t want that whole “new me” stuff clogging up their feed!

Why? Because everyone’s a critic. Everyone has an opinion and everyone is an expert about what’s best for you.

But … look at the bright side

Any person who was ever successful in their life went through the same thing. Everyone, at some point, was a nobody following a dream while people stared at them thinking, “Who the f*ck do you think you are?” Ask any successful musician or news anchor or influencer or celebrity. There was a time before they were hot sh*t when no one else believed in their dreams.

I just watched “Bohemian Rhapsody” a little while ago, so I’ll use Queen as my next example. (Such a good movie by the way.) There was a time when a few guys in college had a dream of being musicians but had nothing of their own and no real support. There was a time when Farrokh Bulsara wasn’t Freddie Mercury. He was viewed as a weird, strange, big-toothed kid whose own family didn’t believe in him but was trying to turn himself into a somebody. Imagine if they weren’t crazy enough to believe that they could be stars. Imagine if they let imposter syndrome and outside opinions run the show. The world would have never been blessed with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Somebody to Love,” “We Will Rock You” or “Another One Bites the Dust.”

The point is, the world is going to throw critics and opinions and negativity at you. Don’t do it to yourself too. Regardless of what you thought up until now, regardless of what your ex said to you, or what your family thinks, or what your grouchy 65-year-old professor thinks, you have f*cking potential. You’re capable, you’re worthy, and you’re going to do great things. Let that be the thought you tell yourself when imposter syndrome breaks in and starts making a home in your head.

What can you do?

So now that I’ve explained to you what imposter syndrome is, what types there are, and shared my own perspective, I want to give you some concrete pieces of advice. Here are my 11 steps for battling imposter syndrome while you’re chasing your dream. And you can start this right now!

  1. Know this: No amount of external validation will make it go away

Imposter Syndrome is an internal issue. It doesn’t matter how many followers you get, how many messages you get, how many people ask for your autograph, how much money you make, or how many people say they’re proud of you or tell you, “good job.” So don’t go looking for anyone or anything else to feed your ego. You might feel good for those 3 seconds, but it doesn’t last and it actually makes the problem worse. Having people constantly tell you that you’re great will only add to the fear of being exposed as a fraud.

2. Remember that everyone has it

Imposter syndrome is just another one of those things that’s part of the human experience. We’re all human and we’re all going to have fears, doubts, depression, sadness and insecurity. It’s not like you’re on a planet by yourself dealing with imposter syndrome while everyone else in the universe is living fabulous and free of fear. You’re not alone in this. The reality is that we all live in our own reality. We all have our own experience and our life experience is so small compared to everything else that exists in the world. It’s easy to be so focused on ourselves and forget that there are billions of other people struggling through these emotions too. Sometimes just reminding myself that this problem is not unique to me is enough to make me feel better.

3. Focus on what you can do for others

Every successful content creator and business person will tell you that you have to focus on what you can do for your target audience and I think that’s great advice – not just for making money but for real-life challenges too. If you find yourself worried about yourself and what other people will think of you, shift that attention on to your audience, whoever that may be. Instead of worrying about what people will think of your blog, worry about what you can do to continue to inspire and help your audience. Instead of worrying about your clients suddenly waking up and discovering you suck, focus on what you can do to improve for your clients and make them happier. Shift the attention away from yourself and make it about how you can HELP. It takes the pressure off, I promise.

4. Keep a folder of the nice things people send you

I learned this piece of advice from influencer, podcaster, blogger, and photographer, Jenna Kutcher. She keeps an album on her phone of screenshots of all the heartfelt messages her fans send her. Not every single one of them, but the messages or emails that speak to her and showed her that she’s accomplishing what she intended, she’s helping people, and she’s making an impact. Whenever she gets a hateful comment or has a really bad day, she goes back and looks at the lovely things that people have taken their time and energy to write for her and it makes her feel so much better. So I started doing that! Every time I get a very flattering message or text from someone I save it to my album and look through it if I’m ever feeling really down and wondering if what I’m doing is really worth it.

It’s not weird or creepy or self-absorbed. It’s a reminder that you are capable and so many people love you, support you, and look up to you. I just read through some of my saved messages the other day and it immediately put a smile on my face.

5. Remind yourself that there are 8 billion people in the world

So this is a really weird thing that I’ve been doing for the past few months whenever I find myself feeling like I have no place here. When I find myself thinking, “Why would anyone care about me when there’s millions of other bloggers, writers, influencers, and wellness warriors out there?” When I find myself thinking that there can’t possibly be a tribe out there for me, and there can’t possibly be people who would want to buy MY books or read MY blogs, I tell myself, “There are 8 billion people in the world.” That thought instantly shuts off any doubt and worry I have.

Anytime I think I’ll never be able to get readers, I tell myself that there are 8 billion people out there. That thought instantly reminds me of all the possibility and potential for success. Obviously, my target audience exists and there are people who would connect and relate with me more than they would with other writers. There are so many people! They just haven’t found me yet. But they’re out there. There are 8 billion people out there, some of them are bound to like me and want to support me. Some of them are bound to want to subscribe to the blog. Some of them would love to buy my future books. Some of them would absolutely love what I’m doing and be fierce readers until the end. There’s 8 billion potential readers, followers, and supporters. I’ll be just fine. My tribe is out there waiting. It’s silly to imagine that it’s not.

6. Remember you don’t get a repeat life

All of us get only one lifetime. At the end of yours, do you want to be the person who didn’t do everything they wanted to do when you were younger? Will you look back and see that you were too concerned about pleasing others and just did what others expected? Will you regret that you didn’t give yourself permission to do what you really wanted to do? Time is the universe’s most precious commodity. Spend it wisely and make it count.

7. Try stream of consciousness journaling

Just for one day, take some time and sit down and do stream of consciousness journaling. Don’t just write about anything, write especially about your accomplishments and how you made them happen. Write in great detail about everything you did until you have reached your outcome. Write about what you’re most proud of yourself for and why. Write about all of your mistakes and write about how they helped you grow. Writing unfiltered and in great detail about your accomplishments and why you’re proud could help you see the distortion and discrepancy between the amazing things you did and the thoughts contaminated by imposter syndrome. As long as you make an effort to be positive instead of using it as another opportunity to sh*t talk yourself, you’ll be fine. It might feel odd at first forcing yourself to write unfiltered about how accomplished and proud of yourself you are, but once you do you realize that’s the truth. Not that negative feedback loophole that plays in your head.

8. Talk to supportive people

There’s nothing that helps more than talking to someone supportive. Someone who can relate to what you’re going through. We all have that person we reach out to when we need help and real advice, not clique answers like “you’ll be fine,” or “just relax.” Call that person! Friends can sometimes see us more clearly than we see ourselves. You might be thinking you’re a fraud, but they will be there to remind you of everything they admire about you and what you’re doing right. Don’t feel nervous and uncomfortable about it! People are flattered when you confide in them and you will feel so much better.

9. Take a moment to just feel proud

Whenever you think of it, or whenever you start feeling really down about yourself, take a moment to yourself to just feel proud of yourself. I know this seems too simple, but it works. Whenever I start feeling that imposter syndrome is taking over, I make myself sit down, close my eyes, calm down and think of everything that I’m proud of. Let me tell you it feels so awkward and forced in the beginning, but that feeling goes away. Within a few minutes, all that negativity will dissipate, and you’ll be reminded of how wonderful you are and of the good that other people see in you. No matter how awkward it is in the beginning, push through it and really give the exercise a chance.

10. Do NOT hold yourself back

Whatever you do, never let imposter syndrome keep you from going for what you want. You’ll feel so happy that you really went for the life you wanted. Once you do take the leap, you actually start to see yourself becoming the person you wanted to be. When I first started blogging, I felt like a huge imposter, and I felt like no one would ever be interested in what I had to say, but now over a year later, it doesn’t even faze me. I pushed through the initial awkward period and eventually saw myself becoming that person I wanted to be. It will happen to you too. This tough moment could just be a phase and nervousness about starting a new endeavor, so don’t let it prevent you from getting to the good part!

11. Consider a social detox

Now that we live in a time where we see how great everyone else’s life is 24/7, you’re not going to want to expose yourself to that if you’re going through a period of self-doubt and uncertainty. Sometimes it’s best to just put the phone down or else you could just fuel the fire. If you want to learn more about talking a social media detox, read my blog post, “How to Have an Instagram Detox.” I take a little detox whenever I find self-comparison is taking over and I need some clarity.

Thanks for reading!

I really hope that my experience helps you and I hope you learned something about imposter syndrome that you didn’t know before. Maybe, like me, you didn’t even know that you had it or how you expressed it. I hope that my dropping vulnerability bombs, as usual, helps everyone to understand this issue is super common. You don’t have to suffer with it in silence.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Was this post helpful? Have you struggled with imposter syndrome or are you struggling with it now? How does it manifest for you? What type do you have? And what advice would you give to others who struggle with it too?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

My Positive Approach to Hurtful Online Comments & Why They Don’t Faze Me

Digital Dilemma, Self-Help

I’m happy to announce that my website has it’s very first internet troll! Yep, you read that right.

As of February 19, 2019, my blog, Lost Online, received its first random and unwarranted negative comment, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I promise I’m not crazy, and I don’t enjoy fighting with strangers on the internet! It’s just that I have a much different perspective when it comes to online trolls than most people.

For starters, you know what a troll is, right? They’re shadow people who lurk around the internet and wait for an opportunity to whip up a mean comment that has the potential to ruin someone’s day and destroy a person’s confidence in just a few flicks of their fingers and the click of a button.

You see, we live in a time where technology has made it so incredibly easy for us to have, do, or say whatever we please, without any repercussions. People would NEVER say the things in person that they say to each other online. Because if you did walk around treating people like that, you’d be hit with a restraining order and charged with harassment. But something about typing up mean comments on the internet, seems like it’s not real to people. And it seems like it doesn’t really count. Like somehow it’s not really them. The internet also makes trolls so much braver and callous because it allows anyone to make up a random username and hide behind it. Before the internet, if you wanted to ruin someone’s day, you couldn’t do it from behind your keyboard and in the comfort of your own home. You actually had to have the balls to walk up to someone and say whatever you were thinking to their face and then deal with the real life consequences that follow.

But today, mean comments have become a bit of an epidemic, and it’s one of the biggest challenges that the internet has brought to us. It’s caused teenagers to take their own lives, it’s ruined careers, and it’s broken up families. Nasty comments seem so harmless to the person who’s leaving them. And I’m pretty confident that maybe internet trolls even view it as a game. Unfortunately, it can come with consequences.

In my case, someone found my blog, read a post, saw an opportunity to comment something nasty, and typed it up for me to have a nice little surprise at 6:30 am before I walked out the door for work. But I would be willing to bet my life, that the person who left it would NEVER walk up to me in person and say to my face what was so easy for them to say online.

Now, this view may seem strange given how wrong I think cyberbullying is, but I was actually happy to see this comment appear. Here’s why…

1. It was bound to happen

December 2018 is when I got serious about blogging. I was no longer treating my blog like a hobby, I was treating it like a side hustle or a new business. I had an amazingly talented photographer to help me, I was now whipping up content every week and promoting my blog on every one of my social media platforms. When I made that decision to pursue blogging seriously, I knew that negative online comments were bound to come my way.

That’s the time we live in now. It’s unavoidable. By putting yourself out into the world, sharing your stories and voicing your opinions, you’re going to attract at least a little bit of criticism, judgement and jealousy. I knew it wasn’t a matter of “if” I would someday get negative comments, it was just a matter of time. I didn’t feed those thoughts and give them my energy to manifest, I just simply knew that as a content creator, it was going to happen. It’s an occupational hazard.

With that thought in mind, I made the decision that someday when I did get a negative comment on my blog, I would make it as positive of an experience as I could. I was going to be happy about it! Why? Well, why should I waste my time being upset over a person I’ve never met? If that many people are finding my blog to the point where I start receiving all types of comments, both positive and negative, both supportive and mean, that means I must be doing something right! People are finding me and they’re taking the time to read what I have to say.

If I’m creating enough content to attract mean strangers, then I should be proud of myself! I have over 30 blog posts by now, 600 plus Instagram posts, and 8,000 viewers on Pinterest. I put a lot of hard work into what I do and I’m constantly pumping out graphics, posts, or pictures somewhere. So statistically speaking, I’m bound to get some haters based on the amount of work I’m doing online. If I didn’t attract some sort of feedback at some point, I’d be worried.

2. In order to be a successful content creator, you have to “attract or repel”

I like to follow well-known blogger, podcaster and influencer Jenna Kutcher. She’s an incredible person who has built a following of over 2 million by educating people about how to grow their brand, become a successful content creator and make money doing what you love. One thing that Kutcher always shares is that as a creator, your brand has to “attract or repel” the people that click on your website or social media. If you talk to anyone who is a successful business person, they’ll say the same thing just in different words.

So why is this? Why would I want to repel people, Heather?! I want people to like me!

Because in order to become successful, you need a niche. That means that your message appeals to a small, specific, specialized sub-group of the greater population that shares the same interests as you do. This may seem strange, but in order to make meaningful connections with people, you must zero in on a specific market that you’re going to speak to. By speaking very broadly to a large population of billions of people, you inherently connect to no one. However, by blogging to a very specific group of people with a unique set of interests, you actually end up reaching more people.

So that’s the long-winded way of me sharing that my message is both attracting like-minded people AND repelling the ones that don’t align with my message. So, I must be doing something right!

One of my favorite quotes that I’ve shared in a previous blog post, “How I Freed Myself From the Opinions of Others,” is: “You could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, but there will always be someone who doesn’t like peaches.” And you’ll probably hear me share that again at some point.

3. Every successful person gets hate comments

The third reason why I was happy to see this negative comment appear one morning is because every single successful podcaster, blogger, YouTuber, and influencer gets negative comments. Regularly. It’s part of their daily life. They have so many freaking eyes on what they do that obviously mean, envious, and unhappy people are going to see their work at some point. It’s not like the nice people and the mean people live in two separate worlds that are invisible to each other!

Back in January, I actually told myself, “I’ll know that I’ve made it once I get a hate comment.” I think I even voiced it to Matt, too. Not because I want to read terrible comments about myself, but because I knew it was bound to happen the moment my story started to appear on screens all over the world. Receiving a nasty comment here and there shows that I’m making progress, I’m being seen. With how many posts I have and how many readers are starting to show up, at some point one of my posts with strike a nerve with some people, even though that’s not my intention.

4. If you’re not pissing people off, you’re doing something wrong

Seriously, if you’re not upsetting at least someone out there you’re doing something wrong. Anything worth living for is going to make people mad. Quitting your 9-5 to pursue a dream is going to piss your parents off. Marching with a sign during a protest to create a change in your community is going to make smoke come out of someone’s ears. Standing up and saying, “I’m a woman and I deserve to have the rights to my body.” Yeah, that will make more than a few people angry. Losing 40 pounds and getting a six pack is going to make your haters hate you even more. Becoming a famous celebrity who earns $30 million a year, yeah someone will hate you for that too. Or even just opening yourself up online and being super vulnerable in a blog post in hopes of helping people struggling with similar issues, that will make someone angry too.

If you lived your life to make other people happy, you would literally never accomplish anything. You’d never make any progress, you would never grow, and the only words you could speak would be please and thank you.

In one of my posts, “Thoughts after one year of being a blogger,” I shared something about myself that I was not proud to admit. I shared that there was a beautiful, positive wellness blogger that I knew who I was extremely envious of. She was very similar to me and decided to pursue her dream of being a blogger. So she built her website, inspired people, posted beautiful photos, and shared her story. And it made me mad! Because I dreamt of being a blogger for FIVE YEARS but I was too petrified of what someone would think to actually do it. And there she was, just living her best life and going for it. (And no, I don’t feel that way anymore in case you were wondering).

Anyone who really goes for what makes them happy or really tries to create positivity in the world is bound to take harsh comments and envious stares from others. Because while most people are good, everyone has those not-so-wonderful sides of themselves. The sides that we don’t want people to know about, the sides that you’d never even know existed.

So when someone posted a hateful comment on my blog about my love story, it didn’t faze me. Me falling in love with my boyfriend upset someone! And I’m not going to live the rest of my life refusing to be in a relationship because there will be some sad, lonely person out there who gets angry at the fact that I’m in a happy relationship.

5. They picked me!

One of the reasons why I was happy to see this little, mean comment is because an online troll decided, for whatever reason, to waste their precious energy and mental capacity on my website! They could have spent that time on anything else, insulting any other person, on any other blog. But they chose me! How nice of them.

It really is flattering in a way. Think about that next time someone direct messages you or leaves a mean comment. There’s something that’s so special about you, they had to focus on you to direct their insecurity. You’re doing so well in life that people see their own insecurities mirrored in you.

Again, this was not at all my intention! But why not be flattered that they took the time to comment on my post rather than let it bring me down?

6. It inspired the blog post that you’re reading right now!

The fifth and final reason this comment was a blessing is because it inspired this post! It inspired me to spend my day writing – the one thing that I love most! It inspired 2,500 words to flow effortlessly from my fingertips. It actually broke a bit of writers block I was having the last two weeks! Thank you, mysterious online stranger for providing me with inspiration and fresh content! I, and the readers of Lost Online, appreciate you.

Lastly, I just want to leave you with a few takeaways.

Take a good look at your actions and your habits and see if they align with what you really want from life. The person who left me the comment I’m writing about today has a very positive blog all about the Law of Attraction. If you know anything about the Law of Attraction, that’s not how it works! That angry, negative message is the exact opposite of what you will learn from any book, blog, or documentary about manifestation.

-Second, the best way to get anywhere is life is by making connections, talking to other people who share the same passions as you and by being supportive. Not by tearing other people down. That’s adulting and good-human-ing 101.

-Third, and a tip for bloggers out there – you have the ability to set up your blog in the back end so that all comments have to be approved by you! I automatically hit “delete” to any negative comments or spam that people leave me. On my homepage, I said that I started this blog to be a safe haven in cyberspace for myself and like-minded people, so I will always make it a point to clear out all of that negativity, so you don’t have to see it! And I recommend you do that too. This world needs more love, support, positivity and less judgement and cruelty. Isn’t life hard enough as it is without getting insults in your inbox?

And finally, this is not an open invitation to roast me. I do have a positive outlook on hateful comments because I know that those words come from a place of deep insecurity and unhappiness. However, that doesn’t mean I like hearing mean things about me. No one does. So, when you leave this post or this site today, remember to be kind.

I will not be sharing a whole blog post every time I get a negative comment, but I wanted to share this message about cyberbullying in hopes that it will a) remind people to be nice b) show people how pathetic it is to leave mean comments online because you would never do it in person c) give you a positive outlook if you receive or have been affected by trolls d) be an example for people who are terrified about what others think and take outside opinions to heart.

“If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to humans can do.” – Tara Mackey

As always, thank you so much for coming to Lost Online and remember to tell me your thoughts in the comments! Have you ever dealt with negative comments or cyber bullying before? What was said? How did it affect you? What was your perspective on it? How do you think we should deal with this issue going forward? How should we monitor it? And should there by repercussions?

If you like what you read, remember to scroll down to the bottom of the page, hit that “+”, and fill in your email address to be sent weekly blog posts directly!

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

I Interview Best-Selling Poet Jennae Cecelia: Answers to My Burning Questions on Self-Love, Social Media, Pursuing Passions, & Body Positivity + Instagram GIVEAWAY

Interviews, Self-Help

Discovering Poetry

Have you ever been bored in the very late hours of the night, and before you know it you’re sucked into the abyss that is Amazon.com? Well, about a year ago, I was having one of those nights. I had just read Rupi Kaur’smilk and honey” and her new book “the sun and her flowers” just came out. It was also around the time when Allie Michelle’sExplorations of a Cosmic Soul” was published as well. So I was in a serious poetry mood. And I kept falling victim to that sneaky little section that says “Customers who bought this item also bought … ” Unlike most times, it was actually one of the few nights where I didn’t regret those extra purchases.

After I first started to read poetry, I knew that I had found something special. There was something about it that was just so real, so vulnerable, and so unapologetically authentic that I found myself turning page after page of poetry books while the tears kept flowing. We live in a time when everyone and everything is so curated, so perfect, and so ridiculously happy, that I loved how I finally had the chance to read someone’s hidden emotions. Where I could identify with someone who was also going through a moment of depression or a breakup or struggling with self-confidence and cry with them and say to myself, “Yes, I feel it too.” Poetry made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the messy moments of life that lay between the filtered photos. The times when I fought with family when I was too scared to be myself and follow a dream, and the times when I seriously doubted myself.

Poetry is raw and it tells the truth. The truth that people so rarely speak out loud and that we rarely find on social media. One of the gems I found that night was a book that jumped out at me, that I still pick up and leaf through to this day, Jennae Cecelia’s, “Uncaged Wallflower.”

Meet Best-Selling Poet, Jennae Cecelia

Unlike many poetry books, “Uncaged Wallflower” has a very uplifting message. One that was written by a fellow introvert “for those who need an extra dose of positivity in their day and push to follow their dreams.” So obviously, I devoured the book in one sitting. There’s nothing I love more than a good “follow your dreams” message. I still remember that I was so excited about the new find that I actually looked up Jennae on Instagram and followed her account. Since then, I’ve been a loyal follower and fangirl of hers.

Jennae is unlike many influencers out there today. She continues to post, speak, and write about self-love, self-care, mental health, and body positivity. She posts vulnerable content that many wouldn’t share because it’s not “insta-worthy” and she actually talks to her audience like real people.

I followed and liked along as she shared photos of her acne, her stretch marks, and her no- makeup selfies. I watched her rally other young women to be vulnerable and love themselves even though they may be “flawed.” I watched her share her self-love journey, her struggle with anxiety, and her passion for poetry and photography. I watched her in awe. It’s so rare to see others being so real and so themselves through a screen.

Over the last few years, Jennae has put so much good out for her readers on social media, published five different poetry books, and became a best-selling poet. Her authenticity, her poetry, and her positivity are what finally lead me to reach out to her and ask for an interview.

I’m so grateful and honored that Jennae was not only willing to have me interview her for over an hour on the phone AND that she was so understanding when my recorder gave up and she had to write out her answers for all of you (:

What I learned in the time we spent talking was that she is just as friendly, positive, and real in person as in social media. She opened up to me about her self-love journey, struggling with judgment and criticism from family and friends, her decision to follow her passion, her persistence to inspire other young women, and how she stays sane even while being a social media influencer.

Here are Jennae’s answers to my burning questions! I hope you enjoy, and I hope her message sparks inspiration in you too. Make sure to stay until the very end for a special GIVEAWAY!

Uncaged Conversations

Q: How old were you when you started poetry? And how did you get into it?

A: I was in high school when I first started writing poetry. It was my way of expressing the emotions I was feeling during hard times. I didn’t start taking it more seriously until my third year of college when I started taking creative writing classes. Then when I met my boyfriend I told him about all the poems I had written and he told me I should make a book out of them. So I did!

Q: Did you know at the time that you had discovered your passion? Or did it build slowly?

A: I always was very passionate about writing, but I didn’t expect it to be much more than a hobby for me. When I first started sharing my writing on social media I just did it in hopes someone else would find comfort in my words. Never did I even think to imagine what it could become.

Q: What happens with a lot of people who go into a creative profession is they take a lot of backlash from people. Did you receive any criticism or judgment from people when you decided to become a poet?

A: My family and friends were supportive at first. They were excited I was writing books and that I was seeing success. However, when I told everyone I was going to be a writer as my full-time job I received so much criticism for doing so from these same people who claimed to support me. They supported it being a hobby, but not a career.

Q: Was it difficult opening up publicly in the beginning? Or not so much? I know I felt super vulnerable once I started to share my voice, not just as a random girl on Instagram, but as a blogger who focuses on mental well-being and my journey.

A: It was hard at first, but mostly because I was afraid of what people I personally knew would think. I am the type of person who can talk to a group of 200 people I don’t know very well about super personal topics, but I would be so anxious talking to a small group of close friends about the same topics.

Q: You obviously write a lot about self-care and self-love. I’ve read so many inspirational self-love messages from you, and I’ve even seen images where you’ve shown very real things like acne scars or stretch marks. I’m wondering, what was this self-love journey like for you? What was it like learning to love yourself and your imperfections?

A: I always say, “self-love is a journey with ever-changing scenery.” The things I didn’t like about myself when I was a teen, I have grown to love now. Now there are new things I find myself critiquing myself on. Loving yourself fully is not easy. However, I have started thanking my body every morning for all the amazing things it does. I always say three things like: I am thankful for my hands that allow me to write words of inspiration; I am thankful for my legs that allow me to go on long hikes with my boyfriend; and I am thankful for my lungs that allow me to take deep breaths in and out when I get anxious.

Q: Today, you seem like such a confident person who pursues their passion and inspires other people to follow their dreams, embrace the journey, and love themselves. But were there ever times that you felt really unsure of yourself and struggled with self-discovery as you were trying to navigate through all these different outside influences (societal norms, social media, family expectations).

A: Oh yes. I constantly say that the 15-year-old me would probably roll her eyes in annoyance at some of the things I say now because I have become such an optimistic person, and it was not always that way. From 13-20 it was all about self-discovery. Learning who I did and didn’t want to be. Making lots of mistakes. Doing things just to please friends and fit in. However, as much as I am not proud of some of my choices in life if I didn’t do those things I wouldn’t be this person I am today. That doesn’t mean that I am doing everything perfect now, but I do have a better grasp on who I am which allows me to make choices for myself and not just to please other people.

Q: We live in a world that’s very filtered and photoshopped and curated to absolute perfection. Were you really nervous or hesitant to share that side of yourself with people online? The side that maybe wasn’t so #InstaWorthy.

A: I was at first, again mostly because I was afraid of people I personally know seeing my posts. When I shared a picture of my stretch marks I was scared to post it but I knew someone out there needed the message that went along with it. Same with the post I made showing all of my acne scars. Also, I have never once heard anything from the people I was worried about seeing it so it honestly just stopped mattering to me if they saw my more raw and personal posts.

Q: In my blog, I write a lot about how digital media, particularly social media, was the biggest challenge and obstacle for me. I noticed that it caused the most comparison and negative self-talk, and made me fixate on my looks and how I appeared to other people online. Did you have a similar struggle having grown up online?

A: Definitely! I was a senior in high school when Instagram started becoming popular. However, it was to post pictures of your food using the Valencia filter. Social media has changed so much in the last 5-10 years. I feel like I have gotten over comparing myself to others on social media because I know that what most people post is not the whole story. I can’t imagine being in high school or even early college now and having that pressure of taking perfect pictures and looking perfect in them. Especially when you are at an age where people liking you matters so much. I mean, it still matters to people but that age you take it way more seriously.

Q: Does being an author and a content creator pose any challenges?

A: Being an author for me now means two things. Making time to do the creative side AND the business side.  For instance, today I had 15 emails I needed to reply to however, the creativity was flowing in my mind and I really just wanted to write. It can be hard to balance marketing, emails, social media, etc. and still set aside time to be creative. Luckily, I like the business side of being an author. I love it actually! But, it does take a lot of time away from doing my number one thing I love, just freely creating all day.

Q: Looking back at everything that you’ve gone through to become the person that you are today if you could give any advice to your 14-year-old self, what would it be?

A: I would tell her this: all the roads you cross, the potholes you hit, the dead ends you reach, are shaping you into the person you are meant to be. Nothing is a coincidence, and mistakes are perfectly fine. Your beautiful soul is needed here more than you will ever know right now.

Q: How do you stay sane and stay grounded as a young woman during this overwhelming digital age? Do you have any practices or habits that make it easier?

A: I really enjoy meditating and gratitude journaling. They help me so much with keeping my mind more peaceful and reminding myself to forever be grateful.

Q: If there was any piece of advice that you would give to Lost Online readers who come to this platform for inspiration and to hear how they can stay sane during this overwhelming time? What would you say to them?

A: It is easy to get Lost Online, but don’t forget to wander through your real life.

Q: You have another book coming out soon! Any hints as to what it’s about?

A: It is a book focusing on self-care this time! I am super excited because it is a topic I am very passionate about.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I don’t know about you, but every time I read her words it puts me in a feel-good mood. If you’re ever in need of extra positivity or inspiration to follow your dreams and be unapologetically you, I would definitely recommend checking her content out. You can find Jennae on her website, on Instagram @jennaececelia, or on Amazon.

I’m also super excited because Jennae is starting a blog too! And I have no doubt that it will be wonderful. Make sure to stay in the loop with her so you can read it when it’s published! Jennae also has two more books coming out very soon, including “Losing Myself Brought Me Here.” I’m so excited to read it!

GIVEAWAY Time!

I will be hosting another Giveaway on my Instagram this week @heather.ione. Jennae has generously donated a SIGNED COPY of her Best-Selling Book “Uncaged Wallflower” to one of my followers! Make sure to go to my Instagram to read the details on how to win.

Lastly, I wanted to end with my favorite poem of Jennae’s from “Uncaged Wallflower” called “Command Your Passion.”

Remember to comment below! What’s your favorite poem or quote of hers? Which books have you read of Jennae’s? What do you think about her message? Which parts of this interview stuck out to you the most?

If you liked this post make sure you scroll to the bottom, hit that little “+”, and type in your email where it says “Follow Blog Via Email.” The next post will be sent right to you!

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.