15 Reasons To Travel While You’re Young + Thoughts on Traveling & Social Media

Travel

I got the travel bug from my grandmother, who has been to so many countries that she probably wouldn’t be able to count them if she tried. My grandma goes on at least one trip abroad a year and usually comes back with a very odd and very humorous souvenir for us. Every time I talked to my grandma when I was growing up, I was so amazed at how she would casually bring up some incredible trip she took.

I always wanted to be like her. She’s so well-traveled, cultured, and so interesting – and I’m not the only one who thinks that. She’s someone that everyone loves and is intrigued by the second they meet her. I remember after my friend Pat met her for the first time, he turned to me and said one of my favorite quotes of all time, “Heather, your grandma is dope!” She is a dope grandma indeed. 

She’s a lady who does whatever the hell she wants regardless of what other people think. One of my favorite things she’s ever said to me was, “I don’t think I want a boyfriend, that might cramp my style.” If there’s one person I want to be like when I grow up and one person I want to make proud of, it’s her. And one way I plan on doing that is by exploring as much of this miraculous planet as I can, just like her.

With no surprise, my grandma was incredibly supportive of my love for travel. Not only does she pass on her travel stories and experiences to me, but she’s funded several of my trips. She generously took me to Paris for two weeks for my Sweet Sixteen, paid for my month-long graduation trip through Europe, and took a spontaneous and impulsive trip with me to Niagara Falls this summer. 

Today, my grandma’s writing is tattooed on the side of my body. It reads, “A life full of travel and wonders of our planet.” It will remind me for the rest of my life to get out of my bubble and explore the world as much as I can.

Just like my grandma, I want to encourage others to explore too. To put their money towards a plane ticket instead of products. So here are the top reasons why I believe it’s important to travel while you’re young in hopes that I will inspire at least one person to buy a ticket!

1. Travel expands your mind

I know this is the very first thing that people usually say about travel, but you don’t realize how true it is until you’re sitting in some random spot on the other side of the planet having your mind blown. I remember watching an opera in Rome and seeing flamenco dancing in Spain. Those are two experiences that I will never forget because I was utterly amazed seeing this in person. All I could think of was, “WHAT?! This is a thing?! People actually do this?!” It’s incredible seeing someone who’s spent a lifetime perfecting some dance that you would have never even heard of before.

When you travel, especially for an extended period of time or with a group of strangers, you regularly have those moments where you’re shocked by what you’re seeing or how other people interact in different cultures. You experience and learn things that you wouldn’t have otherwise known until you went there yourself.

Sometimes it expands your mind to things that are unpleasant. On my graduation trip, I learned so much about the Holocaust and World War II after visiting Germany and seeing a concentration camp that I would have never have learned unless I had visited Germany and gone on local tours. It’s best to travel while you’re young for this reason because your brain is still developing so you’re still very impressionable. Expanding your worldview during this time is crucial because you’ll be more open-minded than you would be if you started traveling after retirement. It allows you to expand your world-view and shape new opinions before settling into your ways.

2. It gets you out of your comfort zone

When you go on a trip abroad, you encounter language barriers, you get lost, and you have awkward moments when you encounter customs that you aren’t familiar with. It makes you feel out of place and puts you far out of your comfort zone, which is a great thing!

Interestingly enough, something about traveling to a foreign country also makes you more willing to take risks and try things that you wouldn’t if you were at home. I remember what it was like going zip lining in Costa Rica with Matt or going on an ATV tour underneath a volcano. The Heather that lives in Florida and spends most of her time going to the same coffee shop to write every day would NEVER do those things. But whenever I go on a trip, I take advantage of experiences that I otherwise wouldn’t try or wouldn’t want to spend the money on. Travel makes you do things that you normally would hold yourself back from, but THOSE moments are the ones that you remember for the rest of your life and tell at parties (or on your Tinder dates, lol). 

3. You meet life-long friends 

Something about dropping everything and traveling to a foreign country with strangers makes you connect with them on a much deeper level. When you travel to a new country with someone, rely on each other to get around, experience new things together, and spend entire days making memories and opening up about your lives back home, you form a very powerful bond. 

It’s a connection that you wouldn’t have had with that person if you had just met at a coffee shop or a bar back home. You create life-long memories with that person, making you much closer together and creating a relationship that you’ll look back on for the rest of your life. For that reason, I know that whenever I reach out to the girls I went on my trip with that they will always be happy to hear from me and we’ll catch up as if no time had passed.

Case in point, I just got back from visiting Cincinnati last night and while I was there I got to see my Europe travel buddy, Emily. We were attached at the hip the entire time we were abroad and now I consider her to be one of the best friends I’ve ever had. She had just landed from New York City yesterday morning and raced to come visit me for the remaining hours I was still in Cincinnati. When we reunited we ran up to each other on the sidewalk, threw our arms around each other and hugged in the most dramatic, rom-com fashion.

4. Travel helps you discover what you really want

When I left for my month-long trip abroad, I was very unsure of what I wanted, but the week I came back, I could look at my life with such clarity. I’m not exactly sure why this happens. Maybe it’s because travel allows you to step away from your life’s problems and have some space so that you can look at things with fresh eyes when you come back. Or maybe it’s because travel changes you, so you come back a slightly different person than the one who left.

Whichever it is, all I know is that my questions and dilemmas I’d been struggling with for months had been resolved when I got back: Where should I live? What career should I pursue? What do I really want in life? What projects do I want to pursue?

I was also very surprised by the number of other people on my tour who were having some kind of life crisis or question that they were seeking the answer to while we were away. I wasn’t the only one who had been hoping to solve some problem or answer an important question. For example, I remember that a handful of people were very unsure about whether or not they wanted to stay with their significant other. They were trying to figure out if they saw themselves staying with this person long term after they returned home or if it was best to go their separate ways. The trip helped them answer their questions. I remember one of my friends even bought a journal so she could do stream of consciousness journaling about her relationship and that helped her gain so much clarity. If you’d like to learn more about stream of consciousness journaling, checkout my blog post, “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It.”

5. Traveling while you’re young allows you freedom before you get tied down 

Yeah you could travel when you’re older, but you also have to consider that you’ll have a full-time job, extra bills, a mortgage payment, a dog that needs to be cared for, a significant other that doesn’t feel like traveling to the same country as you, kids, etc. I could go on and on with other reasons, but the point is that it won’t be as easy to drop everything and backpack your way through South America when you’re 35 or 40. It’s much easier to travel while you’re young because you’re not tied down to anything, and because it will be so much easier to hop back into your normal life without much of a disruption. For example, coming back from an extended holiday when you’re in your teens or early 20’s will have little to no impact on your career because it’s not already established. It’s expected that you’re still traveling, learning about what you want, and changing during this time.

You also have to consider that if you travel while you’re young, you only have to pay for yourself, not an entire family. It’ll cost far less money and you’ll be FAR more likely to actually do it. Simply put, you’ll never feel as free as you do RIGHT NOW.

6. You won’t regret it

You know that moment when you decide it’s freaking time to clean out your closet? Your clothes are overflowing, you can’t find anything, and you realize it’s that time of year to make some donations? You know how whenever this happens you inevitably find clothes in your closet that still have the tags on them and think, “Uggghhhh, why did I buy this!? That was such a waste of money!” Yeah, that doesn’t happen with travel.

I’ve never heard of anyone having buyer’s remorse over taking a trip. You won’t look back at your photos and memories of your summer abroad and think, “Ugggghhh, why did I do that?” “Why did I move to Paris for three months and work at that bakery? How stupid of me.” That just doesn’t happen. Traveling is one of the very few things in life that people spend their money on that they don’t regret. Sure, you might end up going over budget on your trip and be a little bit annoyed at yourself for spending so much. However, the feeling of regret will never enter your mind.

7. Travel makes you humble

The other reason why you should travel, especially while you’re young, is because it makes you humble. You’ll see people all around the world who are living with less than you and realize what little you need to take care of yourself and to be happy. I learned this lesson on my trip to Costa Rica. After coming back I wrote a blog post about this called “A Lesson in Pura Vida.”

I wrote about how I had noticed that the people in Costa Rica lived in what I can only describe as shacks. Their houses were made of tin and they had very few possessions and modern-day luxuries and conveniences. But they were the happiest and nicest people I have ever met in my life. Seriously! It was like they were all enlightened. They walked around with a huge smile on their face and saying hello to everyone. I could tell that they were happy and relaxed – not chronically stressed out. At the time, I went to a private college, drove an expensive car, lived in a gated community, and nannied for families who made over six figures. Yet none of the people that I was surrounded with were happy to be alive. They were stressed out, bitter, and materialistic. They were driven more by possessions and promotions than by anything else (I’m not claiming to be above this). However, these people in Costa Rica had next to nothing, and they were HAPPY. Very, very happy. That trip was humbling and made me reflect more on what’s important in life. 

The second reason why travel makes you humble is that you realize that you’re not the center of the universe. You’re dropped off at the airport in what sometimes feels like an alternate universe. You don’t understand the language or the way people are interacting with each other. Even though you know intellectually that there’s a wide world out there, you typically don’t think much about the world other than your own small existence. Then in the middle of all of this, you’re attending local tours and learning from someone about their political problems or issues that they face in the community. In these moments, it will hit you just how large the world is and how closed off you had been because these issues weren’t on your radar. For example, I didn’t know anything about the poverty rate in Costa Rica as I was going about my daily life in St. Augustine, Fla. It never occurred to me.

Lastly, if you’re traveling while you’re young you’ll most likely be staying in cheap accommodations, eating less expensive food, and finding experiences within your budget. You’re not rolling into your trip to the south of France in first-class seats, sipping champagne, eating caviar, and staying at 5-star hotels. You haven’t hit that age in life where you think, “Alright, I’m going on a trip. It must be luxurious.” No. You stay in hostels, you share bathrooms, you eat at places that are cheaper to accommodate everyone in your group, and you share cramped spaces on trains, planes, and automobiles. Having to be so accommodating with other people and share space is a humbling experience. 

I think that this is an important lesson to learn and it should be learned as SOON as possible. It’s better to become humble when you’re 20 rather than when you’re 45. It makes you a better person.

8. You’re in great shape

Some people decide that having a career and a family are the first priority to them and that travel is something that can wait until retirement, but I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. Because while you do want to make retirement fun and enjoyable, you also have to consider that you won’t be in as good of shape as you’re in when you’re a teenager or in your 20’s.

Your body can handle walking for miles to sightsee all day, hiking up mountains, getting less sleep, carrying a backpack all day, lugging your suitcase around, etc. The physicality of traveling alone just makes more sense to do while you’re young. And you never know what sort of health problems or limitations you might have in old age. 

9. Traveling empowers you

Before I left for my month-long trip to Europe, I was nervous as all hell. It also didn’t help that every person I talked to said something along the lines of, “Oh my God! Four weeks is SO long! I would never be able to do that. You’re crazy. You’re gonna want to come home by week two!”

I remember the night before I left I sat across from my boyfriend fighting off a panic attack for serval hours and drinking wine trying to calm myself down. The next day I was bawling while I was saying goodbye to Matt outside the airport! I. was. a. mess.

But when I landed in Florida after that month, I came back and thought “Oh my gosh! I freaking did it! That was awesome!” It’s a very powerful thing to see yourself doing something that you once considered to be scary. It helps you realize how much you’re capable of and gives you the confidence to take on new challenges or aspirations. Before I left for my trip, I thought a month would feel like forever and I might want to come home, but when I came home I realized that a month was nothing. I could easily take a trip for two, three, four, or even six months at a time. I realized that the fear that I had was all in my head. I set this limitation for myself that I now realize was completely ridiculous. 

10. You can handle cheap accommodations

I’ve noticed that as you get older, the accommodations that you feel you deserve continue to increase in cost. I know that I was going on a trip to a foreign country right now, I would be perfectly ok in cheaper hotels that my older family members wouldn’t even consider staying in. I don’t feel as if I’m somehow deserving of first-class tickets, 5-star hotels, and a luxurious mattress to sleep on. Those things would be fabulous and I would be appreciative of it, but I feel perfectly ok with slumming it a bit to check countries off of my bucket list.

However, it’s not just that as you get older you feel entitled to better accommodations, your body also needs them. I’m 24 now, and I know that my body can handle sleeping on crappy mattresses and taking a 10-hour plane ride in super small airplane seats. But if I was 70 years old right now, that wouldn’t work. I wouldn’t be able to bounce back as well as I can right now. That’s something you also have to keep in mind.

11. You’ll come back with TONS of stories 

The best part of spending your money on traveling is that you come back with tons of stories and memories that stay with you forever. Half the time they’re stories of something wonderful and exciting that you experienced – like when I learned how to make homemade pasta while I tasted wines in Rome (it was Amazing with a capital A). Or sometimes they’re stories of something bad or scary that happened on your trip – like when two of my friends Martha and Emily had a near-death experience during the riots in Paris after the World Cup Final. But even the “bad” memories end up turning into hilarious stories that you get to share and laugh about when you get back home.

It’s been over a year since I went on my tour and I still find myself saying, “That reminds me! When I was on my trip…” I didn’t even realize how many interesting things happened until I came back and would have conversations with people and it would remind me of some experience that I had in Amsterdam, France, or London. I still love telling the story of what it was like experiencing the World Cup Final while I was in Paris or celebrating my sixteenth birthday in Paris which coincidentally is the same day as the French Independence Day. 

12. You’ll have help

One of the added benefits of traveling while you’re young is that you’ll most likely be able to convince mom and dad or grandma and grandma to help you fund your trip. That’s one of the best parts of traveling while your young because you’re family members are eager to help you out financially so that you can make some memories and have a good time. I’m now past the point where my family is jumping up and down to help me pay for a trip, so take advantage of the help while you can!

On top of that there are tons of tours that are cheaper and cater to teens and young adults with a smaller budget but still want to see as many sights as they possibly can. I personally am in love with the tour company EF Tours. I’ve been on two of their trips so far and have loved every minute of it. They get you to all of the attractions, book your flights and hotels for you, hire a tour guide to take you from place to place, and plan fun excursions. They’re also relatively cheap because they use the same hotels, hostels, tour companies, and local business so frequently that they are able to get everything cheaper than it would be if you went on your own. 

You also have the benefits of student discounts, so remember to bring your ID with you and ask if you can use it wherever you go! These perks make traveling while you’re young much easier because the total cost of the trip will be significantly less than you would pay in the future if you decide to take the same trip. 

13. It makes you more independent 

When you’re younger, if you’re anything like me, you may a bit timid and shy. This means that having to get around for the day in a foreign country by yourself can be a bit nerve-wracking, but those moments of travel are good for you, even if they’re a bit unsettling.

I remember there was one day when I was in Paris and everyone that I was friends with on my tour decided that they wanted to spend the day at Chipotle and relaxing in the hostel. I thought this was absolutely crazy. “We’re in PARIS guys! You can have a burrito bowl when you get home!” So I had no choice but to go off by myself if I wanted to do anything interesting. At first I was completely terrified and scared of being alone. What if I got lost and couldn’t find my way back?! But I ended up walking all around Paris and seeing the entire city. I saw the major attractions and went to places like the oldest bookstore in the city to buy a book and tried the best hot chocolate in Paris. I got pictures EVERYWHERE, ate as many macaroons as I could get my hands on, and ended the night watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle. It ended up working out perfectly because I was able to do so much more that day than I would have done if I was with a group of 5 or 6 girls. And I realized that I’m much more independent and capable than I thought. I was so proud of myself by the end of the day and so fulfilled by getting around a foreign city all by myself that it became one of the most memorable days of the tour. 

14. Travel makes you more accepting of others

Another reason why I believe that it’s vitally important to travel while you’re young is because it makes you much more accepting of other people.

I feel that today, we need this lesson more than ever. There’s been so much hatred in America fueled by the media in recent years. Mostly because media channels learned that they can make money by pinning people against each other and because this last presidential election was “harrible.” Hugely, “biggly,” and catastrophicly “harrible.”

Because of this we’ve become accustomed to getting offended if someone has a different opinion or experience than us and rejecting them. Our country has been in a place where all people do is fight and hate people who are different. It’s especially toxic for all of the younger generations who are impressionable and mimic the behavior they see while growing up. And I’m not just talking about children. I’m talking about the teens and college students (like myself) that watched all the adult figures in their lives turn against each other for a solid year because of this last poisonous election.

My concern is that if THIS is how people feel about other American citizens than what is our perspective of the rest of the world’s population? If we can’t even learn to live in harmony with our neighbors, how do plan on having successful international relations? Today more than ever, I feel it’s important for people to get outside of their own inner circle and learn about the rest of the world. To learn about different cultures and different views, but most importantly learn that we can all be accepting and COEXIST.

I can hear my grandma in my head right now saying her famous line, “Haven’t people ever heard of the word HUMAN?! We’re all HUMAN!”

15. “Life is short and the world is wide.” – Simon Raven

Last but not least on my list of why it’s important to travel while you’re young is that there’s a HUGE world out there and life is short. Not to end on a morbid note, but a long life is not guaranteed to any of us. You have no idea what could happen in the future. I would love it if the universe would grant each and every one of us a long, healthy, and happy life, but it doesn’t work that way. People get sick and accidents happen. It’s best to fill your life with the experiences that you dream of while you can instead of putting things off for a perpetual “someday.” “Someday I’ll rent an RV and travel around the country.” “Someday I’ll see the seven wonders of the world.” “Someday I’ll go to Thailand.”

Someday is not set in stone. Someday is not promised. 

Traveling & Social Media 

Before I wrap up this post, I didn’t feel as if I could close up this week’s blog post without mentioning social media (particularly Instagram) and traveling. It felt irresponsible to share this post without addressing the problem of people traveling solely for getting attention and become famous online.

One of my favorite travel bloggers and Instagram influencers is Aggie, better known as “Travel In Her Shoes.” She’s someone who became very famous for her love of travel. She would travel for months and months at a time before she even was on Instagram and would take photos just for herself. She lived a very traditional life as most of us do for a while. She went to college, graduated, got a corporate job and was MISERABLE. So Aggie and her boyfriend at the time decided that they wanted to live a life of adventure and passion. They bought an old sailboat online, sold all of their possessions, fixed up the boat, and set sail from Mexico to Australia. Their story got picked up and since that day she’s made a career of her traveling and living the life that many of us can only dream of.

But Aggie recently opened up in a social media post this week about a topic that I believe needs to be talked about. Her Instagram post was inspired by a recent Ted Talk given by Joseph Gordon-Levitt on “paying attention” vs. “getting attention.” The talk is called “How Craving Attention Makes You Less Creative.” The Ted Talk is amazing and I HIGHLY recommend watching it as soon as you can. He talks about how (as a result of social media) most people today now view their creativity as a means to GET attention rather than paying attention, enjoying yourself, and collaborating with other creatives.

Aggie shared that traveling used to be very much about paying attention. It was a way to get out of your small little bubble, disconnect with family and friends, find yourself, and fall in love with another country. She admits that now, due to social media and influencers like herself, traveling has become a way to GET attention. “[People] sign up for a sort of their own Truman Show,” as she puts it. They get addicted to waking up each day and getting attention from their followers as they post gorgeous travel photos and share their stories. Because of that, they’re afraid to go back to their normal lives. They’re afraid that if they do, they will be forgotten and won’t receive praise from their online following. And that’s exactly what happened to her. The addiction to keep showing up, traveling, and getting attention is what caused her a falling out with the man she was in love with, getting extremely sick this year, losing her hair, and falling into a depression. Since then, she’s taken a step back and slowed down on traveling and focused on herself more.

I want to talk about this issue because the sad truth is that many people today travel just as a way to get likes and followers. People sign up for trips, buy expensive clothes for their photos, and spend their entire vacation staring at their phone. I can’t say that I’m above this myself. I will admit, my motto was “do it for the gram” for several years there, and my travels were a part of that too. But that’s NOT what travel is about. Travel should be about the reasons I listed above, not to become the next big travel blogger or YouTuber! It defeats the entire purpose of travel. So if you are going to book your next flight, remember that exploring the world is about the reasons I listed above, not about the social media posts that will come as a result. Travel is about PAYING attention, not GETTING attention.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online! I hope that this post was entertaining and I hope that it inspired someone out there to go on an adventure. If it does, PLEASE reach out to me!

A special shout out to one of my Gram (who is somewhere in Morocco right now living her best life) for being my role model, for passing on her travel bug to me, and helping me to come up with ONE more reason for traveling while you’re young (just because I liked the sound of “15 Reasons” more than “14 Reasons).” Not only is she the source of inspiration for this week’s blog post, but she’s also my #1 supporter and reader. Hi Gram (: I love you very much.

Lastly, please send your thoughts and prayers to my incredible friend and photographer Ray Reyes and his family who lost his father, Edd Reyes, very suddenly last week. You can read Ray’s most amazing, tear jerking words about his father’s life in his Facebook post here. And thank you for your patience as there’s been a delay in getting blog posts published at this time. But as we all know, family is more important.

“Time is the most precious commodity we can share with our loved ones. With time, you can do all you need to do and say all you need to say. But you can’t wait forever, because time has already passed, the time is absolutely now and we have no idea how much time we have in our futures.” – Ray Reyes

Remember to comment your thoughts below. I love hearing from you! Can you think of any other reasons why Lost Online readers should prioritize traveling while they’re young? What are they? Did you have a favorite reason on this list? What was it? Do you have a travel bug too? Where’s your next adventure going to take you? Did this post inspire you to take a trip anytime soon? Do you have a family member that has been influential in your travels 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 and Allen Fajardo @alewafeni.

This Day Could Have Gone Much Differently: A School Shooting During My Therapy Session

Lifestyle

On Wednesday, Aug. 21, I had a really busy day. I was working on things from home and was jam-packed with tons of projects for my website and YouTube Channel. So much that I had hardly eaten all day and I still wanted to go to the gym that evening. My boyfriend Matt suggested, “Why don’t you go out and get a smoothie? You can walk down to RawkStar, get a smoothie, and walk back. It’ll be nice.” So I decided that was a great idea. I put on my shoes, grabbed my bag and was about to walk out the door when I realized my phone was about to die. I stopped for a second and thought about leaving it behind while I walked down the street to grab a smoothie. I would just be down the road and would only be without it for about 20 minutes. But I didn’t want to do that. I put my phone on the charger and sat back down on the couch with my computer ready to work some more.

Now, you might be thinking it’s because I’m a sad millennial that can’t stand the thought of being separated from my phone for more than 5 minutes. But that’s not why I didn’t leave. I didn’t leave without my phone because I was worried that if a shooting would happen, I would be without my phone and unable to call for help.

Later that evening I told Matt about that and laughed it off, thinking to myself I’m just paranoid. I waited until my phone was charged and then went out for my smoothie before going to the gym. Then, later that night as I was trying to fall asleep, I thought about the very real possibility that a shooting could happen. Last year there were more shootings than days in the year. I thought about how scary it is that we live in a country where we have to fear this in our everyday lives and I remembered how in my last two years of college, I was terrified to be in the library. Whenever I was in the library to work (which was almost every day) I would plan where I would run and hide if a shooter walked in. Those were some of the last thoughts I had before falling asleep.

The Next Day

The next day I woke up and went about my day as usual, not thinking about any of those grim thoughts I had the day before. I got up, had my coffee, worked from home, edited some videos, and then started getting ready for my therapy appointment. It was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and it was getting closer to that time. I got dressed and got myself ready and stood in the kitchen contemplating leaving early to go to therapy. I thought how nice and sunny and beautiful it was outside and thought about how I could pass the half hour before my appointment sitting outside on a bench or in my car in the parking lot listening to my podcast.

But I decided against it. I decided to just wait until it got closer to the appointment to leave. When I finally did make it to the building for my therapy appointment, I was surprised and extremely confused by what I saw. Cop cars had circled a building, which is actually a church, preschool, and counseling center in one. Police started to fill the parking lot and the pastor was outside talking to the police and visibly nervous. 

I got out of the car, confused, and wondering if I should just turn around and go home, but I didn’t. I turned off my car, got out and walked up to the police and the pastor to ask what happened. Right where we were standing, a man fired a shot into the windows of the preschool just minutes before I had arrived. Shock is the only way I could think to describe what I felt right at that moment. 

They assured me that the children were safe and had been evacuated into the church. I asked if they caught the shooter yet, to which they responded, “No.” I froze for a moment and looked around in circles, knowing that just minutes before I arrived, a shooter had been standing right where I was. What if he was still here now?

The pastor and the police kept talking and finally I had to interrupt because I quickly realized that they thought I was a concerned parent waiting to pick up their child. I shared with them that I had a therapy session at 3:30 and the pastor told me that he would get me through a side door. I followed him, looking around behind me to make sure we were safe and walked in. 

Two minutes later, my very happy, bubbly therapist greeted me with a big smile and asked how I was. I could tell right away she had no idea what was happening. “Do you know what’s happening right now?” I asked her. Her eyebrows furrowed and she said, “No, what’s going on?” “A shot was just fired at the preschool, the building is surrounded by police.”

Right then, a not so pleasant woman came around the corner and yelled at me to get into the room so she could talk to my therapist privately, and proceeded to tell her what I just said. She told her that we could continue with our session and they wouldn’t interrupt us, or we could leave. My therapist walked back inside and I could tell she was just as shocked as I was. 

We decided together that this was not the right day to proceed with the session and we should both just reschedule and go home. She then proceeded to tell me how she attends service in the church and was just there this past Sunday. She told me that she had been sitting in the very back row by the door, and was distracted throughout the entire service because it had occurred to her that if there was a shooting inside the church that she was in the most vulnerable position. Here we were less than a week later. 

She also told me that she doesn’t believe this was random. Apparently, the church has a sign out front that says “Dear God, please help our elected officials stand up to the NRA.”

We both rescheduled for next week and I walked outside to get into my car and go home, only to discover that the police had blocked off the parking lot and I was unable to leave. Here I was again outside in open air, standing where the shooter had stood, and not able to leave. The police huddled together in one area and were discussing how they needed someone to get the video footage of the area. Finally, I found a police officer and walked up to her telling her that I was supposed to see my therapist but we decided to leave given the circumstances. I asked her if she would be able to move, but it turns out she had to then get permission for me to leave. I waited in the parking lot, shaking, looking around me hoping that this person wouldn’t return. All I could think about was if the shooter was still in the area, they might decide to target the police and anyone else standing in the parking lot. The police officer then came back, looked at my ID, took down my information and said that I could leave.

That evening, I was in shock for several hours. I occurred to me that had I left even just a few minutes sooner this day could have gone far differently. I could have been in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time. If I had left any earlier, I would have shown up at the same time as the shooter, possibly witnessed the shooting, and possibly been killed just for being the only other person in this empty parking lot.

Once I calmed down and came out of shock I started crying because I realized that we’re no longer safe anywhere. This building is a CHURCH, a PRESCHOOL, and a place where people go to for therapy. This place, out of all places, should particularly be one where people should feel safe and comfortable. 

This problem seems harder to wrap your mind around when it’s on TV. But when you’re standing there in my position, surrounded by cops and hearing people frantically try to find video footage and make sure the little kids are safe, it doesn’t seem so complicated. 

This SHOULDN’T be a problem. 

This needs to be changed.

America has proven time and time again that we are NOT capable of having guns. How many school shootings have to happen for us to realize that?

Takeaways

Now that I’ve had some time to think and process what happened, I thought of a few takeaways: things that I really want you to come away with after reading about my experience. 

1. DO Something

Stop posting on social media and take real action. There is nothing that makes me more angry on social media than when people are posting about how “😩😭😔” they are about an issue but don’t do anything to address the problem. It seems like nothing but a cry for attention online and to show how deep they are. If people actually cared, they would stop sharing their feelings on social media and take real action to address the problem. Sure you might have reshared a post about gun violence, women’s rights, or the Fair Oaks Farm calf abuse, but did you actually do anything about the issue? Being #sad about something isn’t going to change the state of our country. 

After this happened, I didn’t want to just be another mindless person sharing their feelings and sad emojis on social media for their friends to see. I went searching for things that I can do to help with gun control. In my search, I found this article on “30 Gun Control Actions You Can Take Now.” Once I’m done writing this post for you today, I’m going to do several of these myself. 

For now, I have signed up to join the Woman Against Gun Violence. By becoming a member of WAGV, they will notify me about upcoming events, what’s happening with gun legislation, and simple things that I can do to help reduce gun violence in our country. It could be something as simple as making a phone call or writing an email or attending a rally. 

2. Trust Your Intuition

The day before this happened I thought about the possibility of being in the wrong place at the wrong time of a shooting on two different occasions. I had no reason to start thinking about this. I didn’t see a post about gun violence online recently and I no longer watch the news. Nothing was making me think about this subject, I just did. And less than 24 hours later I show up minutes after a shooting. Even my therapist was worried about a shooting before it happened and opened up about her own fears of the reality of becoming yet another victim of gun violence.

We all must learn to tune into these feelings that show up and trust our intuition. I’m sharing this with you not because I have it figured out, this is one thing that I really need to work on. I always doubt myself so much that if my gut tells me to turn right, I’ll turn left, and I end up regretting it EVERY time because my intuition has never been wrong. Unfortunately, we live in a time and culture where we’re taught to think only with our heads. Things like gut instinct, intuition, or a “hunch” are seen as being ridiculous and “wooh-y.” If you tell someone you have a bad feeling, they’ll most likely laugh and make jokes about you’re a psychic.

But your gut is like a second brain and is usually MUCH smarter than our other brain. It gives us that knot in our stomachs when something is wrong to keep us safe and point us in the right direction. Collectively and individually we need to learn to trust that again. There are some things that we might not be able to see, explain, and prove, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

3. Nothing is a Coincidence 

Just like I shared in my last couple posts, the universe has your back. Since yesterday I keep telling myself thank goodness I didn’t show up any sooner! Thank goodness my therapist was already inside the building in her office and not walking in at that time. Thank goodness I decided to stay home instead of leaving early like I sometimes do. Otherwise, I would have been right there. 

I want you to take some time to really think about this and reflect on your own experience. Most people haven’t just missed a shooting by minutes, but many of us have had some moment in our lives just like this. Where we realized we got SO lucky because we ran a few minutes late, or decided to go somewhere else, or decided to stay in one night. You must have a moment like that buried somewhere in your memory. 

Take some time and think about that today. Search your memory for a time when this happened to you and don’t brush it off as a random coincidence. Remember that we have a greater power looking out for us.

Take time to feel grateful for those moments because the sad fact is that not every single person was that lucky.

4. Gun Control

One of my all-time favorite comedians is Jim Jefferies, who created this bit for a comedy show that blew up and went viral. It became such a sensation that it was even referenced on the news several times. What started out a simple comedy sketch blew up into a sensation that helped people understand the flawed logic that many Americans have when it comes to their precious guns. 

Now you might be thinking, “Who the hell is the random comedian, and why is he talking about gun control?” But I think Jim Jefferies is the perfect person to talk about this topic. Here’s why: 

  • He talks about this subject in a way that is super funny and relatable, meaning that this message has been able to reach millions simply by the humorous way that it was delivered.
  • He’s from Australia, where he shares they had 11 massacres and finally the government decided to take away guns which put an end to gun violence.
  • Jim Jefferies had a home invasion where he was tied up and cut while the invaders threatened to rape his girlfriend. He shares that owning a gun wouldn’t have helped him in the moment. How would he have known as he was naked in his house that two guys would randomly bust in with weapons? It’s not like he was “ready” and had a holster on him. 

The reason why I absolutely love this video is because he addresses all of our flawed views of guns including, “I need it for protection,” “I’m a responsible gun owner,” “If gun control were to happen only the criminals would have guns,” and “The answer to gun violence is more guns.”

There’s one argument that I think is the most important thing that we need to take away in these conversations about gun violence. Jim Jefferies explains that every American should be able to have a gun. Yep. Everyone. Everyone and their mother who is a “responsible gun owner” should be able to have a gun. But guess what…that’s not how society works! We have to play to the 1% of people who are going to use it for bad reasons. As he says, “We have to walk as slow as our slowest person to keep society moving.” 

Sure, maybe the majority of people who have guns would be “responsible” with guns should be allowed to have them. But there are too many people who feel the need to walk into a preschool and murder a bunch of 4-year-olds with an assault rifle. There are too many kids who will pick up a gun thinking its toy and shoot their brother or sister in the stomach. And there are too many people who have the worst days of their lives who have too many drinks and remember they have a gun in the house, and how easy it would be to end it. There’s also too much domestic violence as it is. You have an abusive, drunken husband in the house who gets mad at his wife over something stupid, do you really want to know what happens when there are guns in the house?

This argument that gun lovers share over and over again is, “Why should I have my guns taken away? I’m not crazy. I’m responsible.” It just doesn’t work. Because as Jefferies says so eloquently, “That’s the thing about crazy people, they don’t know they’re crazy. That’s what makes them crazy.”

You should also be able to drive as fast as you want to all the time. But guess what. We can’t. That’s not how society works. 

We need gun control because unfortunately, we live in a country where this is not the first shooting at a PRESCHOOL. We can’t attend church, or send our 3- and 4-year-olds to preschool, or go to therapy, or go get a f*cking smoothie before a workout without living in fear of being shot. When are all of us going to get on the same page and finally come together and admit that WE NEED GUN CONTROL? How many children have to die? How many shootings have to happen?

Now, I realize that there are plenty of pro-gun people who would rather die than hear someone even mention the idea of gun control in America, but you’re reading a post from a girl who just missed a shooting by a few minutes yesterday and who knows THREE other locations that I used to go to that all had shootings. This is a very real issue that finally needs to be fixed.

I can also think back to middle school and high school and remember three separate conversations I overheard from other students where they shared that their fathers had a gun collection and gun safes. In each conversation I heard, the students shared that they knew how to use a gun, they knew the safe combination, and if they REALLY wanted to, they could bring the guns into school and murder people. This is America.

On that note, if you’d like to take a look and end this story with a much-needed laugh, you can watch it HERE: Part 1 & Part 2. I know this post is very different than what I typically write about, but this felt like something too big to not write about. And if you know me personally, then you probably understand at this point that writing about my experiences helps me to re-frame things more positively in my mind and process my experience. 

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.

The Broken Window Theory & How to Create Massive Change in Your Life

Self-Help

Can you believe that it’s already the end of summer? How freaking quickly is the year flying by? It seems like just yesterday I was writing down my New Year’s resolutions and determined to create a better me in 2019. Well, if you’re anything like me, then you’re probably nowhere near checking off those resolutions and wondering “Who the hell did I think I would be in 2019? Superwoman?”

I’m not the only one who’s made this mistake over and over, and it doesn’t just happen during the new year. We’re all interested in improving ourselves in some way, whether it’s getting in shape, learning a language, learning how to cook, deepening our yoga practice, reading more, etc. But in our good intentions and excitement from a sudden wave of inspiration, we try to do too much and we set ourselves up for failure. We want to change, but often try to create a drastic change in such a short period of time which inevitably only leaves us feeling guilty and disappointed.

This happens with both the bad habits we’re trying to break and the good ones that we want to adopt. A very popular example would be trying to quit smoking cold-turkey. We all know someone (or maybe we are that someone) who’s always “trying to quit.” Don’t worry, there’s no judgment from me!

One of my latest examples was that I wanted to start keeping my apartment cleaner so Matt would be happier to come home to a clean space and our home would look lovely all the time. I decided that each and every day I would have the dishes done, the laundry done, the counters spotless, fresh flowers in the kitchen, the floors vacuumed, the bed made, and the bathroom cleaned – 24/7. I decided this randomly one evening after a surge of inspiration to tidy up the house. Well, it’s now weeks later, and how beautiful do you think the apartment is looking right now? It’s NOT.

My clothes and piles of laundry are scattered all over the apartment, and there’s no sign of my resolution to keep the house clean. The clothes have taken over yet again. If I ever go missing, you just might find me trapped under a pile of clothes in our bedroom. 

As a self-help and self-improvement junkie, I understand more than anyone that desire to improve oneself and feel that sense of personal accomplishment when your goals are met, the house is cleaned, you’ve eaten healthy, and you’ve worked out that day. There’s nothing better than that feeling of being proud of yourself. But too often, we get so excited about that potential to create drastic change and become a better person, that we try to create massive change in our lives overnight. We try to lose 20 pounds immediately, we try to read five books in a month, or we try to go vegan in a weekend. But ultimately those changes don’t last. Changing one’s lifestyle and behaviors takes time and learning.

The Broken Window Theory

This blog post was inspired by a podcast by The Minimalists who I’ve referenced many times before. If you haven’t heard of The Minimalists, they’re best friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who became popular after releasing their documentary “Minimalism” on Netflix. They’re authors, podcasters, filmmakers, and public speakers who spend their lives sharing how living with less helped them find happiness, freedom, and fulfillment that money and possessions can’t give us.

In one of their “Quickie” podcast episodes, called “How Small Changes Make Big Progress,”Joshua and Ryan discussed how small everyday changes in our lives helps us move toward sustainability because those radical changes just don’t stick. Radical changes are like crash diets – it’s not feasible to keep that going all the time. However, making small healthy changes, one meal or snack at a time is what gives people the results that they want. Over time, those small changes eventually start to multiply. 

In this podcast episode, Ryan talked about an example of this that he witnessed when he was visiting Tokyo. He noticed that the city was so immaculate and clean that whenever he would see a piece of trash on the ground, it motivated him to pick it up! The city looked so clean and perfect that he felt the need to keep it that way. I think that’s really saying something, because how often do we go out of our way to pick up trash when we’re walking around? 

Joshua gave his example that resonated with me so much that it was the part that inspired this post today. He shared that this phenomenon is often called “The Wildfire Theory,” but he thinks of it as “The Broken Window Theory.”

He explains how in the 1990s in New York City, people were trying to make the city nicer and over time the urban planners realized something interesting in their efforts to turn the city around. They noticed that if there was ever a broken window in one building and they FIXED it, other buildings nearby start fixing their broken windows too. However, the areas that they didn’t fix ended up getting more broken windows and eventually would attract graffiti and other vandalism. Of course, they also noticed that whenever there was a little bit of graffiti, this lead to MORE graffiti. This realization prompted urban planners to not only fix windows all over the city but to create a 24-hour graffiti removal service. All you had to do was call the hotline, and someone would be there to remove the graffiti within 24 hours!

I love this example that Joshua gives because it’s safe to say that the majority of us have noticed this with our own eyes, and I think that it’s much easier to grasp the broken window theory than to picturing a wildfire. The other reason why I love this example is that the same is true for our everyday lives. As Joshua says, “We all have our own broken windows.” They take the form of past traumas, household clutter, toxic relationships, financial stress, smoking cigarettes, unhealthy eating, and weight gain. They’re the things in life that we want so badly to fix, but we can’t. Why? Because that’s A LOT of freaking changes.

And the broken windows are often so subtle that we don’t notice them as the start of a much bigger issue. They show up as the pajamas we throw on the ground in the morning; the laundry that piles that we don’t put away; the “to-do” list that keeps growing; the appointments that have to be made; the dishes that stack up in the sink; the Oreos that we ate last night; the toxic emotions we’ve bottled up since childhood. We don’t make the effort to fix the problem soon enough, or maybe even notice it happening, so it creates more and more chaos.

Then when we decide to make a change, we try to take on too much at once. We try to turn over the entire city of New York in one week; we try to clean our entire apartment in one night; and we try to knock out a to-do list that’s been growing since we rang in the New Year. The reality is that these broken windows have to be fixed the same way they were created: gradually. 

The added challenge that we have to take into consideration is that those “broken windows” are years of habits that have become so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. It all becomes automatic. We get up in the morning and we throw our pajamas on the ground; we eat dinner and we leave the dish in the sink; we do laundry but we never put it away. So how on earth could we change all of those things at once? I don’t know this for sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

How to Create Massive Change in Your Life?

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna leave you on THAT note – by saying it’s impossible, that nothing can be done. So I put together a list of seven ways that you can fix your broken windows in a way that’s gradual AND reasonable, and that have the potential to actually stick long-term. I recommend trying all of them and then picking the one that you find the easiest to incorporate in your life. 

1. Fix one broken window at a time

My first piece of advice is to fix one broken window at a time. If you want to get in shape and focus on your health, maybe don’t declare to the world that you’re going to do P90X every day for the next 90 days, give up all the foods that you love, and stop drinking. Side note: I saw someone do this before and he looked MISERABLE… and also went back to his bad habits once he was done. Just as quickly as he got a six-pack, he lost it. 

Instead make the decision to exercise for an hour 3-4 days a week, or to run a 5k, or get 10,000 steps in. Then, after you’ve made one change and adapted to it, make one dietary change every couple of weeks. Maybe give up that one thing you eat WAY too much of. I met a woman once who lost 25 pounds because she gave up Pepsi! PEPSI! That’s all she did!She didn’t throw in an entire exercise regime and dietary changes all at once. She worked on ONE broken window: her soda addiction. I met her after she had lost all that weight and she talked to me about what her next healthy change would be. She was in the process of trying to decide how she would incorporate exercise next.

So pick one “broken window” and do something that is actually going to work for you in your everyday life. Fixing that window will help you gradually fix the other windows, and in the end, it will last.

2. Set the bar low 

If you find yourself not being able to accomplish those big things you set out to do, set goals that are so ridiculously small, that it would be impossible to NOT do them. Set the bar extremely low! Don’t put pressure on yourself to quit smoking immediately, instead, say I’m not going to smoke after ___ pm. Or I’m not going to smoke more than ___ amount of cigarettes a day. Or I’m only going to get ___ packs a week. Set the bar low and give yourself a chance to adjust.

Here’s another example: You know how much it sucks to unpack after a trip? You know how you have to unpack that suitcase, but it sits there on the freaking floor for days, sometimes weeks, overflowing with clothes that you never want to put away? Ok, maybe it’s just me. I REALLY hate laundry in case you couldn’t tell. Whenever I catch myself doing this… which is anytime I go anywhere, I make the decision to put away ONE item in the suitcase every time I walk by it. Once I decide that I’m able to tackle the suitcase in no time, but if I tried to do it all at once, it wouldn’t happen. 

Set the bar so stupidly low, that you have no reason and no excuse to not follow through. If you want to accomplish something BIGGER, like a bigger goal or lifelong dream, not just unpacking a suitcase, plan out each of the steps that you’re going to be taking. Decide each low bar that you would have to set for yourself in order to finally actualize that dream. Decide to enroll in a course tomorrow, or research your target market, or write one page of your business plan, or finally register as a business, or write ONE page of your book. Write down each low bar you have to set for yourself and accomplishing the bigger things in life. It will make it far less scary, far more reasonable, and it will finally get you moving in the right direction.

3. Gretchen Rubin’s One Minute Rule

If it’s a matter of the little things accumulating and getting out of hand, try using a trick that I learned from happiness expert, author, blogger, and podcaster Gretchen Rubin. She came up with this “One Minute Rule” that’s become incredibly popular with her audience. The idea is that if you can do something in one minute or less, you should do it right away.

This trick helps to tackle countless broken windows throughout the day and prevent them from spiraling into a bigger issue. For example, a plate can be rinsed off and put in the dishwasher in about 5-10 seconds, so you should do it right away. It gets little tasks out of the way and keeps them from boiling up. For that reason, it takes you a few seconds to do something, rather than letting dozens of simple tasks get out of hand. At that point, it would take you an hour, or even several hours of running around trying to do so many things at once. We’ve all been there when we’re trying to clean up a room that we let get messier and messier for the last month, which means that we have to spend the next half a day cleaning to get everything done. It takes so much more time and energy to tackle all of it than it would to chip away one task at a time.

It’s a great trick to adopt as far cleaning and putting clothes away if you’re like me, but it could also be used in everyday life. Because I’m writing this post right now and was reminded of this rule, it finally prompted me to call someone back that I’ve been putting off for two days, even though I knew it would only take me 60 seconds. If you have to do anything that takes a minute or less, like write a quick email, then write the damn email! Otherwise, all it does is add to the collection of broken windows you have going and weigh on your mind. 

4. Set a power hour

This next tip is also one that I learned from Gretchen Rubin. (I really love her in case you couldn’t tell). The idea is that if you have a lot of tasks stacking up – maybe they take a minute or maybe they require a little bit more time and energy – you should set an hour aside each week to tackle them.

You know those tasks that aren’t necessarily hard or difficult, but it requires you to do a few steps, or make a couple of calls, or research something first, or dig through your filing cabinet, so you just keep not doing it? The thought of spending those next 10-15 minutes working on this random annoying task that you don’t want to have to do, keeps you procrastinating and not doing this thing for weeks. I do this to myself whenever I have to go looking for a new doctor. For example, when I decided that I wanted to see a therapist, it took me several weeks to finally start making calls and searching for someone because I knew I’d have to spend at least 20 minutes, researching places in the area, calling people, repeating my insurance information, setting up appointments, and then going to consultations with different therapists.

This task wasn’t hard, but it felt annoying and inconvenient. It took more time and mental energy than putting away some dirty dishes, so I continued to put it off. I’m sure you have some task like that you really don’t want to do! For things like these, it’s a good idea to select a day of the week and set aside one hour to power through these random tasks that you’ve been setting aside. It forces you to finally get it done and make some progress, and it finally eliminates that task that’s been weighing on you and making you unhappy and anxious.

5. Decide 1-3 things you want to focus on the next day

One way to tackle your broken windows, eliminate bad habits, or even accomplish larger goals, is to decide the night before what you will focus your energy on tomorrow. I like to incorporate this whenever I feel myself losing focus on my work and getting stressed out. Each night before bed, get out a notebook or a post-it note and reflect on what you would like to focus your energy on the next day. Remember to only pick one to three items.

I find that this works because otherwise, it’s easy to look at the mountain of tasks that you need to get done in order to be successful or reach a goal, and think to yourself, “Where the f*ck do I even start?” For example, sometimes my list looks something like: 1) Create welcome email 2) Edit new video 3) Start ____ post. Or 1) Publish post 2) Choose quotes for Pinterest graphics 3) Brainstorm ebook ideas. It’s a short list of goals that you know you can reasonably get done the next day and provide some direction and support so you stay on track.

You can use this trick with work, with getting in shape, or with breaking bad habits. It’s even been helpful for me in the areas of spirituality and self-improvement. If you’re trying to lose weight, your list might look something like: 1) Go to the gym for 20 minutes 2) Make dinner at home 3) No snacking after 9 pm. Or maybe 1) Look up ab workout ideas 2) Get some healthy snacks at the grocery store 3) No chips. The beauty of this list is that it varies every day, so you don’t make the same mistake of making a drastic decision or lifestyle changes at once. 

6. Say no

I felt the need to mention saying no on this list as well because too many people try to take on more than they can handle. Not only is it a way that we self-sabotage, but it’s also a reflection of our culture now. It’s a culture where we treat each other like computers that are meant to be productive, to perform, and to function all day long, rather than connect, love, and LIVE.

It’s a culture where high school students feel as if their self-worth is defined by how many AP classes they’re in and if we’re not making six figures, we’re not good enough. I believe that we won’t be able to create massive change in our lives and fix our broken windows unless we learn to first slow down and cut back. Otherwise, our physical and mental energy is drained, while more windows break in an effort to keep all the balls in the air. But here’s the thing, while we desperately need to learn to say no to other people, we especially need to learn to say no to OURSELVES.

We’re our own worst critic and nobody expects more from ourselves than we do. Which is when I get 10 new ideas for blog posts, I expect myself to be able to do all of them. When I have an idea for a video, an email, a graphic, a book, I think that every idea I have to say yes to in order to be the superhero version of myself I want to be. I do this with collabs, with my website, with challenges I make up for myself, and with classes and programs that I learn about. It’s the reason why Matt is always having to have an intervention with me at our kitchen counter and say, “You’re trying to do too much. You’re gonna stress yourself out. You can’t do it all.” While we may have thousands of epic and wonderful ideas, it’s impossible to say yes to all of them. By saying yes to every idea, you’re not even able to see one through completely. So learn to slow down, and say no. Say no to family members who demand too much from you, say no to friends who treat you more like an assistant than a friend, say no to coworkers that try to pass off their responsibilities onto you, and above all, say no to yourself. You can’t do it all. 

7. Remind yourself that it’s going to take time

Last but not least, when it comes to creating massive change in our lives, it’s important to remind yourself that it’s going to take time. I’m so guilty of this because I want everything done, perfect, and completed right away. I’ve very impatient when it comes to my progress and I have to remind myself of this almost daily. And I know I’m not the one human being in the world who does this to themselves. I see it in my friends and family too.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and create expectations that we would never expect from anyone else. And we expect that we should be able to get things done immediately. We go to one CrossFit class and immediately think we’re weak and bad at it because we can’t deadlift 200 lbs. Or we take one yoga class a year and get frustrated with ourselves because we can’t do a headstand right away. When it comes to ourselves, we think we should make progress far faster than is reasonable, which is why it’s so important to remind yourself that things take time. All you can do is to try your best, and eventually, you’ll get there. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I hope this post was helpful for you by highlighting the biggest pitfall that millions of us make every January – we expect to make a massive change in our lives overnight. When it comes to accomplishing lifelong goals, breaking bad habits, or creating healthy change in our lives, for some reason, we feel as if we should do it instantaneously. The problem is that many of us have our own little “broken windows” that have to be fixed before we can do that. Like sleeping in too late, eating unhealthy, holding ourselves back, or staying in toxic relationships. But if you take small steps, and make one change at the time, that effort begins to spread like wildfire.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you noticed that you’ve made this mistake before? Or maybe are making it right now? What are some examples where you’ve done this to yourself? Have you thought of any of your own broken windows? How do you think you could create massive changes by using some of these tips I mentioned? Do you have any other suggestions that you think might help people create massive change in their lives? Let me know in the comments!

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.

Announcement: I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m THANKFUL For It

Self-Help

This week’s blog post is a bit different for me. If you’ve read Lost Online for a while, then you’re probably familiar with the fact that’ll I’ll occasionally write about announcements in my life like starting at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition – but never have I shared an announcement THIS personal. 

I’ve debated about sharing this so many times with mental illness being such a sensitive and personal topic but finally decided that keeping this a secret wouldn’t feel authentic. Because I am so passionate about self-help and wellness I really feel called to share my decision with you about seeing a therapist. Keeping such a big decision private (as someone who preaches self-help and wellness each and every week) just isn’t me. I like being honest on my website, even if it’s not always the cool thing to do. 

Very recently, after realizing that I had depression which wasn’t planning on leaving my side anytime soon, I decided to start seeing a therapist. For the first time in my life, I didn’t just entertain the idea or talk about it. I finally picked up my phone, actually made a call, and booked my first ever therapy appointment – a huge step that I wasn’t sure I would ever take. Since that day I keep giving myself mental praise, “Hell yeah, I actually f*cking did it. I took the first freaking step!” It’s not very often I feel proud of myself, but today I am. Up until this point, the idea of seeing a therapist seemed as terrifying to me as much as swimming with a Great White shark. 

So I wanted to come here today, as I normally do, to talk about what prompted me to finally start seeing a therapist NOW in hopes that it will inspire someone else who may be going through something similar and just needs to hear that they’re not alone.

The Build-Up

It’s been nine months since I first moved to St. Petersburg, Fla. with my boyfriend Matt. I could still remember how excited and thrilled I was that I finally graduated from college and was about to start a life with my partner. It was such an exciting time, picking out the decor, signing a lease, grocery shopping together! I was finally growing up and I could not wait. My entire life I looked forward to the day when all this would happen – when my life would start, when I’d have someone to come home to, when I’d finally be FREE to live as I please. I know it sounds crazy, but I honestly thought that once I moved out and had my own place life would be WONDERFUL. It would be perfect. It would be filled with travel, love, beauty, money, friends, adventure, rainbows, and unicorns. LOL. That’s not what happened. 

Here’s what actually happened: Since I first moved to this coast to sunny St. Pete, nothing happened as I expected. There’s been so many big life changes, decisions, and challenges that I didn’t see coming for the life of me. For the first time ever I was in a new town trying to make a life for myself without family or school providing some structure and support. I was alone having to make friends as an adult (which is surprisingly difficult). I’ve tried so many times to make friends with people only to be canceled on and stood up again and again.

I had to get used to a whole other family that’s now in my life with their own opinions and oh so many expectations. I’ve had to deal with WAY more family drama than you would expect both in my family and Matt’s. I’ve been pressured into buying a house before I was ready, with NO ONE around me respecting my feelings. I then fell in love with a house and had that dream taken away after we discovered a disturbing termite infestation and had to resend our offer. 

I felt real financial stress for the first time. I’ve felt the pressure to find a job while being asked every single day, “So did you find a job yet? How’s the job hunt going?” (Apparently, when you are job hunting, it’s the only thing you’re allowed to discuss with people.) I’ve been spewed so much unwarranted advice about job hunting from people who haven’t looked for a job in 20 years. 

I then had months of sleepless nights struggling with the decision to leave my full-time job to pursue what I wanted. Then, I got let go from another job, followed by months of working at home from my kitchen counter leading to a very isolated lifestyle because there’s no “blogger office” you can go into to hang out with people.

That’s not even including the health problems, friend drama, and family issues that are way too private to share online. But the biggest challenge of all – I can’t make one decision in life without someone feeling the need to intervene and share their two cents with me. Wherever I want to live, whichever house I live in, whichever dog I get, SOMEONE has an issue with it. I really believed that once I was on my own that I would be magically liberated from the opinions and judgment of others.

If this is what everyone meant by, “Wait until you get into the real world,” I finally understand what they mean.

That transition period from college to adulthood is extremely overwhelming, and then you throw in health problems, a new city, a new family, and financial stress and it’s no wonder I’ve been so anxious and depressed over the last nine months. There’s been A LOT going on, and those are just the bullet points. 

It reminds me of a quote I just saw on Instagram today that said, “Being an adult is just saying, ‘But things will slow down a bit again’ to yourself until you die.” I think that sentence wraps up the last nine months of my life perfectly. 

How I Discovered That I Had Depression 

All of that brings me to these past few months when I’ve felt so low, so defeated, so disrespected, so helpless that I just felt like, “What’s the point?” “Why even get up early, get a bunch of work done when life keeps handing me one shit sandwich after another?”

My depression stayed while the excitement, motivation, and inspiration fell away. I ended up spending way too many days over the last few months in sweat pants, greasy hair, exhausted for no apparent reason, not feeling like myself at all. So many days I felt lazy, unmotivated with overwhelming sadness or sometimes not feeling anything at all. Sometimes even just getting out of bed in the morning felt like going to war. It seemed impossible. What’s worse is that staying in bed turned into a vicious cycle where I felt guilty and disgusted with myself for not working and getting more done.

Once I was up, I couldn’t even bring myself to take care of myself, do work, eat well, or go to the gym. Some days I would binge on junk food for comfort, other days I wouldn’t eat a thing. Because of how low I felt, I isolated myself more and would hardly leave the apartment. 

It was about nine months of lead up and slowly feeling worse and worse until one day I realized: I don’t think this is normal. This doesn’t seem to be one of my typical “ruts” that might last a few days. It seems more serious than that. 

But I still wasn’t 100% convinced that I was experiencing depression. I thought that in order to be depressed you had to have suicidal thoughts or actions, which I don’t. I still want to live and continue to grow, I still have hopes, dreams, and aspirations, but I still felt terrible and sad most days. So, I became more and more curious about whether or not that’s what I’ve been experiencing. 

This eventually led me to into a google-searching black hole one night. I started looking up articles about how to tell if you have depression and found a long collection of articles that all had similar titles. Most of them said, “30 symptoms of depression,” “20 ways to tell if you have depression,” “12 secret symptoms of depression,” “15 little known side effects of depression.” You get the idea. Well, it turns out, I had ALL of the symptoms and “secret” side effects of depression, aside from one – bed sores.

It turns out that I had depression all along, and just didn’t realize it. It wasn’t until I had every symptom and checked with Google before I finally realized that’s what was going on. It was difficult to finally admit to myself that that’s what I’m going through, especially being someone who’s so immersed in self-help and wellness. I would love nothing more than to “fix” myself and be a perfect, shiny, glimmering example of health, happiness, self-love, and positivity for you. It also was somewhat of a relief though, because there have been too many times when Matt asks me for the third time in one night, “What’s wrong?” Followed by me saying, “I’m tired,” because I honestly don’t know what to say. 

Finally Seeking Help

There have been many times I should have seen a therapist throughout my life, but I never went through with it. I was way too scared to finally take the leap and I had so many irrational fears about what might happen if I actually DID see a therapist. I was afraid of being labeled or being viewed as a freak who couldn’t get their life together. I was scared that I might hear people say to me, “What the f*ck would you have to be depressed about?” Especially if it was my family saying those things. It would make me feel so guilty when they’ve worked so hard to give me the life that I have now. Seeing a therapist seemed almost unfair or even wrong. However, what terrified me the most was the thought of sitting across from a stranger and crying for an hour about my deepest and most personal issues. The thought of that still makes me cringe.

Even though I know SO many people who see therapists and talk about how much it’s helped them through depression, anxiety, family problems, and trauma, I couldn’t bring myself to do it for the longest time. Which only meant that the longer I put it off, the more I built it up in my mind and the scarier it seemed. 

But now here I am, a self-help and wellness blogger that spends days experiencing overwhelming sadness and not being able to get out of bed. I’ve read all the books, listened to all the podcasts, tried all the supplements, adopted all of the self-care rituals, and here I am – experiencing depression. It was that thought that FINALLY made me pick up my phone one day and seek out a therapist. There comes a point when if you experience depression, you can’t leave it up to random authors to play the role of your therapist for you, you need to actually talk with someone. 

So here I am at the start of my own therapy journey and I just had my consultation appointment today (as I’m writing this). After making that initial phone call and setting up my appointment, my fears surprisingly went away and were replaced with an emotion that I was NOT at all expecting: excitement. It appears that all of the overthinking that I did about whether I should or shouldn’t see a therapist for years made that initial phone call scarier than actually sitting down with someone. 

“The problem is not the problem. The problem is the incredible amount of overthinking you’re doing with the problem. Let it go and be free.” – unknown

Viewing Depression in a Positive Light 

Now that I’m finally taking a leap of faith and moving forward with a therapist I’m feeling very hopeful about what’s to come. It’s allowed me to reflect on the last 9 months without being so triggered by it and think about the advice that I wish I could give myself when I first moved to St. Petersburg. I put together three main takeaways that I want to share with you today so that it may reach someone else who needs need to hear this too.

1. Life goes in phases

There will be moments when you feel on top of the world and there will be moments when you’re feeling down. You’ll have the best days of your life, but there will still be the worst days. But as much as it sucks when you’re hurting and life keeps kicking you when you’re down, those times are necessary. It would be impossible to feel on top of the world all the time or else you wouldn’t appreciate it. If everything went your way you wouldn’t realize how special it was and would take it for granted. 

That’s why it’s important to honor the highs and the lows equally. To feel happy and grateful when things are going well and to trust that everything is working in your greatest favor when they are not. 

2. It’s always darkest before dawn

Just as I shared in my latest blog post, “How to Recognize Universal Signs, things falling apart of “bad” things happening is a good thing. A lot of the time, it’s actually the universe working in your favor. I believe that many of the good things that happen to us would be brought into fruition without something falling apart. Just like how you wouldn’t have met your soulmate unless you broke up with that douchebag you used to date in college!

I’m going to go ahead and quote myself for a minute, in case you haven’t read the last blog post yet.

“We can’t expand, fulfill our purpose, or become our highest selves if everything is going well and if everything was EASY. We can’t continue to improve and learn important lessons if everything is rainbows and unicorns all the time. We’d be way too comfortable. And if there’s one thing that I know in this world, it’s that you can’t grow inside your comfort zone…Challenges happen because it’s the universe pushing you to level up.” – Heather Ione Clark

It reminds me of one of my absolute favorite quotes in the world, from author J.K. Rowling: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” If it wasn’t for her challenges, the world would have never been blessed with the magical, wizarding world of Harry Potter!

But just as much as I believe that challenging times happen to us so that we can reach our soul’s purpose, I also believe that the rough periods are happening to us for another reason. We all have lessons that we’re meant to learn in this lifetime so that we can evolve and become our highest selves. Even though it’s much easier to take the victim mentality, instead look at it from the perspective of, “What can I learn from this?”

When I take this healthier and more positive perspective, I’m able to understand that this depression I’ve been experiencing is happening for a greater purpose – it will help me to grow, finally address traumas that I haven’t let go of, and it will help me to inspire others to seek help too. 

3. It’s ok to not be ok

It’s ok if you’re not always feeling “#blessed” like how you are in your Instagram captions. Let’s be honest, we all have crap days and years that don’t quite go how we imagined they would. And that’s ok. I don’t think I’ve met one person who didn’t struggle with some trauma, whether it be a broken relationship with a parent, a sexual assault, or an eating disorder. We all have our things.

When I first decided to see a therapist, I debated not sharing this with you. I didn’t want to admit that even I feel the need to see a therapist. Because I’m a self-help and wellness writer, I should be 100% ok, right? False. Even your super hot personal trainer eats cake sometimes. We’re all human here. 

But I’m sharing this because although this blog is all about self-help, health, and wellness, I’m not claiming to be PERFECT. I’m not claiming to have it all figured out. This is about my journey, my advice that I learn along the way, and above all – transparency. Sharing the not so gram-able moments about my life in hopes to help someone else. Because I know other young women just like me share the same challenges, and I want them to know that it’s ok to NOT be ok. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I really hope you enjoyed this week’s post and it helped you to reflect on your own experience. Lastly, I just want to say that if you’re having a similar experience as me, don’t be afraid to make the call. Those few minutes it takes to call someone are scarier than actually sitting down and talking things out. Trust me, you will be so happy and so proud of yourself that you took the first step. 

“At any given moment we have two choices: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you recently taken the first step to see a therapist? Do you currently see a therapist? Looking back at the time of your life when you decided to seek help, what are some of your own takeaways? What advice would you give to others who are going through a hard time? Do you believe that “bad” things happen for a reason? Do you believe that we’re meant to learn something from moments like this? Even if you don’t AND even if you haven’t seen a therapist, let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

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.

Why We Self Sabotage & How to Recognize The Signs

Self-Help

Take a good, long look at the main image for this post. It’s definitely visually interesting and catches your eye for sure, but it’s more than just a cool picture. If you look closely in the background, you will be able to see some of the examples of how I personally self-sabotage. Like the crumpled and empty bag of chips: the go-to food that I binge on when I really want to feel like garbage. Or the Apple Watch left on the charger when I’ve given up on working out. Or the Amazon boxes representing how I often online shop to make myself feel better (even though I always end up feeling guilty afterwards).

I write about self-sabotage because I have become so familiar with it. I’ve walked through life hand and hand with self-sabotage for a VERY long time without even realizing it. It wasn’t until the last two years when I really started to understand what self-sabotage was and the impact that it had on my life. Since then, I’ve become much more aware of how to recognize the signs of self-sabotage before it starts to control me.

So, what is self-sabotage?

Self-sabotage is deciding what you want and then doing everything that you can to make sure that it doesn’t happen for you. It’s knowing exactly what you need to improve yourself and make yourself happier, but not doing it. It’s staying in your comfort zone because it’s safe and familiar even though you want to change your life. Self-sabotage is always VERY sneaky and can easily go unnoticed as it often takes the shape of prostration or perfectionism, which means that most of the time we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.

Although it might be hard to spot, it’s the absolute worst place you could be in. Self-sabotage is like putting yourself in a prison and taking away your opportunity to grow and explore in virtually every way. It interferes with every aspect of your life and as a result, it keeps you from accomplishing life-long goals. 

Self-sabotage is pretty straight forward: you want one thing, but you do the exact opposite in efforts to keep yourself from making progress. It could be binge-watching Netflix and eating junk food even though you want more than anything to be in shape. Or it could be waiting years for the “perfect” moment to start a blog or a business.

It’s something that you do subconsciously every day to the point where it becomes automatic. But the problem isn’t just that one night you decided to reach for ice cream and cookies out of comfort. The problem is that slowly those little moments build up over time and drastically change your life. Those hundreds of days of unhealthy eating and bingeing become an extra 50 pounds. That choosing to never leave your job and start a business means never being the entrepreneur you’ve always dreamed you’d be. The very real danger of self-sabotage is that someday you could look back on your life disappointed and discontent. You’ll look back and know that you never did get in shape, write that book, build that business, travel the world, or learn another language and wonder why.

So, why then? Why would we sabotage our OWN efforts throughout our lives and prevent the very things from happening that we want most? Well, it’s not that we’re masochists that want to see ourselves suffer for the joy of it.

What causes self-sabotage?

I recently started reading the book The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz which helped to give me some insight about what causes self-sabotage in the first place. Bare with me until the end, because I swear this comes full circle. 

In the earlier parts of “The Four Agreements,” Ruiz discusses how we as children, from the moment we are born, we are domesticated just like animals. We don’t grow up having the opportunity to choose what we want to believe. We are told what to believe. We are taken under the wing of our parents, teachers, neighbors, or church, and taught the beliefs of the adults around us. We are taught the beliefs, the stories, and the opinions of our community and how we should view the world.

We were taught the names of everything based on the language of the adults in our lives; we were taught what we should believe about history; how we should dress; what we should eat; what holidays we should celebrate and how we should celebrate them; how we should connect with a higher power; what political party to affiliate with; and above all – how to behave. Then we were rewarded or punished based on how “good” we were. The reward is the attention that we receive from other people when we make them happy. We are rewarded many times throughout the day and punished many times throughout the day. But the reward feels good so we keep doing what’s expected of us.

For example, if you were a good girl or boy all year round, you got a stocking at Christmas filled with toys. If you played baseball and got home runs, your parents clapped excitedly with pride in their eyes. But just as you were rewarded for being “good,” you were also punished for being “bad.” The punishment was receiving anger and disappointment or even worse – being ignored. Like if you told your devoted Catholic parents that you didn’t want to go to church. This happened at any time, for any reason, in countless little moments throughout our upbringing. 

As children, we try to please mom and dad, our teaches, our peers, or the church and so we start acting out of fear of being punished which usually manifests as rejection. Eventually, we become a copy of mom’s beliefs, dad’s beliefs, teacher’s beliefs, society’s beliefs, and friends’ beliefs. And we believe things like: women are supposed to be caretakers, men are supposed to be breadwinners, you have to be successful in life by making a six-figure income, you have to be beautiful and grow your hair out for boys to like you, you must go to college, travel is a waste of money, etc. 

As children we couldn’t choose our values, morals, and beliefs, we could only agree with the information that was passed on to us – we could only make an agreement. We agree with that information, we store it, we embody it and that information slowly becomes a belief system that controls our entire lives. Eventually, the domestication is so successful that we don’t need anyone to domesticate us. We do it ourselves. It becomes automatic that we do certain things in life, behave a certain way, dress a certain way because that’s what makes other people approve.

As Ruiz puts it, “The human mind is like a fertile ground where seeds are continually being planted. The seeds are opinions, ideas, and concepts. You plant a seed, a thought, and it grows.”

During this domestication process as children, our family and the people around us gave their opinions about us without even thinking or understanding the impact that their words could have. They planted a seed in our minds and it grew. We believed theses opinions and lived in fear of the opinions because they meant that we were not good enough. If you don’t believe me, talk to any woman who was told as a 13-year-old-girl by some boy at school that she was hideous and unattractive. Ask her how that impacted her. Ask any therapist if what people say to us as we’re growing up causes us to develop an opinion about ourselves. Of course, it does.

Words are powerful. They have the ability to drastically change a person’s opinion about the world and about themselves, especially when that person is a child or a teenager. They internalize everything that happens to them – their entire perspective and life story is based on it. 

But it’s not just what children hear about them that plants seeds. We also are affected by the negative thoughts that parents or other adults have about themselves or others as we are growing up. For example, if the women in your family are self-conscious about their looks and their weight and talk about it around you a lot, this will give you ideas about what makes a person’s body perfect or ugly. Hearing negative things about how people look or how they should look better creates an idea about what YOU should look like to be accepted.

Why do we self-sabotage?

This is how self-sabotage starts to come into play. Ruiz put it so well in “The Four Agreements” when he wrote…

“During the process of domestication, we form an image of what perfection is in order to try to be good enough. We create an image of how we should be in order to be accepted by everybody. We especially try to please the ones who love us, like Mom and Dad, big brothers and sisters, the priests and the teacher. Trying to be good enough for them, we create an image of perception, but we don’t fit this image. We create this image, but this image is not real. We are never going to be perfect from this point of view…Not being perfect, we reject ourselves. And the level of self-rejection depends upon how effective the adults were in breaking our integrity. After domestication is no longer about being good enough for anyone else. We are not good enough for ourselves because we don’t fit with our image of perfection. We cannot forgive ourselves for not being what we wish to be, or rather what we believe we should be. We cannot forgive ourselves for not being perfect.”

That is why we self-sabotage. Through our environment, we heard hundreds of thousands of other people’s ideas, standards, conversations, comments, and compliments and we develop our own idea about how we should be to be perfect. We got lost in all of the outside beliefs and we got the idea that we were NOT that. That we are flawed and unworthy. And that as much as we want to be happy, healthy, vibrant, loved, fulfilled – we don’t deserve it.

For that reason, we sabotage our own efforts. Who are we to deserve to be healthy and happy? Who are we to have all of our dreams come true? We don’t deserve it. We’re not ___(fill in the blank)___ enough. So we get in our own way. We prevent ourselves from growing, improving, and moving forward because we don’t see ourselves as the perfect person who is truly deserving of those accomplishments. We self sabotage slowly over many years, and sometimes even a lifetime, preventing the very things from happening that we want the most.

However, as toxic as self-sabotage can be, it’s also 100% preventable. It’s never too late to realize what we’re doing and make changes. It’s never too late to become a better version of ourselves and get out of our own way. The other great thing about self-sabotage is that once you realize that you’re doing it, it’s easy to stop. You realize how your subconscious mind is controlling your life and you become aware enough to make better choices. Suddenly it seems ridiculous that you would ever consider doing those things to yourself.

Recognizing Self Sabotage 

With that in mind, I put together a list of 11 ways that we self-sabotage so that next time you’re doing these things without thinking you can catch yourself in the act and make a change. You can decide at that moment to avoid the self-destructive and sabotaging behavior and instead choose to operate from a place of self-worth and self-respect. Take a look …

1. Procrastination

Of course, I had to mention procrastination first because it’s something that we are all incredibly guilty of. It’s also something that you can do disguised as something productive. I remember whenever I had to work on a super important project in school, suddenly THAT was the time I felt motivated to spend an hour and a half at the gym or to remove EVERYTHING from my closet Marie Kondo style, donate half my clothes, and then reorganize. But no way would I want to do those things at any other point. One of my absolute favorite parts of the book You Are A Badass,” by Jen Sincero is from her chapter “Procrastination, Perfection, and a Polish Beer Garden,” where she writes… 

“Procrastination is one of the most popular forms of self-sabotage because it’s so easy. There are so many fun things you can do in order to procrastinate, and there’s no lack of other people who are totally psyched to procrastinate with you. And while it can be super fun in the moment, eventually the naughtiness buzz wears off and you’re sitting there a few years later, feeling like a loser, wondering why the hell you still haven’t gotten your act together. And why other people you know are getting big fat promotions at their jobs or taking trips around the world or talking about the latest orphanage they’ve opened in Cambodia on NPR.”

Remember that next time you find yourself putting off something that you have to do for your number one dream in life and suddenly that naughtiness buzz won’t feel so good anymore. 

2. Hesitation

The second most popular way that we self-sabotage is by something that seems 100% harmless, and it’s hesitation. Like hesitating to start the business that you want and thinking it over for months, if not years, weighing the risks in your head again and again. Hesitating to book that two-month trip to Southeast Asia you’ve been saying you were going to do since you were 14. Hesitating to pay for that program that you know will help you level up in your career. Hesitating to create that Match.com profile when you’ve been single for years and all you want is to find someone you could spend your life with.

In a way, hesitation is very similar to procrastination but it’s your brain’s way of trying to protect you because that thing that you want to do for your own growth, expansion, and happiness is foreign. And your brain HATES anything unfamiliar. It’s much easier and appears much more pleasant to stay in your comfort zone and not do that thing, but you know that the only person it’s hurting is you. Anyone who has grown mentally, physically, or spiritually will tell you that it wasn’t comfortable, but it was worth it. 

3. Perfectionism 

Perfectionism, my number one favorite way to self-sabotage. I’m so guilty of needing everything to be flawless in order to move forward, especially when it comes to my website and my brand. If something is not completely perfect in my mind, it’s garbage. Like right now, it kills me that my website is not absolutely professional and flawless in my eyes.

But the truth is, “perfect” is a made-up concept, and every single person’s idea of perfect is entirely different based on their own experiences, opinions, and preferences. I know this because I once showed my resume to over 20 people before I sent it off to employers and not a single one of them agreed on what makes a “perfect” resume. They all had entirely different opinions on wording, formatting, or content. After months of showing it to each one of my professors, several women at the career center, my peers, and professionals in the industry, I finally understood for the first time that perfect is bullsh*t. Every single person has a different idea about what perfect is and that made-up idea of our own concept of perfection is completely unattainable. Needing something to be flawless does nothing at the end of the day but keep you in place and prevent you from moving forward because there will always be something that you need to improve.

DONE is far better than perfect. By getting something DONE rather than trying to make it perfect you are getting out of your own way and taking the first step towards accomplishing your bigger goals in life. Twenty YouTube videos published is far better than spending months creating one “perfect” video. A month of showing up to the gym but not having your “best” workouts is far better than killing it in the gym once. It’s far better to focus on getting things done and on making incremental improvements over time.

4. Setting unrealistic goals 

Another way that we sabotage ourselves is by setting goals and deadlines that are nearly impossible to achieve. Like setting a goal to build your entire website in one weekend, apply to 25 jobs, finish the book you just started last night, finish a project, and go vegan. We set goals that are so difficult to accomplish in such a short time period that we are bound to fail – further proving to ourselves that we do in fact suck and don’t deserve the things that would make us happy.

I do this one to myself so often, it should be called pulling a Heather. I love to put so much on my plate that it’s impossible to keep up with. But this one can easily go unnoticed too because it can be disguised as being motivated. It can appear that we’re just “go-getters” that want to be successful. Maybe some people can accomplish all of those things in a short period of time. Some people do in fact work well under pressure. But it’s a clear sign of self-sabotage if you find yourself setting big goals for yourself left and right and then being unable to follow through with any of them. 

5. Negative self-talk

Do you know that little voice in your head that tells you terrible things about yourself and is hypercritical of everything you do? That’s your negative self-talk. And while it may seem harmless because it lives inside your head and isn’t noticed by anyone else, it is truly harmful. Negative self-talk will subtly undermine everything that you’re trying to do. It convinces you that you’re not talented enough, smart enough and pretty enough, and prevents you from reaching your potential by convincing yourself that you’re not good enough to do it. That you might as well not even try. This form of self-sabotage is especially sneaky because it could cause all of the other forms on this list: hesitation, perfectionism, comparison, EVERYTHING.

My favorite writer and number one girl crush, Elizabeth Gilbert, wrote in her book “Eat Pray Love,” “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select what clothes you’re gonna wear every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control. Drop everything else but that. Because if you can’t learn to master your thinking, you’re in deep trouble forever.”

6. Self-comparison 

Self-comparison is one form of self-sabotage that is SUPER hard for anyone to avoid when we live in a time where we have social media and have access to everyone else’s highlights and accomplishments 24/7. Comparing yourself to someone else is allowing yourself to get so wrapped up in someone else’s life that it makes you blind to your own progress, accomplishments, or highlights.

I do this to myself all the time. I compare myself to the women that I admire the most in the world who all have created successful blogs, books, and podcasts. Many of them even became millionaires simply making a career for themselves sharing what they’re passionate about. For example, I’ll catch myself comparing my own journey with my blog to the life of Jenna Kutcher (one of the most successful bloggers in the world). I’ll compare how many posts I’ve written, how my website looks, or how big of a following I have, while completely becoming blind to the fact that I’m improving as a content creator EVERY WEEK. 

The problem with self-comparison is that someone else’s perfection is an illusion and we have no clue about the challenges or rejection that person had to face to get where they are or what they have today. So focusing on someone else’s comparison is nothing but a big waste of time. Because not only do people not share their hardships but comparing yourself to someone else does nothing but drain you and fuel the negative self-talk. That energy would be spent so much better by working on yourself.

Next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to another person, refocus your energy to how you can improve yourself. Catch yourself comparing your body to someone else’s body? Put your sneakers on and your AirPods in and go to the gym. Find yourself comparing yourself to someone who just published a book? Start writing YOURS or brainstorm ideas or start learning how to self publish. Stop sabotaging and start DOING. 

7. Not trusting yourself 

This form of self-sabotage stems from the fact that we’ve all been consuming information since the day we were born and hearing other people’s opinions and beliefs whether we want to or not. So it can be the most difficult thing in the world to trust YOURSELF. It’s so easy to trust your parents, neighbors, co-workers, and friends opinions about how you should live but it’s not easy to trust ourselves. 

It’s unfortunate that we are the one person who understands our values, needs, and beliefs more than anyone else, yet we’ve been programmed to distrust our own abilities and our own instincts. Our own thoughts are useless while we get hung up on others. This is extremely self-sabotaging because even though you may know that college is not the right path for you, or that your dream is to move across the world, or that you’ve found your soul mate, you don’t trust that instinct and do the exact opposite. You end up living in a house that’s not right for you, but your parents approve of it. You end up going to college when you’ve always wanted to go to cosmetology school. Or you end up living in the middle of nowhere when you’ve known your entire life you want to live in a big city. Not trusting yourself and your own feelings, you end up creating your life for other people. And while they may be pleased and you have to listen to fewer passive-aggressive comments around the holidays, you’ll end up being miserable.

The biggest regret that people have on their deathbed is that they lived for other people and did what they were “supposed” to do rather than what they wanted to do. They didn’t trust in their own feelings, opinions, and beliefs enough to create the life that they imagined for themselves. 

8. Not doing it 

Playing off of number seven, the next big way that people sabotage themselves is by just not doing it. By not doing it, I mean giving up altogether because you’re afraid of the outcome if you really were to go for it – whatever “it” is. It’s being so worried about what could happen, doubting your own abilities, or comparing yourself to others to the point where you throw your hands in the air and say, “F*ck it! I might as well not even try.” “I might as well not even try to open up my own massage studio because it will be terrible and no one will come and I don’t know how to start my own business anyways.”

Instead, you hold yourself back all together. This one is incredibly sad because whenever someone adopts this mindset, it’s so obvious that they don’t believe in themselves enough and they fear and comparison control their life. Their faith in themselves is so low that they don’t even bother chasing their biggest dream, or getting in shape, or trying to improve themselves. When I think of this form of self-sabotage I keep hearing Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh in my head saying, “Why bother?”

9. Not creating time

Another very subtle way that people sabotage themselves is simply not creating time for something. You may expect yourself to succeed in making life changes but you don’t designate any time or mental space to accomplish them. You say you want to write a book, but you NEVER set time aside for writing days. Or you say that you’re going to learn a new skill but you never create time in the day to practice. That’s why one of the easiest ways to get yourself to do something is not by making a to-do list or setting a goal, it’s by putting it on your calendar. We all know that one person who’s been saying that they were going to learn __(fill in the blank)___ for years, but they never actually do it. Or that one person who always says they’re going to run a half marathon, but never trains. By not creating any time to actually accomplish goals, you become that person who’s all talk and no action. 

10. Self-generating stress

This next one is very similar to setting unrealistic goals, but in this one, we purposefully stress ourselves out. It’s where you turn into a bit of a masochist and intentionally put tons of stress on yourself. Growing up, I knew plenty of people who did this. I went to schools where virtually everyone was an overachiever who took mostly AP classes, popped Adderall like candy, and wanted to get into Ivy League schools. I knew so many people who had to be taking all AP classes, and play Varsity sports and be in multiple school clubs (which they had to be the president of). I watched so many of my peers put so much stress and pressure on themselves that they lived on the edge of a nervous breakdown at all times.

The difficult thing about this form of self-sabotage is that it also can be disguised as being motivated and hard working. But the problem with this form of self-sabotage is that you’re always living in a state of stress, unhappiness and being overwhelmed. You can’t even relax and be proud of yourself for accomplishing one thing because you immediately have something else to focus on that stresses you out. It’s similar to whenever it was finals week in school and you have 6 or 7 exams to take. You get incredibly stressed out about your math exam and focus all of your energy on it the night before, but once it’s over all you have is a temporary moment of relief before you begin stressing out and panicking about your AP Psych final the next day.

The major issues that I see with this form of self-sabotage are that it makes you unhappy and sucks all of the joy and contentment out of life. You become so consumed with filling up your life with the stress that there’s no time or moment of quiet reflection and pride for your accomplishments, there’s only room for being overwhelmed. The other problem that these so-called “overachievers” fail to realize is that by constantly piling on more stress, more projects, more goals, and more meetings, it prevents you from actually doing something WELL. You may get things done, usually in a panic and in a hurry, but was it really your best work? Sure you read 10 books this week, but did you really comprehend them? 

11. Focusing on low priority tasks

The final way that we sabotage our own efforts is by working on low priority tasks and avoiding high priority tasks leaving them undone. This is another way that I personally self-sabotage. It’s kind of like when you write an entire to-do list and then do all the super easy ones first that only take two minutes, but days later you still didn’t do the most important things.

This form of self-sabotage prevents you from leveling up and doing the things that really set you apart and make you happy. The things that might not have been easy or comfortable, but create the most growth. Those items are the things that make the difference between being the person that you want to be and the person who held themselves back through self-sabotage and settled for a life that was comfortable but mediocre. 

How do you put an end to self-sabotaging behaviors? 

At this point, I’m willing to bet you found several examples of self-sabotage that you do. You might have even realized that you self-sabotage more than you realized. However, the good thing about self-sabotage is that it’s a bad habit that CAN be broken. All it takes is awareness and a little bit of time. 

You’ve read through many common examples of self-sabotage and now understand where those destructive behaviors come from, so you’ll be able to catch yourself doing them and make a change. You can decide at that moment to avoid the self-destructive and sabotaging behaviors and instead choose to operate from a place of self-love.

It won’t happen right away, and this process could take several weeks or even months to break, but I believe it can be done. It just takes making SMALL changes in behaviors. It takes noticing that you’re procrastinating filling up your gas tank and making the decision to do it right now. Or realizing that you haven’t given yourself time to finish a project and clearing up a few weekends to make it happen. You’ll start to recognize those behaviors and over time those bad habits will be replaced with ones that HELP you rather than HURT you. 

To start, I recommend identifying the areas of self-sabotage that you do and pick one thing at a time that you want to work on. Because trying to make massive changes all at once isn’t realistic and will only lead to failure. You can’t possibly break every single self-sabotaging behavior that you’ve accumulated throughout your life all at once. 

Instead, pick one small thing to work on at a time and that will help you to create larger transformations in your life. It could be any one of the things that I’ve mentioned above – like procrastination or setting unrealistic goals or perfectionism, or it could be another form of self-sabotage that you discovered about yourself like disorganization. 

Although it may be difficult to work on banishing self-sabotage over the next few months, imagine how much your life would improve if you did. Imagine how much it could help you to get the body of your dreams, build your business, learn something new, or perform better at work all because you learn to let go of those behaviors that weren’t serving you. You may not be able to go back in time and change the past and all of that information you absorbed during domestication or your self-proclaimed idea of perfection, but you could change your future.

Lastly, I recommend telling yourself that you’re worthy. We are bombarded with so many ideas about how we SHOULD be that it can be so easy to believe that we aren’t good enough. In order to completely get rid of self-sabotage, you have to address the root of the problem, otherwise, your subconscious may just get more creative with how to sabotage you. Remind yourself each and every day that you are worthy of everything that you’ve ever wanted: health, happiness, success, and love. I personally do this by picking one mantra in the morning that I repeat to myself throughout the day and that helps me to work on my self-talk and self-worth. You can choose to work on it however you want, as long as you DO address it. Your bad *ss future self will thank you.

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Did you realize find any of these forms of self-sabotage that spoke to you? Were you more guilty of self-sabotaging behaviors than you realize? Share ONE way you self-sabotage and how you’re planning on working on it over the next few weeks! Also, have you ever read, “The Four Agreements?” What are you thoughts on the book? Or was there any particular part of this post that helped you? I would love nothing more than to hear from you!

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.

I Interview Top Hair Stylist & Blogger Kourtnee Jinright (The Colour Chemist) – Hair Care, Managing Anxiety & Depression, and Following Your Passion

Beauty, Interviews, Self-Help

I’m super excited about this blog post today because I’m interviewing one of my absolute favorite people, and the HIGHLY talented hair stylist, Kourtnee Jinright.

If you know of Kourtnee already then you probably know her at “The Colour Chemist.” Three years ago I sat in her salon chair as she took me from my natural reddish-brown hair to full-blown platinum blonde. (I was going through something back then!) Since then, she’s grown so much both personally and professionally and it’s been so exciting to watch her journey!

Kourtnee is now the top stylist at a brand new salon in St. Augustine, Florida, ZA Salon, she’s a Kerastase Ambassador, and most importantly she makes a living following her passion. She’s built a following on social media channels by educating other women about hair, inspiring other women to chase their dreams and opening up about her struggle with anxiety and depression.

In a world of filters and pretend online relationships, Kourtnee is so authentic. She’s not afraid to be goofy, or vulnerable, or to share her experience. But what I love about Kourtnee more than anything is how supportive she is – how she fiercely encourages the women in her life as they try to follow their passion too. Not only is she someone I look up to, but she’s also a Lost Online reader and a friend. And when I asked her to do this interview she was over the moon!

Here are Kourtnee’s answers to my burning questions about everything from following your passion, to hair, to self-growth, and conscious technology use! I hope you enjoy!

Hair & Beauty

Q: I’ve been following you for many years now and I’ve also sat in your salon chair, so I know how you absolutely adore Kerastase and that you’re also an ambassador for Kerastase! What is it about the brand that you love? What makes you believe in the brand enough to use on your own hair and your clients?

A: I am so in love with Kerastase and its ability to transform the hair. Kerastase is known for taking your hair and giving you your goal hair. My hair was destroyed about 1 ½ years ago and I can’t even begin to tell you how much it changed my hair. It’s unbelievable. I ventured out and used other brands for 8 months on my clients’ hair and their hair drastically changed. When I told some of my clients that I was going back to Kerastase, they about died of happiness inside. It is worth every penny. I cannot sell you anything I don’t believe in, it’s not in my blood to do so.. I am an awful liar so if I’m in love with something, I really, truly mean it. I love the education Kerastase gives and how luxurious it is. It’s based in Paris, France. They are always changing the technology and revamping their brand to be the best of the best at ALL times. My goal is to teach with Kerastase. What a dream! 🙂

Q: Most women I know would kill to have long, thick, gorgeous hair – BUT most of us have also made the mistake of damaging it through improper hair care and dying. What’s your advice for people trying to grow hair out and improve the health of their hair?

A: The best advice I can give you is to be on a proper hair care regiment. I cannot stress enough how important this is for everyone. While a lot of products may feel great on the outside, it can actually cause buildup on the inside and you’ll remain stagnant. If you are trying to grow out your hair, I recommend the Kerastase’ Extensioniste line to improve the health and length. If you’re in need to seek more information, please DM me through Instagram at @thecolourchemist.

Q: How do you keep your hair healthy? Do you use any special products, supplements, or care practices? 

A: Keeping your hair healthy is the same as keeping your skin or body healthy. I have found that Kerastase products help almost every issue. Vitamins are always a go-to, however eating healthy/staying active ensures that your hair is growing at the appropriate rate. One thing I have clients say is, “I know I need a haircut, but I want it to grow longer so I’ll pass on it today.” Did you know by doing that your split ends will grow up the shaft and create more damage to your hair? In the long run, you’ll have to cut off more hair because of this. I understand no one WANTS to cut their hair when they’re growing it out, but trust me that this method WORKS.

Q: What do you suggest for split end remedies?

A: Split ends are a nightmare, right? We all have them after a while. I recommend getting a haircut every 4-8 weeks depending on the haircut you have now. If you put any heat on your hair, I would suggest on getting my favorite heat protection from Kerastase which is Serum Therapiste. This dual pump not only give you 450 degree heat protection, but also is a repair serum. It has plant stem cells to resurrect the hair back to its natural state over time. If you do not put heat on your hair, try using the Ciment Thermique from Kerastase. Say goodbye to spit ends with their number one product! 

Q: What hair trends do you think we’ll be seeing this coming season?

A: The shag is in as of right now, a lot of ‘lived in’ looks are coming back. People are wanting more of a natural look with low maintenance. Texture is another thing that everyone is searching for. Extensions are also HUGE right now. It’s a vibe, let me tell you. 😉

Following Your Passion

Q: I wanted to say congratulations on becoming the TOP STYLIST at Za Salon! I’ve seen you come so far over the last few years and grow so much in your career! I’ve been watching all of your videos about the salon opening and it’s been really cool to be able to see the process of setting up the space and promoting it. I can tell you’re incredibly passionate about it. I’m curious, what makes Za Salon special? What sets it apart from the experience you’d have at another salon?

A: Thank you so much! I appreciate the kind words. 🙂 When you walk into Za Salon you will enter a luxurious space. You will be offered champagne, wine, french press Kookaburra coffee, tea, water, or beer. We go above and beyond to make sure that your experience is like nothing you’ve ever had. We also have snacks followed along with a cold hand towel with essential oils to cool you off with this Florida heat. While our associates are giving you a nice massage on your scalp, you will also be offered a complimentary hand massage. This salon has a lot of great energy and it is very calm. The owner of Za Salon is Patty Meradith and I can confidently say hands down say she has built the number 1 salon in St. Augustine. The opportunity that she gives us on education to expand our horizons is out of this world. I am so thankful that Patty offered me the position as well as giving me windows of growth. She is also a barber which is badass!

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a hairstylist?

A: I NEVER thought in a million years that I would be a hairstylist. I got out of high school and knew that college wasn’t for me. I needed to do something that didn’t require too much schooling. My dad made the suggestion and I remember looking at him with an appalled look. My answer was, ‘I REFUSE to work at hair cuttery!’ My dad looked at me and chuckled. He was like, ‘Kourtnee, you can work in a salon…’ My dad raised me and I was LUCKY if I got conditioner. I would receive suave and get a haircut twice a year so I didn’t know what else was out there. I went to cosmetology school knowing that this is a smart backup plan if I didn’t love it. Turns out it’s my passion! I’m so grateful that my dad had said something to me when he did or I wouldn’t have found an interest in it. The universe works in mysterious ways. 

Q: Did you receive support from friends and family in the beginning? Or did you feel pressure to prove that you could be successful in a creative industry?

A: When I first started, I didn’t want to practice on any of my friends because I knew their cuts/color wouldn’t be perfect. I didn’t want to ruin my reputation. It took me an hour just to shave my father’s hair. I was so nervous and insecure at the time. St. Augustine is a small town and I was always worried/felt pressure that people would write bad reviews about me. However, I am human and still to this day I make mistakes. Every day is another day full of growth and opportunity. If you make a mistake, take that as a lesson and try harder next time. 

Q: What was the biggest challenge that you faced pursuing this career?

A: My biggest challenge in this career was figuring out where my route was. I knew with being a hairstylist, this would come with a lot of fear and growth. About a year ago, I was in a dark place. I was in a situation where I wasn’t being heard, and I was at a standstill with my growth. I was being held back while being taken advantage of. I made the decision to go from a salon that was commission to booth rental. Being in a salon, you’re an employee and the owner is in control of color, products, your schedule, pricing,  etc. Being in booth rental, you are your own boss. While this might seem super cool, this was actually TERRIFYING. I had NO idea what direction to go to but I had no other choice but to think quick, make moves, and do what was best for not only my clients, but for ME. I was my own boss for about 8 months and even though it was GREAT, I found that I lost motivation. I recommend that if you’re someone who needs accountability, then being in a salon is meant for you. If you are okay being solo, then booth rental is a great option. Either way there is no wrong route. It’s just finding what brings out the best in you. I am finally at a point in my career where I have all the growth that I could ask for. This challenge made me the stylist I am today. 

Photos by Autumn Dozier @autumn.dozier.

Q: What’s your advice for women/men who want to go into hair?

A: My advice going into hair school would be to go in with an open mind. Focus solely on JUST what you went to school for. Do not feed into the drama, do not take things personally, you WILL mess up but just focus. You can get so wrapped up in what others say and think of you and it’s NOT worth it. Have patience and know that you will learn everything you need to know when you are finished with cosmetology school. I had girls that were very rude to me and  I look back at it now and laugh. They aren’t even in the industry anymore. So just remember if something like that comes around, go back to the mindset of why you are there. 

Q: I saw that this past year you started a blog as well! What inspired you to start your blog and put your knowledge and experience about hair and fashion into writing?

A: I started a blog because I wanted to reach out to other people around the world than just St. Augustine. Once I feel myself getting bored, I’m onto another idea. This was so great, however I am at a pause with blogging at the moment because I’m transitioning into a new salon and moving forward with Kerastase. My girlfriend is an amazing writer and speaker. She motivated me to write out all the things that I am passionate about. She gave me great advice on how to move forward with it. She has always told me that I would reach so many other stylists/guests if I wrote it down and she was right. I am not the best writer, but every day I am trying my best for it to become a strength. I wanted the blog to not only be about hair, but to include fashion and lifestyle. 

Q: How do you stay inspired to create almost every single day? Creating every single day seems like it could get overwhelming from time to time. 

A: Being a hairdresser has its pros and cons for sure. I work four full days a week now because I found that if decompress in those three days, I can give my 100% to each and every client that comes through the door. It’s not easy when you have 4-12 clients a day coming in with different energy while still trying to maintain your own. I can for the most part leave work at work, but sometimes when your clients go through tough times you feel for them. Sometimes it comes home with you. I balance all of this out with self care. I go to therapy, I do yoga, I read, write, eat healthy, spend time alone, rest, spend time with loved ones, and meditate. This isn’t just a job where you do hair. This requires every ounce of energy that you have. Once your tank is on empty, you have to fill it back up with your self care. Some stylists can go and work 6 days a week and that’s great! For me, being an introvert/extrovert… I have to decompress a little more than others and that is OKAY! I’m perfectly okay knowing that my mental health is more important than the money. 

Q: One of the reasons why I absolutely love to follow you is because all of the hilarious memes you share about the perspective of hair stylists! It’s actually been very eye opening and showed me some of the dumb things that we say to stylists without even realizing it. If there’s anything that you wish you could tell your clients completely unfiltered, what would it be?

A: I love memes! Meme culture can reach all different age groups which I love! It’s a good way to have content and it’s totally relatable. I wanted to post memes on the regular because I feel that it’s not all serious. We want you to know that we understand your struggles too! There are a few things that us hairstylists wish we could say, but sometimes people might take it the wrong way. When we don’t talk, it’s not because we don’t want to… it’s because your head naturally moves a lot while talking. This makes it harder for us to foil/cut/ install extensions. 

Self-Growth

Q: As a fellow self-growth and self-improvement junkie (: what practices have you incorporated in your life that have helped you with personal development and accomplishing your goals?

A: I noticed that I cut out all the people who didn’t help me grow. It was a really tough thing to do and it may sound harsh but the people I cut out, didn’t do anything for me. They were in my way and taking time out of my life that I just didn’t want to entertain anymore. I had to overcome some fears. Another couple of things that I have done are waking up earlier in the morning to clean a little and get a fresh start to my day. I have weekly workout routines, I got a planner, I go outside my comfort zone, always challenging myself, I have been listening more, doing the hobbies that I love to do. I talk and write to myself A LOT.

Q: What got you interested in self-growth and self-improvement?

A: I knew that I couldn’t love someone else until I loved myself. That struck me instantly and made me change as an individual. I loved my partner so much that I had to let go and grow. So I started to incorporate yoga into my self growth. My yoga teacher told me to bring my hands into a lotus pose. She told me that lotus flowers start off in a dark place. They live in murky water but they eventually blossom from the muddy waters. Now, I am at a place that I can confidently say that I love myself. I feel like a lotus flower is a perfect example of self growth. Everyday we grow and improve. We are all evolving and changing and that’s the most beautiful thing. 

Q: Do you have any books, blogs, or podcasts that inspired change in your life?

A: I love the book, ‘The Secret’. This is also on Netflix and I highly suggest for everyone to read/watch it. It’s about the law of attraction. I watched it over and over again. I was so impressed by these professors and what they had to say. They really know the secret of life. 

Managing Anxiety & Depression

Q: I’ve noticed through following you for several years now that you’ve been very vocal on social media about your experience with anxiety and depression. What made you want to share your experience with your followers?

A: I didn’t want to be open about my anxiety/depression for a long time because I didn’t want people to ‘pity’ me. I decided to move forward and take this anxiety and turn it into a positive outlook. I understand the struggle of not wanting to get out bed, not knowing where to start, feeling like you can’t breathe or feeling alone. You’re not alone. That is why I wanted to reach out to people. I am not a therapist, but I am an individual telling you that you are capable of doing anything you want to do. Your anxiety will not take that away from you. You can change your life and it is NEVER too late. 

Q: What have you learned throughout your struggles with depression and anxiety that you wish you could tell your younger self?

A: I was medicated for a long time. I wish I could have told myself to try out yoga before I hit the age of 21. Life would have been maybe easier but then again, I can look back on everything and say that I made it through the worst and came out stronger. 

Q: I know that you’ve talked about this on your own platforms, but could you share for Lost Online readers how you’ve managed to treat your anxiety and depression? 

A: I actually wrote a blog post about this on thecolourchemist.com! The truth is, you can never get rid of anxiety completely, but what you can do is CONTROL it. Our minds really do play a huge role in this. For me, I noticed my anxiety wasn’t at its highest peak when I started to eat healthier. I started to juice, go to therapy, do yoga, focus on my breathing, read, journal, scrapbook, go to the beach, and cut out all the people who didn’t bring me joy. I do all the things that I love to do with a mix of being the best version of myself.

Q: You’ve spoken a lot about yoga and how it’s helped you with mental and physical health. What got you started practicing yoga and what benefits have you seen with regular practice?

A: I took about 8 classes and I found the ONE teacher whose energy stuck out to me. I feel so comfortable with her that I now take private lessons in my own home. She is always challenging me and pushes me to be better. Doing yoga has not only helped me release mentally, but also physically. With being a hairdresser, you stand on your feet in the same position for hours. I have noticed a difference in my concentration being sharper, creating calmness, and being more aware of my surroundings. Yoga has also helped my balance TREMENDOUSLY, helps you sleep deeper, it helps falls with elderly people, increases blood flow, helps posture, helps your hips to create better alignment, makes you a better person, etc. The list can go on about how amazing yoga is for you. 

Online 

Q: At the very end of my interviews, I like to touch a bit on technology and social media since it’s such a big part of our lives and something that the vast majority of us struggle with today. With our heavy social media and technology use today, have you ever felt pressure for likes, engagement, or recognition online? What has your experience been? 

A: In the beginning I was like, “Oh my god, I don’t have 10k. How will I ever have someone notice me?” All it takes is one post, one person to notice you. The rest is history. Have faith and speak everything into existence. You can have 200 followers and if you have a great engagement with those 200 followers, you’re doing it right. The amount of followers does not define you. However, I do put in some serious work with social media. If someone finds me one day, my page has to look clean, professional, and have character. I’m constantly trying new techniques with hair, posting new trends, taking pictures in different areas to switch it up the look, talking about product, taking videos and making them stand out. I’m always hashtagging each post and sometimes I will write about topics that people have questions about. When I am off the clock at work, I am working on social media. Social media is WORK but it is free advertising so use it wisely. 

Q: A major theme throughout my blog is how we stay sane during a time when we spend half of our time consumed with technology. What do you do to create balance in your life when we spend so much time online now?

A: Social media can take up a huge chunk of time in your everyday life. People see me on my phone and half the time I am working and not really socializing. I sometimes have to step back and give myself a break with this. It can consume your life really fast. I started to not use my phone the first 30 minutes when I wake up and the last 30 minutes before I go to bed. These times are when you are the most creative. It doesn’t always happen but I try my best to stick to this routine. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photo Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Do you see why I love Kourtnee now? I have to admit, this interview was more for me than it was for my readers. I wanted nothing more than to interview someone who inspired me each and every day.

I’ve loved being Kourtnee’s friend and follower because she’s such an inspiration and is always so positive despite anything that she may be going through. She opens up about the challenges in her life and always takes a positive and healthy approach, viewing every roadblock or rough period as an opportunity for growth. And above all, Kourtnee goes after what makes her passionate in life and continues to flourish as a hairstylist. 

I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did! Make sure to check out Kourtnee on her personal Instagram @kourtneemichelle or her professional Instagram account @thecolourchemist. You can also find her on her website thecolourchemist.com where she share’s blogs about hair care, lifestyle, and another passion of hers, fashion.

Lastly, if you’re in Saint Augustine, Florida area and would like Kourtnee to work her magic on your hair, make sure to give Za Salon at call and book your appointment!

As always remember to comment your thoughts below. I LOVE hearing what my readers think about the content. What stood out the most to you about the interview? Did you resonate with anything Kourtnee said? If you could ask her anything, what would you ask?

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!

Several of Kourtnee’s photos shown in this post were taken by Autumn Dozier @autumn.dozier. Hair photos are taken by Kourtnee herself. If I forgot to mention any other photographer, please contact me so I can give you credit!

An Old Soul Trapped in a Young Body

Lifestyle, Self-Help

Do you have a few moments from your childhood that stick out the most? Small moments that maybe only lasted a few seconds, but are ingrained in your head so perfectly and permanently? I have two moments just like.

I vividly remember being dropped off by my mother at a daycare when I was very young and again on my first day of elementary school. During both of those moments, I stood still after my mom left looking at all the other children run around the room. I remember standing there watching them shouting, playing, and having fun. On the first day of elementary school, I distinctly remember a boy running across the room with a huge smile on his face and chasing someone. Both of those times, I was taking in everything around me. Seeing the other kids, not knowing what to do, and wondering how long I would have to stay. I remember these two moments so perfectly because of how I felt. I remember looking at the children my age and feeling so out of place and so awkward, but more than anything I had this overwhelming feeling that I didn’t belong.

Those two separate days being dropped off at school stand out the most in my memory because they were the first times in my life that I realized I didn’t fit in with my age group. Although those may have been the first times, they certainly were not the last.

The reason why I’m writing this post today is because not too long ago I had an entire weekend where I felt this way. I experienced three full days of feeling awkward and alone and like I didn’t fit in. But I’m glad I did. It helped me become more comfortable with myself after that weekend. Those three days made me deeply self-reflective and overwhelmed me with flashbacks from countless moments where I felt like an alien among my peers. I was reminded of how hard it had been to fit in and how stressful it was spending my 24 years of life fighting with who I was. As uncomfortable and emotional as it was, that weekend helped me to finally let go and accept myself for who I am – an old soul trapped in a young body. A person who’s oddly mature for their age and who’s tired of pretending to be something that I’m not. And just like that I learned to finally love and accept that part of my personality.

That experience also gave me the inspiration to create this post to share a glimpse of what it’s like growing up as an old soul in a young body. This week’s post is a bit different from what I typically write about. It’s much more introspective and gives you a bit of a peak behind the curtain about what shaped me to become the person I am now – someone who’s not comfortable with the mainstream standards of doing things and wants to share my own story and advice to help others who share a similar experience.

Growing up as an Old Soul

I’ve always been an old soul ever since I could remember and before I even knew what being an “old soul” meant.

As I was growing up, Nancy was like a second grandma to me. She’s my grandmother’s best friend of many years and she was always around whenever the family got together for holidays or reunions. I was very close to her growing up, and she would always tell me that I was an old soul. That there was something in my eyes that told her I was “well beyond my years.”

Teachers, neighbors and my parent’s friends would describe me as being “mature for my age.” Friends and peers would describe me as being “a mom.” And my family would make jokes about how old I was and call me the names of my great-grandma or my grandmothers: Virginia, Penny, and Joanne. 

I didn’t understand what all of that meant as I was growing up. All I knew was that I would have rather spent my time talking with the adults in my life or playing cards with my grandpa than playing with other kids at a children’s birthday party. As a child and even a teenager, I really enjoyed the company of adults and the conversations I would have with them. That’s when I felt comfortable. That’s where I felt like I fit in and I was myself.

I didn’t like sports, or large groups, or birthday parties. I followed the rules, listened to adults, and didn’t rebel. I was also very introverted and very much a homebody (maybe because I’m a textbook Cancer). I liked being at home doing my own thing and I would tend to ask myself big questions like, “Why are we here? What do I want to do when I grow up? What kind of life do I want? What do I believe in spiritually?” I was a very introspective person which made having small talk about the weather or what classes I was taking seem excruciating. 

As a teenager, I spent almost every moment that I was at home drinking tea, wearing cardigans, reading. Whenever I was invited to do something where I knew everyone would be making bad decisions, I made up excuses to get myself out of it and told people that I was grounded. Lol. And now when I share that fun fact with friends today, I get a lot of laughs and end up being called a nerd for the rest of the night.

My point is, I’ve always been an old soul since before I could even spell my own name. This was my childhood, my young adulthood, and now my twenties. 

The Plus Side 

Part of me really loved being an old soul, especially when I was very young. I felt like I understood the world in a different way than my peers. I already felt like a bit of a grown up even before I matured. For that reason, adults liked me very much. I could hold a meaningful conversation with teachers and neighbors without being short or uncomfortable like most of my friends told me they felt. And I also kept to myself, didn’t talk back, and followed the rules. I wasn’t one to give the babysitters or a substitute teacher a hard time. 

As I got older I wasn’t a trouble maker. I had no desire to party or experiment with drugs or sneak out of the house. I had no desire to smoke cigarettes as a minor or steal alcohol or become one of the “popular” aka slutty girls. There was no pent up feeling in me that would only be happy by rebelling and making bad decisions. 

For that reason, I felt like being an old soul was a blessing. I’m sure it saved me from many arguments, and fights, and groundings. It kept me out of trouble and it kept me safe because I was content with the simple things. I wasn’t trying to tell my parents that I was going to a sleepover at some girl’s house when really I was going to a party. I felt fulfilled just having a conversation with my mom, spending the weekend with my grandparents, watching a documentary, or writing a paper. I was happy just relaxing at home and I enjoyed my own company.

The Pressure to Fit In

However, being an old soul as a child and teenager made growing up very challenging. I felt like I was the only old soul and introvert around. I wasn’t “cool” by any means and I’m pretty sure the “popular” kids didn’t even know my name. I was also called boring A LOT. Because I didn’t fit in, and I wasn’t rebellious, or outgoing, or immature I naturally had fewer friends. My demeanor in school and in groups of people my age was described to me by everyone that I eventually became friends with as “intimidating.”

For most of my life, I absolutely hated the way that I was. Growing up, all you want is to be accepted, to be liked, to fit in at school, and to have close friends. But for most of my life, I was the odd one out and never really felt like I belonged. I got called lame, boring, mom, nerd – all of the things. I could give countless examples from when I was 4 years old to 24 of times when people put me down and made me feel bad about myself because I was acting too mature or reserved for their liking.

I seemed to be so different than everyone else and all I wanted to be like them. Even when I did meet people who I really wanted to spend time with, a lot of times they wouldn’t invite me to hang out because something about me was just different. I also noticed that I missed out on bonding with certain people because I didn’t have those memories of making bad decisions that bring people together. I just wasn’t interested in “blowing off steam” and “getting it out of my system,” whatever IT is.

I wasn’t interested in the same things as everyone my age or behaved the same way as them. It seemed like I either had to say or do things to fit in and impress my peers or get ridiculed. It was a double edged sword – no matter what choice I made I was unhappy. Connecting with people my age never came natural or easy. 

A few times growing up I would end up being liked by one of the “popular” girls, and when that happened I learned to not get close to them or accept their invitation. It wouldn’t take long before they realized that I didn’t fit in. That I wasn’t cool enough, or slutty enough, or spontaneous enough, or fun enough or whatever it was about me that made me a misfit. 

My nature also impacted my first romantic relationship and caused so many fights. Neither one of us could understand the other person. We fought because I apparently never wanted to have fun and because all he wanted to do was party. I couldn’t understand the desire to spend every moment of your life getting high and drinking Miller Lite, and he couldn’t understand the desire to stay home, watch movies, and talk about life. 

The other big challenge was that even though I felt more like a grown-up, I wasn’t actually viewed as one. I was still just a kid or “a stupid teenager” as my mom loved to say. I was still lumped into the category of immature young people who “just don’t get it.” There were times when I fit right in the adults, but there were times when I was viewed as too immature and I would be left out of conversations because things were too grown up for me to hear or understand. This created another big challenge for me as an old soul trapped in a young body, because I was never fully accepted by any age group growing up and for that reason, I’ve always believed that there was something really wrong with me.

After 24 years now, I’ve also learned from experience that being an old soul and by being myself, I can also have a very strange effect on others – particularly the people who are the opposite of me. I’ve learned that by being an old soul it tends to make the.. shall we say “younger” souls uncomfortable, which has made me a target and further made me unhappy with who I was. 

When I was in a group or at a party, for instance, people would become bothered by the fact that my personality wasn’t mirroring everyone else. In their minds it means there’s something wrong with me, that I’m not having fun, that I’m uptight, or that I need someone to swoop in and help me enjoy the party. They would try to get to me “relax” by trying to pressure me into taking shots, or doing drugs, or dancing no matter how much I said, “No thanks.” It seems that my maturity tended to make some people become self-conscious and as a result, they would single me out until I got fed up and decided to go home.

Think about it, whenever everyone is standing in a circle doing shots, and you’re the one person who doesn’t feel like drinking, there’s always that one a**hole who’s really bothered by it. That one person who’s uncomfortable by someone who’s not drinking and decides to make it their personal mission to get you to “loosen up,” get drunk, and “have some fun.” Meanwhile, they’re completely unaware that you were having a perfectly good time before they tried to step in and force feed you tequila. And it’s always that same person who keeps asking, “Why aren’t you having fun?” I’ve had more moments like this in my life than I can count.

I could go on and on with examples of how being an old soul in a young body has made my experience growing up a weird one. As much as I wanted to change though, it just wasn’t possible. You can’t make yourself become something that you’re not. There are some things about yourself that you just cannot change. You can’t make yourself an extrovert or an introvert, or taller or shorter, or gay or straight. There comes a point in time when you realize that no matter how much the world wants you to change and how different you might be from the majority, that you just have to accept yourself the way that you are.

Self Acceptance 

Even as a 24-year-old, I still have moments that are strikingly similar to those childhood memories where I was surrounded by people my age and all I can think about is how out of place I am. That one particular weekend was the most recent and the most eye opening.

For the first time in a long time I was so uncomfortable and felt so out of place for such an extended period of time that it occurred to me that I’ve felt this way my entire life. When I’m not being made fun of and ridiculed for being the way that I am, I’m punishing myself for it. If other people aren’t making me feel bad, then I’m putting myself down for not trying hard enough, or fitting in better, or for being so different than everyone else. In that moment, I realized that I simply didn’t want to do it anymore. Being an old soul is just my nature. 

I love small groups, and books, and deep, meaningful conversations. I’m the type of person who prefers red wine and conversation over going to a club. It doesn’t matter how many pushy people try to get me to dance or how many people call me grandma, I can’t change myself to fit in with what the people my age consider to be acceptable.

I decided for the first time in my 24 years of life to embrace my nature and fully accept myself for who I am. I decided to surrender and stop fighting my personality and be okay “fitting out” in the crowd. From that moment on I was putting an end to the idea that there’s something wrong with me and that I need to change my personality and everything about myself for acceptance. Because if changing who I am and being fake is the only way to be accepted by the people my age, I don’t even want their acceptance or their social media likes and stamps of approval. I don’t care how many rude comments I get about how “old” or serious I am.

The week after I had three straight days of feeling out of place and hating myself for being different, I came back to St. Petersburg and joined a book club. I ended up spending an hour one day surrounded by women twice my age discussing a very thought-provoking book about managing life’s challenges and I LOVED it. I’m done trying to be something that I’m not to make someone else happy. I’m letting go of the people who make me feel bad about who I am and I’m letting go of the comparison. The comparison game that I always do in my head when I see other people who fit in so effortlessly. I’m letting go of all of that and learning to love, accept, and embrace who I am.

Even though being an old soul often makes me stand out and not fit in as well with the people my age, I know I’ll be happier just by being myself. Because you can’t flourish completely and reach your potential if you’re constantly at war with yourself. You spend too much mental energy trying to change that could be spent working on something to help you grow as a person or meeting the right kinds of people who align with you. That energy could be put towards something constructive like your side hustle, a new hobby, a project, or new relationships. And in the end you’ll be so much happier because you’re allowing yourself to be authentic.

Although this post is much more personal and introspective than most, I’m sharing this with you because self-help and wellness are major themes throughout my writing. I preach about the benefits of self-discovery and why I believe that self-reflection, journaling, and self-love is so important. Even though I write about self-help and wellbeing, just like you I’m also a work in progress. I’m still discovering different parts of myself each year and still learning to love and accept my so-called “flaws.” 

I usually always end my posts with pieces of advice for my readers, but for this one, I have no special advice. Instead, I wanted to leave you with a few takeaways.

Takeaways

1. My experience

The main takeaway that I want people to get from this post if nothing else is the experience of growing up as an old soul. Because it’s not very common, being mature as a child and teenager can be viewed as a bad thing. When children are very young, it could be viewed as being shy, or closed off, or considered that they’re a problem child – as if their maturity is somehow going to make them fall behind in school. Then as these kids mature as teenagers, being an old soul becomes an even bigger problem as it’s not as easy to fit in. I could name dozens of instances in my life where I’ve received subtle (and not so subtle) messages that there was something wrong with me, that me being reserved or mature wasn’t socially acceptable. I know I’m not the only person who grew up with this experience. What I want people to understand more than anything is that it’s not a bad thing. There’s nothing that needs to be changed about these children, and that their maturity should be seen as a blessing and should be nurtured not suppressed. 

2. Be kind to old souls 

Being an old soul has impacted me in the majority of my relationships and social activities throughout my life. It’s caused arguments with people who wanted me to be different and I’ve been put down by countless peers, many of whom I didn’t even know personally. I’m hoping that by sharing my experiences it will teach people to have compassion for old souls. Subtle messages and jokes that children hear throughout their lives DO impact their mental and emotional health and make them believe that they’re unlikeable just because they might not be exactly like the majority. Even though some children may be unusually mature for their age, they shouldn’t be put down for it. And remember there are much worse personality traits to have then being mature!

3. Embrace who you are

If you are an old soul yourself, there’s no point in trying to make yourself something that you’re not. It’s takes too much time, energy, and work and in the end all it does is make you unhappy. You can’t change your personality no matter how much fight who you are. Instead, embrace who are. Once you stop fighting your inherent nature and learn to embrace it, you realize that it’s not as big of a deal as you once thought. I used to constantly fight who I was and do or say things in an effort to fit in, but the moment I accepted my personality and spent my time doing what fulfilled me in the moment I started to feel happier and less like an outsider. I signed up for courses and classes, I read more, I learned about spirituality, and I started to feed that side of me that I tried to suppress for so long because it wasn’t cool. I stopped putting myself in situations where I wasn’t comfortable and did what felt right for me. And if that meant passing up a party and staying in on the weekends to watch documentaries then I would do that. If that meant joining a book club then I would do that. Interestingly, what I’ve learned from embracing who I am and staying true to me is that the more confident you are about yourself, the less people give you a hard time. 

4. Self-ассерtаnсе is a process

My fourth takeaway if you’re an old soul yourself is to accept who you are and to love and respect yourself. As you grow up, you start to realize that there’s parts of you that don’t match the majority or that people don’t think are cool, and there comes a time when you have to let it go and learn to accept that although you might be different there’s nothing wrong with you. This self-acceptance lеаdѕ tо соntеntmеnt bесаuѕе уоu’rе nо lоngеr fighting with уоurѕеlf and playing this internal tug of war but instead finding peace with who you are.

Now trust me, I understand how hard self-acceptance can be. When you’ve had messages throughout your entire life that there’s something wrong with you it can be really difficult to make the switch towards self-love and acceptance. It’s also much easier said than done. I understand that you can’t tell someone else to accept themselves and then it magically happens, it’s something that people have to learn on their own. And even then, it’s a process. There are the days when you slip up and start feeling upset with yourself again and have to remember to be compassionate. But remember, everyone has things that they don’t adore about themselves and we all have our own things that we have to make peace with, you’re not the only one. At the very least, start the process of self-love and acceptance in any way that it feels comfortable to you. Maybe it’s therapy, or yoga, or journaling, or affirmations. It is a process, but it’s worth it. 

5. It gets better 

My last takeaway that I want to leave my fellow old souls with, is that it gets better. The good thing about being an old soul is that you slowly start growing into your age and your peers start to grow up as well. Once you get out of school there are fewer moments where you feel like a misfit and you’re free to live your life however you want without the pressure of trying to find social acceptance among hundreds of teenagers. Year by year it gets better. Truthfully, growing up can be slightly awkward as an old soul, but when you think about it growing up is awkward for everyone! Each person has their own unique challenges and issues that they have to work through, this one was just mine. But if you’re an old soul just like me, know that you’re not alone, you’re not weird, and you’re not lame. And also, I’m down to get tea any day.

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online and let me know what you think in the comments! Are you an old soul or do you know someone who is? If you are an old soul, what was your experience growing up? Did you find social acceptance or did you find yourself being put down? How do you suggest we nurture children and teenagers who are old souls to help them thrive? If you are an old soul have you learned to love and accept that aspect of your personality? Is there many another personality trait that you’re working on loving and embracing about yourself? I would LOVE to hear from you. 

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 Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

How I Transformed My Life with the Law of Attraction: My 8 Powerful Manifestation Techniques & What I’ve Learned From It

Lifestyle, Self-Help, Spirituality

But First… A Message to the Skeptics

I am a huge believer in the Law of Attraction, and I’ve seen it completely transform my life over the course of the last four years. And what I’ve learned from talking to others about my experience is that people fall into one of two viewpoints when it comes to this topic… Either they are a believer just like me who have witnessed the magic of manifestation in their own lives OR they’re skeptics – They don’t believe it, they think it’s a load of crap, and they think that the people who preach about it just “got lucky.”

So what do I know about the Law of Attraction?

Four years ago I was the most unhappy I’ve ever been. I was in a town that I hated living in, I was in a toxic and co-dependent relationship, I was losing my hair from birth control, I was depressed, I was broke, I had been betrayed by several of my closest friends, and my job was terrible in every way. That rock bottom time in my life when I felt that I had nothing else to lose, that’s when I committed to using the Law of Attraction.

If you’re just hearing about The Law of Attraction for the first time, it’s among the most popular of Universal Laws, made popular by the documentary The Secret which came out in 2006. Simply put, it’s the idea that like attracts like. It’s the belief that positive or negative thoughts bring about positive or negative experiences into our lives. The Law of Attraction is based on the idea that people and their thoughts are made up of energy and because like energy attracts like energy, a person can improve their health, happiness, wealth, career, relationships and more. It uses cognitive reframing techniques and visualization to replace negative thought patterns and bring about positive improvements, material possessions, opportunities etc. into a person’s existence.

I had been familiar with the movie “The Secret” and had started to finally use the Law of Attraction out of comfort. I had NOTHING that was bringing me joy and happiness in my life, and spending my time visualizing what I wanted and convincing myself that everything that I wanted was being drawn to me like a magnet, was something that I did because it made me feel better. It took the pain away, it made me smile, and it gave me something else to think about instead of just how miserable I was.

What I actually wanted more than anything was to live in Florida. I was sick of the seasonal depression, the snow, and the bitter negative 55-degree weather. I didn’t want to be in the middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin for the rest of my life finishing college and getting a corporate job where I had to wake up at 6 a.m. and sit in front of my special lamp that gave me vitamin D in the winter. No. My dream was to live in Florida. To model. To be a blogger. To visit Costa Rica. To swim under the La Fortuna waterfall. To tour Europe. To drive my dream car – a hard top Jeep Wrangler through palm trees. To be in a loving, happy and supportive relationship with someone who actually had things in common with me. To start a YouTube Channel. To receive an unexpected and large sum of money. To spend my days doing what I loved. To have a little bohemian bungalow to come home to. To have a puppy. As well as several smaller, material possessions.

I had a very, very specific dream back then of what I wanted my life to look like. Today, four years later, this is my life:

This is not bullsh*t. This is not me getting “lucky.” I manifested my dream. My home, my partner, my travels, my large and unexpected sum of money. I manifested my dream life. The life that I prayed for and visualized a hundred times over and over again during that most difficult time in my life. I’ve received 99% of the things that I wanted back then, and the things that I haven’t received are literally just around the corner. Matt and I are hunting for our perfect home right now and we plan on bringing a little fur baby into our lives as soon as we move in. This sh*t is real.

If you still don’t believe me, that’s totally fine, but the Law of Attraction is operational whether you’re a believer or a skeptic. Our thoughts shape our reality. So today, I wanted to share with you my eight powerful manifestation techniques that I’ve used to bring about the life that I have now in hopes that it will help YOU. In hopes that it will help you manifest your dream and live each and every day in a state of happiness, abundance, and gratitude. So without further ado, these are the 8 manifestation techniques that helped me create the life that I had now:

1. Heightened Visualization

Hear me out. I know that you were expecting to see this on the list and it may not be anything new, but I want to tell you HOW I practiced this every day and how I made the most of my visualization practice. The #1 way that I manifested my life is through what I can only describe as intense or heightened visualization. (Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous).

Each and every night for at least an hour a night I would practice visualization. And I wouldn’t just practice it the way you would think – I wouldn’t just imagine something. I would close my eyes and make myself feel as if what I wanted was actually happening. I would feel each and every detail of that moment. For example, with the car that I wanted, I would visualize driving down a street that was lined with palm trees. I would visualize a ring on my hand; how beautiful the palm trees looked against the sky; how the steering wheel felt against my hand; how excited and grateful that I was to be driving it. I would visualize each and every detail as best I could. I made myself feel so happy in the moment that I didn’t even really need the car because I felt like it was already happening. I did this with everything. I visualized swimming under La Fortuna and seeing it for the first time. I visualized being in love with the most perfect person for me. Each and every detail I visualized so strongly and with such happiness that I felt as if I already had it.

2. Overwhelming Gratitude

At the very end of each visualization practice, I would have myself feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I would thank the universe – because that’s what I call the higher power. You can call the universe God, or Source, or Source Energy, or Creation, or Love – whatever word resonates with you. But I would thank the universe and feel an overwhelming rush of gratitude that was so strong that I couldn’t help but cry. I would also say “thank you,” “thank you,” “thank you,” over and over again. It wasn’t just a subtle feeling of gratitude, it was so strong and I felt in my heart and in every cell of my body. I felt gratitude like I’ve never experienced before. And I would do this after each and every visualization practice.

3. A Daily Gratitude Practice

The third thing that I started to do was introducing a daily gratitude practice. If you’ve read my post, “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It,” or “My Daily Gratitude Practice,” then you’ve already heard me talk about my gratitude practice a bit. But I can’t talk about this enough because it’s been the one part of my daily routine that has added so much happiness and peace to my life that no amount of meditation or no self-help book has been able to bring me. For that reason, I swear by it.

Each and every night before I go to bed I practice gratitude by opening up a document on my computer and writing IN DETAIL about ONE THING that I’m grateful for. I want to highlight “in detail” and “one thing” the most because SO many gratitude practices stress a specific number of things you should feel grateful for which makes it feel like a chore and makes it more about hitting a number than about the feeling of gratitude. I also say in detail because people say that a gratitude practice should just be one word like “health” or maybe a quick sentence each day like, “today I feel grateful for my health.” However, I believe that those simple and quick practices don’t raise your vibration enough and radiate enough gratitude into the universe to truly transform your life.

For that reason, I pick one thing each day that I am the most grateful for and I write about why I feel grateful about it. It could be an opportunity, a person, an event. I don’t make myself hit a set number of sentences, I write whatever amount feels natural in the moment and I write until I feel like I’ve finished describing it. (It’s usually about two paragraphs, just in case you really need an idea of how much I write each day.)

This practice has helped me reflect deeply on something that brings me true happiness and gratitude. It always shifts my mind away from the stressors in life and puts me in a super happy, and high vibe mood that helps me to visualize what I want. Over time I noticed that I started to feel less anxious, happier, and more peaceful even throughout the day, not just at night. Feeling like this each and every day really sets you up for success with your manifestation and puts you in the right frequency to attract what you want.

4. Creating a Vision Board

Again, hear me out. If you’re really interested in the Law of Attraction, you’ve heard this method a thousand times by now. But, you haven’t heard about my method. I’ve tried creating vision boards for my bedroom many times and found that they just never worked for me. I would always get too critical about whether it looked good and how artistic my board was so it would prevent me from really resonating with it. Instead, I created my vision board the way us millennials do anything else – on my phone.

I created a private board on Pinterest and found beautiful photos that I connected to. Photos that I felt truly reflected the life that I wanted and dreamed of. I created the most beautiful board and whenever I woke up in the morning, or was on a break from work, or was scrolling through my phone, I would pull up that board. It made me feel so happy and would constantly remind me of what I was hoping to attract. I loved it because I already take my phone everywhere, so that way I was able to bring my vision board with me as well.

Whenever I opened the board, I would take my time and look at each photo and imagine what it would feel like to actually have that item or accomplishment. There were photos of Costa Rica, Europe, happy couples in their home together, beautiful bungalows, Jeep Wranglers, and more. I posted pictures that reflected each area of my life like my home, my relationship, and my finances. This technique helped me get back into that manifestation mindset even when something stressful would come up.

5. Commitment

The reason why I believe that I transformed my life and created this much change is because I committed to it and I became pretty much obsessed with it for several months. I think the biggest mistake that people make is that they get really motivated and excited to use the Law of Attraction and manifest their dream life, but then they give up after just a few days. I made this manifestation process my entire life for several months. Every single moment when I wasn’t working or in class or busy, I was visualizing, practicing gratitude, and looking at my vision board. Just like anything else, if you want it to really work or turn out, you have to devote your time and energy to it. You can’t just do it for five minutes right after you saw “The Secret,” you have to make it a daily practice. The universe responds to you if you continue to show up, raise your vibration, and practice manifestation each day.

6. Sparking Joy

One thing that I did throughout this process was I surrounded myself with things that would spark joy and removed the things in my environment that were triggers. (I use the phrase  “sparking joy” to describe this because I’ve been binge-watching “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” this week. However, I didn’t know I was following her method four years ago.) I made it a point to surround myself with things in my environment that made me feel good and made me happy. I did this by adding plants and crystals all over my room and my apartment and putting up decorations or pictures that made me feel really happy and brought back wonderful memories.

I didn’t just surround myself with things I liked, I made it a point to remove things in my environment that we’re trigger items for me and made me unhappy in some way. I removed items that reminded me of a bad time in my life, or a crappy memory, or a fight with my boyfriend at the time. I also made it a point to remove things that I was keeping ONLY because someone else would be upset or offended if I got rid of it. And lastly, I removed things in my environment that made me feel guilty. For example, I used to have several books on my bookshelf that I had sitting there for YEARS, but never read them. And every single time I would glance at them on the shelf I would feel bad and feel guilty that it had been six years since I bought that book and still had never read it, or had any intention of reading it.

Throughout this process, I was amazed by how many things I had in my environment that triggered me all day long and made me feel terrible every time I would look around my room. I had gotten rid of several garbage bags filled with things that made me feel bad. After this process, I was blown away by how the energy in my room had changed. How I felt happy, lighter, and happier just because I was surrounded by items that reminded me of joyful moments or I felt were so beautiful to look at: plants, photos, and crystals.

If you’re trying to manifest your dream life, I think this is an extremely important step that no one ever talks about when discussing the Law of Attraction. Our environment impacts us so much. It’s really important to make sure it fuels positive emotions.

7. Staying Inspired

It’s super easy to feel inspired in the beginning when you first watch a video or read a book about the Law of Attraction, but it’s really important to keep that inspiration going so you continue to practice it with enthusiasm each day. In order to really commit to this process I had to keep myself inspired for many months, and I did this by constantly watching “The Secret. I found that whenever I watched “The Secret” I become so convinced that it was real, I felt inspired, and it put me in the manifestation mindset.

I wouldn’t watch it from start to finish, but I would play parts of the movie so I could hear the speakers as I was getting ready for the day or driving. I also would find quotes through Pinterest that inspired me and kept me thinking about what I wanted and believing that it was coming to me. Staying inspired is probably the hardest thing to do. It’s important to keep an eye out for what speaks to you and surround yourself with whatever keeps you in that mindset. Whether that be a podcast or a book or a movie, because you don’t want to lose that inspiration right as you’re starting to really manifest what you want and make progress.

8. Keeping Secrets

The eighth and final thing that I did to practice the Law of Attraction and manifest my dream life was I didn’t tell anyone. I kept my manifestation practice a secret and didn’t share it until well after I received what I set out to. The reason why I did this is because I have many skeptics in my life, and you may have them as well. Telling other people around you what you’re trying to attract could set you back in this whole process and prevent you from actually reaping the benefits of the Law of Attraction and seeing the changes in your life. If you make the mistake of telling other people, it not only puts pressure on what you’re trying to manifest because you feel as if you have to prove the Law of Attraction to people, but it also throws their feelings, thoughts, and ideas into the mix. Let’s say you tell a friend or family member what you’re trying to attract, they could be putting thoughts out into the universe that are sabotaging your efforts. If they believe that the Law of Attraction is a load of crap and projecting that into the universe, it could backfire for you. You want to make sure that nothing but love, gratitude, and faith is being projected out into the world when trying to manifest your dream life.

The Lessons I’ve Learned

Using these 8 techniques I was able to receive everything that my 18 and 19-year-old self wanted more than anything in the world. I wanted to share the techniques with those of you who also have an unwavering faith that the Law of Attraction is real, but I also wanted to share what I’ve learned over these last 4 years that ISN’T in any of those books, videos, and movies about manifestation. So these are the lessons about the Law of Attraction that I learned from this experience, in hopes that it will help you to better understand what you can expect moving forward in this process:

It works both ways

For as wonderful as the positive thoughts and ideas work for manifestation, so do the negative ones. I noticed that not only does projecting negativity bring about negative things in your life, but it can also postpone the positive things. Whenever I’m in a place in my life where I’m feeling very low and down about myself and I’m focused on what it’s not going well and what I DON’T have, I don’t receive the positive things.

The movie, “The Secret,” does a great job of hitting on this point – that the Law of Attraction can also bring about more debt, more fighting, and more discontent if you’re not careful. For me, it didn’t UNDO receiving my dream life, but it did push things back whenever I started to become pessimistic or overly stressed out. I never received when I was in that place.

You don’t have to monitor your thoughts

For some people, if you still do not have an unwavering faith that your dream is coming toward you, projecting negativity could be stopping your dream altogether. Upon hearing the last lesson, it might feel like you have to monitor your thoughts because that’s how I felt for a while. However, it’s not so much monitoring your negative thoughts as it is making a point of doing what makes you happy and makes you feel good in life.

It’s about making the visualization your dream life SO MUCH FUN that it becomes enjoyable and you don’t want to stop. It’s also about surrounding yourself with things that make you so happy and engaging in activities that you enjoy more than anything so you’re in the positive mindset without requiring monitoring. I don’t just mean going to a bar, I mean doing the things in life that really bring about deeper satisfaction. I started nannying again just because it brought me so much joy to take care of babies. I started doing the things that were on my bucket list just because it brought me inner peace and happiness as opposed to always telling myself “someday” I’ll do that. I started paying for experiences over possessions because it made me feel much happier long term than simply making an impulse purchase. It’s not so much about monitoring your thoughts as it is about making sure you’re in a positive and satisfying place in your life whenever you can and really enjoying the manifestation process along the way, as opposed to feeling like it’s a chore.

Your inner dialog can backfire

I’m not just talking about how you feel about life in general here: whether you’re happy or unhappy, negative or positive. One of the most difficult lessons that I’ve learned throughout this process is that the negative inner dialog and the way that I feel about MYSELF does impact manifestation. Throughout most of this process, there have been things that I wanted more along the lines of accomplishments but I didn’t get because I didn’t feel worthy. If you’re trying to manifest a Range Rover for example, if you feel like you don’t deserve it and have constantly self-sabotaging and self-harming thoughts, you won’t receive it. You have to get to a point where you stop that criticizing voice and find ways to truly love yourself, or else your inner dialog is going to be sabotaging this entire process and (TRUST ME) it will win.

I could write an entire post just about that inner dialog and how to deal with it. But for now, I’ll have to keep it simple: positive thoughts, compassion, and love towards yourself is equally as important as the vision boards and visualization. So do whatever you have to and find peace with yourself. Know that you’re worthy of having your dream to begin with, or else your subconscious mind will make damn sure you don’t get that Range Rover.

Nothing happened in the way I would expect

I honestly thought when I first started this process that the only possible way I could get everything I wanted in life was through winning the lottery. I thought it would take millions of dollars to be able to make everything happen. But it didn’t! Nothing – I mean nothing – happened in a way that I would have expected. So don’t for a second waste your time thinking about HOW it could possibly happen. That’s not your job. That’s the job of the universe.

When I first started trying to manifest back in 2015, I felt that thinking about the HOW would help out the universe in some way by presenting a logical and practical way for me to receive what I wanted. But there was nothing logical or practical to me about it. For example, I used to always visualize my dream relationship and a trip to Costa Rica (separately). I somehow met Matt out at a bar I NEVER go to, with a group of people I NEVER hung out at before,  just people his friend Pat said something funny. A year later his parents gifted us a trip to Costa Rica they had actually been meaning to go on themselves. Well, that’s not how I say my dream happening. I literally thought I had to win the lottery for me to be able to go to Costa Rica back then. The point is, don’t waste a single second thinking about the HOW. All that will do is convince yourself that there’s no way your dream will come true, just because you can’t figure out how on earth it could possibly happen.

You will receive as you’re ready

You cannot and should not put a date on when you expect to receive something. My move to Florida started to be put in motion THREE MONTHS after I was visualizing about it for an hour or two each night. My dream car I got two years after I began visualizing it. My tour of Europe I got after graduation. Some things happened right away. Some things took longer. But after I looked back at everything I wanted and everything that I’ve received up to this point, I realized that the universe gave me things as I was ready for them. Yeah, it would have been nice to get everything instantly in one day, but it didn’t work that way. For example, I tried extremely hard to find a perfect partner. I went on dates every week and as a result, all that ended up happening was I dated a string of guys for two months each who all just wanted to “have fun.” *insert eye roll here*

It wasn’t until I gave my “sweeping declaration” one night about how I was DONE dating, I loved myself, I was happy alone and I didn’t need another person to complete me when the universe decided I was ready and I was introduced to Matt just a few hours later. It’s no coincidence that I met my partner of two years right after I decided I loved myself and I wanted to give up dating and trying to force a relationship. Things take time, and sometimes the only reason why you’re not receiving something is that you’re not ready for it. For this reason, I believe that there’s also a spiritual connection with the Law of Attraction that none of us understand.

I didn’t have to work for the material things

When looking back at my trips and my possessions I realized that I actually didn’t have to work for them, they were gifted to me. The first thing that I hear from people who don’t believe in the Law of Attraction is that it’s not real because they believe that I wanted something so I worked for it… and then bought it. It’s not manifestation apparently, it’s hard work and money. But the thing is, it wasn’t hard work. The move, the Jeep, the trips, etc. were gifted. I didn’t work for them at all. And yes, that may sound very entitled or self-absorbed to someone who hasn’t met me and is reading this, but my point again that the HOW is up to the universe.

Don’t go into this process thinking, “Oh sh*t, I have to come with $50,000 for that Jeep. I better clock more hours at work.” No. Things will be presented to you in ways that you never expect, the reason why you don’t have them isn’t that you don’t work enough. So take a deep breath, and just get back to your vision board.

You don’t have to PROVE anything to people

It can be frustrating when you’ve transformed your life with the Law of Attraction but then your close friends and family don’t believe you. Trust me, I understand. I spent countless hours for three months visualizing this move to Florida and somehow my dad was offered a job in Florida just months after that. And every single person I’ve talked to about it gives me that forced, fake smile (you know that one were you can tell people think you’re crazy) and says “Ohhhh… that’s nice.” OR, becomes a very vocal skeptic and openly tells me that I’m wrong and everything I’ve received is one giant coincidence.

For a while, I believed that I had to tell the world what happened and that I had to prove that what happened to me was real. However, after having so many of the same encounters with people I finally realized this: you don’t have to PROVE the Law of Attraction to anyone. Why? Well for starters there’s no reward to proving it to someone, but most importantly it’s going to be impossible.

Trying to convince someone that the Law of Attraction is real will be as effective as trying to convert them to your religion. Everyone has their own set of beliefs about life, spirituality, and the mysterious workings of the universe based on their background, upbringing, and experiences. Going into a conversation with someone and trying to convince them that the Law of Attraction is real would be pointless as trying to get me to pray to Jesus, read the Bible, and go to church on Sundays. Or like trying to convince a skeptic to believe in ghosts. Go ahead, as an experiment seek out a skeptic, tell them some of your ghost stories, and see if you can convince them ghosts are real. Or better yet, try to convince a Republican to be a Democrat and vice versa. Do you see what I mean? So don’t feel like you have to PROVE what happened to you. Talk about it with the people who believe in the Law of Attraction, and if they don’t, that’s ok. You don’t have to defend yourself and prove anything. People will think you’re crazy, and that’s fine. Everyone close to me thought (and still thinks) I’m crazy for saying that I’ve changed my life with the Law of Attraction. If history has taught us one thing, it’s that we cannot change other people and their beliefs. Talk about the Law of Attraction with people who understand and support you, and if they don’t, let it be.

Thanks so much for reading!

I really hope you guys enjoyed this post about the Law of Attraction, how I manifested what I wanted, and what I’ve learned from this experience. As always, let me know what you think in the comments! What this post helpful for you? What parts? Have you used the Law of Attraction in your life? What have you been able to manifest and how did you do it? Did you learn anything interesting from your experience with the Law of Attraction?

If you like what you read here, be sure to scroll all the way down, click that “+” and subscribe below to have my weekly blog posts sent right to you!

Photos by Ray Reyes, IG: @rocketsciencephoto.

Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It + INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY

Self-Help

Did you know that 99% of life’s greatest problems could be solved with stream of consciousness journaling?

Ok, I made that up. But in case you didn’t know this about me, I’m a huge fan of stream of consciousness journaling. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. Journaling has gotten me through my worst days, helped me to realize my passion in life, gave me the courage to be myself, and strengthened my spirituality.

That’s why I’m a huge advocate for using stream of consciousness journaling for self-help and self-discovery. It’s why I mention it in many of my blog posts, talk about it on social media, and recommend it to those who reach out to me for advice.

However, as someone who wants to spend all day everyday writing, I was surprised by how few people actually practice stream of consciousness journaling or know what it is! WHAT? Does not everyone spend hours a day writing? What do they do with their time? So today I wanted to explain what you need to know about stream of consciousness journaling and why this simple activity is so beneficial. I’ll also talk about how to incorporate stream of consciousness journaling into your life for those who are curious about it and are interested in starting.

I really wish that more people would regularly do stream of consciousness journaling. It’s a freeing, introspective, and therapeutic method that helps you work through life’s challenges and improve every aspect of your life for a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness. It may not solve 99% of life’s problems but I honestly believe that if more people implemented this simple act into their daily routine, the world would be a much better place.

Make sure to stay until the very end of the post to learn how you could win my Gratitude Journal Giveaway!

What is stream of consciousness journaling?

What stream of consciousness isn’t is a narrative, a story, or a diary. It’s not meant for you to provide a timeline or create an autobiography. It’s not a description of your day.

Stream of consciousness journaling is when you write whatever is in your head, completely unfiltered. You write every thought just as is, exactly how it’s flowing through your mind. Curse words, improper grammar, subject changes and all. You write about anything and everything that’s going through your mind. You don’t plan it, you don’t wonder what you should write next. You pick a topic, like something that’s bothering you, and you write down everything.

It’s meant to be very messy. You don’t worry at all about spelling, grammar, or run-on sentences, because it’s probably the only type of writing that’s not meant to be read. It’s an exercise, it’s a therapeutic method. And if you’re doing it correctly, trust me, you will NEVER want to read it. You’re brain-dumping all of the emotions, all the stressors, the challenges, the problems, the insecurities, and the things you don’t want people to know about you and putting them on paper to clear your mind.

It’s not like any other writing because there’s no structure and there are no rules – no editing, no five-paragraph format, not even an intro or a conclusion. It’s your brain! It doesn’t follow rules! And that’s why the most important thing to remember is to not be critical of it or worry about how it reads because it will never be read! That’s why it’s so freeing.

PRO TIP: Relax about it.

It’s not weird! Stop thinking it’s weird!

I noticed that the one thing that turns people away from journaling is that they associate writing down their thoughts in a journal with a 14-year-old girl writing in her pink “diary” about the boy she has a crush on and the girl she doesn’t like a school. It seems adolescent or immature. It seems like something that isn’t socially acceptable. But it’s not a diary. Trust me, I had diaries as a kid. (Not that there’s anything wrong with having a diary.)

Stream of consciousness journaling is a therapeutic technique that is beneficial for anyone and everyone no matter what their age or gender. However, you won’t reap those benefits unless you calm down and stop judging yourself for doing it. The first few times you do it may be weird, because you’ve never seen your own thoughts on paper before, but it does get easier and it starts to feel more natural and more freeing the more you practice it.

The very real benefits of stream of consciousness journaling

Why is it beneficial? The reason why I preach about stream of consciousness journaling all the time is that I’ve seen so many benefits from it, particularly when I started to do it regularly. By making it a part of my nightly routine I saw that it started to change my mood and my mindset so I felt happier all day, even when I wasn’t journaling. It allowed me to put the challenges and the negativity down on paper instead of carrying it with me. That’s why after making it a part of my daily life, I believe in it wholeheartedly and think that the world would be a much happier and better place if everyone adopted this simple activity.

Here are the top 11 reasons why stream of consciousness journaling is beneficial in hopes that it will inspire you to start today…

1. It allows you to purge

The number one benefit that everyone can agree on about stream of consciousness journaling is that it gets everything down on paper or your computer so those thoughts don’t keep circling in your head. It allows you to take a load off and to get rid of the baggage that distracts you from feeling content and at peace. I didn’t even know how cluttered and chaotic my mind was until I started journaling and noticed how much calmer and clearer my mind was afterward. I didn’t realize how much the thoughts and stressors had been building up and weighing on me until they were finally gone. I had gotten so used to the stress little by little that I couldn’t remember life without it.

2. It stops thoughts from amplifying

You know how when something is bothering you or stressing you out, your mind does this exciting thing where it continues to amplify the problem? You’ll be bothered by something that’s happened to you and suddenly your mind can make it a hundred times worse by building up the problem, thinking of all of the other bad things that could happen, thinking about how other people will think and feel, etc. Your mind goes from worrying about that passive-aggressive thing your boss said to suddenly convincing you that you could be fired, wondering what would happen if you got fired, stressing about bills, thinking about how you would feel, thinking about how a job loss could ruin your reputation, thinking about what your partner will think of you, or thinking about how you should act around your boss. The problem snowballs from one stressor into a full-blown life crisis in a matter of 15 minutes.

What stream of consciousness journaling does is it stops those thoughts from circling and amplifying in your mind. It prevents them from blowing up into something that ruins your day and your happiness with pointless worrying. It also makes you realize how extraordinarily unrealistic those thoughts can be once you actually write it down. That way it makes the problem more manageable and grounds you again instead of keeping you sucked into that miserable anxiety loop.

3. It helps you solve a problem

Stream of consciousness journaling is also incredibly beneficial for problem-solving and helping you make better decisions. And don’t we all need help with that! One way that it does this is by removing that clutter in your mind and preventing the negativity from amplifying, so you’re actually able to figure out a problem or what your next step should be because it removes those distractions. You have space to figure out what to do and come up with solutions.

Often times we’re also unable to figure out the root of a problem. There’s so much going on in our minds that you don’t really know what’s going on. There have been countless times where I’ve had life-changing epiphanies because writing about a problem allows me to peel back the layers and find out what’s really going on deep down in my subconscious mind. This journaling allows you to discover how certain circumstances have been triggered that reminds you of an event or person from your past. What journaling has taught me that your mind is kind of like an onion, and onions have layers. You have to peel back plenty of layers on the top to get to the center of the problem and figure out what’s really bothering you. (If you didn’t get that Shrek reference, I don’t know if we can be friends).

Lastly, stream of consciousness journaling helps you solve problems by discovering what’s actually best for YOU. One of the major lessons I learned in my senior year of college and after graduating college is that everyone and their mother thinks that they are an expert on what is best for me. Everyone seems to think they know the perfect place for me to live, the perfect way to go about finding a job, the perfect career path, the best way to invest money, the best freaking house that I should buy, the best time to get a pet, etc. Everyone has a major opinion about how you, and I, and everyone else should be living our best life.

But here’s the thing, only YOU know what is best for YOU. Other people may have ideas and opinions based on their own experience, but just because something works for another person and makes sense for their life, doesn’t mean that it makes sense to you. Stream of consciousness journaling helps you separate the outside opinions and uncover what makes the most sense for you.

4. It reduces stress

Immediately after stream of consciousness journaling, I always notice an incredible sense of relief. Do you know how you get a runner’s high after a nice long run where you feel refreshed, happy, and uplifted? That’s sort of how I feel after a long journaling session where I release any of the drama, stresses, or insecurities that I’ve been dealing with. By the end of an hour of a long writing session, I feel an enormous sense of relief. It clears why mind and relaxes me so I can feel happy and free of stress.

However, it’s not just immediately after journaling where you’re able to feel this sense of release. By incorporating it into your daily routine and releasing that stress each and every time, you’ll notice that over time you’ll be less anxious in general. You’re incorporating a therapeutic exercise into your life and you’re dealing with your problems in a healthy way so you can be happier, more relaxed, and more fulfilled all the time. I started to notice this feeling after about a month of journaling for half an hour to an hour each night and then following it with mediation. Side Note: Journaling also made meditation much easier so I started to feel the benefits from that practice as well.

5. It helps with self-discovery

One of the most interesting benefits to me about stream of consciousness journaling is how much it helps with self-discovery. I’ve always been an incredibly introspective person, but even I am blown away by how much you can learn more about yourself simply by writing down your thoughts. Engaging in regular self-reflection brings up things that you didn’t even realize about yourself. These could even be things that you thought about your whole life but haven’t been able to figure out.

I’ve spent many nights learning new things about myself that I’ve never noticed before or have been stumped on for years. The most significant one that comes to mind is how I learned of my passion and life’s purpose through journaling. I answered a prompt late one night and used stream of consciousness journaling, as I always do, and suddenly it hit me that my passion was self-help and wellness. At the exact moment, I was laying in bed surrounded by a pile of self-help books that were all highlighted and stuffed with notes. I listened to self-help podcasts, read self-help books for years, and envied the self-help writers that I knew of. But somehow it never occured to me that that’s what I wanted to do. My passion and purpose had been hiding right underneath my nose my whole life.

There are many nights when journaling did not lead to an epiphany, but there were also many nights when it did. Through exploring a new topic or answering a prompt that might not even stick out to you, it can pull information out that you may have ignored or kept buried for weeks, months, even years.

6. It improves mood

You’ll notice that when you get into the habit of journaling every day, you will slowly start to see a shift in your overall mood. You’re engaging in deep introspection that helps you learn about your self-sabotaging patterns, toxic relationships, dreams, hobbies, and past – which is not only rewarding, but also uplifting. After journaling for weeks or even months you’ll start to notice that you’re feeling content and more positive, and if you’re anything like me, you may notice that you no longer feel like you’re in a fog.

You begin to feel free from the things that weighed on your mind before and your mindset slowly starts to change for the better. I know I’m making big statements here, but after spending an hour of journaling each day for months, I saw this change myself. When you dedicate that much time to your mental health and wellness, you do begin to feel much happier and positive. All it takes is committing to it.

7. It helps you to become mindful

After journaling for such a long period of time, the self-reflection helps you to be more mindful. It helps you go about your day with intention and focus rather than letting the day pass you by in a blur of scrolling or stress. It makes each activity you do more thoughtful. It also alerts you to the behaviors or habits that you have that don’t support your health and happiness so you can make better choices throughout the day. Choices like not engaging with a negative person, using your free time wisely, taking care of your body, and saying goodbye to self-sabotaging habits.

8. It strengthens personal discipline

If you choose to start journaling as part of your morning or nighttime routine, you’re strengthening your personal discipline. You’re choosing to set aside time every day whether you’re in the mood to or not to engage in a healthy behavior. That alone strengthens your personal discipline, but you’ll notice that it soon starts to bleed into other areas of your life. By making yourself engage in one healthy behavior, before you know it you’re choosing to eat better, or exercise more, or go outside, or use social media with intention. Making one decision that contributes to your health, happiness, and growth inspires you to make those decisions elsewhere. Again, this is one of those changes that I didn’t notice until weeks of practicing stream of consciousness journaling regularly. A benefit like this doesn’t happen until you’ve committed to making it a ritual instead of an occasional activity.

9. It unlocks your creativity

I believe that purging all those stressors or insecurities through writing and freeing up your mind from the drama gives it more room to be creative. When I started incorporating stream of consciousness journaling into my life, I noticed that I suddenly had more ideas than I knew what to do with. That I was inspired more often and that I wanted to write even more. It’s actually when I put in a month of stream of consciousness journaling that I started to get serious about my blog and wanted to pursue writing as a career. I even started to branch out and write about topics that I don’t typically write about. It unlocked creativity and inspiration within me that I didn’t even realize existed.

10. It allows you to explore and strengthen your spirituality

I won’t dive too deeply into this because this isn’t a spirituality post, but I do want to touch on this subject. I’m Buddhist and believe that we’re all on our own journey and are experiencing this life to learn, grow, and become enlightened in some way. And I believe that self-discovery and self-help work allows you to do that. When I continued to do stream of consciousness journaling I started to evolve and to connect with a higher power like I never had before.

You may not have the same spirituality as me, but every spirituality or religion that exists encourages introspection and self-growth. No matter what you believe, journaling can help you to become a better version of yourself, strengthen your faith, and connect with a higher power.

I believe this happens through deep introspection, but also because once you’re free of stress, anxiety, and the problems amplifying in your mind, and you start to become mindful and it becomes easier tap into spirituality – just as journaling helped me unlock my creativity. Through stream of consciousness journaling, your mind is able to focus on more introspective and soulful pursuits rather than being distracted.

Through journaling I came to profound realizations that I used to read about in books, but had never fully understood because my mind was too busy. For example, I was able to comprehend how everything and everyone is connected, that we must let go of our stories to become our highest selves, that coincidences and universal signs happen all around me, and that each experience (even painful ones) are helping me to evolve and become the person that I was brought to this planet to be. It also helped me become aware of divine intervention and trust that the universe has my back, because through writing I could reflect on how circumstance, people, and events are slowly shaping me to become the person that I’ve always wanted to be.

11. It improves your writing

Don’t let the stream of consciousness technique fool you. Just because stream of consciousness journaling isn’t necessarily formal writing, with proper spelling, structure, and grammar, that doesn’t mean that it won’t help you to become a better writer. After I put in hours of journaling, I started to realize that I began to find my voice. My writing became even more conversational, vulnerable, snarky, and honest. I found my own style that didn’t conform to what I had learned in school my whole life. But just as Pablo Picasso once said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

The other way that it helps with writing is by forcing yourself to write every day, no matter what it is, writing anything becomes easier. When you write any paper, blog post, report, depiction, etc. it’s so much easier to do because you’ve been using those muscles regularly. You become a better writer even accidentally because you’ve been practicing each day, even if it didn’t feel like you were.

Ok, I get it, but what do I write about?

The biggest issue that people tend to have about this type of writing is that they don’t know what to write about. Many people struggle about what to write because the vast majority of people don’t write unless they have to for work or for school when there’s someone telling them what, when, and how to write. But the beauty of stream of consciousness writing is you can write about anything. You can write about your family, relationships, stressors, your day, traumas, your bucket list, your perfect day, your dreams, your goals, etc. You can write about anything that you feel pulled to write about that day.

I personally like to write about whatever is stressing me out or weighing on my mind. Whatever is bothering me that day is what I’m writing about, and by doing that I feel like I’m liberated from all those negative thoughts once I write them down. I’m not a huge fan of journal prompts because they don’t offer me that same benefit which is purging the clutter and chaos in my mind, but occasionally I use them to help me with self-discovery on the days when I feel like being more introspective.

But prompts can still be incredibly beneficial, especially if you’re new to journaling. One of my followers and readers I talked to about stream of consciousness journaling was overwhelmed when I told him that you can write about anything and said that he needed more direction to get into journaling. So if you are having a difficult time figuring out what to write, consider picking a prompt first to get you warmed up. You can still do stream of consciousness journaling and “brain dump” even if you’re using a prompt for inspiration. Writing about anything could seem intimidating and this type of writing can be particularly difficult to get used to if you’ve never journaled before. Luckily there is no shortage of journal prompts available to you.

If you’d like to check out journal prompts, head over to my “Self-Discovery” Pinterest Board. I regularly pin prompts to help you with introspection, self-love, discipline, and motivation, so you can always use that as a resource. For now, here are some of my favorite prompts to help get your writing flowing today…

30 Journal Prompts to get you started

  1. How are you… really?
  2. Something I thought a lot about as a child was…
  3. One thing that I really need to work on is…
  4. Describe one thing that you are the proudest of yourself for.
  5. Describe one person that you admire the most today and why.
  6. The quality I admire most in others is…
  7. When I was little I wanted to be…
  8. What would you do if you won the lottery?
  9. What would you do if you knew for certain that you wouldn’t fail?
  10. If I could be a go-to person for anything it would be…
  11. One thing that I am the most passionate about is…
  12. Who are you the most envious of and why?
  13. When people first meet me, I hope they feel…
  14. What do you need more of in your life?
  15. What skills do you wish you had the most?
  16. What do you love about yourself?
  17. What are your priorities at the moment?
  18. The last time that I truly felt alive was…
  19. What hobbies would you love to try?
  20. What can you do to take better care of yourself?
  21. At the end of my life, the legacy that I want to leave is…
  22. Where do you see yourself in six months? A year? 5 years? 10 years?
  23. How can you feel more fulfilled in your life?
  24. Set 3 short term goals and 3 long term goals for yourself and write why you chose them.
  25. What are your 5 favorite ways to relax and fill you up?
  26. What limiting beliefs are holding you back from fulfilling your dream life?
  27. What actions can you take to simplify your life?
  28. What does happiness mean to you?
  29. What is your dream job?
  30. If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you be and why?

Bonus: End with Gratitude

Now, if you really want to see the maximum benefits from journaling as I talked about above, I recommend ending each and every stream of consciousness journaling practice with gratitude. There are countless testimonials, studies and experiments that prove that incorporating gratitude into your daily life can improve your mental and emotional state and help you become more successful. That’s why thousands of successful people, celebrities, influencers, and change makers swear by a daily gratitude practice and owe their accomplishments to their simple gratitude ritual.

Even Oprah has a daily gratitude practice and swears that her daily gratitude journal has brought her the most joy, allowed her to keep up the stamina to build her empire, and attract a fan base that completely aligns with her message. Her gratitude practice is simply writing down 5 things that she feels grateful for each and every day – even if it’s something incredibly simple. Today, there are thousands of articles and videos that you can find online where successful people share their gratitude practice and open up about how it impacted their life and allowed them to be happier. Each practice may be slightly different, but it proves that incorporating gratitude practice or a gratitude journal into your routine improves your life in more ways than one.

My gratitude practice

Personally I’ve found that jotting down 3, 5, or 10 things that I’m grateful for is not enough for me. Writing down a bullet point isn’t enough to bring me that overwhelming sense of gratitude that has the potential to change my mindset and my life. Many people swear that their bullet journal changed their life, but I’ve had no success with it. Instead, I incorporate gratitude in my own way. At the end of each journaling session, I pick one thing that I’m grateful for that day and write about it in detail. It could be an insightful conversation with a stranger, or my partner, or an accomplishment – but whatever it is I write at least a paragraph about it. I write about what it is I’m grateful for and why I feel so happy to have this thing in my life. By writing in detail about one thing in particular it helps me feel a heightened sense of gratitude and completely shifts my mindset towards a positive one. It’s impossible to feel crappy after I finish my own gratitude practice.

It’s GIVEAWAY Time!

Since I’m such a huge believer in practicing journaling and gratitude each and every day and I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for months, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity for another Instagram Giveaway! I will be giving away a beautiful and super colorful daily gratitude journal to one lucky winner on my Instagram @heather.ione. It’s a gorgeous and lightweight journal that you can take with you anywhere to make it nice and easier to get yourself into your own daily gratitude practice! Make sure to head over there today to see how you could this beautiful little book, that I completely fell in love with because it 100% reminds me of my favorite book, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I really hope that you enjoyed learning about stream of consciousness writing, the benefits, and how to incorporate it in your daily life. And I hope that you can take something away from it that will be beneficial to you. I’ve seen this simple ritual impact my life like nothing else before. I swear by stream of consciousness journaling and I believe in its ability to improve our mental stage and make us happier. It’s a topic that I’ve been wanting to write about for many months on the blog in hopes that it could help others and inspire them to start journaling too.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Was this post helpful to you? Did you learn anything? Do you do stream of consciousness journaling? Did you see any benefits of your own? If so, what were they? And do you have your own gratitude practice?

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!

Photo Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

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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!