My Microblading and Permanent Makeup Experience: What They Don’t Tell You About Getting Your Face Tattooed

Beauty

Why I Got My Face Tattooed

I was 13 or 14 years old when I first learned of permanent makeup, tattooing your face to make it appear like you have eyeliner on and eyebrows filled in all the time. That very moment when I learned of it, I knew that I would get it done “someday.” Here’s why…

Self-confidence: For as long as I could remember I was self-conscious about the way I looked without makeup on. For several years as a teenager, I would even re-apply it at night time and wear it to bed. I would make sure to put it on first thing on a Saturday morning so even my own mother wouldn’t see me without makeup. I was completely ashamed of how I looked and was completely sucked into the world of beauty magazines and learning all the secrets to looking like my favorite celebrities. Poor, little 14-year-old Heather had no idea that celebrities not only have millions of dollars, but also have plastic surgery, lip injections, personal trainers, hair extensions, fake nails, spray tans, and beauty treatments to look like that!

I remember being extremely uncomfortable and unhappy whenever I would wake up from a sleepover and my friends would see me without a drop of foundation or mascara on. If I went to the beach I would feel uncomfortable and try to avoid eye contact with people. If I woke up on a family vacation I would have to put a full face on or I felt like my family would secretly judge how I looked.

I had a very unhealthy body image as a teenage girl and a very, very long and painful journey toward self-love and self-acceptance that I’m still working on to this day. But that’s what initially drew me to permanent makeup. From the moment I first learned of it in my early teens, I knew that I had to get it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in my own body until I had it. I knew that it would bring me some peace of mind and help me relax about how I looked without having to wear a full face of makeup each day.

A+ Brows: Right smack dab in the middle of high school, that’s suddenly when the brows became a big freaking deal. My Twitter account was blowing up with girls posting close-up photos of their brows and selfies with brows that would make you wonder, “How the f*ck did she do that?” The brows became sexier than boobs! All the so-called “popular” girls had the most gorgeous brows and would be complimented left and right about how their brows were “on fleek.” (Remember when that was a thing?)

Sadly, I didn’t have much to work with. My brows just didn’t have a nice shape to them. I’ve also never been someone that was into the makeup arts, I was way more into skincare. So I never learned how to get those brows that everyone wouldn’t shut up about.

Convenience: The last reason why I really wanted permanent makeup is for the convenience and ease of getting ready. I knew that I would save me so much time in the morning because I had to shape and fill in my eyebrows and then spend time fixing them and trying to get them to match and look identical. Some days they would look good and others not so much, but either way, they took a whole lot of time. I wanted to finally get ready and use those 10 minutes on my brows doing something else, like oh I don’t know, SLEEPING! I wanted to cut that part of my morning down significantly because I put makeup on because I have to, not because I love doing it.

Preparing for Permanent Makeup

I really wanted permanent makeup right from the second I heard about it, and I spent a decade looking at pictures of it in my free time, talking to women who had it done, reading FAQ’s about it, scoping out artists, looking at portfolios, and deciding what I wanted. I didn’t know when I was going to get it done, but I knew that I wanted to be prepared for the day I was old enough and finally had the money.

The day finally came in October 2017 when I made the decision to get permanent makeup and microblading. I then got it touched up in January 2018, so I’ve had it now for just over a year. Because it’s been a year, I’ve been asked about my experience with permanent makeup from women who are also interested in getting it done. I always answer their questions with honesty and try to be as helpful as I can, but I also don’t want to scare them away from getting it done. Because if I’m being completely honest here, getting your face tattooed is no walk in the park, and there are some things I really wish I would have known when I walked into that studio to get inked. Before you consider going in and getting your face done up, especially if you’re getting two makeup treatments done at once, it’s much more like getting outpatient surgery than is it spending a day in the spa.

Here’s my entire permanent makeup experience from start to finish. I share the dirty details that you won’t read in any other blog from the cost, the actual tattooing, the healing and more. I’ve never heard a completely open and honest account from anyone else who has had permanent makeup, and I really believe this a procedure women should be more transparent about with each other.

The Cost

I actually saved money several different times to get permanent makeup while I was in college. After doing my research into the prices from different artists, I knew that I would have to pay about $1,000 or more to have permanent eyeliner and microblading done from someone who was very good at it. Microblading and eyeliner are both usually several hundred dollars, but many professionals charge up to $500 or more for each procedure. However, because of the boom in permanent makeup popularity and the number of people getting certified to do it (also the ease of getting certified today… be careful who you let tattoo you), I’ve seen the price slowly coming down from $1,000-$1,500 for both eyeliner and microblading when I was in high school, to now, just a few hundred dollars.

Eventually, when I finally had the money, the time, and was mentally prepared to get inked, I found the artists of Professionals in Permanent Makeup through Groupon. I had looked at other places, but I knew that I trusted the Professionals in Permanent Makeup more than anyone else I had come across, even though I found it through a Groupon deal. They had tons of five-star reviews, a very hefty portfolio of flawless microblading and eyeliner, and they were just 30 minutes from my house!

Also, because I was 1) getting Groupon pricing 2) getting two permanent makeup procedures done and 3) paying the entire amount up front, the cost was significantly cheaper than I thought it would be! So oftentimes, when girls ask me how much it costs to get it done, I have a difficult time answering that question because I searched for a great deal. At the end of the day I had to pay about $500 to get microblading and eyeliner done, and then about $200 for the touchups. I remember being so happy that I didn’t end up paying $1500 by the end of it! Again, the price is lowering because it’s more popular, but I believe you get what you pay for. I wouldn’t trust someone to tattoo my face for $250. To me, higher prices mean they have more experience.

The Consultation

What I remember most of all during the consultation was how worried I was that they wouldn’t understand the look that I was going for. I’ve gone into hair salons before and came out with a completely different color than I asked for. What if that happened with permanent makeup? I was so nervous that somehow they wouldn’t understand that I wanted definition and shape to my brows, but that I also wanted to look natural. I didn’t want to walk out with crazy eyebrows that didn’t match my face. What made it extra nerve wracking for me was that I noticed that Stella, the woman who was actually going to be tattooing me, not only couldn’t speak English but was bouncing around the room the whole time setting up for her appointment that day. Kathy, from the Professionals in Permanent Make-up, was the one who sat with me the whole time and would translate some parts or ask Stella some questions. Then Stella would occasionally come over and look at my face. Kathy told me about the process and the healing and asked me lots of questions about how I preferred to wear my makeup.

I also remember the consultation being quick and efficient. I wasn’t there for more than 20 minutes or so. And I remember that they were very interested in how I wear my makeup every day and I was told to wear my makeup to the consultation so they could see what my everyday look is like.

The Pre-Permanent Makeup Mental Breakdowns

Leading up to the appointment, I was a hot mess. I wanted my makeup done my whole life, but as soon as the appointment was booked I started panicking and thinking of every possible thing that could go wrong. My mind went something like this for the days leading up to the appointment, “What if they accidentally tattoo big black lines on my face? What if the eyebrows are crooked? What if they mess up the shape? What if it’s obvious I got them done? What if I’m making a big mistake? What if I chose the wrong person? Should I have done more research?”

For that reason, I also went to the Facebook page for the Professional in Permanent Makeup and looked through their before and after photos about 15-20 times a day. I would always look at their page and be reminded of how beautiful their work is and calm down, then I would start to panic again, and frantically open up the page.

I was such a nervous wreck that I couldn’t eat and was in a constant state of stress from anticipation. My boyfriend, Matt, can tell you that I was completely panicking and was not at all pleasant to be around then. He had to constantly reassure me that everything was going to be ok.

My Experience & What They Don’t Tell You About Permanent Makeup

When the day finally arrived for my appointment, I ended up getting my car towed right before I was about to leave and wasn’t able to make my appointment. I called and had to reschedule and out of Stella and Kathy’s generosity I didn’t have to pay a fee for not making the appointment which they are normally very strict about. Then I had to go through the anticipation all over again! Eventually, the day arrived, I didn’t get my car towed, and it was time to finally get my face tattooed after over 10 years of wanting it done. And let me just say it was the longest five hours of my life!!

My appointment started with Kathy and Stella taking many measurements of my face, drawing on my face to create my shape, and constantly stepping away to make sure the outlines were symmetrical. I remember being so lost because they were doing so many things to prep my face and prepare for the microblading. Stella also did threading on my brows to shape them and get rid of the little hairs that were hanging around. I had watched videos of women getting microblading done before, but I never actually saw the process of creating the shape ahead of time.

Stella and Kathy also kept handing me a mirror to look at the shape and see if it was what I wanted. I remembering being so overwhelmed because there were so many lines and markings on my face that I couldn’t even visualize what the final product was going to look like. I kept thinking, “There’s too much going on! The brows are too big! I’m gonna look like I have Nike Swooshes on my face!” I’m not at all good visualizing a final project, so this part was so very difficult for me. I finally had to give them the ok, and trust their judgment.

Then, the actual tattooing started. This is the stuff, no one tells you ahead of time: IT HURTS. Stella was numbing me as she was tattooing me, but for the first 20-30 minutes, I was in pain. I felt every little cut on my face as I laid there questioning every decision I had made in my life. I often get asked by other women whether it’s painful. I always tell them the truth. Someone is making little cuts all over your brows, so yes it hurts. There’s nothing pleasant about it. The only good thing is that after a while you start to not feel it and the pain goes away. You slowly get used to the sensation and the numbing starts to kick in.

Unfortunately, I was so nervous about getting it done and laying on that table for 5 hours getting my face tattooed, that the entire time I had adrenaline pumping through my body. I was on high alert. My heart felt like it was going to pop out of my chest, I felt sick, I was worried, and I was hyper-aware of everything that was happening around me. I often hear girls, who went through the microblading or eyeliner procedure, say that it wasn’t that bad and they fell asleep. For me, I was in a state of stress from the moment the tattooing began. I’m a worrier so all I could think about was every possible thing that could go wrong. The thing that I was most worried about during the microblading was her hand slipping causing a giant scar or line of ink across my face forever.

After the pain of being cut finally subsided, it was still incredibly uncomfortable. What had never occurred to me was that there would be a woman pressing and drawing on my face for 5 hours straight! Throughout the whole process, I could not get used to how heavy and uncomfortable it was to feel her hand and arm pushing against my face and resting her weight there. On top of that, she had to wipe my face and eyes many, many, many times. By the time I left my face was so swollen and red that I didn’t even look like myself.

I also remember more than anything that throughout the process of tattooing, I had to sneeze and blow my nose constantly. I had this intense tickle in my nose that didn’t go away for those 5 hours, and it got a million times worse once it was time to do the eyeliner. I had to keep stopping to ask for tissue and blow my nose, and I could tell Stella was getting annoyed by it.

I eventually decided to keep the tissue box in my hand the whole time and had to hold the tissue against my nose during some parts of the tattooing to keep the tickle at bay. The constant tickle sensation and the feeling of having to sneeze was something I didn’t expect at all. I had never heard of other women having that reaction and it made the fears so much worse because I kept thinking, “What if I sneeze, causing her hand to slip and I end up with a scar or a line of ink across my forehead?”

I had made it through the microblading ok, but once I had gotten to the eyeliner, that’s when my nerves shot even farther through the roof. I don’t think I’ve ever been so worried before in my life. It began with Stella giving me three numbing shots in each eye, which was the worst part of the entire experience. I could feel the pain and pinching sensation of the needle followed by the liquid from the shot popping all over my eyeball. The numbing shots were so excruciating. I had never had pain that strongly in my eye before. It’s such a delicate area filled with so many nerve endings, I don’t know why I had never heard of women saying they were in pain from getting it done.

The actual eyeliner tattoo was far worse than microblading. I could see the outline of the needle through eyelids since there was a fluorescent light above my face. I would feel my eyelid and eyeball vibrating, and I could feel the little punching of the tattoo gun. In some parts, Stella was trying to get close to my lash line and my eye would actually open slightly. I tried so hard to hold my eyes still and closed the entire time but Stella needed my eyelids to lay flat for the tattooing. So there were moments when my eyelid would creep open.

That moment of my eyelid opening and seeing the needle through the light over my face is an image I will have permanently ingrained in my mind. I’ve never been so terrified before. My biggest fear for those few hours was that all it would take is one slip of her hand and I would be blind forever.

Also, keep in mind that throughout my entire experience, my makeup artist and I couldn’t talk to each other. I would always have to talk to Kathy who would relay something to Stella. I think what made it all so much scarier was not only getting a face tattoo, but getting a face tattoo while having a language barrier! Five hours of getting my face tattooed by someone and we never even said a word to each other. I think that also made it feel so much longer because she couldn’t check in with me and tell me little updates about how it was coming. I was in the dark the entire time wondering when the hell it was going to be over.

Immediately After Getting Inked

Immediately after the appointment, I was ROUGH. My face was swollen, my skin was red, and my eyebrows and eyeliner looked like someone had drawn over them with a sharpie. You know how when you get a fresh tattoo, the ink is really dark and prominent? Ok, imagine that on your face. It was a scary sight to see. I also was incredibly sensitive to light and felt like I wanted to lock myself in a dark room and never come out.

Walking out into the light of day was surreal. It had felt like I had just been punched in the face repeatedly. My eyes couldn’t really focus on anything and all they wanted to do was rest. My body was still so on edge and filled with adrenaline that I was shaking. I felt like the way I would imagine feeling after getting tased, only that sensation lasted for a whole day.

The worst part about afterward though, was that I had to run several errands in Jax and then drive myself an hour and a half to Matt’s house in downtown St. Augustine, DURING rush hour. I can barely survive Jacksonville rush hour traffic even when I’m feeling like myself, let alone after getting my face tattooed. If you ever decide to get it done, especially eyeliner, for the love of life have someone else drive you! Kathy and Stella told me that many women would drive down to see them from Atlanta and then drive themselves back home after getting it done, and I have no idea how that would be possible. My eyes were so swollen, tired, unable to focus, and sensitive to light that I almost got into car accidents the entire drive home. Driving yourself home after permanent makeup is about as smart as driving yourself home after taking seven shots of tequila.

The Healing Process

Here’s another fun fact about my permanent makeup experience… I never told my family that I was getting it done and I had to keep it a secret even though I still lived with them at the time. Long story short, there’s a woman in my family who has permanent makeup that everyone hates. She married in the family for money, and her life revolves around getting plastic surgery, doing her makeup, shopping for designer bags, and gossiping about anyone who is below her socio-economic class. So now, my family associates permanent makeup with her, and they’re 100% against it.

So when I was going to get it, I knew that if they found out, it would cause screaming matches and probably lead to them taking away my car or something to make a point about their disapproval. I had to stay at Matt’s house for almost an entire week hiding away and making up reasons as to why I wasn’t coming home.

I hung around his house with a super puffy face, keeping my head elevated, and drinking shocking amounts of water trying to get my face to go back to normal. Any time I would eat something with even a little bit of salt in it, my face would puff up again like blowfish and I was back to square one. During this time Matt also had to keep talking me off the ledge every time I looked in the mirror. Kathy has tried to tell me about how it would look after, but I didn’t know my eyebrows and eyeliner would be that cartoonish.

Just like when you get a regular tattoo, the ink continues to fall out in the following days. Your skin doesn’t hold all of it, so it looked like my eyebrows were nothing but large, dark brown Nike Swooshes on my face until the ink slowly started to come away. I also wasn’t able to get them wet or wash my face for a week or two.

Throughout the healing, the ink continued to fall out as scabs formed on my face. I remember how itchy my eyebrows were more than anything, but I wasn’t able to scratch them or it could have messed it up and peeled off the ink. As they were healing, the skin on my brows flaked off much like dandruff and I kept my eyebrow brush around to lightly remove the dead skin cells.

The healing was far more unpleasant for the eyeliner than it was for the microblading. When the eyeliner was healing it had a big scab all over the area that was tattooed. It stuck far out from my eyelid and was a nasty gray color from all the ink. It also had to fall off on its own even though all I wanted to do was rip it off and not have it on my face. That was the worst of the healing process because it took close to two weeks to fall off. What actually happened was that half the scab was still attached to my face and half of it was stuck in my eyelashes. I couldn’t even remove that part because it would pull at the rest of the scab. So there I was for a full 10 days with half of the scab stuck in the center of my lashes and the other half attached. Then when the scab fell off, the majority of my eyelashes fell out with it. From the first day I had gotten it done until I was completely healed, I wore sunglasses 24/7.

The only thing that I had to do as far as cleaning and maintenance was using this little product made out of a mixture of ingredients including beeswax and vitamin E to clean and moisturize it. I absolutely hated that part because the product was so hard and sticky that it actually hurt to put it on. It didn’t feel like I was being moisturized and helping it to heal at all. I would have much rather used Aquaphor, but I don’t think they would have wanted me to because it would have been wetter.

The Touchup

Once I finally healed and the scabs were completely gone, I was pretty happy with the makeup so far, but it wasn’t completely perfect yet. The coloring looked great, but the eyebrows had some flaws and didn’t completely match. That’s why they always want you to come in for a touch up after several weeks. My eyebrows had some minor things that had to be corrected where the skin didn’t hold ink in some areas, and one of the eyebrows was slightly thinner than the other. I also ended up getting a white head on one spot as I was healing so no ink stayed there causing a small spot that didn’t hold any ink. I counted down the days until my touch up and still kept panicking about how it would look in the end (because that’s just what I do).

When the day came for me to get the touch up, it wasn’t nearly as bad as getting it done the first time. It didn’t take as long getting the makeup done because it was pretty close to perfect. It also wasn’t as traumatic and nerve-racking the second time around and the healing was much more pleasant. It still was not necessarily enjoyable but at least I knew what to expect and I wasn’t in there for more than 5 hours. The worst of it was finally over. For that reason, I’ll probably regularly go back for touch ups so that whenever I do get it done, it’s quick and painless.

The Takeaway

Moving forward, Kathy recommends getting a touch up every 2-3 years, but if you like your makeup looking super fresh and close to perfect, they recommend every year and a half. I’ll be going back for my microblading touch up in the next 2-3 months, but I don’t know if I’ll ever do the eyeliner touched up. I like having it done and I like how defined my eyes are without make-up on but I don’t know if the pain and procedure is worth it to me.

I’m sharing my full experience with all this detail with you today not to scare you, create clickbait, or convince you to not get permanent makeup done. I’m sharing this with you today because I heard so many women talk about it as if it wasn’t a big deal and getting it done wasn’t uncomfortable at all. The women that I read reviews from and talked to about it made permanent makeup sound like it was as simple and painless as getting a pedicure. It makes me so mad that I never heard about all of this before I went in and got inked.

My theory is that many women don’t want to share what they went through in order to look prettier without makeup. I think women have a fear of being judged about what we put ourselves through for our vanity. We live in this weird culture where women are expected to look like a Kardashian but are then judged for trying too hard and getting invasive procedures done all for the sake of looking younger, prettier, and more feminine. Yet there’s so much pressure to look good, can you blame women for trying?

So today, I wanted to share with you what they don’t tell you about getting your face tattooed – all those uncomfortable little details of the process that make you lay on a spa table for 5 hours with a needle in your face questioning every life decision you’ve made. But hell, it makes for an entertaining story and I always get a ton of laughs from it when I tell people all about it.

Believe me, I’m happy I got permanent makeup. I’m SO happy I got it. I love the way that it looks and I get compliments about my makeup all the time and about how well done it is. It not only makes my routine easier but it has made me so much more confident. I just didn’t like getting it done, and now I make sure that every woman who tells me about how they want microblading or eyeliner done knows what they’re getting into ahead of time.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Remember to keep an eye out for my upcoming blog post with all of your Frequently Asked Questions about permanent make-up. I answer one question at a time from readers and followers who are curious about the procedure.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Do you have permanent makeup? Do you want to get it done? Why did you decide to get it? If you did get it done, what was your experience like? Was it easier for you or about the same? And I’m curious, what exactly did you get done? Did you drive yourself home afterward?! Did you have any crazy tickling sensation like me?

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.

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?

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Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.