Put it in the Suggestion Box: I Need an Advice Detox

Self-Help, Spirituality

Hold onto your seats guys! This one’s a doozy. Pull up a chair, grab your blue light glasses, and pour yourself a cup of coffee.

This is a blog post I’ve been wanting to write for some time now, but have always stopped myself from writing out of fear that it may come across too pessimistic. But after careful consideration, I decided to do it anyway. Partially because I was lucky enough to meet someone who has had a strikingly similar experience as me. And since then I started to think, maybe I’m not the only one who struggles with this issue… Maybe this is something that’s brewing inside of many of us, but we don’t talk about it out of fear that other people will think we’re too negative, overly angry, or overly sensitive. So here it is. 

This is a post that I’ve created to share my life-long struggle with other people’s opinions about how I “should” live my life. I’ll be sharing my experience with overly opinionated people pushing me to live my life according to their values and opinions leading up to WHY this matters. NOT just for me, but for everyone. I dive into this social issue and explore why I believe this is so prevalent in our interactions, how age and gender play into it, and end with a spiritual reason for this tense energy we’re finding in the 21st century. I also share the important takeaways that I believe we need to hear NOW more than ever so that we can all finally live in a world where we’re allowed to break away from the mold and be different! Where we’re allowed to choose a different path, pursue our interests without judgment, and live according to our personal values. Let’s get into it!

My Story 

I’ve been a bit unfortunate to have figures in my life who are extremely opinionated about virtually every aspect of my life – from the food I eat, the house I buy and to the fact that I want a dog! I’ve had unwarranted opinions thrown at me to the point where it’s become the most talked-about issue during my therapy sessions. And according to my therapist, I’m not the only woman who has had an experience like this (but we’ll get to that later).

Because after 24 years of every important figure in my life having an opinion about how I should live and what I “should” and “shouldn’t” do, I’ve reached max capacity for other people’s “advice.” I’ve been forced again and again to live according to other people’s standards that I can’t take any more input.

Here’s what I mean…

The earliest piece of “advice” or rather opinions that I remember getting as a child about how I “should” live was when an estranged family member told me that I shouldn’t study cosmetology and open up a salon someday, even though that was my life-long dream. Instead, he told me that I should marry a rich man from the country club to take care of me. True story. “You’re not going to CUT HAIR!” he said to me. “How are you going to take care of yourself!? How are you going to buy groceries!?”

Fast forward to my most recent example which happened today (the day I started writing this post). I went to Home Goods to make several big purchases like an office chair and a chair for our living room. I must have told the woman at the register 10 times that I DIDN’T want to open up a credit card, but she wouldn’t listen to me. She felt that I needed to have a Home Goods credit card SO BADLY because SHE loves HER Home Goods credit card. Therefore, I should have one too!

She kept calling me “crazy” over and over again for not wanting to open up the credit card and actually wouldn’t let me buy my furniture any other way! Can you believe that?! Never has someone turned away my money at a cash register before! I was trapped at the register and then ganged up on by two female cashiers who refused to run my card to pay for my purchases. For whatever reason, they felt that I needed to have this credit card and wouldn’t listen to me no matter how much I said that I didn’t want one. Finally, I choked back tears at the cash register as I was forced to open up a card I never wanted (without even hearing the “rewards” or “benefits” of a Home Goods card).

For as long as I can remember I’ve been pressured into making certain decisions and hearing people’s so-called “advice” without being respected at all. From the color that I choose to paint my walls, to the dog I get, to the credit cards I open, to the college degree I chose to pursue, I’ve been bulldozed by others. Sometimes it’s the people who are closest to me, and sometimes it’s strangers. 

This is an issue that has plagued me for as long as I can remember. From the time when I was a child, to even today as I go about purchasing my furniture or home.

I’m not talking about friendly advice that one person passes onto another. I’m talking about someone inserting themselves into my life decisions and refusing to respect my opinion. I’m talking about having to full-on defend myself for months over a choice that I made that doesn’t impact the other person. I’m referring to “advice” like this:

  • “You shouldn’t get a dog. You’ll regret it. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have my dog.”
  • “You shouldn’t get a Samoyed.” (Even though that’s the breed I’ve wanted for a decade)
  • “You shouldn’t move to St. Pete. You should live in Hyde Park instead. That’s where I would live.”
  • “You should buy a house.”
  • “You shouldn’t buy a house.”
  • “You shouldn’t buy THAT mattress, you should get the ______ mattress instead.”
  • “You shouldn’t get your Apple Watch at the Apple store, you should get it at Best Buy.”
  • “You shouldn’t paint your walls white, that’s boring. It’ll just look washed out.” (Even though that’s MY style)
  • “You shouldn’t quit your job. You should wait a year until you get a promotion.”
  • “You shouldn’t go to Europe, you might land a six-figure job at Louis Vuitton.” (This one still confuses me)
  • “You shouldn’t study cosmetology.” (Even though that was my life-long dream since I was 4-years-old)
  • “You should go to business school.”
  • “You shouldn’t move to Florida, you should stay in Wisconsin and finish your degree.” (Even though I have severe seasonal affective disorder)
  • “You should break up with your boyfriend, he seems TOO into you.” (Ummmm it’s called love, and isn’t that a good thing?)
  • “You should eat dairy.” (Even though I’m lactose intolerant) 
  • “You should at least eat butter.” (Yep, still lactose intolerant over here)
  • “You should be on birth control.” (Even though it made me lactose intolerant, severely depressed, and made me lose my hair!) “It doesn’t matter, you should still be on a low dose of birth control.”

These are just a few examples of the opinions I’m talking about. Maybe you can relate?

“Why do you care, Heather?”

From talking with other people about this issue, I’m starting to notice a pattern in how men and women respond to this problem. When I voice this struggle with women, they tend to agree with my frustration. They may or may not have the same experience as me, but they understand how someone blatantly disrespecting my life’s choices is infuriating. When I talk about this with men, their response is, “Why do you care?”

For example, one night when I was venting to a friend about opinions someone said to me about what my family “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing during the most difficult year of their lives (apparently we’re making all of our life decisions wrong) he looked at me, turned his head to the side, furrowed his eyebrows and said, “My question to you is, why do you care? What does it matter to you what someone else thinks?”

And I’m willing to bet there’s someone else reading this post now, thinking the same insensitive thought. “Why do you even care, Heather?” 

Here’s why I care: I’m tired of living my life having to defend every single decision that I make. Who I choose to date, what dog I’m getting, where I get the dog, what house I want to live in, what TV I put in my own damn living room, or what podcast I listen to. I’m only 24 years old and I. am. exhausted. I’m so, completely, 100% exhausted. I’m tired of having arguments with people where I defend the choices I make that don’t even affect them. It’s too frustrating. 

There comes a point where you can only be disrespected by so many people. There comes a point where you can’t take having to argue your life decisions anymore. I hit my limit about two years ago.

Secondly, you and I are human beings. And you know what that means? We all have our own tastes; our own opinions; and our own values. And one person’s tastes, opinions, and values are not BETTER than another’s. This is why we choose to live differently. Some of us choose to not get married or have kids. Some of us decide that we need a big house and a high paying job, while other people decide they want a more simple life. Some of us like the color white for a living room and some like it beige. And guess what? That’s ok. We are all very different people. If we were all clones of each other and made all of the exact same decisions, life would be SO BORING! It wouldn’t even be worth living in the first place. We would all be clones who ate the same food, went to the same school, vacationed in the same spots, decorated our homes the same, etc. There would be no such thing as color, art, or diversity.

Life would be like that movie “Pleasantville” with Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire. In the movie, Pleasantville is a television program and is a “place where life is simple, people are perfect, and everything is black and white.” A place where all the citizens are simple-minded and the world has absolutely no problems, worries, or violence. And NOTHING exists outside of Pleasantville. 

One night, while Pleasantville plays in the background, the brother and sister start fighting over the remote (apparently a magic remote) which ends up transporting them into the world of “Pleasantville” forcing them to live in this black and white, 50s lifestyle where everyone’s desires are repressed and everyone is exactly the same as each other! Do we really want real life to be like that? I’m thinking no.

Why does this matter?

So at this point, you might be wondering, “Ok, why does this matter, Heather?” Well, it turns out that my theory was correct: I’m not the only person who struggles with this issue! In fact, this is something that countless people struggle with, but we just don’t talk about it.

During one of my therapy sessions, my therapist shared with me that my experience seemed more extreme than most of her patients, BUT not abnormal. This is actually a very common complaint among women in particular. Most of her patients that she sees struggle with being bulldozed by other people’s opinions about what they should and shouldn’t be doing. According to my therapist, the difference between me and the other patients she sees is that at least I still fight back.

The patients that she sees who struggle with this challenge have completely given up on asserting themselves altogether. After years of this happening, they reached the point where they have lost their voice. Instead, they’ve become so convinced that their opinion is invaluable and wrong that they don’t make choices for themselves or speak up when they feel uncomfortable.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear that I feel so sad. It’s heartbreaking to me to know that there are girls who have completely given up altogether. Who have accepted that society doesn’t respect them enough that they find it easier to let other people sit in the driver’s seat of their own life. If you ask me, I think this needs to stop.

The reason why this matters is that it’s about time that we all learn an important lesson. A lesson that history should have taught us over and over and over again by now. We have to learn to RESPECT each other. To COEXIST. To live in harmony with the other people in our lives without feeling the need to fix them or shape them into how we want them to be.

Because A) It’s not nice. We’re adults and we should know this is freaking rude. Right? AND B) I bet 99% of people would say that living in a Pleasantville would be extremely boring and not fun at all.

So, why do we try so hard to control another person when we know these things to be true?

Why do we do this? 

After putting much thought into this over the last year, I have a few theories as to why we do this to each other.

1. We tend to think we know more than everyone else

I noticed this in people, regardless of age and gender. The vast majority of us think that we know more than everybody else. That we have the correct tastes, opinions, values, and perspective and everyone else is batsh*t crazy. It’s why whenever election time comes around the entire country’s population ends up dividing into two groups and HATING each other. Come election time in every cocktail party, class discussion, and neighborhood conversation you could cut the tension with a knife.

2. We can look at each other’s lives with clarity

Isn’t it interesting how when you look at another person’s life you can tell exactly what they have to do to better themselves? For example, you can look at your friend’s toxic relationship and think, “If she would just break up with him she would be SO much happier.” But when it comes to our own lives it’s a mystery! We’re so emotionally involved in our own lives that we can’t look at it clearly. Yet, we can look at someone else’s life and see what WE feel they need to do to improve because we’re not as invested in it. 

However, it comes across as treating the other person like they are our project. As if we have some sort of authority over another person’s life when in reality NONE of us have it figured out. And also none of us REALLY know for sure what another person “should” or “shouldn’t” do because we’re taking an outside perspective of their life and placing our life experiences on it.

3. We like having a sense of control over others

Playing off of what I said in #2, our own lives are a mystery to us. We all have problems, we all have issues, and health concerns and life crises, that we honestly don’t know how to fix. It’s stressful and overwhelming, isn’t it? Which is why New Year’s Resolutions fail over and over again. It’s hard! Life is hard! Which is why having a sense of control over someone else makes us feel good. It makes us feel better that even though our lives are FAR from perfect if we could just insert ourselves into a conversation and share with someone all of the opinions we have about improving their lives, it makes us feel better. In some cases, it gives us a little power trip because we are asserting ourselves over another person and putting them down. 

But it also makes us feel in control in a good way. It makes us feel valuable, powerful, helpful, smart, and capable. Our own life might be a mess, but at least we were able to fix someone else’s problem. For many people, even if their opinion was not invited or appreciated by the other person, we still feel as if we helped out. A classic example of this would be the relationship between mothers and their children. Moms LOVE that feeling of swooping in and telling their children what to do because it makes them feel happy and helpful regardless of if it actually helped.

This does not mean that we like controlling other people like puppets (although let’s be honest some people do) it just means that we like having control in general because many people lack that control in their own lives.

4. Gender plays a huge role in this issue 

I’m a young woman. Therefore society tends to view me as someone who is weak and needs assistance. As someone who can’t possibly know what she wants out of life and have her own valid opinion. People feel the need to swoop in and “assist” young women by telling them what to do. But it’s not just MEN who do this. In my own experience, most of the time it’s actually women doing this to other women. Society views young women in particular as if they were children who need to be guided and assisted through every decision.

This is also why when I talk to men about this issue they have NO idea what I’m referring to. Men aren’t typically bulldozed in conversations. When they say “NO” to someone, people hear the word “no.” When women say “NO” to someone, people hear the phrase, “I don’t know, convince me.”

And lastly, I think it’s safe to say that gender plays a huge role in this issue because of how men respond to this topic. I’m referring to the question, “Why do you care?” It seems to me that men don’t have to care about someone inserting themselves into their business, but women do. Because when women say no to something or voice their opinions it’s often followed by a long lecture from the other person trying to convince them to choose differently. Men’s opinions and decisions are often respected in society whereas women have to struggle with this issue for decades. If someone doesn’t respect a man’s opinion, they can just go on with their day, but for women, this is an issue that comes up every day for years. We have to constantly defend our opinions so we HAVE to care about this topic, simply because it’s something that affects us more.

I believe that if I was a man, I wouldn’t have people arguing with me about my paint color for TWO YEARS. And I certainly don’t think that I would have been forced to open up a credit card after saying that I didn’t want one.

Disclaimer: I’m NOT at all shaming men in this post and not saying that this experience is the same for all men and women everywhere. I’m simply saying that throughout history and even now, men have been allowed to assert themselves and make their own decisions without needing to defend them. Again, I want to acknowledge that I know this is not 100% the case for everyone.

How do we fix this if we’re on the receiving end?

Of course, you know that I’m not going to leave you hanging with this problem fresh on your mind without addressing HOW to fix it and my takeaways. If you are struggling with this same problem, here are 5 tips that I put together to help you hold your own in a world that just won’t listen.

1. Trust your intuition 

Trusting your intuition is something that I’ve talked about many times in my blog by now. If you want to learn more about intuition, make sure to check out my blog post “How to Recognize Universal Signs.” But I’m bringing it up again now because I know first-hand that it’s extremely difficult to trust your intuition about your own life’s decisions when you have people SCREAMING at you to make another choice. Even if you’ve had a knowingness your entire life about what you should be doing, when it’s you against everyone in your family or every professor at your school, that internal compass is so difficult to trust. It’s much more subtle than a room full of people drinking red wine and criticizing your decisions. 

You look at these people in your life being so vocal about what you “should” be doing, that eventually, you trust them over your own instinct. Even though your internal compass, gut feelings, interests, and skills are all pushing you towards one thing, all of that can be immediately replaced with someone else’s voice, closed-mindedness, and fear-based mentality. Because your intuition doesn’t have a physical voice. You have to really want to listen to it.

But deep down, only YOU know what’s right for you. Only you can tell what’s the right decision for you to make for your own well-being and happiness. As loud as people may scream, as rude as they may get, as nosey as they may be – you have to trust in yourself. Your intuition can give you all the answers that you need and only by having that faith in yourself can you be happy and reach your highest potential and evolvement.

2. Keep it a secret

In a previous blog post that I wrote, “How I Freed Myself From the Opinions of Others,” I wrote about how I learned that if I kept secrets about my life’s decisions from the people who are unsupportive of me I saved myself countless arguments and passive-aggressive comments. 

The people who are supportive of my lifestyle, my dreams, and my interests I share everything with. But the people who aren’t supportive of me, I’m very selective about what I tell them. At first, when I made this decision to keep secrets from people, I remember feeling very sad about it. I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to open up and talk about myself with family, friends, and other important people in my life. But then I realized that with unsupportive people, I’ve never been able to open up to anyways! Keeping secrets about myself has been a lifesaver! 

But I don’t mean keeping secrets in a sketchy or negative way. I just mean that if someone I know is extremely against a choice I make, I’m not going to bring it up and invite an argument. If someone you know has very strong opinions about plastic surgery, then why tell them you’re getting it done if you know it’ll lead to a fight? If someone you know is against a gluten-free or vegan lifestyle, then why mention that you’re going vegan or gluten-free? It’s unfortunate that we have to omit details about ourselves from conversation to avoid being talked down to, but it works.

3. Surround yourself with supportive people

The next thing that I recommend doing if you’re on the receiving end of criticism is to make it a point to surround yourself with positive people. This took me a while to do, and I’m still trying to work on it. But I made it a point in the last year to connect with people who have the same interests as me and are supportive of my lifestyle and my decisions rather than surrounding myself with the same types of people I used to and hoping to earn their approval and acceptance. 

What I’ve learned from that experience is that your mindset is very influenced by the people around you. I went from having an extremely fear-based mentality thinking that I was never going to amount to anything to having faith in myself and seeing my own potential. Whether you realize it or not, you are very influenced by the people around you, and if you want to become the best version of yourself you have to connect to people who lift you up.

I will admit this is something that takes a while to do. You can’t just change your entire network automatically, but you do it one day at a time. My favorite way to do this is by getting someone’s number and scheduling a call or meeting them for coffee. It takes a while, but by slowly building that one relationship at a time, you’ll look back at your experience over the last few months and realize what a profound change your new circle has had on your mindset.

4. Practice what to say

I’ve been talking about this in therapy for weeks and I’ve analyzed this issue for the last year trying to figure out why people do this to me and how to stop it. But still, all that analyzing didn’t help me when someone made me open up a credit card that I didn’t want. It didn’t make all of the opinions from others come to a halt. If you’re on the receiving end of this, the best thing that you can do is spend some time alone and PLAN OUT what to say when something like this happens.

Because I know that when I’m actually in a place where someone is disrespecting me, I’m so shocked that I don’t even know how to respond. For that reason, the situation gets out of hand and before you know it you’re stuck talking with someone who’s being extremely forceful about their opinions or you have multiple people ganging up on you at the same time. To prevent this from happening, I recommend writing and practicing ready-made phrases to say when you’re in the situation. These phrases should be short and sweet, not some long drawn out explanation as to why your opinion matters (like I did in this post lol). They should be short phrases that you have ready so you can use them when you notice this happening.

For example, Matt came up with one once where he said: “Thank you for the suggestion, we will take it into consideration.” It was great, and certainly got the point across, but it was a tad formal! But don’t just choose the phrase and hope that you’ll remember it or be able to use it in real life, it’s important to visualize it and practice. Practice saying this to yourself (maybe in the mirror) so you can practice how assertive you want to come across as well as your tone or facial expressions. This will allow you to practice the phrase so you can use it easily in real-time.

The other reason why it’s important to practice is that by playing around with the way you say it you’ll practice a way of saying the phrase that doesn’t come across as being rude. If it does it will only cause the person to get defensive. 

5. Remember that change starts with you

There are people like me who are more-so on the receiving end of this behavior, but because of this, it’s often behavior that they eventually learn and do to others even if we don’t realize it. For example, have you ever been going about your day having a conversation with someone and say something and immediately think, “Oh my gosh. My mother just came out of my mouth!” That happens to me all the time. We don’t just pick up on someone’s physical habits, we also learn how to interact with others.

Because I’ve become so hyper-aware of people disrespecting my decisions I’ve caught myself passing my opinions and “advice” onto others. The most important thing to take away if you notice that this has happened to you is self-awareness. Don’t just play victim, but notice what has happened to you and recognize that urge to react the same way to others. It’s surprising how much passing our opinions onto other people has become a knee-jerk reaction. Become self-aware so that you can resist the urge to do it to someone else because change starts with you.

Important lessons for all of us. My takeaways:

As much as I felt that it was important to share advice for people like me on the receiving end of opinions, this is a topic that’s not just up to people like me to change. This is a challenging social issue that’s going to take everyone to change. So I wanted to include important lessons and takeaways for all of us to embody. Because it’s not fair for certain people to be steamrolled in life just because of their gender or demeanor.

I think that it’s vital that we all learn these basic lessons and carry them into our interactions with others so that we can all live in harmony regardless of having different opinions, styles, or values. It’s completely ok to have a close relationship with someone (whether it be a family member, friend, co-workers, or neighbor) and have different opinions or disagree. If we all embodied these lessons today, I know for a fact that we would live in a much better world. 

1. Understand there’s a difference between advice and opinions

Over the last several years where I became extremely frustrated with people trying to control me, I gained a reputation for hating ADVICE. But the truth is, I LOVE advice. I appreciate advice and I regularly ask people for advice about health concerns, business, blogging, etc. It’s why I network with other female entrepreneurs, have a business coach, see a therapist, see a wellness ambassador, etc. I love talking with other people about life and hearing their advice.

What I don’t love is someone offering me their opinion and being extremely disrespectful towards me about my choices, style, and life decisions and arguing with me in an attempt to try to pressure me to do something else. Such as live in a city that I don’t want to live in. That is not advice, that’s someone shoving their opinion at me and then trying to pass it off as “helpful advice.” Advice and opinions are two entirely different things. Advice is usually given when someone needs help with something. You give advice when there is a problem that someone is having or if they need help making a decision.

If I said that I was unsure of which town to move to after graduation, and you suggested that I drive through the different towns around Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami to help me decide which area I saw myself living in, THAT’S giving someone helpful advice. Now, if I were to say that I’ve made up my mind that I want to live in St. Pete and have wanted to live there for a year and you were to respond by spending months trying to get me to live anywhere else and disrespecting a choice that I have made, that’s NOT helpful advice. That’s just projecting your opinions and feelings onto me while disrespecting a life-choice that I have already made. See what I mean? Advice and opinions are two entirely different things.

2. Know that everyone’s path in life is different 

If there’s one thing that I really want to become common sense is that everyone’s path in life is different. What tends to happen is that older generations tend to persuade younger generations to live the way that they did and make the exact same choices. But the problem is that every person’s path in life is different, as it should be. Every soul comes to this planet with their own mission, with a purpose, with unique skills and traits that nobody else has. And once we are in these walking, talking, breathing, monkey suits we have our own unique life experience, and as a result, we will choose a different path in life. Choosing to follow your own path, trust your intuition, and make your own choices is what we are all meant to do. Which is why it’s important that we all respect we’re each on our own journey.

3. Remember that times have changed

We’ve all heard that phrase “times have changed” but let’s take a minute to reflect on just HOW MUCH has changed in the last few decades. The world that I grew up in was extremely different than the one my parents and grandparents grew up in. Of course, it was because of the internet. As one adult in my life put it, “your world was much larger than the world we grew up in.” And I think that’s the perfect way to describe it. 

We connected with people online, we grew up as our technology evolved drastically, we watched people’s lives online, and we learned of more opportunities. In fact, it was other bloggers, YouTubers, and podcasters I found on the internet that inspired me to pursue a career in this. For our older family members, their world was a big as the community and the neighborhood they lived in. There weren’t travel bloggers and YouTubers that they followed that exposed them to new things. Now, the world that we live in is extremely different than the one that our parents and grandparents did. This is not to discount anyone’s life experience, it’s just to say that some of the opinions and “advice” that I’ve received doesn’t exactly apply anymore. For that reason, an ideology, opinion, or piece of advice that worked wonderfully several decades ago, is not going to work in 2019 and 2020. 

Which is why when I’m on the receiving end of getting so-called “advice” or opinions from people, it’s not always correct. Their minds are not open to the lifestyle and the career that I want for myself. They’re projecting their ideas on to me, without considering how different my values and ideas are having grown up in the 2000s. It’s important to remember this now and for many years to come, the world is changing quickly, and the advice we give doesn’t always apply for future generations. 

4. Know that people will ASK for your advice if they need it 

As I’m writing this takeaway, it sounds ridiculous to me. Saying that people will ask for advice when they need it, sounds like it should be common sense. But in reality, it’s not. I’m shocked by how willing people are to offer opinions about what I’m doing with my life when I haven’t even asked for them. So I feel the need to pass on this one simple lesson: people will ask you for advice when they need it. 

If someone presents you with a problem or says something along the lines of “what do I do?” THAT’S when you chime in. You don’t chime in when someone has already decided that their lifelong dream was to study cosmetology and argue with them until they change their mind and finally study business. Advice should serve a purpose, and it should be invited at least to some extent. 

5. Know that advice only needs to be shared one time or two times TOPS

Real advice should be given one or two times TOPS. It’s no longer advice when it’s repeated for months, when it comes up at every family dinner, when it’s morphed into one of the top things you discuss with that person. A good way to give someone REAL advice respectfully is to share it once. Once. 

If the person liked that advice and appreciated it, they will listen to you or they will reach out and ask to hear your thoughts again. But repeating it over and over and over does neither party any good. It only creates a source of tension. For example, repeating the same piece of advice “you shouldn’t paint your walls white” for two years to somebody only comes across as you being confrontational, picky, or scolding that other person. Sharing that opinion ONCE is plenty.

When a piece of “advice” is discussed in length for years or months to persuade someone to make a different decision or take a different path in life, it’s not true advice. That’s just trying to control another person and openly disrespecting the other person’s choices. 

6. Understand that old age doesn’t automatically make someone wise

Over the last two years, I’ve started to understand that old age doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is wise (even if they think they are). I used to believe that the adults in my life knew everything. I might have not liked them or agreed with them, but I thought that they were WISE. I thought that they were these authority figures that just knew everything. That they knew what was the exact right and wrong thing to do.

I mean they obviously looked older than me, they have more life experience, they certainly acted like they knew WAY more than I could fathom. But then something interesting happened. I graduated from college, I moved out of the house, and I became an “adult.” And I realized… HOLY SH*T I KNOW NOTHING. I wasn’t suddenly enlightened the moment that I became an adult. I realized that there was really no difference between me and adult figures in my life who were so vocal about how I should be living it. We’re all just basically kids with cars! And some extra money. So why did I have people in my life who were trying to be in the driver’s seat of my life? And why do WE also try to control other people? None of us have it figured out.

Old age doesn’t mean that you automatically know better than a younger person. But we tend to think it does, which makes us closed-minded. It also doesn’t mean that the older people in our lives know all the answers and that we should blindly trust them. None of us were gifted a book when we grew up called “How To Do Life.” Or “Everything You Should Know About Life.” We’re all trying to figure this sh*t out! Which is why we can’t just look toward someone else and think they have the answers for us. It also doesn’t mean that just because WE may be older than another person that we know what they “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing.

With this realization, I was able to understand that it’s not AGE that makes someone wise. There are women I have met in their 40’s and 50’s that act like they’re 13 and have no emotional intelligence (turn on “The Real Housewives” if you want to see what I mean). And there are 20-year-olds who amaze me with their wisdom. It’s traits like being open-minded, non-judgmental, and self-aware that make someone wise, so let’s carry those traits into our conversations with people!

7. Understand that another person’s life is not your project

I think that it’s worth mentioning that many people insert themselves into someone else’s lives out of a place of love. When you care deeply about someone you want the best for them. However, in doing that sometimes it comes across as trying to fix another person and make them a project. A classic example that comedians love to joke about would be the women who are attracted to certain types of men because they like the idea of helping them. But we all know how that plays out. 

For healthy, happy, supportive relationships, it’s important to understand that one person’s life is not ours to makeover (with the acceptation of the Fab Five from Queer Eye). You can’t project- manage someone’s life no matter what your relationship is. 

8. Know that there’s a paradigm shift 

I want to end this on a spiritual note because I know that this post focuses on a topic that’s not as pleasant to discuss. If you read Lost Online you’re probably aware of my New Age spirituality and philosophies that I like to sprinkle into my posts. I like to take an approach that encompasses self-help, wellness and lifestyle practices, and spirituality because I think they are all equally important.

That being said, in the time that we’re in right now, there is a massive change in consciousness occurring. More people are starting to have spiritual awakenings, question the old ways of doing things, and ask questions like, “What is my purpose in life?” The old paradigm is being replaced with the new one to take us all into our next stage of human evolvement. 

One of my all-time favorite books that talk about this topic is “The Celestine Prophecy,” by James Redfield. In the second chapter of the book, it discusses how “history is not just the evolution of technology; it is the evolution of thought.” Throughout each stage in history, we can see the physical advancements we have made as well as changes in how we view the world. “The Celestine Prophecy” discusses how there is this massive awakening happening and why. That in itself could require it’s own blog post, but the reason why I’m mentioning it here is that this paradigm shift is a major cause of the tension that we see in our interpersonal relationships. There’s friction between younger generations and enlightened individuals with those who are still ingrained in the old paradigm. It’s not just a disconnect that happens because of age, but a disconnect caused by different individuals embracing old and new ways of viewing the world and our purpose on earth.

When I look at this topic from that spiritual perspective, I can find so much peace and contentment. I don’t feel as if I’ve been bullied, I don’t feel like a victim. Instead, I feel kind of honored. I feel happy that I’m one of the individuals who can raise the vibration of the world and be a part of this incredible transformation. If you’re going through a similar struggle as I am, I encourage you to adopt that same change in mindset. Know that it’s not you against your family or friends or co-workers. We’re just at a point in time where people who are embracing the new paradigm are living in the same space as the old one, which is ingrained more in logic, fear, and routine. We can see this change happening everywhere we look today. It can be tense or stressful at times, but we’re living in the most incredible and beautiful period of time. We’re living during a time when everything is shifting. We’ve concurred the physical world, the scientific world, infrastructure, and industry and now it’s time to take the lessons that we learned throughout all of history and evolve. So if you find yourself being bullied by people into making different choices in life, stay true to yourself and understand that the tension your experience is just because you’re on a higher frequency than most.

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

Wow! So this was a very loaded blog post this week. I went through my experience, I explored WHY I think we have this problem, how to deal with it through self-help practices, and lessons that I feel like everyone must embody if we want to change moving forward.

This was one of those blog posts that I created very much for myself, but also for other people out there who encounter this problem too. It took me several weeks to complete because I knew that by writing about this struggle I will be able to reframe it in my mind. Also because I wanted to fully comprehend every aspect of this social dynamic including how gender, age, and spiritually play into it. For that reason, I kept getting new insights that I originally haven’t discovered. I hope that I did the topic justice and relayed the message as positively as I could. Lastly, if you also struggle with external pressure from others stay true to yourself and what you know is right and know that there is NOTHING wrong with you. Your opinions, preferences, values, and style are valid.

Now, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts! Let me know in the comments what insights you have about this topic! Have you had a similar experience as me? How has this affected you? How do you cope with it? How do you recommend that we fix this on a global scale?

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.

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.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression with Herbology & Self Love

Health & Wellness, Self-Help

I made an appointment. I filled out the forms. I was asked personal questions. The health professionals checked my pulse and tongue. By the end of my appointment, the herbalists all reached the same diagnosis: my heart was broken.

Seeing a Western Herbalist?

Years ago if you would have told me that whenever I got sick I would be seeking out the help of an herbalist over a doctor, I don’t think I would have believed you. But sometimes we surprise ourselves like that.

It all started several months back when I ended up getting really sick. I was suffering from tonsillitis that wouldn’t go away, chronic stomach aches every night that lasted hours, and what I thought was my fourth or fifth breast infection. So of course, I went to the doctor. And then another doctor, and then another doctor, and then another and another and another. I had so many appointments, but they always ended up going the same way. The doctor would shoo me out as fast as possible, give me a prescription, and say that they didn’t know what was wrong with me.

After experiencing that for many months in a row, I finally decided to change my methods. I decided to instead go to Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Petersburg, Fla. I enjoyed my experience and their holistic approach at Traditions so much that when I started to experience depression, getting in for an appointment was my top priority. No way was I going to take random depression pills. Nope. I had already tried that once before when I was a teenager.

I am not at all saying that taking pills is wrong and I know that for some people it is extremely helpful, especially for those who suffer from clinical depression. But pills don’t work for me and I’ve found that they tend to only create weird side effects for me. Plus, being so involved in self-help, health, and wellness, seeing a traditional doctor and going on pills was not at all what I wanted to do. Instead, I was going to go to the Herbal Clinic and go about healthily treating depression by trying to heal from the inside out, not cover up the depression with a band-aid.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression

If you’ve never been to an herbal clinic before, it’s the exact opposite experience of seeing a traditional doctor. The approach at herbal clinics is to get to the root of the problem, rather than treat a symptom. The herbalist will sit with you for an hour or more discussing EVERYTHING from your mental health to digestion. They also use very traditional methods that have been used for centuries before we had people in lab coats with medical degrees throwing pills around like candy on Halloween. At the Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Pete, they specifically use a mixture of Western and Chinese Herbalism. In each visit, they will examine your pulse in nine different places on each wrist to get an idea of how the organs are functioning, and they do a tongue examination. 

The way the appointment works when you go to the student clinic is you sit with them for about an hour and go over everything with them. They write down their thoughts and theories on what’s going on with your body, then one of the owners comes in to make sure it’s correct and to see if they have any other recommendations or additions. The owners include Dr. Bob Linde, AP, DOM, RH(AHG) and Renee Crozier, RH(AHG). (You could choose to see the owners themselves, however, it does cost more money.) I saw Allison for my appointment and then Renee who specializes in cancer care and traditional healing.

After you see both the student and the owner and discuss your health history, systems, diet, lifestyle, digestion, etc., they put together a very specific herbal formula for you and create a wellness plan. The formula and wellness plan that they put together have very specific recommendations that are supposed to help you to heal physically, spiritually, AND mentally. This is exactly the approach that I wanted to take to treating depression. I wanted to sit with someone who talked to me rather than shooed me out of the office and I wanted to be put on a holistic formula rather than with pharmaceutical drugs that only address a symptom. I also decided to begin regular therapy. Which, if you’re interested in hearing about that, make sure to read my last post, “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It.”

My Appointment

Disclaimer: I just want to say that the people at Tradition’s Herbal Clinic are extremely knowledgeable in traditional healing and herbalism, so I know I’m not doing their hypothesis justice by trying to explain it myself. But I will try the best I can!

The day I went in for my appointment I filled out all the paperwork and health history information. After that, Allison took my paperwork with her to review for a few minutes and then we started. She asked me all sorts of questions related to what I wrote down, discussed my symptoms with me, checked my pulse and tongue, and even asked me very personal questions about my lifestyle and relationships. Renee then joined us about mid-way through the appointment. 

About an hour and fifteen minutes, both Renee and Allison had come to a conclusion that I’ve never heard before from any kind of doctor or health appointment I’ve had: they concluded that I was suffering from a broken heart.

They shared with me that just as we have PHYSICAL organs like the heart and the brain, we also have SPIRITUAL ones. We have a physical heart just as we have a spiritual heart and they’re both connected. Meaning that when we’re having problems in the body they can manifest as mental issues and vice versa.

In my case, they believed that I have a broken heart, and because of outside influences and comments that I had stored in my memory and internalized, I had also developed awful self-talk. All of this sadness and negativity was building up in my heart and my mind creating depression and symptoms in my physical body. They believed that if I didn’t get a hold on it and heal myself that those mental issues could later manifest in the body and create serious diseases as I age, such as coronary artery disease.

Herbalist Recommendations & Wellness Plan

To heal my body and my heart, Renee and Allison recommended I drink loose leaf tea twice a day that they made for me later that night. The tea is made from a mixture of eight different herbs including schizandra berry, tulsi, eose, hawthorn berry, hibiscus, and passion flower. They also wanted me to take a flower essence tincture three times a day by placing four drops of the essence under my tongue. Aside from their formula they would create for me, Renee and Allison wanted me to be taking Probiotics REGULARLY (not just when the mood strikes) as well as magnesium and vitamin D supplements.

Above all, they wanted me to work on my mindset, my self-talk, and learn to love myself. (Easier said than done, right?) Their suggestions for this were to get three different books that they felt could help me the most, but they wanted me to listen to audiobooks because I remember better when I hear something rather than read it. Two of the three audiobooks they recommended included, “The Four Agreements,” and “The Fifth Agreement,” both by Miguel Ruiz. They believed that I would benefit if I learned to adopt the agreements: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and do your best.

They also believed that I could gain some insight from these books by learning about HOW we make agreements with ourselves and internalize beliefs. They also thought that it would help me learn about how humans spew emotional poison onto others creating more unhappiness on an individual scale which has a ripple effect out into the rest of the world.

The last audiobook they wanted me to listen to is “You Can Heal Your Life,” by Louise Hay. This one is about how our limiting beliefs and ideas are often the cause of illness and how we can change our thinking to improve the quality of our lives. 

Lastly, Renee and Allison wanted me to talk to myself. Also not something I was expecting to hear! They wanted me to talk to myself out loud and in my mind giving myself compliments or saying affirmations. The hope this that though me doing this regularly, my mindset will start to shift and become more loving and compassionate towards myself rather than being an invisible bully that follows me all day.

Those are my herbalist’s recommendations for helping with the depression that I’ve been experiencing from all the stress and big life changes over the last year. From here on I’m supposed to follow their recommendations for the next month until my second appointment. Then I’ll have a follow-up appointment where I’ll go back to meet with Allison and Renee and they’ll examine me again to provide new recommendations to incorporate and to discuss my next round of healing with a second herbal formula. 

My Self-Love Challenge

Because I have an entire month left of taking their advice before the next appointment, I thought it would be nice to make this month a time of serious self-love. Because not only do I want to go into that next appointment having made progress and taking their suggestions seriously, but I also want to see if shifting your mindset is even possible in the first place. I know it must be possible because all the books and blogs talk about it, but I’ve always been so skeptical about whether I could do it myself. Could I REALLY shift my mindset and get rid of my negative self-talk? I hope so. 

So I decided to layout a month-long self-love routine for myself that will help me heal in more ways that one. Here’s my month-long self-love practice!

Morning and Nighttime Skincare Routine – This one may seem very random, but when I got stuck in my rut I was extremely lazy and unmotivated. Throughout all my life I have always had a pretty involved skincare routine complete with oil, a cleansing, a toner, a serum, moisturizer, eye cream, and SPF. But when I felt so low, I could hardly bring myself to wash my face. Now, I’m making it a point to focus on my skin again first thing in the morning and at the end of the day as well. 

Moisturize – I recently came back with all of these gorgeous lotions and body products from my super spontaneous trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. So as part of my self-love practice, I will also make it a point to moisturize after a shower. As much as I hate the idea that people think self-love and self-care is PAMPERING because it’s NOT, I’ve been completely neglecting those things after I started to feel low. Adopting this simple act of pampering is just one way that I’m showing love and appreciation for myself by taking those few moments just to make myself feel good on the outside, which I believe can also make you feel good on the inside. 

Self Love Reflection – Next I’m incorporating a self-love reflection into the day whether it’s through stream of consciousness journaling or quietly reflecting on something that I love about myself or that I’m proud of. The point is to help me get rid of the negative self-talk by slowly replacing it with happier and more pleasant thoughts that lift me up. 

Affirmations – I’ll admit I’m super new to affirmations. I hadn’t come across any affirmations that spoke to me and I NEVER remembered to do them. But to me, it seemed too weird walking around my apartment throughout the day telling myself compliments as Allison recommended. I decided that as my way of “talking to myself” as she suggested, I would find a list of affirmations and I would say them aloud to myself and meditate on them. This way has been working well for me because I don’t have to think up what I want to say. I instead pick an affirmation for the day and repeat that affirmation until I feel like it’s sinking in. If I’m feeling extra motivated I will read through a list of affirmations or pick several. But either way I pick one affirmation for the day, repeat it for several minutes in the morning, and then make it a point to remind myself the affirmation throughout the day by writing it down in the morning and keeping it close by.

My absolute favorite list of affirmations that I discovered came from Peaceful Banyan Tree in an article titled, “20 Powerful Affirmations of All Time.” I LOVE this list because it covers positive thinking, health, confidence, self-worth, happiness, letting go, money, success, stress, and today. It hits on all of the areas that bring us full-body health and wellness. For that reason, this list has resonated with me and helped me choose my morning affirmation with ease.

  • I am able to find positivity in every situation.
  • I create only positive thoughts and radiate positivity.
  • I am getting stronger and healthier every day.
  • I am taking good care of my mental and physical health.
  • I am becoming a better version of myself every day.
  • I am confident to overcome any hurdles.
  • I know my self-worth and I am worthy of the best.
  • I believe in myself.
  • I am overflowing with happiness, joy, and satisfaction.
  • I choose happiness over doubt and fear.
  • I forgive myself and everyone else for all the mistakes.
  • I choose to release hurt and resentment.
  • I am a money magnet and attract money easily.
  • The universe is creating opportunities for me to earn more and more money.
  • I see success and abundance everywhere.
  • I am becoming more and more successful every day.
  • Every breath I take fills my soul with calmness and ease.
  • I am at peace now.
  • Today is the most beautiful day.
  • Today I lay the foundation for a wonderful future.

If you’d like some more ideas, make sure to check out my “Mantras” board on Pinterest @LostOnlineBlog.

Pray – After doing my morning affirmation, I decided that I would end with a prayer. I ask the universe to help me take the affirmation into the day, and for help in healing and becoming my highest self. I don’t have a script and what I say tends to vary each day. I always speak from the heart and say whatever feels good at the moment. This is my favorite part of my daily ritual because it makes me feel so at peace.

Supplements and Herbs – For the longest time I completely stopped taking my supplements or I would take them very randomly. But the thing is with supplements you have to take them for an extended period to actually receive and notice the benefit of it. For example, when I started taking biotin for my hair and nails, I didn’t notice how much it helped until at least three months later. Now, as part of my self-love practice, I’m making my supplements and my herbs one of my top priorities along with my formula from Tradition’s Herbal Clinic.

Audio Books – In the afternoon or evening that’s when I’ll be incorporating the audiobooks that were recommended to me. Whether it’s at the gym, in the afternoon when I’m done working, or as I’m getting ready for bed, this is where I’ll take the time to absorb all of that knowledge that my herbalists believe will help. So far I’ve listened to “The Four Agreements” and part of “The Fifth Agreement.” I like them so far because the advice is so simple, but I can see how if you adopt The Four Agreements you could be free from all of the dramas that cause us so much pain, and also have greater self-love. 

Gratitude – At this point, you all are very familiar with how much I believe in my gratitude practice, so I won’t rehash all the benefits again. You can check out my blog post, “My Daily Gratitude Practice,” or “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It.” But it should come as no surprise that when I started to feel so low that I could hardly get myself moving for the day, so of course I didn’t end up sticking to this ritual either. So I’m making it a point to reinstate gratitude in my day. 

Read – Whenever I fall into a funk, I always tend to start numbing with Netflix, which always makes me feel so much worse in the end. I feel as if I’m unproductive and lazy and like I didn’t accomplish anything important. I decided that as part of my self-love ritual I would stop watching shows and instead read in bed every night, not just when the mood strikes. I’m so happy that I’ve adopted this one because I already had so many great conversations with people over our shared love for the book that I’m reading right now: “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Meditate – Last but not least is meditation. I’ve been following along with the happiness series on the Headspace app lately and it’s helped me to find some peace and serenity right before I go to bed and fall asleep. I’m such a night owl that usually the moment my head hits the pillow I’m 100% awake, but whenever I meditate before bed that’s not the case. I’ve adopted this last habit because not only will it help me feel a sense of calmness in my mind, but it will also help me to take care of myself by falling asleep at a reasonable hour and be able to wake up earlier than usual. 

How is it going?

It’s now been two weeks since I went to the herbal clinic and got my formula. I’ve been taking it every day aside from the days when I was in Pennsylvania and Ontario because I didn’t want to lose it or be questioned about my brown paper bag of herbs at the airport. I don’t know if the formula is what’s helping or if it’s a combination of self-love practices, supplements, herbs, and books.

I do feel much better than I did before though. I have finally pulled myself out of my latest funk and I’m hoping I’ll keep feeling this way for at least a few weeks. I think what is actually helping me the most is that I LOVE trying out wellness practices and products, so I don’t know if it’s their suggestions exactly, or if I’m just so excited to now be going to therapy and to get to test out all of these recommendations and share my experience. 

I have been feeling incredibly proud of myself though because I didn’t think I would be able to take so many recommendations from someone and incorporate it into my life with such ease. I mean really, I have a hard enough following my dentists one simple piece of advice – floss. But I really want to get better, so I’ve been doing everything! 

Lastly, I just wanted to share that this is how I’m treating my depression right now. I’m seeing a therapist, seeing an herbalist, and adopting self-love. I hope that you find some nuggets of wisdom in here that might help you, however, I’m not suggesting that EVERYONE treat depression by repeating affirmations or taking probiotics. Some people do need medication and some people have serious clinical depression and suicidal thoughts that an herbalist is not equipped to fix. If you’re suffering from depression I HIGHLY suggest that you see a doctor and a therapist. Just keep in mind that these things like rituals, books, and supplements can serve a purpose too, and I believe that trying a mixture of traditional and holistic recommendations will help you heal the fastest. 

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for reading and make sure to let me know you’re thoughts in the comments! I’m particularly interested to hear what people think about this post and how I’m going about healing myself. 

What are your thoughts about this post? Did you get any ideas from it? Have you had depression before? How did you go about treating it? What worked for you? Do you believe in going using a mixture of traditional and herbal treatments or do you believe one is better than the other?

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.

What it Really Means to be Healthy: Primary and Secondary Foods Explained

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Spirituality

I don’t know about you, but for years I feel like I’ve been on a mission to reach perfect health, whatever that means. I’ve bought countless supplements, eaten organic, tried tons of lifestyle changes, and bought a string of random products, but nothing has really changed. I wouldn’t say that now my apartment is filled with supplements and chemical-free products that I feel like I can give myself a gold star for just how wonderfully healthy I’ve become. I’d be willing to bet that you can’t either. No one can. So what does it really mean to be healthy? How do we know that we’ve figured it out? What advice, products, or changes really matter if we want to improve our health long term?

What does it mean to be healthy?

I learned a fun fact this week at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I learned that the word health comes from the old English word HALE meaning wholeness; being whole, sound, or well. The word and its meaning has changed over time and today health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not JUST the absence of disease. Therefore health is a dynamic concept, not a fixed outcome. 

Yet today we live in a society where organizations, companies, brands, celebrities, and influencers are always blasting information at us about how we SHOULD be. That’s how they make money and sell us products, diets, pills, and food that promise to help us reach the destination of perfect health. If we just follow their advice, buy the program, or purchase the pill, eventually shiny golden doors will open up and we’ll be welcomed into the land of perfect health. If we can only get there, then we’ll finally have flawless digestion, glowing skin, a tiny waist, a toned body, strong bones, luscious hair, and most importantly HAPPINESS. Right?

Sadly, that’s not how it works. I love my Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer, my detox teas, my almond yogurt, but I know that they’re never going to bring me this fantasy that I have in my head of perfect health. Why? Because there is NO SUCH THING as perfect health.

Health is much more like a journey than a destination. (Ugh, I hate how cliche that sounds! Sorry!) It’s about making changes that improve your health and HAPPINESS in several areas of your life, not just about buying organic or sculpting a six-pack. 

The flawed outlook of health

We can go round and round all day about our flawed health care system, so I’m not going to address all of those major issues in this blog post. You’d be reading this post until the end of time, and we both have sh*t to do. But what I am going to talk about is ONE major issue that I see when we talk about health, and it’s that health is a destination with a specific path you take on how to get there. This path could be diets, exercise, detoxing, supplements, acupuncture, etc. It’s whatever YOU have been told what health should look like in your life. Maybe it’s never eating, or laying in a sensory deprivation tank every month, or drinking celery juice. 

There’s a very flawed approach to health today where people believe that if you just follow a specific set of rules you’ll be “healthy.” Then, to top off this crazy theory that health is a destination, we have magazines, social media accounts, and brands that put out these filtered, photoshopped images of fitness models, further adding to this illusion that there’s a magical land of sexy, healthy, superhuman, happy people who have it all figured out. 

Here’s the thing, not only is perfect health something that can’t be bought or accomplished through a set of rules and diets, BUT health is also NOT only about what you put in your stomach. It’s not about how much kale you eat, about how disciplined you are in avoiding sugar and dairy, or about taking supplements every day. Health is complete physical, mental, and social well-being.

The wiser approach to health and wellness

As a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and a future Integrative Health Coach, I’m learning about a newer, wiser approach to full body health and wellness, and you can’t buy it at Whole Foods. The idea that IIN and it’s founder, Joshua Rosenthal, share is that human beings are nurtured by both Primary Foods and Secondary Foods. Can you guess what they might be?

Primary Foods 

Upon first guess, you might think that Primary Foods are actual food right? At least I did. But it’s the opposite. Primary Foods are the most important things in our lives and impact our health far more than the chia seeds. Primary Foods are broken down into relationships, physical activity, career, and spirituality. If these things are out of whack in our lives then we’re far less healthy. We’re far more likely to have diseases and far less likely to have life satisfaction.

“Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career, and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life.” – Joshua Rosenthal

Although it’s important to understand what people are eating, to find what works for their unique body, and to make improvements in those areas of their lives as well, all of that is secondary to the quality of people’s life. I’ve heard so many stories and studies from doctors and researches who have proved that how happy people are in their relationships determines how healthy they are and how long they live. People who have toxic relationships or a lonely, are much more susceptible to disease and have a much shorter life span. 

Side Note: If you’d like to learn about my absolute favorite study on this, check out this Ted talk video on the longest study that’s ever been conducted on happiness. This video is all about researchers have tracked the lives of 2 groups of men since 1938. The first group started in the study when they were sophomores at Harvard College, finished college during WWII, and most of which went off to serve in the war. The second group was a group of boys from one of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. This group was specifically chosen because they were from some of the troubled and disadvantaged families in the 1930s.

This study has been going on for over 75 years and has studied the original men as well as all of their children and grandchildren they’ve brought in to the world. This study is extremely in-depth and goes as far as to interview the men on the phone and in their living rooms, examine their medical records, scan their brains, draw blood, interview family members. The research staff even goes as far as to videotape the men talking to their wives about their deepest concerns. It’s a very intensive study that’s closely examined these men for decades. What they’ve found after 75+ years of research later is this… Good relationships keep us happier AND healthier.

The hundreds of thousands of pages of research and the last 75+ years prove above all else that social connections are really good for us and that loneliness kills. The people who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, physically healthier, and live longer than the people who are less connected. Loneliness, on the other hand, turns out to be toxic. People who are less connected and more isolated than they want to be are less happy, their health declines earlier in mid-life, their brain functioning declines sooner, and they live shorter lives. If you have some time today, this is one of my all-time favorite Ted Talks and health studies that I’ve heard of and it’s definitely worth a watch.

1. Relationships

The first (and more important aspect of primary foods if you ask me) is our relationships. Relationships are the number one thing that feed us and have the largest impact on the quality of our lives. It doesn’t have to be a relationship between you and a partner. It includes your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Anyone and everyone who is in your life and the quality of the relationship you have with them.

Today, these relationships are weaker due to social media and the internet. Technology has created the illusion that we’re connected and in a relationship with people, even though it’s through a screen. More and more we’re living isolated lives, and it used to not be like this. People once lived in multi-generational homes, lived in the same city their entire lives, and carried friends with them far into old age. Now it’s different. You may be “friends” with someone online, but never even speak to them in person. Those types of relationships don’t fill us up and make us happy and healthy.

Relationships are also in turmoil today as divorce rates increase. It’s become much more common to cut people out of our lives than to make it work and get past our differences. (Please don’t misinterpret this as me saying divorce isn’t justified). The other issue is that not only are people divorcing, but there are also many people who have very unhealthy or unhappy marriages and feel stuck in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling for them. 

If we really want to improve our overall healthy and longevity, it starts with the quality of relationships in our lives. It starts by either making more connection or improving the relationships that we have with family, friends, neighbors, in-law, and co-workers. It starts by making the effort to pick up your phone and call someone, starting couples therapy, or spending more quality time with each other.

2. Physical Activity

Of course, physical activity plays a large role in how healthy we are as we age. Having the right types of exercise in our daily lives that we actually enjoy doing is way more important than people realize. It’s not that we have to run X number of miles a day, do yoga, or do CrossFit. Just like the messages related to our overall health, we’re programmed to believe that we have to follow a specific program or reach a certain number of minutes of exercise each day.

In order to feel truly healthy, people have to slowly incorporate ways to stay active in their lives that work for them AND actually make them happy. If pilates isn’t your thing, don’t do it! Today, people may also be doing the wrong forms of exercise for their body. For example, many runners or weight lifters completely neglect stretching, while many yogis neglect cardiovascular exercise. In order to be healthy, you don’t have to follow specific rules and programs that promise to help you drop 30 pounds in 30 days, but instead slowly incorporate balanced forms of exercise that you actually LIKE doing. For example, getting a walk in each day, stretching before bed, doing a yoga class once a week, or doing InForm Fitness weekly.

3. Career 

Career is the next primary food that so many of us have neglected. We spend the majority of our live WORKING. We spend more time with our co-workers than our own family. We spend more time in an office chair than we do working on our hobbies. Our career feeds us way more than what we eat on our lunch breaks. I know when I was working a normal 9-5 job every other aspect of my life slowly deteriorated. I was so unhappy and exhausted that I didn’t have time to food prep and eat healthy, my relationships suffered drastically because of what little time and energy I had to give them, and I completely stopped exercising. If you’re miserable and stressed out for those 40+ hours a week, how can you possibly be healthy and flourish in your personal life? Those weeks take a toll on your overall physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Our careers really do feed our body and soul, and that’s why it’s important to either find work you love OR find ways to love the work you do. 

Side Note: As I write this at a coffee shop right now, I’m sitting next to a woman discussing with someone how miserable she is at her job. How it bores her and it doesn’t fill her up. “That kind of job didn’t develop me in a way that it should have after college,” she says. The girl with her is also sharing how unfulfilled she is at her job. Her exact words are, “I don’t feel fulfilled.”

Photo by Autumn Clark.

4. Spirituality 

This aspect of primary foods is also very important to our overall well-being, but at the same time it’s usually the first thing that people neglect. What I’ve been taught at IIN is that we need to have a spiritual practice. Having some kind of spiritual practice that fills up our soul and gives us hope and faith can make a drastic difference in our happiness. It doesn’t matter what your religious affiliation is or what the spiritual practice looks like. A spiritual practice could be going to church, praying, journaling, meditating, volunteer work, painting, or even hiking. It’s whatever works for you that makes you feel connected with a higher power and fills you up in that way. 

As Joshua Rosenthal shares in IIN, “we are spiritual beings in a material world.” The more congruity we have with who we are, how we represent ourselves, the career that we are working in, the more likely we are to achieve the outcome that we came here in this lifetime to achieve. That’s why when health is approached by looking at primary food and secondary food, the better off we are.

Secondary Foods

The secondary foods are the foods that we actually eat and that nourish our physical bodies. It’s not that these aren’t important, but they are secondary. Have you noticed that when you’re REALLY enjoying the work that you’re doing and you’re in a state of flow, time stops? The world around you melts away. You forget to go to the bathroom, drink water, or eat food? You’re enjoying yourself so much that someone has to remind you to eat dinner? When you’re having so much fun with friends you don’t want to stop and go get food. You’re being fulfilled and energized from those other aspects of your life that food becomes an afterthought. It’s why whenever I work on my writing or website, I forget to eat all day. Matt’s been trying to get me to eat lunch for months now!

However, there’s the opposite side of that. When people crave food it doesn’t happen by mistake. It means that something in your life is out of balance. It means that you’re not feeling fulfilled and you want food for comfort and to feel whole again. 

The other important aspect to understand about secondary foods is that each and every person has a completely unique body that has a unique set of needs. That’s why I get so infuriated when people get pushy about a specific diet or lifestyle they preach to others. Just because YOU personally eat a lot of ___(fill in the blank)___ or don’t eat ___(fill in the blank)___, doesn’t mean that other people have to. We all have a very unique bio-computer that maybe thrives when we eat fresh fruit and berries or closes our throat the moment we step into a room with blueberries. 

How does this relate to my philosophy?

I’ve always felt this way about health and nutrition. However, before starting at IIN, I didn’t have the words to express it. Lost Online is what I describe as a self-help, health and wellness blog, and I chose these categories because I believe the MIND and our MENTAL WELL-BEING override everything else when it comes to living a healthy life. That’s why I focus on the mind and what we can do to improve our lives in all areas and sprinkle in health and fitness through my posts. Because what matters more than how much chia seeds and kale you consume is how happy you are. 

How do we become healthy long term? 

You may be wondering, “What now? How do we become healthy?” Here’s how: 

1. Forget

Scratch the RULES that you have been force fed about health and wellness up to this point in your life. Understand the fact that we are fed more by our Primary Foods than what you put in your grocery cart. Understand that in order to achieve whole body wellness, you have to improve every area of your life – this might involve you being brave and taking leaps that terrify you short term, but would fulfill you in the long term. 

2. Identify 

Identify the areas of your life that need improvement. Write down each primary food group and secondary food and what aspects in each category you’re struggling with. For example, in relationships are you struggling to meet friends as an adult, do you have a strenuous relationship with someone, is there someone you don’t have a relationship with that you wish you did? In a way, you have to play your own therapist here, determine the areas of your life that aren’t filling you up in the way you need to flourish. 

3. Take action… but think small 

The biggest mistake that people make over and over again is that they want to change, but they try to do it drastically. They want to eat healthy, so they go vegan in one day. They want to lose weight so they cut their calories in half or exercise for two hours a day. They want to be more spiritual, so they buy 10 spirituality books on Amazon in one sitting. Do you see what I mean? We try to take giant leaps, but we don’t work that way. It’s too drastic of a change, so we’ll instantly revert back to how we used to be. If you want to change your life in any of these areas, make ONE change at a time. Setting drastic and unrealistic expectations of yourself is a sure way to fail. People learn and change their behaviors through slow and simple lifestyle changes. 

You might still be thinking, “WHAT DO I DO, HEATHER?!” 

Because we’re so used to people beating specifics into our head when it comes to wellness, hearing information that’s more broad might be difficult for you. We’re used to being told that we have to eat X amount of calories or do X number of reps. Here’s the thing: YOU know what you need to do. You know what changes you should be making in your life. I can’t make that decision for you. You know whether you need to go network with someone, meditate daily, call up a friend, cut out potato chips, start taking a supplement, see a therapist, quit the job, stop drinking a six pack of soda daily, put yourself out there, join a club, buy a program, go to church, etc. I guarantee you have some idea of a step that you know you need to be doing. If you realize that these areas in your life are still struggling, that you need more direction, then please reach out to me personally. 

Takeaway

My goal with this post is to help you understand that full-body health and wellness is about much more than what supplements you’re on and what you put on your plate. It’s also about the primary foods: relationships, career, spirituality, and physical activity. Only when you address and make improvements to each of these areas will you really come alive and be able to reach your potential. So scratch whatever diet you think you should be on right now. Dig deeper into all the aspects of your life and make small improvements. If you need help along the way, I’m always here to answer your questions. 

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online and let me know what you think in the comments. Have you heard of Joshua Rosenthal’s idea of Primary Foods and Secondary Foods before? Do you believe that we are fed more by Primary Foods? Why yes or no? What areas have you found that you need to make adjustments to in order to feel happier and healthier? What steps will you make to improve?

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.

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?

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Photos Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.