The Table Flip.

The Table Flip.

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

I had an odd experience this morning. It’s the first Sunday in a while I’ve not only been by myself (Jeremy is in San Diego), but I’ve had a few hours TO myself. No meetings till later, no appointments to rush to, no classes to teach. I take my time making myself a coffee carafe for one. I turn on Destiny’s Child radio on our Pandora because I’m here alone and J isn’t about that Beyoncé life and who doesn’t love a little Bug-A-Boo to start their day.

I open Instagram (when will I learn??).

I glimpse a statistic about eating disorders in women.

And I think:

What the FUCK have I been doing the last two months to help the epidemic of negative self-talk that leads to these kinds of numbers??

~

Empaths like me – like US – have this problem. We’re told to take time for ourselves because we spend so much in the shoes of others – but when we see a statistic or snapshot, we go down that constricting rabbit hole of guilt, thinking of all the time we “wasted focusing on ourselves” with regret and guilt. And so we don’t. We don’t take time for ourselves, because we know where THAT leads. Guilt. Remorse. Regret. Stuff we stuff down boils back up, and then there we are, once again caught in the negative self-talk loop we’re so trying to avoid. Because it’s way easier to focus on tearing ourselves down than addressing the real problem.

I sat with this guilt for a second. Sat with the feeling of “WTF Have I Been Doing To Help The World.”

And what freaked me out more (whoops) after I did is this: I’ve spent so much time in the last two months making sure life around me stays firmly attached at the seams, that I’m unraveling in the places that matter most. I think I’m keeping it together because I’m showing everyone else I can juggle and not drop the ball. But underneath, where only I can see, I’m scrambling to hold on.

In my mind, no one needed to see those parts. So somehow, at some point, I convinced myself that they weren’t important. 

Longer post for another day, but big life-stage-transitions feel like a table flip. You know in movies when a character gets angry or overwhelmed and oh look there’s a nice and neat table so OH SHIT they take their anger out on it and FLIP the mothereffer onto its side? Instead of resolving the conflict, they take all the chaos around them and channel it into wrecking something that was perfectly fine and organized in the first place.

My table flip moments have manifested themselves not in chaos, but in the illusion of control. The amount of change in my life right now is overwhelming to me – a GOOD overwhelm, but overwhelm nonetheless – so instead of letting IT overwhelm ME, I have been narrowly focusing in on the stuff others can see and neglecting the stuff that keeps ME feeling grounded and in control.

Surprise surprise, that plan is backfiring. And instead of the THINGS overwhelming me, I’ve now ended up overwhelming myself.


I’m now six days out from my wedding and I find myself regretting the way I’ve handled the last month, which brings up all kinds of pangs of guilt.
I should have journaled every day to document this moment. I should have taken more time off work to fly to LA and help plan. I should have been firmer delegating tasks to others instead of assuming they’d know what to do and avoiding any glimmer of seeming “controlling.” We’re taught in our society that this is (supposed to be) a once-in-a-lifetime kind of day – should I have amped it up more like I see other couples do leading up to THEIR wedding?

If I dig deeper, however, I realize that I THOUGHT things would look different in my life as I approached this transition. I thought I’d be (and feel) super successful, which (to me) means not just making a difference in ways I can see, but that those visible markers of success flow through my days naturally and with ease. I hate to admit it, but up until now a part of what success has always looked like to me has been: you’re on SUCH a roll that logistics take care of themselves.

I am nowhere near that. Moreover, this time in my life requires all. the. logistics. In the last month or so, I havent felt like I can soften my gaze on the Whats and focus on the Whys, because the Whats feel like I’m starting from scratch. New life stage, new career stage, new new new newnew. It’s an exciting feeling when you’re in it. And also terrifying. Really terrifying.

Good news, or so it seems, is that when the exciting-terrifying-ness gets to be too much, you can just tune them out, and do the work. I’ve been tuning them out and doing the work.

But guess what?

Strong feelings like excitement and fear don’t disappear – they just hide and grow. And grow. And grow. Until one day you wake up with a Sunday to yourself, turn on some 1998 Beyoncé, look down at the table you’ve flipped over, and realize the mess you’ve made.

~

When I was 16, I found a quote somewhere that seemed revolutionary to me: If you love something, don’t hide and suffocate it for the sake of holding on. Set it free. Anything meant to be always comes back.

This obviously isn’t original or unique – hello, every self-help book ever written – but at the time it blew my mind. You mean I don’t need to worry about the stuff that’s MEANT to happen? You mean I don’t need to pour myself into every single person, place, and thing 24/7 to ensure it sticks around? You mean I don’t need to worry?

The things I’m worried about in this moment – they’re things I know aren’t going away. My sweet friends. My beloved routine. Our WANT community. The change I AM meant to make in the world. NONE OF THIS IS GOING AWAY. But, but.. I can feel myself holding on and suffocating it all because I’m so scared that if I loosen my grip it’ll all fall away.

Is that fear of loss rational? No. It’s a concrete thought conjured by a vague emotion that’s trying to make sense of transition and life recalibration.

I am EXACTLY where I need to be to feel the way I want to feel. Click To Tweet

So here I am. Practicing what I preach – but not in the pretty and zen way we read about. Doing the hard fucking work of sitting with my thoughts and asking WHY. Why I feel the way I feel – why I REALLY feel the way I feel – and then asking: so what are you going to do about it?

What’s the answer, then? If I am feeling overwhelmed, if I’m feeling angry with myself…but REALLY I am feeling a lack of a softer focus and wider lens, and REALLY I am feeling the confusion and slight panic of life feeling like it’s going faster than I can keep up with…then what am I really going to do about it??

This:

I will be for the most part completely offline for the next two weeks enjoying every bit of our wedding’s before-during-after – and, moreover, every single moment of the first step in our new chapter. It’s a first we’ll never get back, and I want to be fully present.

I am stepping back and taking a break and not pretending otherwise.

I am pressing pause on the subjective deadlines I’m in control of (created by my mind) so I can make the objective ones I’m not in control of (created by LIFE) worth every single second.

I’m putting aside the pressure to make a difference in someone else’s life…and turning back inward to make a difference in my own.

I’m trusting that I am EXACTLY where I need to be to feel the way I want to feel.

And I hope that, when life hands you a table-flip moment, you will step back and do the same.

 

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Ghost Worries: The Fear of What *Might* Happen.

Ghost Worries: The Fear of What *Might* Happen.

Community Love Shift Of Power Tips + Tools Work

I am high-strung.

It’s not that I’m not easygoing or that I’m quick to argue – not in the least. My high-strungness manifests in waves…or rather, in jolting earthquakes that eventually rumble themselves out.

My high-strungness comes in the form of Ghost Worries: the fear of what might happen.

Ghost Worries are anxiety-filled what-ifs that wind their way around my neck and heart if I let them, all but paralyzing me in the moment and preventing me from fully experiencing expansive joy.

My latest Ghost Worry? That in the midst of wedding planning (we’re in the home stretch!), I haven’t been as consistent with my day-to-day WANT work as I usually am – and that because of that, I’m letting this big and beautiful thing we’ve been building together over the last three years crumble.

Oh sure, my logical brain knows WANT will be fine.

But my high-strung brain flips. the. f. out.

~

The thing about ghost worries is that they’re usually triggered by something small and seemingly inconsequential to others. You felt awkward during a conversation? The ghost worry tells you that they’ll never want to talk to you again. You left the air on when you left the house? The ghost worry tells you your utilities bill will suffer. You forgot to email that person back? The ghost worry tells you they probably hate you by now. You missed an important meeting? The ghost worry tells you you’re fired. Ghost worries are those small, subjective missteps that equal a possible, objective fail.
My ghost worries manifest as an awful flutter (more like electric jolt) in my chest when it seems the impending future will reveal that I’m doing basically everything wrong.

What I’ve realized over the years is that my Ghost Worries have to do with not living up to expectations. Not perfectionism per se, but the result of letting others down. Of not being who others expect me to be.

Growing up, I was an easy target for meaningless teasing – the kind that people think is funny to do as a sign of love (pigtail-pulling syndrome, anyone?). My family’s even admitted this to me: I’m an easy target because I internalize things. I’m the type of person that people who love to get a rise out of others…love to get a rise out of. I was teased in middle school for being “perfect” because I color-coordinated, I was teased at home for being sensitive because Katie-directed sarcasm wasn’t something I found funny. I was told I was clumsy, double-left-footed, irresponsible, and couldn’t handle “nice things” because I didn’t keep my stuff pristine.

I’m a human mess, and instead of learning to embrace that, I was convinced there was something wrong with me.

My ghost worries became about who I was instead of what I did.

 ~

If you’re like me, you know that ghost worries feel heavy. They literally feel heavy in your body. They’re what can make numbing tactics seem so appealing, because if we’re numb we can’t feel the weight build. Emotional eating (or restricting), over-exercising, binge-watching, sleeping way in, biting comments, sharp attitude, isolation, immersion…it’s easy to find our own unique brand of numbing when ghost worries are all around.

However, when we numb our Ghost Worries, we’re never actually addressing them. When we ignore that they’re there, we also ignore that we can change their effects.

When we ignore that Ghost Worries exist, we also ignore that we can change their effects. Click To Tweet

These Ghost Worries haven’t gone away, and I’m sure they never will. They’re a knee-jerk reaction so engrained in my nerves that not even the finest surgeon could reverse the triggers. But what I’ve learned over time is that it’s not about what triggers me, it’s about how I respond.

Here’s what I do when I feel a Ghost Worry start to spook me:

I TEMPER MY THOUGHTS. I’ve learned to only worry about things I can control in the moment, and leave the rest for later. When it comes to ghost worries, the emotions of the situation are always (okay, usually) greater than the reality of the situation. But that doesn’t mean that I ignore the emotions. I never, never, never push my emotional response out of the way. Because to me, when I push my emotions aside, I’m telling myself my emotions aren’t valid. I’m reinforcing the narrative that I’m too sensitive or an easy target. I am the perfect amount of sensitive, and my breadth of emotion has given me everything good in my life. But what I do is separate the emotion from the situation, not letting them dictate predictions that I’d have no say in. My ghost-worry predictions always give me no say in the matter. Nope. Feel the emotion, don’t feed it.

I TALK THEM OUT LOUD. I’ve learned to lean into my ghost worries, to talk them out with someone I trust who thinks highly of me but sees me as human, not infallible or immune to mistakes. And sometimes, if I’m alone when the ghost worries arise, I’ll talk them out to myself. Putting words to thoughts is extremely powerful, because fear feeds off ambiguity. The Unknown agitates those of us who are selectively high-strung – so talking things out to yourself is kind of like soothing the wound. Even better is when you can talk it out with someone else, because validation that you’re still lovable and worthy takes away the worry that this makes you otherwise.

 

I ASK: WHAT IS LITERALLY THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? Not to freak myself out more, but I always identify the worst thing – actual thing, not emotion or perception – that could happen, and how I’d respond to that (again, actually respond, not emotionally respond). Usually when I get that out of the way and realize there would be a game plan even in that scenario, the last horrible piece of The Unknown is removed. Ive now got as much of a grasp on the situation as I can, not just the parts my mind was selectively making up to spook me into smallness and a scarcity mindset.

Feel the emotion, don’t feed it. Click To Tweet

So, what about me? Well, first off, the fear I was irresponsible and lazy and unprofessional gradually faded when I realized that only *I * know what goes on behind the scenes – if I am disappointing anyone right now, it’s probably myself first and foremost. And I can, strangely, deal with that. Talking it out also made me realize that my worst-case-scenario is that I flail a little over the next couple weeks, and I get back on track after the wedding. (Seriously Katie? THAT is the worst-case-scenario? Girl, you gotta get some more spooky Ghost Worries.)

More importantly, I felt. Hard. Feeling my emotions in the moment allowed me to experience them at their height, then gradually move through them. Not fight them – move THROUGH them. Although it doesn’t change my timeline, feeling everything in the moment will allow me to be pragmatic and proactive later on (squashing emotions always makes me reactive later, I’ve found). Also, I am getting married. MARRIED. To the best-for-me person I could ever conjure up. The wedding has a deadline, just like any other project I pour myself into. And then it’s back to real life…but better.

And that’s the thing:
when I confront my Ghost Worries, I remember how lucky I truly am. 

Because that’s what Ghost Worries threaten to do, really: try and convince us we’re not as lucky as we really are.

ghost worries



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FEAR/LESS: On Making Shift Happen + Moving Forward Fearlessly

FEAR/LESS: On Making Shift Happen + Moving Forward Fearlessly

Body Community Love Tips + Tools WANT Women Work

You know those hours, days, moments when everything seems to just click? Those times when all the shaky transitions, all the nights wondering what the f you’re really supposed to be doing with your life, all the instances in which you feel like too much or too little somehow meld together to remind you that you are just right, just the way you are?

That’s what this weekend was for me.

On Saturday, I had the immense pleasure of chilling beachside with fifty WANT Women from all over SoCal: eating delicious food, drinking wine and green juice, soaking up sunshine – and most importantly, diving in, digging deep, and discussing what it means to truly move forward fearlessly in life.

Yes, I was there to play hostess at the most perfect venue ever (Creative Visions Foundation out in Malibu – check out that view!), moderate a killer panel of power women (Lynn Chen of The Actor’s Diet, Jordan Younger of The Balanced Blonde, Audrey Bellis of StartupDTLA and WorthyWomen, and Rachelle Tratt of The Neshama Project), and hopefully be able to inspire at least one person by adding my own voice into the mix. What I didn’t expect was how each person attending would inspire me beyond measure, in ways I wasn’t even able to describe until I was sitting in silence in my PJs hours later, stunned by the impact.

Here were my five biggest lessons from the day:

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My relationship w/ you is a direct reflection of my relationship w/ myself - @audreybellis Click To Tweet
1) The relationships we have with each other are a direct reflection of the relationships we have with ourselves. Community builder extraordinaire and WorthyWomen founder Audrey said it best – our connections with others are intricately tied to the way we view ourselves. One of the all-time most popular posts on WANT is the Making Friends As An Adult piece, and I’m not too surprised why: we are starved for genuine, soul-stirring connection. The question is, if we’re all thinking the same thing, then why aren’t we all just finding each other and frolicking off into the land of besties – nay, soulies – somewhere?

Whether we’re fiercely independent or thrive in groups, it’s easy to blame others for the reasons why we’re not moving forward in our own lives. And on the flipside, the easy-to-grab focus on superficial gains and surface-level commonalities (we both like movies! we both like tacos! #bff) is leaving us starved for true connection even when we think we’ve got it. But at the root of it all is the relationship we have with ourselves. Are we honoring ourselves fully, both our highs and our lows? Do we respect our own choices and stand by ourselves through thick and thin? It’s nearly impossible for someone else to have your back if you don’t even have your own.

What was incredible about this weekend was that every single person in attendance came with a wide open heart, an eager mind, no filter, and no judgement. Very few of us knew each other going into the day, but somehow, as we gathered under the springtime sun and laughed/cried/empathized in unison, it felt like we’d all been strategically chosen to be together in that exact place at that exact time. And that’s the power of honoring who you are at your core: you’ll find others who honor it, too.

lynn_chen
Say yes to what's actually happening instead of waiting for what isn't. - @mslynnchen Click To Tweet
2) Say yes to what’s actually happening instead of waiting for what isn’t. As I’ve described before, I am a recovering people-pleaser and a current emotional sponge. I’ve craved permission, validation, someone telling me that the path I’m on is right/admirable/acceptable/okay. I’ve doubted myself into inaction too many times to count and internalized it to the point of paralysis. I’ve missed opportunities because I was waiting for a sign, not realizing that signs don’t just pop up if you’re not open to finding them.

Lynn got super raw this weekend and talked about her career, her attempt to get pregnant, her father’s death – and at the core of it all, landed on the invaluable piece of wisdom that we need to say yes to what is actually going on in our lives instead of sitting around preparing for something that isn’t. We toil away prepping our bodies for a season, we put off projects because of what might happen six months down the line, we don’t go on that date because we’re moving and they’re here and oh my god how would it ever work so why even bother? There are way, way too many instances for each of us, in our own unique ways, that we put our lives on hold and wait for that “Okay, all clear!” from the universe. Instead of waiting for those signs, we could be spending that time actually making shit happen. When we do this, it turns out, everything seems to fall into place. Even though we had no clue what that “everything” would even look like.

balanced_blonde
It doesn't have to be sunshine+rainbows, but you've got to know you'll be okay - @balancedblondie Click To Tweet
3) Sometimes positivity isn’t even about seeing a silver lining – it’s about knowing deep down in your core that you’ll be okay. When Jordan was being viciously attacked online (trust me when I say it’s horrible stuff), she didn’t mask her feelings in mantras and she didn’t not internalize what was going on. As she shared with us, sure, some of the comments were/are laughable – but many were downright frightening and a threat to her safety. It would have been easy to rip her blog off of the internet or go AWOL – but she knew in her heart she was meant for more than that. And with a lot of help and a lot of self-awareness, she was able to continually remind herself, Yes, I will be okay.

Maybe you haven’t dealt with bullying or death threats like Jordan unfortunately has, but I’ll bet money on the fact that you’ve had something not go as planned. Maybe not go your way at all. Hell, maybe you’ve hit what’s felt like a personal rock bottom. If I have learned anything from the women (and men) I’ve met through WANT, it’s that nothing is ever insurmountable. Not saying it’s easy, and not saying it’s automatic. But that knowing, that sense that you will be okay, no matter what happens – that is the kind of potent positivity that gets you to the other side.

rachelle_tratt
If there is something that lights you up, GO DO IT. No one will do it for you. - @neshamaproject Click To Tweet
4) You are the only one who can make your life happen. No, not a mentor. No, not a romantic partner. Nope, not a friend, not a family member – no one else can make your life happen but you. The biggest tragedy is inaction – putting out that spark of a flame we all have inside us instead of fanning it and making it blaze.

The reason I love Rachelle is that through incredibly tough times, she’s always come back to her intuition. As she told us, we’re all intuitive beings – yet sometimes we get distracted and ignore that pull in our gut and heart to do the thing that makes us feel absolutely iridescent. The “have-tos” and “shoulds” come in and dance with the Ghost Worries and they screw us over, convincing us that the pull we feel is less than worthwhile. Other people have a pull, the have-to-should-dancers say. Who do you think you are taking up space and following yours? The Ghost Worries chime in, telling us it’s too risky, too dangerous. If we take a cue from someone else, it’s a whole lot safer. If we take that cue, then it’s not on us.

But here’s the thing: that cue never comes. And even if it does, we’re not stepping into our own lives, we’re just assimilating to someone else’s. Rachelle’s words were a powerful reminder for me to claim my space, own my power, and step into my own light – because waiting for someone else to make it easier also means I’m putting myself on an endless hold.

fearless
'Fearless' is when the fear is less than the faith. - @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet
5) Fearless is when the fear is less than the faith. Okay, this one’s my own. If there is one huge lesson I’ve learned through my life, through WANT, and through orchestrating this past weekend’s festivities, it’s that “fearlessness” is NOT about being unafraid. Because if that was so, then there would literally be NO ONE out there who is truly fearless.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many things trigger that “fearful” part of my brain on the daily. Traffic that threatens missing a class I’m teaching. Interviews with people I admire. Tough conversations with Jeremy, friends, or my family. Financial worries, life purpose worries, I-said-the-wrong-thing-and-now-that-person-will-hate-me-forever worries. I’m an HSP – a Highly Sensitive Person – so I’ve found that I can either accept my fear or I can acquiesce to it.

I choose neither.

I respect my fears for what they’re trying to tell me. I honor them for their reminder of my values and goals. But I do not accept them as constants in my life, nor do I give in and let them take over.

Yes, I know I’ll always have things that make me afraid, but my fear barometer will always be changing.

And my definition of “fearless” is when my fear is less than my faith.

It always happens, I’ve learned. The faith will always outweigh the fear, eventually. It’s just that sometimes, we don’t give it the chance – I sure haven’t, at times.

Moving Forward Fearlessly, to me, is the act of pursuing that faith, even if it’s a small glimmer. It’s working towards those hours, days, and moments when everything seems to just click – the times when all the shaky transitions, all the nights wondering what the f you’re really supposed to be doing with your life, all the instances in which you feel like too much or too little somehow meld together and remind you that you are just right, just the way you are.

women against negative talk

HUGE thank you to M Café for the delicious lunch spread, Beaming for the juices and sweets, ONEHOPE Wine for the for-purpose Pinot, Sauv, and bubbly, Meghan Gallagher and Creative Visions Foundation for the most unbelievable space in the world and for making the process an ocean breeze, S.W. Basics/Pure Vida/Luna/Barnana/Philosophie for a swag bag that set the bar high – to Lynn, Jordan, Audrey, and Rachelle for shining your light and being the very best first WANT panel I could have ever wished for and completely blowing me away with every single word – and to YOU, the WANT peeps, for being the reason this community is as powerful as it is. I am eternally grateful.

All photos by the amazing Cortnee Loren Brown


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The Collective Heart: When Tragedy Hits The High Notes.

The Collective Heart: When Tragedy Hits The High Notes.

Community Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

No sweet without sour, no peace without war, no joy without sorrow.

We’re all well-versed in the laws of opposition and the truths of our world: in order to have the good we must know the bad.

Still, is this any consolation when tragedy strikes? It’s unjust, unexpected, and grossly unfair.

Whether it is a personal tragedy experienced within our own familiar circle or an international tragedy experienced on a global level – we feel. Empathy is instinctual. It could have been me. It could have been my sister, my brother, my best friend. I could have been there.

tragedy

As I’ve discussed before, I honestly believe we are all equipped with the exact same tools to learn the exact same lessons, just at different times (or even different lifetimes). So if this is true, then it also must stand true that our minds and hearts each possess equal capacities for thought and feeling.

And if this is true, then the reality of our world is that we are all interconnected. Life is an energy exchange; we are all responsible for the education and growth of everyone around us. We are all gifted with the exact same capabilities, we simply learn to access and use them in different ways.

So when tragedy hits one of us, it hits all of us. It awakens that primal feeling of grief and loss, of where-do-I-go-now?

We're all gifted the same capabilities, we simply learn to access and use them in different ways. Click To Tweet

To me, “The News” has always been akin to watching a horror film, but in real time and real life. I set up Google alerts about topics that matter most to me, I follow my favorite news outlets on Facebook and Instagram, but for the most part, I trust my highly intelligent friends, podcast hosts, and NPR reporters to give me the information I need. The anger, violence, and hatred are too much to soak in (and I always soak it in). Constantly diving into such information, as a highly sensitive person, spirals me into a kind of sadness that’s crippling

It’s somewhat unfortunate that we haven’t even needed a regular TheNews-watching practice in our lifetimes to have had to cope with large-scale tragedy on a very consistent basis. The earliest I can remember being shaken by a tragedy was the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. I was in fourth grade. Since then, I’ve bore witness to the planet we call Home being torn to shreds, built back up, then beat up all over again. I remember the first Clinton election and talk of prosperity and change even though I had zero clue as a five-year-old what it even meant. Two wars in my lifetime, watching the response to terrorism change everything from the way I boarded a plane to the way, to my horror, I heard adults speak of others. I grew up in Los Angeles, in quite the inclusive environment. Never before had I realized that even the most seemingly inclusive weren’t all exempt from racism.

We’ve learned a lot about each other in these times of darkness. Some bad.

And, some good.

tragedy

Sometimes, my first impulse is to feel furious that we exist in such a cruel, awful time. I’ll find myself nodding when I hear “We live in a sick world” and using a word I rarely speak: “Hate.” In the last few days, it was hard not to.

But then…without even thinking of it…into my head popped my favorite passage from a favorite poem. Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life. “In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul,” it begins…

In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. -Desiderata Click To Tweet

I see the images of strangers comforting strangers. My Facebook page is filled with not just memorial posts and photos, but articles about how to help and where to donate. (ps – here, here, here, and here)

And I remember that all of life is an energy exchange, and my anger is doing no one any good. It is not helping families and friends heal. It is not saving the injured, repairing the city, and it is certainly not tipping the peace:destruction ratio in favor of the former.

tragedy

In times of tragedy, we feel in unison. That equal capacity for thought and emotion we spoke of is rarely as apparent as in charged times. The same door unlocks in each of us, and our reactions become a harmony.

We have a choice in the song we sing – so choose wisely amidst the hurt and pain. Choose to put aside the maliciousness and bitter notes, and instead sing a beautifully dissonant song of mourning and reverence and compassion and hope. One that lights up from the inside like a pulsing candle flame – not a forest fire of destruction.

The best thing we can do is keep loving the world, even with its shattered pieces. Click To Tweet

We will never not know tragedy or sadness. But how we react will inform the collective heart of our planet. We must never lose sight of the fact that, yes, we CAN conquer hate with love. Yes, we have the power to heal. Yes, only light can drive out the darkness.

Our hearts are crying, but the best thing I think we can do is keep loving the world and seeing the best in it, even with its nicks and cuts and shattered pieces. In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

tragedy

[p.s. I posted an update on Facebook that read “I wish there was a world flag, so we could all raise that together.” A friend sent me this link. A proposed flag for Planet Earth, united as one. Can we make this happen please, NASA or UN or whoever? I’ll even change my profile pic.]
world-flag-fb


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Making Friends As An Adult, Part II: Vulnerability + The First-Best You

Making Friends As An Adult, Part II: Vulnerability + The First-Best You

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Tips + Tools

Friendship as an adult is complicated. No longer bonded by the confines of proximity (“You’re in my class? Let’s be friends!”), we’re now able to choose who and what we keep around. In theory, this should make for even richer, deeper, more prolific friendships. But in reality, more and more of us are finding that the playground of adulthood is surprisingly barren. Last month, we dove into why it’s not about the bestie, it’s about the soulie. This month, we’re talking how to find those like-minded souls.


 

Maybe you’re at the gym. Maybe you’re at work. Maybe you’re at a coffee shop, trying to squeeze in a few hours of writing before the weekend’s over.

And then you see her.

She’s laughing, chatting with the person next to her, seems to be engaged in her own world apart from the thumping of dumbells being dropped or the screeching cars in the street nearby.

And you wonder – could she be The One?

Or rather, one of The Ones?

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Soulies, or soul-mate friends, are all around. The act of making friends as an adult isn’t hard per se, but challenging. Without the security of scheduling or proximity, making friends as a grown-up – not superficial friendships, but the the kinds of friends that lift you up – requires you to do one thing: be courageously vulnerable.

As Brené Brown says in her brilliant TED talks and books, vulnerability is courage. Vulnerability is the new strength. And in the case of friendship, vulnerability is the magnet that draws people together who are just the right fit at just the right time.

Vulnerable is the new strong. Click To Tweet

I find it interesting that I have made some of my most meaningful connections online. It started when I was 13, and after seeing Les Miserables, the speculation that I was wired differently than other teens was confirmed. I retreated to message boards and subsequently AIM, back before it was cool or even safe to meet people online, spending hours with other les misfits of all ages (mostly in the 16-30 set) talking not just theatre, but about all the things. Offline, I was the kid who pretended to like “normal” teenage stuff and struggled to keep up superficial conversations. Online, I was the person who didn’t think twice about being herself, and felt perfectly at home doing so. I told no one.

Years later, I found blogging (way before blogging was considered a “thing,” btw – what’s with me and not-socially-acceptable ways of meeting people?!). I met some incredible people through that blog; first online, then in person. Online, I was witty, punny, thought-filled. In my “real life,” I was the person who struggled between wanting to stand out and wanting to be accepted. Again, I told no one in my “real” life about my online friendships. It was like I was living a double life: in my “real life,” I was the person who struggled between wanting to stand out and wanting to be accepted. In my online life, I was just Me.

Friendship, just like any relationship, is a risk. Will they like me? Will I fit in? And while I think that certain aspects of adulthood make friend-finding more challenging, there is a self-awareness we have as adults that lends itself to some of the most important, fulfilling connections of our lives.

All worthwhile relationships are based in vulnerability. Unfortunately for us, we’re mostly taught that vulnerability is best used when it’s used selectively. Being “let in” by someone is seen as a rare victory, and the image of “walking around with your heart on your sleeve” that is commonly associated with vulnerability is taught to be dangerous. We’ll get hurt. We’ll be taken advantage of. We’ll be “found out.”

But in the process of hiding our heart, we’ll also shield ourselves from love.

I’m not saying to go and tell your life story and how you feel about each part of it to everyone you meet on the street. But no one can let you in if you don’t allow them the chance. If vulnerability seems like too harsh of a term for you (I understand), try easing into the idea by replacing the word with “honesty.” Being honest with who you are, at all times, means you’ll never be “found out” because who you are is right there on the table.

Pretending to be someone other than who you are means that you’re not really making friends – your alter-ego is. And in that case, we’re more likely to develop friendships that raise our blood pressure, make us feel anxious, and ultimately either make us withdraw or resign ourselves to defeat.

Basically, it comes down to this:

True friends want you to be the first-best You, not the second-best Them. Click To Tweet

I’ve always had a knack for befriending the people I’ve looked up to in my immediate circle. The funniest girl in class. The most talented girl in the show. The star at the yoga studio. I felt pride in being let into their inner circle. They proved to be loyal friends, yet my sense of less-than-ness kept me silently, positively pleading for their love. Doing favors. Showering gifts. Pulling out all the love languages hoping I’d keep their affection.

I was okay with being second-best to them, their sidekick – and in some of the relationships, that’s where I actually thrived. But in others, I realize in retrospect, I was more happy being a second-best version of them because I feared being a first-best version of myself. I got myself so deep into these relationships that I feared being found out for who I “really was.” What if they don’t like me? What if I’m not funny enough, cool enough, smart enough, or worthwhile enough? A sense of conditional-ness permeated these relationships. And it was all on me.

As I started to become more comfortable with vulnerability – nay, honesty – I noticed that my friendscape started to change. Slowly, these relationships started to do one of two things: fall away as we realized we didn’t have all that much in common, or grow closer because we realized how much we did.

True friends want the first-best YOU, not(3)

Some other friend-making tips?

•Start small: Practice that unquestionable you-ness on people you encounter on your regular routine. It’s easy to be yourself when you’re with yourself, but with other people? That’s when the fear of judgement, rejection, or humiliation all come into the picture. Next time you’re out, say hello to the barista at your local coffee shop. Ask how the day was of the teenager who’s bagging your groceries. And then do something unexpected: react and respond. It doesn’t need to be a long conversation, but we are so used to asking how someone is doing out of habit that we rarely take the time to actually hear what the other person’s said. Say hello. Ask how someone is. Then respond not as a character, but as yourself.

•Listen to the way you speak: When you’re talking t0 others, do you water down how you really feel? Do you share objective details only, or maybe only the opinions that make you seem a certain way? Friendship is not born out of conformation - it's born out of soul collaboration. Click To Tweet

•Join a class, club, organization, or setting where you can do what you love: Making friends as an adult has one huge advantage over making friends as a kid: values. When we’re young, we make friends based around what we can see: our location, our pre-established family friendships, our classes, our activities, etc. As adults, especially courageously vulnerable adults, we make friends based around our values. And whether we realize it or not, our activities and hobbies become a reflection of our unique values set instead of our age or demographic. When anyone asks me where to meet new people, I always tell them to find a fitness class they love and stick with it…because they love it. But if you’re not a class, club, or volunteer type person, simply put yourself in settings that allow you to express your values through doing/be-ing what you love. Kind of like the IRL-version of my Les Miz message boards. Show up at a coffee shop with a book or sketchpad, and see what happens.

I stopped my blog in 2010. At the time, I thought it was because my life was becoming too busy. But in reality, it was because my life was beginning to happen. I was no longer cloaking myself under the veil of the caretaker, the sidekick, or the second-best someone-else. And I was not relegating my personality to the written word, I was living it out loud. I still have friends I made during those times of message boards and AIM, and crazily enough, they’re now some of my oldest friends. Probably because that was our safe haven where we could just be who we were at our core – which is who we still are, really.

Vulnerability does not have limits or end goals. It is an ongoing process, because our lives will always be shifting. We’ll always have new thoughts, new feelings, new fears, and new dreams growing and expanding inside us. And just as we think we have everything all figured out (including ourselves), in will come the next curve ball or some new nuance will be revealed that we never realized existed. Old friends will drift and new friends will come in, and some people who’ve been there all along will all the sudden seem brighter to us than they ever have before. Our friends will look different at different points in our lives, and that’s because we’ll be a little bit different too.

But if we’re our whole selves all the while, living for what makes US unique and makes US tick moment by moment, choice by choice, the right people will always find their way into our lives and our hearts. And if you devote yourself to being unquestionably the first-best version of you, I promise with all I’ve got that you will find The One. Or rather, all of The Ones.


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