For the final episode of Season Three, it’s all about you and YOUR questions. After a quick recap of 2018 and Season Three, we dive into five questions from YOU, the WANT community, having to do with boosting your confidence (especially when you’re simultaneously trying/needing to uplift others) achieving your goals while staying charged up and energized, “trusting the timing of life” and releasing control when it’s the most frustrating to do so, how to deal with hurtful/toxic social media interactions, and – the big one – why so many of us are SO damn lonely and how to find those friends and communities we crave as adults.
Stay tuned until the end – there’s a special announcement about the future of the WANTcast and what 2019 has in store for WANT (hint, it involves you)!
*Thank you so much for everything you give to WANT, and to me, and to each other, on a daily basis. I appreciate you and adore you more than I could ever even begin to express. So happy we’re in this together. ONWARD!*
I don’t often post about the events I do or the places I speak. I feel like, for me, it borders on self-indulgent and sets a precedent that I’ll write something about every event I do or place I speak. But I do like sharing with you the ones that spark something new inside me…the ones where I can sense a shift happening. The ones that offer up more than just a recap and some fun photos. The ones that blow my mind.
But I’ll tell you a secret: I don’t love everything. A couple years ago, I felt my relationship with the “wellness” community starting to shift. Because wellness was shifting as well. And I didn’t really like much of what I was seeing: elitism, ego, judgement, and a focus on the external WHATs instead of the internal WHYs. Leaders and “gurus” encouraginig spiritual bypass, the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with hard things, was becoming just as if not more common than encouraging spiritual growth.
I felt torn. The wellness world had introduced me to some of my very dearest friends, launched my career, and helped me realize my through line. Heck, if it hadn’t been for the wellness world, I would have never started sharing my writing publicly or be even close to the person I am today (fun fact: my first blogs and first freelance jobs circa 2008 were all in what’s now considered the wellness realm). I owed so much of who I was to the wellness community – and yet I felt like I was watching a genuine and loving best friend get lured in by a Mean Girls-esque squad of crystal-carrying, sage-burning, side-eyeing Regina Georges. All aspiration on the outside and very little inspiration on the inside.
But still. It’s so easy to get caught up in the parade and charade of the opposite end of the spectrum when you’re scrolling through Instagram or reading an article and then all of the sudden it’s 12:42am and you’re paralyzed by fear that you’re not only doing everything wrong, but that your idea of what leadership means in the wellness world is no longer relevant.
One of the reasons GOOD was such a reaffirming experience for me was that it reminded me why I fell in love with wellness in the first place. Wellness, after all, isn’t just about the “well.” It’s not just about the adjective – or rather, the noun we’ve created from the adjective.
It’s about the verb – the “LIVING” part of living well.
“Well” is subjective. We cannot possibly know if what works for one person will work for someone else.
But living? Living is action. Living is experience-oriented.
And living well is…well, it’s moving forward fearlessly into the you you know you’re meant to be.
The GOODfest team blew me (and everyone else there, ps) away with their thoughtfulness and attention to detail. They’d carefully curated the day to reflect their mission and their values, and it showed in not just every single speaker and sponsor, but in all 300+ people who chose to spend their day with us. Deep conversations happened within a matter of seconds – real, no-bs, walls-down conversations – and each time a speaker walked onstage it was like they were being greeted by a room full of old pals.
Speaking of the speakers – the SPEAKERS! Oh my god the speakers. Being a part of this group was a dream come true. Some people were old friends (Jessica Murnane, Katie Dalebout, Jordan Younger), some were new friends (Gianne Doherty, Kristin McGee, Cassandra Bodzak, Sara DiVello, Kimmie Smith), and some I met specifically because we were both speaking at the GOODfest and then one month later we were the best of travel buddies (hi, Talia Pollock). In an industry that can sometimes seem so cliquey and elite, the GOODfest was anything but. It revived my love for wellness; for how *I* view living well. Which is all about being proactive, not reactive, when it comes to how you want to feel. All-around. Mind, body, soul.
This post is obviously about the wellness world, but I think this disconnect between aspiration and inspiration applies across industries and even life stages. Maybe your thing is fashion. Maybe it’s academica. Maybe it’s music. Maybe you’re just starting a family, or have been single for a while, or are just about to graduate college or enter empty-nestville. There are so many opportunities for us to doubt that what we’re doing is right or where we are is where we’re supposed to be (yes, social media is a big way we can get triggered into self-doubt).
But what the GOODfest reminded me is that those people who seem to have everything perfectly manicured and are “too cool to care” are in the minority. WE are in the majority. Side by side. No one has it all figured out, but if we join forces in our curiosity, we can explore the options together.
And that’s what I love about wellness: I love the CONNECTION. The community. The willingness to open up and move forward fearlessly…on the same team. We might not know anywhere near everything, but each of us knows something – and when we all work together to both hear and be heard, we’ve got a whole damn lot of options on the table.
Thank you Kate, Jess, Jen, Sienna, Brea, and the rest of the GOOD team for creating a space for women to unlock themselves and fully exhale. To my fellow speakers, I adore every single one of you and am honored to have been in your presence.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years of building a career, birthing a business, quitting a job, moving across the country, and getting engaged (it’s been a busy few years.), it’s that no matter HOW far you think you’ve gotten, there is still so much more to learn. And moreover, you don’t have to go at it alone.
I recently started working with a coach to help gain clarity around a few big-time goals of mine (more on that in the future – both the coach part and the goals part). After unpacking stuff like my alternative definition of “accomplishments” and my love affair with structure, she asked me about role models. And after listing people like Jenny Lewis and Glennon Doyle Melton, I told her about one of my first friends to truly show me what I was capable of. That friend is today’s WANT Woman: Nicole Sciacca.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, you’ve probably at least heard of Nicole if not experienced her Force Of Nature-ness firsthand. Nicole Sciaccais a yoga teacher, professional dancer, actress, host, personal trainer, and (most importantly) a mother to her three year-old son Beau. She is currently the Chief Yoga Officer of Playlist Yoga in West Hollywood, where she spearheads their programming and works with teachers to turn each class into the kind of unique, music-driven experiences that have earned Playlist the nickname “The SoulCycle Of Yoga.”
Backstory: Nicole moved to Los Angeles from Birmingham, Alabama over sixteen years ago. After suffering a horrible back injury in 2006 that changed the trajectory of her dance career, she needed to find an outlet for her energy and genetic disposition for sweat. What originally seemed like her biggest roadblock ultimately introduced her to her greatest passion. Nicole simultaneously began yoga while recovering…and knew she was onto something. Although she had swam and danced professionally her entire life, it was yoga that transformed her mind, body and spirit all at once.
Nicole has always believed in the power of “the journey, not the destination,” so when her Venice Beach studio Hustle and Flow was forced to close, she knew something big was bound to be on the horizon. Days later, she met Playlist owners Jorden Cohen and Rob Rubano. The timing could not have been more perfect – and Nicole found her new path as the face of Playlist.
nicole + i at the one year WANTiversary party in 2016
Our story? Well, I need to preface this by saying that I have spot-on friendtuition. I don’t know how, but I can so much as hear about someone from someone else and have a gut feeling that we’re going to be friends. I’ve learned this about myself in time, but when I met Nicole eight years ago in her spin class and had that friendtuition feeling right off the bat, I was so confused because I was also ridiculouslyintimidated by her.
It wasn’t that Nicole was actually intimidating or scary in the least. It was that I was in the midst of figuring myself out.I was just finding my voice as a writer and fitness instructor, was battling self-doubt when it came to calling myself a leader…and here was this woman who freaking OWNED THE ROOM the second she walked in.
I’d never seen anyone foster such a deep sense of community (“a following,” if you will) like Nicole did. She made people work hard without even realizing it was hard work. She made people laugh but never at the expense of anyone or anything else. She looked you in the eye and listened to what you had to say, even if she’d met you three seconds beforehand. And she didn’t apologize for being herself.
She was badass. She was soulful. She was exactly what I wanted to be like but didn’t know I could become.
Fast forward to the Now, and she’s one of those “lifer” friends of mine. We’ve seen each other through some high highs and low lows, and I can say on my end that I’m not only a better person to have had her cheering me on, but am a bolder person for bearing witness as her story unfolds and seeing her move forward fearlessly through it all. Injuries. Relationships. Speed bumps. Successes. She’s the definition of fearless: when the fear is less than the faith.
I realized the other day that I hadn’t spotlighted a WANT Woman on the site since last year – crazy, right? Especially since one of the things I value most is connection. This means not only introducing you to WANT Women around the globe, but helping you connect with women who can ultimately help you find a deeper connection with YOURSELF.And so I thought, who better to get back into the flow of things than one of the WANTiest women I know. I love our WANT community so much, it was crazy to me I hadn’t introduced you to Nicole yet. So. Here. Done and done.
They (whoever “they” are) say that you need to see it to be it. And for me, Nicole was one of the first people to show me the kind of person I could become if I was brave enough to go there. Our story is never finished, our practice is never perfected, and if we just hold the mirror up and reflect our light onto one another, we’re able to surpass our wildest expectations.
Name: Nicole Sciacca
How you’d know me (occupation or role): I have been teaching yoga, group fitness, and indoor cycling as well as private training for almost a decade in Los Angeles, California. I formally owned a cycling and yoga studio called Hustle & Flow Fitness on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. Currently I am the Chief Yoga Officer (CYO) at PLAYLIST. Yoga in West Hollywood.
What I love about myself (and why): One of the things I love about myself is my sense of humor, because what are we doing, you guys? This LIFE business is crazy. And awesome. And scary. And beautiful. And unnerving. So please…let’s just laugh. Also, my resilience. I’m pretty sure that is a new found quality over the last 4-5 years but I can tell you I see the importance in resiliency now more than ever.
What is your definition of “positivity?” The energy that is extended when the deepest motivation is love, compassion, joy, and kindness. Or Katie Horwitch. I’m not saying that because this is your site. I honestly would define you as “positivity personified.” True story. (note from katie: omg.)
When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” Oddly I don’t remember this “turning point” but I do recall my mother and father really establishing my self worth and the value of my individuality at a very young age. They let me wear the same self chosen outfit 4 days in a row to kindergarten (thankfully my mom washed it every night!). There was a prominent shift when I began to dedicate my life to helping others through fitness and yoga but I was certainly raised with an awareness of “self love.”
How/where negative talk shows up in my life: Paying off debt. Debt that I incurred from taking big risks. Strange thing is that I don’t necessarily regret those choices because the lessons are plentiful. Negativity shows up at least once a month when I feel bloated or hormonal. Sometimes as a mother I find my inner critic beating me up as I compare my parenting to other mamas.
When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… If I feel a lack of energy or physically lethargic, I blame my diet and for not having the discipline to eat more carefully. If I get a piece of mail that worries me, I doubt my capabilities to run my business. If I’m struggling on my mat, I tell myself my priorities are out of whack… There is a great deal of personal critique on my end and that has been a voice that I’ve battled my entire life.
When others talk negatively about themselves… I have a completely different reaction. I listen and immediately drum up all the reasons they are shining, glorious, star fairies!!
It baffles me that women still… make less than men dollar to dollar. Seems like we should just cut that shit out now.
I wish that more women… would praise, support, nurture and enable one another. I surround myself with some incredibly strong and driven ladies which makes me proud to be a woman in this industry, at this point in history. We are a great force for good and the world NEEDS us. Our children need us.
The coolest thing about women is… we can bring life into the world. Cliche? I don’t care. I have been blessed to do this and it is the coolest thing I’ve ever been privileged to experience. Also, we can multi-task like a BOSS.
My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: Pray or meditate or sweat. Nearly all my problems can shift when I do one (or all) of these 3 things. Also, I call my mom.
My top female role models: This is a random list here…. I’d say Elizabeth Lesser. Her life’s work and exceptional use of language as seen in her books is just incredible. Johanna Gaines from the HGTV show Fixer Upper. I only know what I see and read but from the dynamic she shares with her husband, her 4 children, their farm, and businesses, I’m constantly inspired.
Favorite negativity-busting activity: Spending quality time with my son. He fuels my heart in ways that I can barely explain. He reminds me of where I’ve been and that no matter what, the future is based in my reaction. I can shift energy by actively loving him.
Fave self-love ritual: beauty upkeep. Hair cut, a facial, a nice manicure and pedicure. IS THIS SHALLOW? My non-shallow answer is getting a good night’s sleep. Actual rest.
Favorite feel-good food(s): My mom’s cooking. Specifically her homemade red velvet cake or her German sourkraut, potato, and pork recipe. It has a name but I don’t know it.
Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: This is 40 or Deadpool. (sorry.) Strangely, I don’t really re-watch movies. THIS HAS BEEN A POINT OF CONTENTION BEFORE. I think it makes me an oddball…so I don’t have an answer. Outside of Love Actually and All About Eve. Those are my all-time Favs!!
My feel-good playlist: Like That – Memphis Bleek How Do You Want It – Tupac Lemonade (the entire album) – Beyonce Rock and Roll or Ramble On – Led Zeppelin Stand Back – Fleetwood Mac Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood River – Leon Bridges
Advice I would give my… …4 year old self: It’s okay that you like micro machines and dirt. And maybe eat less Velveeta cheese. …14 year-old self: You’re not too tall. You’re perfect. Don’t worry about boys and take more ballet classes. …24 year old self: A partner should compliment your life, not fill the holes. GO TO YOGA RIGHT NOW.
5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: A trip or yoga retreat to New Zealand or Iceland. Go on safari in South Africa. Maybe another child. Build a house. Ride in a hot air balloon.
When I truly love all of myself… I feel enamored and in the presence of God.
Right now, I am most excited about… my haircut and color this Wednesday. Also, the rest of 2017!! I have a couple big things in the works and am excited to get the ball rolling on my potential collaborations.
My body is: a freaking temple. I am shocked that it puts up with me. haha. We stay healthy 98% of the year, we breakdance at weddings and we operate on less than the desired amount of sleep.
Three words to describe me: goofy, hard-working, and compassionate
Current mantra: The more comfortable I am BEING uncomfortable the better prepared I am for any and all surprises. Or: I am becoming my best self and living my most fulfilled life here and now.
Today’s guest isJessica Murnane, wellness advocate, podcast host, and creator of the One Part Plant movement. She’s the author of a brand new cookbook,One Part Plant, and the host of two wildly successful podcasts: One Part Podcast and The Cookbook Deal.
After being diagnosed with endometriosis and receiving a pretty crazy ultimatum from her doctors, Jessica decided to try overhauling her diet to see if she could heal herself naturally. Fast forward to today, and Jessica now has zero of those debilitating endometriosis symptoms and follows a full-on plant based diet.
If Jessica looks familiar, it might be because she’s been on WANT before. Firstin an interview, next on thetenth episode of the WANTcast, and then lots of guest appearances here and there as she’s become a dear friend and a person I feel is truly out there changing the world, on and off-line. In Episode 10, Jessica talked about her brand new cookbook deal, and we casually mentioned her coming back to do a “Part Two” episode…
WELP, little did we know how much could happen in just one year. I won’t ruin it for you, but I’ll just say her newest podcast’s subtitle is “Also, The Weirdest Year Of My Life.” That should say it all. I knew we’d have a lot of ground to cover, but what we ended up talking about most actually wasn’t the year or the cookbook – it was everything else in between. Her candor, humor, and heart are hallmarks of why her OPP peeps adore her so much…and why her cookbook became a #1 New Release on Amazon after only a day. A DAY.
One Part Plant is so much more than a cookbook – it’s a memoir slash self-help guide slash ode to all the reasons eating “one part plant” can enhance your life from the inside out. Think I’m exaggerating?Check it out hereand we can start a little OPP cooking club from afar.
This episode’s title could have been the longest thing ever, because we truly covered so much good ground. In this episode we talk about caring about being “cool” vs just liking what you like, food issues and Jessica’s past with not just what put in her body but how she viewed her body, toxic relationships and the need to “fix” others, her relationship with her husband and what makes a healthy relationship in general (especially when you come from having body/food/fixer issues), the crazy way her new Cookbook Deal podcast panned out, asking for what you need personally, professionally, and financially, her beef with people who say they’re “too old” for things, the barometer to use when you’re deciding whether to say yes or no to a project…oh my goodness, I should probably just stop there so you can listen for yourself.
I’m honored to have her on the WANTcast again and pumped to see what she does next…
…oh, and just for some context: we begin this episode discussing something her husband does for her every year on her birthday: an eight-day lead-up entitled “Murnanukkah.”
Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Jessica’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!
You’ve heard it thrice already before breakfast. You hear it in line for coffee, you hear it when you open the door for someone. An arm brushes against you unexpectedly at work or the yogi next to you scoots their mat a few inches to the right to make space in a crowded class and knocks your elbow.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so. so. sorry.
The problem with over-apologizing isn’t just that it cuts away at our self-respect – how can we respect our own opinions if we’re constantly apologizing for them? – it’s also that an abundance of apologies makes us like the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Or rather, the Girl Who Cried SORRY. You remember the story: this kid is watching some sheep, and keeps yelling that there’s a wolf. The villagers rush out each time, terrified, only to be met by the little twerp laughing at them. Of course, when a wolf finally DOES show up and he calls for help, no one believes him. Can you blame them?
If we’re known as a constant sorry-sayer, it doesn’t matter how genuinely sorry we are or how terrible we feel – our sorrys are not trustworthy and are deemed inauthentic. “Sorry” has become cheap, and is way too often associated with weakness or being a pushover.
But sometimes you screw up – majorly. Maybe it’s a missed deadline. Maybe you forget about important plans. Maybe you sleep through your alarm clock or lose a pair of borrowed earrings or think it’s Sunday when it’s actually Monday. Or maybe it’s worse.
Whatever the case, you’re deeply sorry – yet don’t know how to accurately portray how sincere you really are without coming across as flippant, disingenuous, or just another sorry-monster.
Saying “sorry” can be a lackluster way of protecting yourself or trying to make friends – instead of really, truly, feeling regret or sorrow over something you said or did. But what about those times when you actually are sorry?
The most sensitive and aware of us are usually the ones that mistakes hit hardest. I highly doubt it’s just me that can/will dwell over a misspoken word or even a tone of voice that might have been “taken the wrong way.” I’ll dwell for days. Weeks. I mean, there are things I said or did in fifth grade I still stress over. A sample from my collection of thoughts I’ve gathered over the years: Do they hate me? Will I get fired? Will he break up with me? Is my reputation dead? Should I just quit everything and start fresh where no one knows me?
The act of saying “sorry” holds a lot more weight than others may realize – especially for you, Ms Sensitive Soul. The trick is to subtly shift the way you apologize and be the slow-yet-steady change you wish to see in the world (because change and mistakes go hand-in-hand).
Here’s what I’ve learned when it comes to how to say sorry, for those of us who get hit the deepest by our own mistakes and want to make our apologies last longer than just five little letters:
FESS UP COMPLETELY.
When we’re in the wrong, it’s tempting to lean on stories, excuses, or even little white lies in hopes of getting us in the clear quicker. However legitimate (or convincing, in the case of little white lies) your story, you’ve gotta face the facts. The act has already been done, the opportunity has been lost, and you just might have let someone down. An explanation might be necessary, but not if it’s in hopes of defending yourself. An explanation and an excuse are two very different things. Fess up completely, and explain whatever you need to in order to support your apology, not ask for a free pass.
As for the “omission of truths?” I’ve found that white lies can be habit-forming, or just icky. Little white lies are like plaque on your soul, and can (and will) build up inside you. Over time, they morph into a weighty guilt that is way harder to shake than telling the truth ever would be.
GO FOR QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY.
When you’re truly sorry for something you did, the best thing to do first is accept full responsibility – but keep it concise. Long, drawn-out apologies can seem inauthentic and water down your true intentions. Side note, they can make you seem weak, which you’re not. Acknowledge your faux pas, acknowledge the fact that you fell below your usual standards for yourself, then turn your focus onto the other person (friend, boss, lover, whoever). Look the other person in the eye and listen to all they have to say. Prepare to be met with at least a little bit of anger, frustration, or sadness. You might get a lecture and your impulse might be to go into defense mode. But being fully present, fully accepting of both the other person’s perceptions and emotions, as well as your own inherently beautifully flawed humanity, is one of the noblest, strongest things you can do to move forward in an effective way.
OFFER YOUR SERVICE.
Are you able to fix the situation? Get on it. Ask if there is anything you can do to help the situation – and offer clear-cut suggestions to prove you’re not just asking because you think you should. Is there something you can replace? Go find it. Is there an additional apology you can make to someone else? Go make it. Is there an errand you can run or a call you can make, or something unrelated yet needed that the other person values? Figure out what it is and make it happen. Being of service after a screw-up not only helps others feel good again, it helps you feel useful and proactive instead of ashamed and defeated.
MAKE A PREVENTION PLAN.
Ever heard that hindsight comes right after you need it most? Not necessarily. Forgive yourself first and foremost, then take at least one active step to prevent your mistake from happening again. Find yourself sleeping through your alarm when you’ve had a long day/week/month? Schedule a free wake-up call online. Work mostly off of memory or your phone’s calendar? Maybe an old-school, handheld Day Planner is what will help you stay organized (I personally need to take this advice – something about pen-to-paper keeps me on track like no app ever could). Did your mistake involve more of a slip of the tongue or an offensive remark? Start practicing extreme compassion and empathy in every single one of your interactions throughout the day. Constantly ask yourself what would make you feel good, how you would want to be treated, how you would want someone to breach a difficult topic to you. Basically, be the kindest, most thoughtful person you know.
The way you are wired might be different than others, but the simple act of exercising empathy on a day-to-day basis could be the thing that saves you from a major misstep in the future. And if it doesn’t? You know what to do to make your apology count.
In the comments below, tell me about a time you made a mistake and had to apologize. What did you do to mend the situation or relationship? What was the lesson you learned as a result? Has it shaped the way you do things today?
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a version of this post originally appeared on the chalkboard mag in 2014
I didn’t know what I would do. I didn’t know where I would be. But I knew, in my heart, I was here to make a difference. And to me, there was no better indication that you’d “made it” than seeing your name beside 29 other change-makers who were yet to hit the 1/3rd of life mark.
If I’m being honest, I really wanted to be a 25 under 25. THIS would have really been making it, I thought. Some people have quarter-life crises. I’ll have a quarter-life celebration instead!
But really…if I’m being TRULY honest…I was really hoping that by some miraculous turn of events…I’d beat ’em all to the punch and score a 20 under 20 spot. THESE were the “fresh-faced youth” that were “changing the world;” the ones I knew would be leaders that lasted my lifetime. I remember being at sleep-away camp when I was 11 years old, and literally tripping over a copy of my bunkmate’s Teen Magazine. I looked down and locked eyes with the cover stars, the “Teens To Watch.” I’ll be like them one day, I told myself…
I think all ambitious kids do it. Probably moreso if they’re a creative of some sort. I was an early bloomer in a lot of ways. I was drawing faces and shapes before most of my friends could hold a crayon. I devoured books and educational cassette/video tapes, which got me enunciating eloquently before I even knew what either of those words meant. I instinctively looked inward instead of facing outward, and I had a habit of self-examining even when it was scary to do so.
But when it came to stereotypical “success”…I don’t know. Most of my life, success had always been defined as being “the best” fill-in-the-blank. The best artist, the best singer, the best actress, the best daughter, the best partner, the best friend, the best at life. There were only two kinds of people – the prodigies and then everyone else. If you’re not striving to be a wunderkind, the world asked me, then what was the hell are you even doing?
And so being successful, for me, became more about being liked than being myself. I tied my worth to my praise, and my praise to my victories, and my victories to my worth, and back around again. If I could only make one of those Under lists, I thought, I would have concrete proof I’d “made it.”
Welp, I’m one day away from 30, and I’m not on any under-30 list. I’ve passed through 25, 20, and teendom, and in no age range or scenario have I ever been touted by anyone as someone “To Watch.” I’m yet to know the feeling of a global pedestal, and if Oprah or Forbes hasn’t called by now, there’s not a good chance they’re gonna show up in the next 24 hours.
What I’ve gotten in the last thirty years, though, is way better than my name on some list of people roughly around my own age (and the subsequent pressure you inevitably feel to maintain that “buzz” as you move from Person To Watch to actually being watched). I’ve built a person. A living, breathing, beautiful, flawed, brilliant, WHOLE person. Instead of being caught up in accomplishments, I’ve built a solid base of fulfillment. My refusal to conform to what might be normal – everything from career plans to dating – has brought me the kind of success you can’t see. The kind of success that stops me in my tracks and makes me think, “Holy crap, how did I even get here?” That sort of success isn’t tied to a paycheck, a person, or a nod of approval. It’s the kind of success that only I really truly know, because it’s the feeling of knowing myself on such a deep level that I know I can weather both the highest highs and the lowest lows.
That’s not to say entering my Third Decade comes without butterflies, though. I remember when I was ending my freshman year of high school, I feared entering into my sophomore year and blending into the crowd. I was known as one of the “cool” freshmen (read: not-actually-stereotypically-cool-in-the-way-freshmen-think-they’re-cool) in the theatre clique, and feared that my unexpectedness was what made me exciting. Without being known for being way more “mature” than a normal ninth grader, what was I?
Now, the same types of fears bubble up – I’m just more mindful about how I approach them. My ties to the idea of “youth” are not so much linked to the aging process as to whether or not I’m still…cringe…special. Almost all my close friends are a good five to fifteen years older than I am. I’ve been told my entire life that I’m an old soul and so much more mature “for my age.” So what happens now? What if I blend in? What am I if I’m no longer an exception to the rule?
I’ll tell you what I am. I am not held back, that’s what I am. I am not using my age as a crutch or as a reason someone else should like me. I know now I can fill that head-and-heart space with something much more productive to love about myself. I am not my age, I am my soul. I am not an exception, I am my own rule.
I might not be leaving my twenties on any fancy-schmancy list, but honestly, I don’t care anymore. I don’t need a list to approve of my trajectory, and I don’t need to feed into the idea that in order to be Great, I need to be The Best. Because really, there is no “Best.” And as Sarah Robb O’Hagan brilliantly states in this video, this sort of “Participation Award” culture of awarding greatness by decade creates a false notion that there IS actually a Best and that Best is on a timeline, one that’s becoming increasingly shorter.
I want to live on my own timeline. And I want to live the life that’s the Best for me. End of story.
In the meantime, I have learned a few things to get me started…
30 Lessons In 30 Years: A Non-Exhaustive List
1) ASK FOR HELP, and take people up on their offers when they offer to help. I’ve learned that if I don’t know how to do something…it’s not that I WON’T do it, but I get tripped up over not knowing HOW to execute, it’s that I move SO slow. There’s a difference between moving slow and being cautious, and moving slow out of fear. I move slow out of fear. I finally came to terms with my natural way of being, but instead of sulking about it, I now immediately do something to counteract it. Now I know that just because my default is to act one way (slow, fearful, solo), doesn’t mean I need to make a drastic change to move forward in work or life…I just need to ask for help when I’m feeling on shaky ground.
2) In the words of the musical Rent, FORGET REGRET. Regret is a useless – and fabricated – emotion. How absolutely freeing it feels to live without regrets. Regret, to me, is a byproduct of a forgiveness and empathy deficit. When you’re able to forgive and have empathy for others, you’re able to learn forgiveness and empathy for yourself (and vice versa). You realize you were making the best choice you could in the circumstance you were in. LISTEN: On Listening As Service With Ben Mathes
3) If you own or lease a car, know the dates and costs to anticipate. Smog checks (your DMV renewal will have a notification on it – all you need to do is find a gas station or service outpost that says “Smog Check” and they’ll know what to do), drivers license renewal, car payments, and if you’re leasing, disposition fee. Knowing these won’t make the costs go away, but they WILL make you a lot less surprised when they pop up (and provide a little more impetus to keep some “shit happens” money lying around).
5) Keep a journal. A written, pen-to-paper journal. Write notes back and forth with your friends, and save them when you can. They’re like relics of who you once were and how you came to be.
6) Friendships are born EVERYWHERE. Don’t worry about so much about making your closest friends in your age group, career field, school, what-have-you. Community can come from ANYWHERE. And also, It’s okay not to have a stereotypical “best” friend – or a lot of friends. You will find your people, but only if you’re committed to being your own “person” above all else (instead of trying to fit in with someone else). READ: Being Afraid Of The Friends That You Need
7) Be kind to people – all people. Or at the very least, empathize, because we’re all human. Cynicism, backstabbing, manipulating, and just plain making fun of others are all things that get under my skin. I’ve been on the receiving end of all four, and more. It was hard to be kind sometimes. But kindness has always gotten me farther – and doesn’t leave me with that sick feeling in my stomach that I’m sending out negative energy to someone else in this world. Pettiness and negativity fester in the body, and letting them live out in the world is very different than letting them GO. You can be kind to people while still being firm, direct, and self-protective. Kindness is only a liability when it’s an excuse to not stand up for yourself. Saying no and being kind are not mutually exclusive. Speaking up and being kind are not mutually exclusive.
8) You can appreciate the advice of those you love without feeling like you should (or NEED to) take it. The people you love want what’s best for you. And what’s best for you is usually the least risk-averse option. Or maybe it’s not the least risky, but it’s the option they’d do in your position. Or maybe they wouldn’t do it per se, but it will lead you to be the person THEY want you to be. It could be a parent or a romantic partner. What is right for someone else isn’t always right for you, and vice versa. That doesn’t mean either option is “wrong.”
9) “Vulnerability” is your greatest asset. Show your entire self to the world.
10) The reality of the situation at hand is different than the emotions you associate with it. Feel it all, but learn to separate the two.
11) Learn to listen to your body, even when it would be easier to listen to a friend, or magazine article, or even a doctor. Tapping into how my body feels has been one of my biggest successes of my life so far. Your body never lies.
13) Read things that make your brain flex, listen to music that makes your heart hurt, watch films that make you think deeply. It’s exercise for your soul.
14) Love is so much more complicated than it seems. Surface level compatibility is awesome, calling you out on your shit should be a given. You want someone who is in the ring with you no matter what – sans jealousy, codependency, or worst of all, conditions.
15) In the words of Michael Pollan, “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The only modification I have to this is…don’t let society tell you what is too little or too much. Our bodies are ALL different – different activity levels, physiological make-up, etc. – so we all need different amounts of energy to live our lives. READ: Defining Diet On Your Own Terms
17) It’s okay to not want to let go, or be scared to let go – but don’t be so scared of the unknown and the other side of letting go that you DON’T let go. Just because you’ve invested in something for a really long time doesn’t mean you’re indebted to it.
18) Be proactive, not reactive.
19) We all learn the same lessons, just not at the same times.
20) Family, blood AND chosen, are the most important. What constitutes family? They’ve got your back no matter what (and you’ve got theirs).
21) The hardest (and scariest) things to do are usually the right ones.
26) When it comes to your career, do you. If you want to switch jobs, cool. If you like working in an office, cool. If you work better from home, cool. If you’re someone who thrives off of multiple odd jobs for maximum happiness, amazing. There is no one archetype for professional (or personal) success.
27) You don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. Do what’s right for you. And just because someone else is doing it (and you’re not) is not a reflection on your worth as a human being.
28) Don’t drastically change something about yourself to follow a trend. Physical or otherwise. Very thankful for my thick eyebrows now, but I wasn’t in 1998.
30) Your life is not a clock to beat. Remember those game shows where participants would have to rush through a maze while there was a clock counting down the seconds in the background? Way too many of us live our lives that way. Everyone is on their own unique path. Just because your friends are getting married or having babies or are CEOs of their businesses DOESN’T mean you have to “keep up” by checking off those boxes yourself. When you honor your own timeline and move forward fearlessly on that path, your life opens up in ways you’d never ever expect.
WANT Yourself: Which one of these lessons resonated with you the most?
If you’re over 30, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
And under-30s…what’s the ONE thing you want to work on the most in this decade you’re in?
Shoot me a comment below – I’ll consider it my birthday present :) I love you all.
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