On Sameness + Perfection.

On Sameness + Perfection.

Body Love Motivation + Inspiration

WHEN I WAS 12, I read the book The Giver by Lois Lowry. A sort of Brave New World for the tween set, it’s about a confined society in which everything is Just So all the time. It’s a society that’s been converted to “sameness” – a plan that has eradicated pain and strife. Everyone is identical. No one feels. No one judges. No one’s flawed. No experience, no emotion, no hunger for life. Just…predictability.

I think that most of my classmates empathized with the times the main character, Jonas, felt weird for being different (how much more tweeny can you get?). I, however, empathized with how angry Jonah felt when he started to see – really see – how phoney Sameness really was.

~

Perfection is a hoax. The allure of being perfect is the greatest con, the greatest scheme ever devised. Forget about the Photoshop, the glossy pages, the television even. Perfection is a stagnant ideal and a consummation of all we find unsatisfactory. It’s an artifice to fool ourselves into believing that there’s an excuse or that we’re failing. That is perfect, They are perfect is internalized and morphs into This is not perfect. I am not perfect.
Perfection is conditional love. It’s an invisible benchmark and a thick glass ceiling. It’s the expectation and the idealization of the absolutely monotonous. It’s a lonely, one-dimensional load of crap we think we need in order to feel special.

Perfection is a pile of you-know-what from both ends of the spectrum; doesn’t matter how you look at it. We live in a world where the sweetest apples are discarded for a touch of brown, where we inject plastic into the lines we’ve earned from reading novels late into the night, where we over-sterilize and under-appreciate.

And then there are the people who seem to be constantly extolled for their beauty, their wisdom, or their achievements. Their existence is idolized, their lives an exercise in perfection maintenance. And that…that is a huge burden to carry, too. It’s immense, unreasonable pressure to stay at a certain age, look, job and caliber indefinitely. Because what if – no, when – we don’t? What happens when we falter – or maybe just aren’t astonishingly mind-blowing every single second?


Will we still be loved?

 

The word “perfect” has haunted me my entire life. When I was in middle school, I would be called perfect as a taunt. I didn’t have braces. I liked to color-coordinate. I got good grades. My awkward stage was mild. Sounds great, huh? Yeah. Not really. I felt detached and alone. I felt I could not be myself; God forbid I spoke out of turn or mismatched a sock. Just like Jonas in The Giver, I saw how fabricated the idea of perfection was, but didn’t know how to convince people otherwise. There was an immense discomfort in knowing I was looked at as someone who had everything together, and that that was both desired AND detested. Trying to convince people I wasn’t always backfired, since perfection was so ingrained in my identity to others. It was weird for me to be perfect but wrong for me to be flawed.

But the most uncomfortable thing for me was that my biggest taunts were also my highest praise. I was told I was pretty, I was told I was smart, I was told I was sweet, and I was told I was talented. I wasn’t ever forced to be those things – no stage parents in my household – but it was obvious the value they had. Plus, the alternative was scary. When you grow up in a culture that puts people down for fun and thrives off of casual negativity to get through the day, how does anything but perfect seem like a viable option? There was currency in perfection…as well as immunity. I felt that.

Balance was virtually impossible.

 

How was it that the very thing I equated with love and worth from my family and mentors was the thing I equated with loneliness and weirdness when it came to my friends and peers?

 

Some would have rebelled. But no – I didn’t want to rebel. I just wanted to relate. So I downplayed my assets and kept them locked away. At the root of it, I feared loss. I wanted to guarantee love, but at the same time wanted to be the full range of myself – which included the dark and messy parts. Please let me be normal, I’d silently beg. Do not love me for my light, because it sometimes gets dark in here and I can’t bear the loss when you realize that.

What was the most interesting is when I started to focus on feeling special instead of focusing on the whether or not others THOUGHT I was special. I let my guard down in front of people. I took myself very seriously but took the world a whole lot less so. I cried over boys and told people who hurt me the way that I felt. I opened up about being melancholy for what seemed like no reason and realized there were way more people like me than there were not. My dark and messy wasn’t all so dark and messy after all. I was just, as Glennon Doyle says, “a feely person in a messy world.” I began to realize that only I could determine my value, and only I could know what was my rightest right. I stopped using the word “perfect” to describe people and things and started to call them “perfect-for-me.” I stopped feeding off “perfect” and living on purpose.

You are not a mess. You are a feely person in a messy world. - @glennondoyle Click To Tweet

I am wary of perfection. The ones who make it their life’s mission to be perfect, I’m onto them. There is something deeper there, there is something hiding and some voice inside that once told them that the only way to be is to be flawless. Because big voices and unique souls and feely people are risky to a messy world that likes to put things in cramped little boxes that are easy to define and file away. Nothing is intriguing when you fit into Sameness.

Whenever I see these people, I want to take them aside and hug them and tell them just to Be. Just BE. Be on purpose. Be a contradiction. Be extreme! Whatever you are and whoever you are, be extremely YOU. At the end of the day, what else is there left? The people who know how to live are absolutely flawless in their quirks and extremes. They’re certainly not afraid to mismatch their socks or disagree with the world.

The idea that perfection gets you a prize is a big fat lie, and the thing is that we ALL KNOW IT deep down. Because those beautiful on-purpose souls, who are extremely and unquestionably themselves, those are the people we’re all ultimately drawn to in the long run. Not the ones who homogenize their lives to be Just So. Because this is not sameness. This is life. In all its extremities and nuances.

What makes you special isn’t someone else’s declaration that you’re special. What makes you special are the exact things that end up making you feel as if you’re living with the entirety of yourself. Find those tiny details and idiosyncrasies that make you you, and use them to support and enhance the extreme You-ness of the way you Be. It isn’t about “perfection” or “flawed” or whatever’s the opposite. It’s about being unquestionably yourself.

Forget about the Sameness, forget about utopia. There is no better person to be, no better place to live, than Oh-So-On-Purpose.


 

Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


Down With The Side Hustle, Down With The Day Job

Down With The Side Hustle, Down With The Day Job

Community Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work

Last week, I was at a networking event thing for activist-minded women in their twenties and thirties. Lots of rad women, lots of big ideas. Because I was feeling chatty and confident, I told myself to stay a little while longer, if just to finish my glass of “OMG It’s Finally Spring!” celebratory rosé. Because I’m an extroverted introvert and do one-on-one conversations, I gravitated toward the gal standing by the wall who was finishing her glass, too. A kindred spirit.

I ask her a little bit about herself – who she is, what she loves, what she cares about, how she spends her time on a daily basis and why (because I go hard right out of the gate). She asks me what I “do.”

So I tell her about WANT.

(And you guys, I was on fire. I promise it wasn’t just the rosé. I’d just gotten back from a speaking engagement and booked two more, I was high off of reading your beautiful emails sharing your incredible stories, and I’d finally started to own some of my long-term goals and get them rolling. I felt in my freaking element and ready to share the love!)

And then she asks me “So is that your side hustle?” And I stumble.

“…Well, no, that’s where I put my energy and efforts on a daily basis. That’s where the majority of my focus is.”

She cuts me off. “Yeah, but is it MAKING YOU MONEY.”

That’s not a typo. It’s not supposed to be a question mark. It’s a period.

Like she was trying to school me on “what I do.”

After years of struggling with “what I call myself” and how I explain who I am and what I’m about to other people – and, honestly, after reaching a really good place with it all and finally feeling like I can answer people in a way that’s succint yet doesn’t sell me short – I found myself thrown off-guard by her haste and candor. Plus I just didn’t want to talk about other things, ya know?

Thankfully, my self-awareness prevented me from getting defensive or snapping back at her. After what seemed like twenty seconds of gathering myself (probably more like two, not twenty), I calmly replied, “Well, it’s not my primary source of income, but I am, yeah” (which is not untrue)

“Oh,” she trails off…

We wrapped up our conversation and I made a beeline for the door. I couldn’t stay in this networky environment much longer.

I know. I know she didn’t mean anything by it. I know she was just trying to compartmentalize and simplify the information she was gathering. But her words stuck with me for days. Especially because she was…well, she was like me. It’s easier to brush off comments that rub you the wrong way when they come from people outside your age range or career or interest field. But peers are different. She wasn’t someone who was unfamiliar with the kind of “work” I was talking about. She was just…assuming it was on the side.

~

I have big problems with the terms “Side Hustle” and “Day Job.” I think they’re stifling, I think they’re suffocating, and I think they’re stupid.

It’s like when actors or painters or writers (hi) get asked what their “real job” is, because their work as an artist isn’t work that’s usually associated with paying the bills. To the artist, whose art is as real as it gets, asking “So what’s your day job?” feels like a passive-aggressive slam.

I have so many problems with this – where do I start? Using the words “day job” and “side hustle” assumes that one is serious and one isn’t. One pays the bills and one brings in a few dollars a month at most. One is a career at most and paycheck at least, one is a passion at most and a hobby at least. One is the big juicy main steak dish, one is the sad asparagus spears.

I realize that it’s human nature to want to simplify and find structure…but I think it’s downright dangerous to label what you do as a side dish instead of a main course. Or downplay the main course as merely something that gives you nutritional value.

If you’re constantly referring to what you love as unworthy of the spotlight, then how can you ever expect it has a fair shot at success?

I never, ever, ever refer to any of my jobs as Day Jobs or Side Hustles. To me, they’re all just different projects that serve different purposes. Never once did I refer to my job at a vegan restaurant in L.A. as my Day Job – and yet it was what paid the bills most of the time alongside my acting gigs and spin classes and freelance work. I never once referred to my acting or teaching or writing as a Side Hustle – and yet they brought in a handful of change each month at best. My restaurant job was not how I defined my days. My art was never on the side.

The restaurant helped me build community. The art helped me use my voice.

If you say what you love is unworthy of the spotlight, how can you expect a fair shot at success? Click To Tweet

Instead of compartmentalizing my life into Day Jobs and Side Hustles when I go to parties or meet new people, I always lead with what I’m most excited to talk about. Most of the time, it’s WANT. Sometimes it’s my classes. Sometimes it’s a small one-off project I’m doing that fascinates me to no end. Sometimes it’s just a riff off of “I’m a writer.” But very rarely do I answer “What Do You Do” the way people expect I will: with a passion justified by a more “sensible” job.

I’m lucky enough to have multiple jobs that pay my bills. WANT is one of them. But I’ve also been working in the fitness and wellness industry for over a decade, and I love that too. And go figure, it’s the primary thing that pays my bills right now. There are a LOT of people who talk about turning your “side hustle into your main hustle” – screw that! Why can’t your side hustle be your main hustle right out of the gate? Why can’t your day job and your night job live harmoniously? In high school we had multiple classes that carried equal weight. Why not the same with how we spend our days? Nay, our lives?

Here’s the thing: you are where your energy is. What you do and how you make money MIGHT be the same thing, but might be the answer to an entirely different question. The concepts of Day Jobs and Side Hustles speak nothing to what you’re actually putting your energy toward – because they focus on quantity of hours and dollars, not quality of passion and vision. 

~

“‘Side Hustle?'” my mom chuckled when I repeated the networking story to her. “I’ve never heard that term before!”

Mind = blown. Every third Instagram post, every other blog – everyone talking about how to develop a side hustle or turn your side hustle into your main hustle or whatever. It had been exhausting for quite some time now. The fact that she had never even heard of this was absurd. How was that possible?

And then I thought about it. And I remembered how she’d never encouraged me to have a Plan B like so many of my artist friends’ parents. “What will she do if she doesn’t make it?” people would gasp. “Katie is a smart girl. And she loves many things,” my parents would say. “She’ll figure it out.”

That mentality was such a gift to me. They knew I didn’t need to plan for “real life” with a passion on the side. Real life lived everywhere.

No one who is in my life would ever think of WANT as my side hustle. They know how many hours I put in working, and they know how much energy I spend making it the very best it can be. Maybe it doesn’t look like a “regular job” to people on the outside…but that doesn’t mean they’re allowed to shove it in a corner of generalizations and assumptions. The same goes for the other ways I choose to fill my days, whether they make money or not. I streamline when I need to, but I thrive on strategic variety. Nothing I do looks normal to the naked eye, and I am alright with that. It’s normal to me.

What I propose is this:

Down with the Day Job.

Down with the Side Hustle.

Let’s ask people what they spend their energy on, and tell them where ours is as well.

Let’s view what we do as different aspects of who we are. All main courses in their own right.

Plan A all the way.

 


Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


To The Goddess Unchained.

To The Goddess Unchained.

Body Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work
'When you're a powerful woman, you are a goddess unchained. And everyone will have something to say.' @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet

Dear beautiful woman,

Hi. It’s me. We haven’t met, but I feel like I know you. Scratch that – I know that I know you. And I don’t mean that in a pushy, I’ve-been-there-before-so-now-I-know-you-and-also-everything way. I mean that in the way that we all come from the same source, the same sisterhood, the same #rigged system that’s made us believe false truths throughout the ages that nothing we do will ever be enough.

I know you are struggling right now. With what, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the job? The relationship status? The family or kids or lack thereof of both? As someone once said, “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

But what I do know is this: your struggle is inflammed by the perceived expectations of the world around you.

~

To be kind, to be humble, to be gracious – to be boistrous, but not too much. To be soft, to be resilient, to be a leader, but not too much. To be heard, but not absorbed; to be wild, but at the same time tamed. This is the dichotomy of being a woman. Just a woman.

And to be a powerful woman – oh jeez! That is a task of itself, a dance more precise and more stress-sweat inducing than walking through eggshells. One misstep and the craaaaaaaaack of everything delicate below you rings loud in your ear. You must be bold. You must be brave. You must be a mind-reader and truth-teller but always know when and where your place is to say such things.

Success, you must learn, is relative. And success, you must say, is nothing but smoke and mirrors. But success, you must learn, is both the pinnacle of acceptance and the beginnings of lifelong critique. You are not kind enough, or humble enough, or gracious enough – or you’re boistrous, but way too much. No softness, too much resilience, too wild, too heard.

 

Because when you’re a powerful woman, you are a goddess unchained.
And everyone will have something to say.


I believe in you, lady. I believe in your grandness and your solitude, your quietness and your noise. I believe in the way you walk through the world, step by forceful step; the way you trip sometimes but always keep going. There are pebbles lodged in the soles of your shoes and dirt encrusted on the laces, relics from the places you’ve been and the things you have seen. Resist the urge to scrape them off. They belong there, they complete you – shoes were not meant to stay crisp and clean, in my opinion.

You have the answers you’re looking for, deep down. Whether they’ve made their way to the surface yet, TBD. You’re not supposed to wake up one day and know. But anyone who says they do or assumes the opposite is a liar.

Surprise, surprise: the hallmark of being a true adult is knowing that you will never know.

~

And so you, goddess unchained, you are grappling with the knowing and the not knowing and to that I say you’re doing it right. The world wants you to believe it expects you to know but all that is is a desperate plea to fill in the blanks. Blanks that are not yours to fill, blank spaces that aren’t meant to be filled in the first place.

But the last thing I want you to do, sweet friend, is get defensive and stew. How Dare They! How Dare This! The world is not conniving against you, the world just does not know. The world is a child, curious and stubborn. It’s wary of change. It wants to see what sticks. It wants to know what can be cuddled, and how hard, without being smothered. It wants to know what can be crushed, and how hard, without being broken. You don’t have to be the parent or sitter – but rather, the other curious child on the playground who is building sandcastles in the sand instead of eating it.

Nothing you do will ever be enough?
Everything you do is already enough, by the very nature that you’re doing it.


The world is reactive, so you must be proactive.

The world takes cues, so you must make your own.

I don’t want you to look down at the quicksand and say, How Dare They!

What I do want you to do is stand in the middle of the storm and exclaim with pride, How Dare I!

 


Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


Stop In The Name Of (Self) Love: 15 Things To Call Your Negative Self-Talk Instead Of A B*tch

Stop In The Name Of (Self) Love: 15 Things To Call Your Negative Self-Talk Instead Of A B*tch

Body

That voice in your head is an asshole.

Don’t let your thoughts bully you around.

Inner monologue? More like inner bitch. Don’t give her the power.

“Empowerment” is trending, but somehow we’re still here telling our negative self talk it can go fuck itself.

Tell me again how is this supposed to be helping?

~

For what I’m guessing is some sort of evolutionary advantage, we’re programmed to interpret the world in very black and white terms. There can be no middle ground when it comes to right and wrong, and when we disagree with something, we typically villainize it rather than try to understand where it comes from (or what the real solution should be). Good Versus Evil. Us Against Them. It’s a formula that’s easy to understand and easy to master. It’s caveperson-like. So it’s only natural that with this sort of mentality, we’d choose sides with our self-talk and try to bully one of them into submission.

Brené Brown says to give your inner voice a name – she calls hers Gremlin. For some people, providing that separation might be useful and allow you to distance yourself from the harsh, usually untrue things your inner voice likes to say.

I, however, have never been able to separate my inner voice from myself.

Because the thing is, it’s all a part of who I am.

Maybe my brain is playing tricks on my heart, maybe my inner voice is misguided at times, but at the end of the day – it’s all just me, telling myself what to believe.

Some people might say to snap out of it – to tell your inner critic to shut up. And hey, that might work for some people. But it NEVER works for me. Identifying my negative self-talk as someone other than myself – an ass, a bitch, a bully – only puts me on the defensive and gives me yet another thing about myself to dislike (on top of whatever it is I’m negative self-talking about). 

Empowerment, for the record, is defined as “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.” Yet I cannot see how throwing insults at insults does anything to make us feel anything but more aggressive and afraid. They’re just harsh words to combat harsh thoughts. Abuse masked as “empowerment.” Which, to me, is anything but empowering.

Instead of fighting against what is, why not try fighting for what could be? Click To Tweet

Instead of fighting against what is, why not try fighting for what could be? Instead of taking sides, why not confront the perceived enemy? Instead of viewing your inner monologue as separate from your “true” self, why not try to understand what it’s actually trying to tell you? Calling a very real part of who you are a “bitch” just reinforces and strengthens those negative-talk muscles that have been trained over the years to come to your defense in their negative-talk way – and focuses on the problem, not the solution. Berating a part of who you are is not the answer. Tapping into a new reserve of power to retrain that voice – that voice that so longs to be helpful – IS. 

Next time you’re tempted to punch your negative self-talking self in the no-no zone, sideline the smack-talk and reframe it as something more. Here are a few ideas of what your negative self-talk really is…

1) An invitation to explore

2) An opportunity to rise

3) A clue to an imbalance

4) A way to practice moving forward through fear

5) A wound to be nurtured

6) A signal for help

7) A warning preview of what it looks like to not be self-actualized

8) A sign of neglect

9) A cry for help

10) A distraction from the truth

11) A language that’s been learned all wrong

12) A muscle that can stop working and go recover now, thank you very much

13) A call to action

14) An empathetic pathway

15) A clue as to what needs some extra love

When I first started working on WANT, I would get pitches from people with books or websites with names like “Bitch On The Inside” or “#StopHatingYourself Life Coaching.” We’re so aligned, they would say. We’re all about empowering women. I respectfully declined every single one of these pitches.

Again, to each her own. I guess I can understand how some people need a metaphorical smack upside the head to catapult change into motion… But I don’t think that’s what makes the change LAST.

Because here’s the clincher: the quicker we are to call our inner monologue a bitch, the quicker we are to find fault outside ourselves. The quicker we are to clique up and take sides and tell our friends to “get over it” or “snap out of it” when they’re feeling down on themselves, the easier it is to do it to ourselves. Life becomes arduous and unfair. It’s a negativity loop that goes on and on and on – all in the name of self-love.

Teaching yourself a new language, whether it’s Spanish or Self- Respect, is a process. Sometimes it’s as simple as going word by word. Phrase by phrase. Today, pledge to stop calling your inner voice a “mean girl” or your “inner bitch.” Your mind and heart are smart, and they’re most likely just trying to protect you from disappointment, shield you from loneliness, or numb that Ghost Worry pain that’s predicting what other people might “find out” about you so that when they do “find it out” it won’t hurt as bad.

Your inner voice is just used to using this warped defense mechanism – a defense mechanism you don’t need.

It’s not You vs. Your Mind.

Not Good vs. Evil.

They’re all on the same side.

It's not You vs. Your Mind. They're all on the same side. Click To Tweet

WANT Yourself:

Think back to the times when your negative self-talk starts to act up. What is it usually trying to tell you? What does it signal? How can you reframe your most common self-critiques…without resorting to name-calling? Tell me in the comments below.

And know someone who needs this? Share it with them today to help them shift their negative self-talk.

 

Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


From Zilla to Chill-a: What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed (…By The Good Things)

From Zilla to Chill-a: What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed (…By The Good Things)

Body Community Love Tips + Tools Work

Sometimes it can seem as if the world is out to get us; that when it rains it pours and when it’s sunny it’s blinding. General consensus was that 2016 was the former – and if you’re anything like me, the last month or so has been the latter.

It’s really easy to talk about being overwhelmed when you’re overwhelmed by hard things – but it’s harder to talk about overwhelm when all things are GOOD. Mainly because, well, our inner critic tells us there’s nothing to be overwhelmed about. Overwhelm, it says, is about NEGATIVITY. And there’s nothing negative happening here. Snap out of it.

I’m no stranger to enrolling myself into Camp Overwhelm, usually unknowingly. And many times, it happens when the most opportunities are at my feet. I end up feeling anxious, self-sabotage, and the cycle repeats. Or I just have a breakdown. Either or. (Insert half-smile emoji here.)

I’m getting better at it. The things that used to overwhelm me no longer do. I remind myself I’ve done this before, I’ll do it again, and this is just another one for the list. But as a self-proclaimed go-getter, I sometimes back myself into a corner of so much good I don’t know what to do with it. My mind instantly starts up with the negative self-talk. Jeez Katie. First world problems. You’re overwhelmed because you’ve got so much opportunity. Be grateful, why don’t you?? The voice gets louder and louder and I sink into shame from feeling like my overwhelm means I’m not appreciative or happy. Which, of course, makes me a whole lot less happy.

Part of the reason we get overwhelmed when too many good things happen is that we try to give everything our full attention all at once. Think of it like an overcharged phone or camera battery circa 1990something: just like if you’d leave your device plugged in for too long it would overheat, when we live life in a constant state of bouncing from one high-high to the next, we burn out.

But the bigger problem, and reason why a plethora of positivity can swiftly turn negative – is because negativity is the language we’re using all too often on a day to day basis. It’s so easy to creep into negative talk in positive moments – so easy, in fact, that you might not realize you’ve gotten into the habit of it until good things come your way. It’s the language we use, the way that we bond, the tool we break out when we feel alone or scared or hurt or unsure or even just ambivalent. We can’t expect to truly understand and accept the good moments if we haven’t been practicing the language.

We can't expect to truly accept the good moments if we haven't been practicing the language. Click To Tweet

When left unchecked, our first response to Goodness-Overwhelm can be to complain or retreat into self-sabotagey behaviors to subconsciously “balance things out”  (kind of like how we hold ourselves back when we think we’re only allowed to have one “thing” we’re good at…). You might even feel selfish or guilty about being overwhelmed in the first place. If I can’t handle the good, am I even WORTHY of it?

I always used to wonder why soonlyweds got so -zilla’d out over wedding planning, and now I understand why: when so much good comes your way, you sometimes don’t know where to start. When you’re faced with an impending new beginning – whether it be a marriage or move or career opportunity – the giddy anticipation combined with the things you need to (nay, WANT to) do can bring out the best and most grateful person in you…or the most anxious and insecure. Moreover, if you haven’t been actively keeping your language in check, internally and externally, the good can feel foreign. You’re going from one extreme to the other – and are in unfamiliar territory without even knowing it.

I’m not going to get into the multitudes of ways you can manage your negative self-talk – that’s what this site is for. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, especially if the things making you overwhelmed are GOOD things, here are six simple strategies – three internal, three external – to help you proactively persevere through whatever whirlwind you’re facing:


• INTERNAL: SEPARATE THE EMOTION FROM THE SITUATION. 
The same rules apply when you’re dealing with overwhelm for positive reasons and negative or tedious reasons – because whether it’s a plethora of happy or aggravating things to focus your attention on, it’s still producing the same reaction. The difference is that when you’re overwhelmed with negative stuff, you’re more likely to force yourself to go a positive, proactive place. When you’re overwhelmed with positive stuff, it’s easier to pile on the guilt or negativity. Overwhelm isn’t a positive or negative thing – it’s just an emotional reaction to a situation at hand.

• INTERNAL: GET HONEST. Sometimes, overwhelm comes from the sheer amount of things occurring all at once…but sometimes, it goes a lot deeper. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, it’s time to skip to the next step. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed because you don’t think you deserve goodness or are afraid you’ll be disappointed, it’s time to recognize that. Are you overwhelmed because of the quantity of good things themselves – or because you don’t think you deserve them? Or do you secretly think it’s all too good to be true, and you might lose whatever has come your way? My friend Jen likes to say that “You can’t kill a good thing” – meaning that if something comes your way that is good, it’s yours for the keeping. Still skeptical? Read up on how to tackle Ghost Worries.

• INTERNAL: GET GRATEFUL. Oh jeez, you’re probably thinking. Another article on the internet telling me to be grateful for all the things I have. Hear me out for a sec. When I say “grateful,” I don’t mean flipping a switch to the warm and fuzzies. We cannot wait for gratitude to come. We must actively wedge the language of gratitude into our consciousness. And that doesn’t always feel warm and fuzzy. Gratitude starts by stepping outside your emotions and pragmatically recognizing the good things in our lives, which are all around you. Self-sabotage comes in when the positive things in our lives simply become tasks to check off a to-do list or burdens we feel we need to carry – basically, when we lose touch with how wonderful these individual instances actually are. Practice seeing wonderful things, even if it feels forced or contrived or doesn’t feel all that wonderful in the moment. Learning a new language isn’t about conversing right away – it’s about repeating single words over and over until they become second nature.

Gratitude starts by stepping outside your emotions + recognizing the good things all around you. Click To Tweet

• EXTERNAL: PRIORITIZE. After you’ve gotten real, gotten honest with yourself, and made gratitude a priority, get to prioritizing. Often times when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we’ll make decisions based on short-term relief instead of long-term success. Look at your day or week and compile a list of top to-dos. What is most important? What is most urgent? The things that are both important and urgent go at the top – they’re the things that matter most. What’s purely urgent (and not important) is usually reactionary and stress-inducing – skip them for now. We usually place so much importance on urgency we forget what is truly top-of-the-list material. Depending on your day, choose 3-5 top priority items, then draw a line and list the rest of your to-dos below that. Resist the urge to cross the line yourself (see below) until all the both-important-and-urgent items are taken care of.

Most importantly, do not be afraid to say no to as much as you need to. This might seem easy when your to-do list is filled with awesome things – but for some reason, we tend to over-extend ourselves OUT of that state of happy bliss way too often. When we’re overwhelmed and can’t see straight, we forget that the ability to say “no” and move forward, or just let certain things happen – not being a walking “yes” or people pleaser 24/7 – is the true sign of a leader who has things under control. And ps, who is able to enjoy the good things as they come her way.

• EXTERNAL: PICK YOUR PARTNERS. If you’ve ever read any sort of self-helpy article about busy-ness or overwhelm, you’ve probably learned by now to ask for help when you’ve got a lot to do. And it’s been repeated over and over again because it’s true: you simply cannot tackle every single thing in your life alone. Delegating tasks to others works. Loosening the reins of control over those things you don’t need to have a firm grasp upon (but need to get done) helps save your sanity and also forms a sense of camaraderie. A few suggestions: enlist those closest to you, visit TaskRabbit.com, and delegate at work so that you’re not leaving the office screaming every day.

But another important yet unexpected tip is to pick your celebration partners. Know who in your life you can call to talk you down from an anxious ledge and celebrate with you. Overwhelm is simply imbalance within a single individual. Help isn’t just needed when you’re in crisis mode – it’s needed when you’re celebrating, too. Whether it’s a friend or your significant other, know who you can turn to for support, laughter, high-fives, or pep talks when you feel your cup is about to runneth over. 

Help isn't just needed when you're in crisis mode - it's needed when you're celebrating, too. Click To Tweet

• EXTERNAL: TAKE YOUR TIME TO POWER THROUGH. All the positivity, planning, perspective, prioritizing, and partnering are nothing if there are not proactive steps made in a forward direction. Like the Nike ads say, just do it. But do it consciously. Treat the moment with the respect it deserves, not as a task you need to check off a list but a meaningful moment that is one of a kind. Take what I call “mental pictures” as you go, stopping to notice and note the details of when and where and how you are in the moment. Then take another step. Then another. Then another. It’s a tricky feat to balance savoring the moment and actually getting things done, but when achieved, it’s a surefire way to kick overwhelm to the curb.

When we’re overwhelmed, it can sometimes seem like the world is pitted against us, preventing us from accomplishing anything or feeling like we’re being the person we know we want to be. But you’ll find that once you start to show the world you’ve got things handled, once you start going, you start to realize that the sunshine is yours for the keeping.


WANT YOURSELF:
Have you ever had so many good things happen at once that you ended up feeling overwhelmed and anxious? How did you keep yourself in check and shift yourself out of a negative mindset? I’d LOVE to hear in the comments below…

Ain’t Nothing But A Number: Cameron Diaz On Longevity + The Years You’ve Spent Becoming

Ain’t Nothing But A Number: Cameron Diaz On Longevity + The Years You’ve Spent Becoming

Body

Around age twenty eight, I began experiencing something new: the You-Don’t-Look-A-Day-Overs. You know what I’m talking about. The strangers, mostly women, who when my age was revealed to them, would gasp in awe and tell me I didn’t look a day over twenty two. Or twenty three. Or nineteen.

My relationship to age has always felt different than those around me. When I was younger, I was a pretty typical preteen/teenager – I loved that I looked older than I was. This meant that I was automatically talked to like an adult instead of a child. The reactions back then were more You’re-Onlys than You-Don’t-Look-A-Day-Overs. Sure, there were the uncomfortable looks from men and my own personal struggle between wanting to shop in both the Juniors and the Womens departments of the store. But for the most part, age to me felt like maturity – like a sign I was worth taking seriously.

Around my mid twenties, the way I looked stopped changing year after year. This was around the time I transitioned away from acting – which was funny, since I had always gone to auditions and been told I looked either too young or too old for the characters I was being called for. Finally, the way I looked and the age I was had leveled out. And I LOVED it. What’s more, I found it fun – confidence-boosting, dare I say? – to speculate how I’d change decade to decade. I didn’t wish I was older, but I also didn’t wish I was younger. I was happy where I was, and excited to see where I would go from there…

So you can imagine my surprise when I got my first You-Don’t-Look-A-Day-Over. I remember it clearly: I’d just taught a cycle class. Sweat flowing. Zero makeup. No frills. Just me. A girl came up and introduced herself to me, asking how long I’d been teaching. When I told her it was close to a decade, her eyes widened and she gave me a once-over. She told me I didn’t look a day over twenty three.

I didn’t know what to say. So I just smiled.

The best way to age healthfully is to live fully. - @CameronDiaz Click To Tweet

Using a change in appearances – or lack thereof, in this case – as a compliment has always sat weirdly with me. The media’s obsession with youth is part of the problem, sure – but the bigger problem is how we talk about age, and the subtext of what we’re really talking about when we talk about age. Why do we associate getting older with the worst case scenarios, when in reality we’ve got the wisdom, life experience, and self-knowledge to make every single day a best case scenario? What are these comments about how “young” we look – or are supposed to look – doing to our internal monologue about how we are “supposed” to be as the years go on?

When someone marvels at how old I am (and I’m only 30!), it makes me wonder if I should rethink my positive relationship with my metaphorical tree rings. I love my laugh lines. Should I not??

And then I stop. It’s just like any sort of negative self-talk – where confidence is synonymous with narcissism or vanity, and it’s a lot easier to connect over what’s wrong than what’s right. I refuse to do this. Why can’t I love where and how I’m at right now?

It’s for all of these reasons (and more) I was so excited to read Cameron Diaz’s The Longevity Book. Cameron has created something really special: a no-holds-barred conversation about aging and our relationship to it, a conversation that is way too long in the making.

In this book – and the excerpt below – Cameron dives into what it means to age not just gracefully, but with downright pride. Because we can only ever truly love ourselves if we’re down to love ALL versions of ourselves, every single year a little more than the next.

I’m honored to be sharing Cameron’s words here today – words I wish we heard more. Already planning on buying this for every woman in my family for Mothers’ Day (act surprised, mom).

Here’s Cameron:


WHEN SOMEONE asks you how old you are, what do you say? I know that there are plenty of women in my line of work—and many other fields in which young people rule the roost—who like to trim their age back a little bit because they believe it makes the people around them feel better when they say they are younger. We live in a culture that celebrates youth, and none of us are immune to the pressures of wanting to seem forever young.

But one of the reasons I wrote this book is because I believe that we would all be a lot happier, feel a lot better, heave a big sigh of relief, if we could just answer “how old are you?” with the truth. Without fear. Without hesitation. Without shame.

Because I believe that age is a marker of achievement.

Shouldn’t we be congratulated for all that we’ve accomplished over the decades instead of being asked to pretend that they didn’t happen? I think those years are a part of what make us the people we are today. I think we should get to keep them, all of them, and proudly. Every time I celebrate a birthday with people that I care about, I think about how blessed I am, how lucky I am, what a gift each year is. That’s why I celebrate. Because I have lived long enough to have learned these lessons, to have earned these relationships, to have discovered all these new layers of myself that I didn’t know existed years ago—or that hadn’t yet developed.

Longevity is a gift we should all be celebrating. - @CameronDiaz, @thebodybook Click To Tweet

Longevity is a gift we should all be celebrating. The more years you have enjoyed, the more time you have lived, the more chances you have been given. Chances to take on challenges, to explore possibility, to create your life’s story. Time to forge meaningful connections with others—time to love deeply, to be hurt deeply, to become a role model for all the daughters and nieces and granddaughters and sisters and young friends in your orbit.

So I would like to propose a new way to think about getting older. I would like to boldly suggest that we take those years back. No hiding. No apologizing. No deleting. No erasing.

Instead of dreading whatever the magic number is for you, decide now to honor it and to own it. Let’s push the midlife crisis off a bridge and throw ourselves a party instead. The midlife celebration: a personal holiday that celebrates the journey we’ve made to get here, and the unexpected places we have yet to discover.

Because the best way to age healthfully is to live fully. To take care of your body and your spirit in this moment, where you are now. You can spend your energy on love and not on worry. You can love the world, you can love the people around you, and you can love the person you have spent all these years becoming.

Yourself.

cameron diaz the longevity book women against negative talk
Did you love this as much as I did? Check out more from Cameron here, here, or on her site OurBodyBook.com.

Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


Photo credit: ourbodybook.com
All assets reprinted with permission