WANTcast 080: Becoming the First Best Version of Yourself (Season Four Finale)

WANTcast 080: Becoming the First Best Version of Yourself (Season Four Finale)

the WANTcast

In today’s SEASON FINALE, two listeners ask about finding confidence and self-love again, and finding positive communities when all people want to do is bond over negativity. There’s a common theme in the answers to both of these – and it has to do with how you become the first-best version of yourself instead of the second-best version of someone else.

**This is the SEASON FINALE of Season 4! Thank you so much for helping the WANTcast grow and evolve over the last almost-four years. We’ll be taking a break over the summer and coming back stronger than ever in August with Season Five.**

WANT yourself:

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A Sense Of Place: On Belonging.

A Sense Of Place: On Belonging.

Community Love Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

My first big meltdown when I moved to New York City two years ago wasn’t upon touchdown or our first night in an empty apartment. It wasn’t because someone was rude to me, or I lost my way, or I missed a subway stop or four.

Nope. It was in the gym locker room.

I remember that first week so clearly: the champagne buzz I felt from the newness, the novelty of being able to get anything.you.want.at.all. delivered to your apartment instead of having to lug it home in bags that cut off circulation in your fingertips. The way you could be walking, skipping, singing, sobbing down the street and people accepted you like whatever you were doing was a part of the flow. The waking up early just because we were so excited to experience the morning. I remember so clearly. It was love at first footstep.

And then I lost it. I mean, I knew it was coming at some point – I definitely cried my second night, mostly out of sheer exhaustion – but I didn’t expect that my anticipated feelings of shock, overwhelm, and longing would show their sad faces in the women’s locker room on Greenwich Avenue after I made a corny joke to a stranger thrice my age and she genuinely giggled back.

My gym had been my safe haven in LA, and LA had been my safe haven in my life. Having grown up visiting the City That Never Sleeps on a regular basis but living in the City That Sleeps In Then Goes On A Hike my entire life, I was very familiar with New York but not enveloped in her. It wasn’t just my immediate neighborhood that I felt protected by in LA; it was EVERYTHING. The street signs, the off-ramps. The familiar faces and the predictable reactions. The sunrises, the sunsets, and the days the ocean-fog took over the whole sky so you couldn’t tell when one finished and one began. I knew LA from birth. She WAS me.

I tried my best to recognize this when I lived there, but just like so many things, there is always some little important bit of a-ha that happens when you no longer have that thing you loved. For me, that a-ha came in a locker room when I realized how alone and unfamiliar I felt within my surroundings. How, while I valued anonymity, I also valued (and took for granted) my ability to CHOOSE it.

Humans are pack animals; we’re tribal. We’re not meant to wander the hills alone until we find a mate and then go back off again to raise and let go of our kin. Our brains are hard-wired for connection, and even the most introverted of us need to feel a sense of togetherness to truly thrive. It’s been proven by sciency people who are book-smarter than I am: loneliness leads to depression and is a huge indicator of how long you will live.

I’ve been watching and reading a lot of Brené Brown lately (you should be, too!), especially the interviews and articles surrounding her newest book, Braving The Wilderness. The book is all about belonging, and (no, this isn’t a spoiler) how “fitting in” is actually the exact OPPOSITE of belonging.

When I moved here, I wasn’t looking to fit in – I wasn’t interested in molding myself to fit the shape of someone or something else – but I was struck by how shaken my sense of belonging had become. And moreover, how much I tied my sense of belonging to other people RECEIVING me.

That’s why the older woman laughing at my lame-o offhand comment got me so choked up. That’s why I started to panic as I became new eyes on centuries-old surroundings. I felt unfamiliar. I felt routine-less. And the smallest things like seeing the same parking lot attendant I only thank-you’d and have-a-nice-day’d and gym members I never even spoke to and just silently awkward-nodded to while we grabbed adjacent dumbbells were things I didn’t expect to crave. I thought I was autonomous in LA and above all that neediness, but boy did I have myself fooled. I was dependent on other people to validate my experience.

The last couple years have brought more change to me than I thought possible: two apartments, two neighborhoods, a new job, multiple events, brand new soul-friends, marriage. And as I contemplate where I go from here, as I head closer and closer toward my thirty-second year, which I have ALWAYS felt in my gut holds something major for me (micro- or macro- major, who knows at this point), I think about how my sense of belonging has changed too – or maybe how it hasn’t. I am on the precipice of something big, but for the first time in a while I’m hesitant to take a much-needed step to fall and build my wings on the way down.

Brené says that we belong everywhere when we belong to ourselves. So if I belong everywhere, then why is it that I’m so tied to THIS sense of place? Maybe it’s for the same reason people stay in relationships that are fine but not GREAT, or stay in jobs that earn enough to live but don’t add enough to LIFE. Because I “know” this sense of belonging is secure IF I just do all the right things, and check off all the to-do boxes, and it’s a very external and define-able belonging. Predictability and ease. Mother-effers.

Once you stop trying to fight your emerging identity - which is tough, because trying to fight it can sometimes FEEL like trying to find it - everything is magic. Click To Tweet

When I moved here, I felt placeless. I remember telling my friend Sarra that I felt freaked out by the amount of places I could go where I knew no one and no thing (Soak it in while you can, she said). I belonged to no one and no thing. I was trying to see where I fit, and tried on a lot for size. I don’t think I really knew how to belong to myself yet. That’s the cool thing about New York, though: it FORCES your identity out of you. The people who try to fight the force are the ones who have it hardest in life, but especially life in this city. But once you stop trying to fight your emerging identity – which is tough, because trying to fight it can sometimes FEEL like trying to find it – everything is magic.

I don’t think everyone is able to belong – or rather, find a sense of belonging – in NYC. You’ve got to be a little wild, a little crazy, and very comfortable getting uncomfortable, to even catch the first glimmers of it. That process and this city will kick your ass before you realize that your recovery is a part of your becoming. It will spook you, but your challenge is to never let it SCARE you. You’ve got to be next-level brave to become and belong – everywhere, but especially in this city that could care less whether you walk around anonymously and disconnected or full and enmeshed.

And now, I’ve found my way, and I’ve found my spaces. I have a “place.” Of course, I know that’s just a feeling and an illusion. And I wonder: is my newfound sense of place, coupled with my acute memory of what it’s like to NOT have one, keeping me in a new loop that doesn’t serve me? I think so; maybe. I’ve been here before, so I can recognize when I am here again.

The great thing, though, is that I know that I am my own and no one else’s, and that an external sense of place is fab but an internal one is fabber. If I know I’ll be okay no matter what, and I know I will be mine no matter what, then maybe, just maybe, I can start to take those steps that lead me to places I don’t know yet.

Two years ago I woke up for the first time as an NYC resident. I know it’s only been two years but I honestly can’t imagine waking up anywhere else.

Brené Brown says that true belonging only comes when you belong to yourself and yourself only, everywhere and nowhere.

Living here, I finally feel like I’ve found where I belong.

belonging sense of place katie horwitch

“I wake up every morning and say to myself, ‘Well, I’m still in New York. Thank you, God.” ― Ed Koch


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Speak Your Heart: On Vulnerability.

Speak Your Heart: On Vulnerability.

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

I have a friend whose primary language has always been sarcasm. She’s always making a joke of sorts, always deadpanning her way through her day. Yet something has shifted in the last year: where she once would use her wit to mask her emotions, she is now listening more acutely, responding more personally, and opening up to others about how she feels – even if she doesn’t know why she feels the way she does.

What’s pretty incredible to watch is how this has caused a domino effect in her life. The “friendly”-ships she’s had, with me and with others, have started to turn into deep, personal, soul-ie bonds. Negativity doesn’t hijack her conversations anymore. Her sleep has gotten better. She’s mindful of her triggers and has left her “victim” mentality behind. She’s glowing like I’ve never seen her glow.

My friend has always had a bold, infectious personality and has always been one to speak her mind. But as I watch her navigate through her day-to-day interactions with the world around her, I realize what’s different: she is finally speaking her heart, too.


To speak your heart is your right, but also your blessing. We are all blessed with the capacity to feel an entire spectrum of emotions and formulate all kinds of opinions and, moreover, questions, based on those emotions.


So why is it that with this incredible blessing, so often we stay silent?

Why are we so afraid to be ourselves – all of ourselves?


Sometimes we feel so alone in our thought processes that it seems wrong to speak our heart. To “talk deep,” as some call it. There’s this notion that expressing thoughts, feelings, opinions, and questions of an empathetic, introspective nature is embarrassing and makes us vulnerable. And vulnerable, we’ve been taught, is being susceptible to danger; either physical or emotional attack or harm. I just looked it up to be sure – yup, you can thank Merriam-Webster for our warped relationship with the V word.

This perception is left over from our childhood, middle school, and high school years: the perception that speaking our hearts, being authentic and unique, and letting others know how we feel is a sign of weakness and just another chance to be teased or ostracized.

And so we stay silent. Of course we feel alone – we don’t have any proof otherwise.

“Mean Girls” don’t just exist in the 18-and-under set; they follow us throughout our young adulthood and into our lives. ADULT judgement and gossip, we forget, both have the exact same roots as their childhood origin: insecurity, myopia and a strong desire to remain top dog at any cost.

And yet with that desire to Top-Dog’it comes a loneliness; an emptiness, lack of connection, and a distance between the person we project on the outside and the person we are (or long to be) inside. It drives us farther when all we truly want is to get closer. We begin to say we don’t care. We make “Whatever” or “Screw them” or “I don’t give a fuck” the catch phrase that we tell everyone.

But the irony is that we do care. So. Much. In the words of one of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle, “No woman on earth doesn’t give a fuck – no woman is that cool – she’s just hidden her fire. Likely, it’s burning her up.”

No woman on earth doesn’t give a fuck-she’s just hidden her fire. Likely, it’s burning her up. - @GlennonDoyle Click To Tweet

We all have the capability to become that person. That woman who is burning inside with her hot vulnerability she’s locked up for no one to see. What ensures we don’t is how authentically we let our heart live out in the open…and (and!) with how much compassion we approach those who haven’t quite gotten there yet. Because the more we see others thrive in a space of authentic truth, the safer it can seem to follow suit.

Vulnerability, at its core, is nothing more than honesty. Vulnerable is being truthful; saying I am raw, I am flawed, I am crazed, I am bare, I am on a journey and I am urging you to join me. Yet this idea of vulnerability is so often met with trepidation. Can I be vulnerable? Should I be vulnerable? Doesn’t that mean I’m in harm’s way? Because true vulnerability isn’t just expressing joy or loving feelings. Vulnerability also means looking inside to find the cause instead of looking outside to fix the symptoms. And who knows what causes lurk beneath the surface…

Dr. Seuss got it mostly right when he said “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” I’d like to add: Those who mind – the Mean Girls of our adulthood – probably feel envious that you have the self awareness to be honest. Those who matter will “be who they are and say what they feel” right alongside you. And aren’t THOSE the people we want to be surrounded by anyway? They’re the ones who treat others like equals, the ones who can empathize because they’ve been there too. They’re the ones who can show compassion to anyone, even the Mean Girls, because they know what it is to feel things deeply.

They are the ones who thrive in the space of being…dare I say it…vulnerable.

Vulnerability means looking inside to find the cause instead of outside to fix the symptoms. Click To Tweet

Speak your heart and trust you are far from powerless. You might get a bit bruised, but by being authentic and true-to-you, there is nothing to fear. Because speaking your heart – even if you’re hurting, even if what it’s saying is somewhat unclear – is about Learning, Healing, and Giving. At the root of you and of me there is a pull to do all three. For others, for ourselves, for both at once.

We all have the ability to self-heal, it’s just about accessing that power – and being not only brave enough but self-trusting enough to do so.

We often view vulnerability as the danger from which we need healing. The barrier that prevents us from connecting.

Yet vulnerability and speaking your heart is actually the bridge that forms connection.

It’s the honesty that gives us the power to heal.


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The WANTcast Episode 019: On Becoming A Leader, Quarter-Life Crises, and Letting Love In w/ Emily Greener of I AM THAT GIRL

The WANTcast Episode 019: On Becoming A Leader, Quarter-Life Crises, and Letting Love In w/ Emily Greener of I AM THAT GIRL

Community the WANTcast

The end of August/beginning of September always symbolizes a fresh start to me – and this is the perfect episode to hopefully catapult you into whatever newness is in store for you in the season to come.

Emily Greener is the CEO and co-founder of I AM THAT GIRL, a global movement inspiring girls to be, love, and express who they are through education, content, and community. She’s been Emily and the IATG crew have taken their movement off-line into communities all over the world, motivating girls from SoCal to South Africa to live the lives they were meant to lead, judgement-free. For even more on Emily, you can check out her WANT Woman spotlight here.

In this episode we talk about navigating major turning points in life (like quarter-life crises and your “Saturn Return,” which I’ve got links to read up on in the show notes), how to become a leader in whatever space you’re in whether it’s in work or in life, the power and scariness of going first, and of course, the chance meeting and turning-point moment that sparked the mass movement that is now I AM THAT GIRL.

Two super-powerful parts of this conversation in particular really struck a chord. The first is when Emily talks about how to hold space for others as a leader, and the moment when she realized that in order to be the leader she was striving to be, she would have to let go of some stuff first. The second? The mindset shift she experienced recently when it comes to success. We talk about the delicate balance between humility and recognizing your successes, and how she was able to find that happy medium and really let love in.

i am that girl

What I love about you guys, as WANTcast listeners and fellow WANT Women (and WANT men, too!) is that…it’s so cool, you are natural-born leaders. I see it in the comments on the site, in the emails, on social, when I meet you in person – you can’t ignore it. But just because you’re a leader, or you maybe don’t view yourself as a leader yet but WANT to be a leader, it doesn’t mean you’re immune to self-doubt, fears, or moments where nothing seems to make sense. If anything, you’re probably even more sensitive to those moments BECAUSE of that leadership chip in your brain and hear. This episode might be just what you need to help you be the leader you know you’ve been inside all along.

Connecting to others, whether strangers or friends you've known your whole life, is magic. - @thatgirlgreener Click To Tweet

Also, next episode will be the end of SEASON ONE of the WANTcast! I was thinking of doing something special and different – I know a lot of people have asked me how to start a podcast, or what my favorite things about doing a podcast are, or what I’ve learned – I don’t know, would you want to hear an episode like that? Let me know – email me at katie@womenagainstnegativetalk.com, or shoot me a comment on social, or drop me a line in the comments section of this post. I really want to do something cool for episode 20.

Alright, we’ll talk about that later. For now, let’s live in the moment. Episode 19. Enjoy – I think you’ll love it.

WANT Emily:

Listen in iTunes | Play in new window | Download | Support the WANTcast by shopping on Amazon like you normally do

Show notes:
Find a chapter
Start a chapter
IATG Facebook

IATG Instagram
IATG Twitter
Emily’s WANT Woman spotlight
Emily’s Instagram
Saturn return 101
Astrologer Danielle Beinstein on the WANTcast
Emily’s DVF Award

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Emily’s wisdom 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!

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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?

making-friends-as-an-adult-part-2 copy

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.
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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.
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•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.
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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.