Impostor Syndrome: The psychological experience of believing that one’s accomplishments came about not through genuine ability, but as a result of having been lucky, having worked harder than others, or having manipulated other people’s impressions.
I have a private client who is one of the two “foremost experts in [her] field” in the DC region. She’s smart, beautiful, successful, interesting and is a mother to three young children. She juggles difficult family situations and an important, high-stress job while still managing to smile, laugh at life, and find a work-life balance that allows her to spend time with her kids. Basically, she’s the epitome of the modern woman who is “doing it all," and I think she's amazing (obviously).
A few weeks ago, as we were chatting about her work, she mentioned that she was worried that a colleague would “find out that I don’t know as much as I should about [this topic],” as if she were lacking in her knowledge of this subject in which she is considered an expert. As we continued to discuss this feeling of not being prepared, or of not knowing enough, I was struck by her lack of confidence--she is considered an expert in her field (!)
, yet she still doesn't think she's 100% worthy. I was surprised, but could completely relate to her feelings of inadequacy; throughout my life I have often been afraid that I'll be "found out," that my lack of knowledge or intelligence will be discovered, or that eventually, my "good luck" will end. It seems to me that no matter what their status, many other women feel the same way.
When I first heard of Impostor Syndrome about 10 years ago, I was relieved to finally have a term to describe the way that I—and many women around me—often feel. I have since spoken to a number of successful, powerful, inspiring individuals who feel the same way that I do (and that my student does); "I’m not good enough," "I’m not smart enough," "I’m a fraud and I don’t deserve all that I have (or have achieved)", "I got here from sheer luck and/or hard work."
As I listened to Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk
late last week, it got me thinking about the common incidence of Impostor Syndrome among women. Although she doesn’t mention this syndrome by name in this speech, she does speak about the difference between men and women when it comes to success, and what she's learned from speaking with a number of women in high-power roles.
When female leaders are asked how they got to where they are today, they often attribute their success to a great team, luck, support from their friends and families, and/or hard work. When men are asked the same thing, they often credit themselves or a belief that they deserve it due to their intelligence or abilities. The majority of women tend to shy away from asking for promotions or applying to senior level positions early-on in their careers, as they feel that they need to learn more or get more experience before doing so, while men tend to jump at any chance to climb the ladder, regardless of their years of experience or job readiness.
In my own life, I’ve struggled with similar issues (although not in the same corporate leadership sense). As an artist, I’ve always felt inferior; I feel I was not born with a gift (I know artists who are, and am very aware of the differences between those gifted artists and myself!), but instead, feel that I was born with a love of art and an urge to create. So, I’ve taught myself to be a better artist, I have learned as much as I can, and have worked really hard to achieve and set myself apart despite my inadequacies.
Similarly, as a yoga teacher, I constantly worry that I’ll be asked a question that I can’t answer (even though it actually happens all the time and is totally fine!). I worry that my huge lack of knowledge when it comes to yogic philosophy or anatomy--despite my many hours spent in training on these subjects--will become apparent soon enough, and that eventually, I’ll lose all credibility. Both of these examples from my own life come from a deep-seated worry that is rooted in many years of low self-esteem and feeling like an impostor in many different areas of knowledge, and I believe it will take many more years of svadhyaya
(self-study) to get to the bottom of it.
Whether you, too, struggle with Impostor Syndrome or not, I’m willing to bet that you can relate to this feeling in some way--that you’ve experienced feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and/or moments of wondering whether or not you're equipped to handle all of the responsibility that you've been given in your life. I'm also willing to bet that you've had moments where you feel that you're not worthy, or where you discredit your intelligence, skill, or good life choices for the achievements in your life, and instead attribute them to forces outside of yourself.
So, here’s what I’m wondering; why do women, in particular, struggle with Impostor Syndrome so much? When are we going to give ourselves credit for what we’ve done, what we've achieved, what we've learned? When will we be able to accept that we’ll never know everything we think we "should" know, but that that's okay, because life is a constant learning and growing process? Intellectually and realistically, we know we're not impostors, so why do we feel like an impostor so often?
This week I’m working on taking ownership of my abilities and taking credit for all of my hard work. I'm focusing on believing in myself and in my gifts, and learning to find the beauty in who I am, as I am--and not in my ability to get sh*t done--which is definitely a skill I've mastered ;)
I hope that you'll join me in this pursuit to kick Impostor Syndrome to the curb!
The image above is a close-up of a gorgeous card that I received from my Teacher Training mentees this past weekend. Inside of the card it says, "Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it." Isn't that beautiful? It perfectly captures what I've been trying to say all along--that our life's work is not to sit at a computer* and dream about what we could be doing, but to actually get out there and do it (not that "doing it" won't also involve a lot of sitting in front of a computer...). But doesn't that sound nice? So, today, as promised, I want to share a follow-up to yesterday's post on Career & Life Makeovers, this time focusing on some of the things that I've learned from my experiences. Obviously, everyone's situation is different and everyone's personality is different, so not all of these tips may apply to your situation or life, but by sharing the things that have been helpful to me, I hope to save you at least a little bit of the growing pains that I've gone through...10 Tips for Making a BIG Career/Life Transition1. Go part-time first: One of the biggest pieces of advice that I give everyone who is thinking of quitting his or her full-time job to pursue a personal passion is this--try to go part-time first. Why? Because it's way scarier to quit everything and suddenly have to rely fully on your own devices; Often, this leaves people looking at an entirely open day or week and feeling completely lost when having to manage all of that time. You know the saying, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person"? Same applies here, in a way. If you have a good relationship with your current job, you may be able to go part-time there--you never know until you ask. You may be surprised by what sort of answer you get, and might even find a way to reduce your hours enough to devote way more time and energy to your "goal job " while working, so that you can then nurture it until you're ready to quit. If your current job won't let you go part-time, look for a new part-time job. Even if it's just working a couple of hours per week at the front desk of a yoga studio or in a coffee shop, this is a great way to supplement your income and take some pressure off of yourself and your "goal job" while you make the transition.2. Jump right in--start your new biz before quitting your old biz: If you dream of being a blogger, or photographer, or yoga teacher, don't quit your current job until you've started your new one and know you love it and/or feel that you can make it in that field. As I mentioned yesterday, this may cause you to experience a couple of crazy months, but you'll eventually reach a breaking point and by then it will be a lot less scary to say buh-bye to the day job. Trust me on this. Don't put it off until someday, start it NOW and then figure out the logistics as you get further along ;)3. Create a rule of thumb for learning how to say "yes" and "no:"
This is different for everyone, but I think it's important to set up boundaries for yourself when first deciding to do it all (work and start your "new" job or biz on the side). I actually have two rules that I've tried to live by when making scheduling/life decisions on my own (easier said than done, but possible):
- Rule #1: If an activity, job, or class zaps more energy than it gives me (meaning I leave feeling run-down instead of inspired), I give it up. This isn't always possible right away, but over time, it can be done. A great example of this is teaching yoga classes. When I first started teaching, I taught all over town--in a number of gyms, corporate environments, private settings, and studios. Some classes I looked forward to, I left feeling uplifted, excited, like I was making a difference. Some classes (or commutes) I dreaded, I hoped they'd be canceled so I'd have a little more time in my life, I felt like I was having to "wind myself up" to teach them (you know that commercial?). Over time, I was able to weed out the classes that took more than they gave, and make more time for the classes that gave me energy and inspiration.
4. Find a mentor:
- Rule #2: If one activity or job starts to inhibit my ability to create, I have to scale back or give it up. This one is very simple in theory, but a little more difficult in practice (but so important!!).
It really, really helps to have someone (or a couple of people) to bounce your ideas off of. This can be a virtual mentor or a real-life mentor, but it should be someone who has experience in the industry that you're pursuing, or someone who has made a similar life change. Find one ASAP and connect with them!5. If you decide to do it, really do it:
Often people get excited about something new, and then let it fizzle out when things get busy. I credit almost every change that I've been able to make to really committing to the change and giving myself to the endeavor 100%. For instance, when I decided I was going to teach yoga full-time, I started teaching as much as possible, anywhere and everywhere. I wasn't picky at first, and this allowed me to gain a wide variety of experiences right away, which ultimately, made me a better teacher and allowed me to be picky later on. Similarly, when I started a blog, I decided that if I was going to do it, I needed to post almost every day. I committed, and I did this, and that allowed the blog to grow to a point where I could skip a day or two (the weekends), and not lose all my readers. You have to commit at the beginning in order to make space later on. 6. Understand that most likely, you will make less money than you did before: No one teaches yoga, sells crafts on Etsy, blogs, or paints because it's a lucrative line of work. Teaching yoga only makes a very select number of people rich (and many of them, in turn, donate that money to those who need it more!), and the same goes for many creative endeavors and small businesses. In order to pursue your dreams, you'll most likely have to take a pay cut (especially at the beginning), and that's just a part of it. If you're quitting for the right reasons, this won't matter to you at all in the long run--but make sure you're ready to give up your daily Starbucks habit or your seasonal shopping sprees in order to pursue your dreams. It can definitely be difficult at first.7. Do a little svadhyaya (self-study):
One of my life mantras is "Wherever you go, there you are" (Jon Kabat-Zinn). If you don't deal with some of your personal issues now, they'll follow you wherever you go. For instance, I'm an overcommitter. I did this in my old life, and I do it (did it) even more in my new one--especially now that I rely on myself for my income. Until I learn how to stop overcommitting, this issue won't be resolved, no matter what passion I'm pursuing. Start to deal with your old patterns now, so that they don't continue to inhibit you when you work for yourself. I've learned this the hard way ;)8. Find a support system or a community:
Get your people involved in your transition. Tell your family, closest friends, partner, and/or colleagues what you're doing. See a therapist or life coach. Join a group of like-minded people. Make sure you have some sort of team who is supporting you so that when you feel like you're all alone out there, you'll have someone to reach out to and someone to encourage you. This is super
important. 9. Make sure you sleep:
You probably know how I feel about sleep by now, but if you don't, know this: I LOVE it. You cannot be energized, organized, excited, inspired, or creative when you are sleep deprived, and you definitely can't pursue your dreams when you're sleep walking through life. Get 8 hours of sleep per night, no matter what. Make it happen. 10. Set attainable goals:
I know this sounds like every other piece of advice you've ever been given, but I promise, it's slightly different. I think that many times when people decide to start something on their own, they expect immediate results. When it comes to making big life changes, patience is everything. Set goals for yourself so that you have something to work towards, and so that you can keep your expectations in check. For instance, if you decide to pursue teaching yoga full-time, set a goal for the number of classes that you need to be teaching per week to quit your job. Or set a goal for the number of classes per week that you need to be teaching to make a decent salary. Give yourself at least 3-4 months to get there, knowing that you'll work as hard as you can in those few months. Once you reach your deadline, check in and re-evaluate. Know what you're working towards but don't expect it to happen right away.
Have you gone through a similar life transition? If so, do you have any advice to add? If so, please share!
I hope this is helpful. You can do it!
*PS. All of this talk about quitting and pursuing your dreams is in NO WAY a criticism of anyone who doesn't have urges to do this or who likes their day job. If you're happy where you are, congrats! Yay! You're already living a life that feels meaningful and fulfilling, and that's what we're all trying to do here :) This advice is in response to the many requests that I've gotten for more info about "taking the leap," as lots of my readers seem to have an urge to do so. xoxo
Recently, I've had a lot of readers reach out to me wanting to know more about my story--how I went from being a normal office worker to being "self-employed" through yoga, art, and blogging--or, as one reader put it, "how you made the transition from working in NYC to teaching yoga, managing and writing a blog, painting, and building a life you love (at least that is how it looks from this side of the screen!)." As I was thinking about writing this post, I looked back at how long it had been since I made this transition, and saw that yesterday marked exactly 3 years since I taught my first real yoga class (!). This realization confirmed the fact that today is the perfect day to tell my story, in honor of my 3 year anniversary and in honor of all of you who are thinking about taking a similar plunge. Since I have a lot to say around this subject, this will be a two-part post. I'll share my story today, and my advice for anyone wanting to make a similar transition tomorrow. Stay tuned!My Life Transition Story
In 2009, Ben and I moved to DC. I had been working at a small startup marketing company in NYC for the past 2 years or so, and although I enjoyed my time working there, I knew that I wanted to do more. I had urges to make a difference, interact with people, get up and move away from the computer screen, do something of true value. Because of these urges, I decided that I would try a different type of job in a different industry when moving to DC, and that I would also pursue a yoga teacher training once we had settled.
So, when we moved, I took a social work-type position with a DC Government Contractor that worked with a DC Court Program. My job was to help fathers who had been incarcerated get jobs, pay their child support, and learn how to be a part of their children's lives. I thought this would be the answer--that working with people and helping them get back on their feet would be fulfilling enough to make office life worth it--but again, although I enjoyed many aspects of the work, I was spending my days in front of a computer, in an office with no windows, counting down the minutes until I could leave and go practice yoga.
My eyesight was fading from staring at a screen all day (literally, my eye doctor told me that the computer was the cause of my sudden need for glasses!), my back was sore all the time, and no matter what position I sat in at my desk, my hips would ache. I was constantly stressed, bored, or uninspired, and I found myself yearning more than ever to find a way to make a change in my life.
Meanwhile, I had also enrolled in Teacher Training at Tranquil Space
shortly after moving (I actually visited Tranquil Space 2 days after moving!) and immediately knew that I had
to teach upon graduating. My weekends in TT were life-changing and I realized that I simply must find a way to begin spending my days doing more that inspired me and less that didn't. My passion for teaching and for yoga made it easy to see how little passion I had had for my various day jobs over the years, so I decided that I would suck it up and rip off the band-aid.
But first, I did it all at once. For 3 months, I worked full-time, taught yoga on the weekends and in the evenings, blogged in the morning before work, and painted when I wasn't teaching (in my "free-time"). I still remember waking up early in our studio apartment and blogging in the dark before work, while Ben slept about 15 feet away. I would then head to work, practicing my yoga sequences on the metro, teach or take class right after work, spend my evenings planning for the next day, and when I lay down in bed at night, I would sleep like a rock. But at the time, I knew that I had to start my new life while continuing my old one, so that the eventual transition would be less abrupt and less scary.
Because I had been told by many people that teaching yoga full-time is extremely hard, I decided to look for a part-time job to supplement my teaching income once I quit working. I found one, and believe it or not, it was a "5-10 hour position" helping to manage the new Tranquil Space location. I figured this would be perfect, put in my two weeks, and immediately took on as many yoga classes as possible, as well.
At first, my life was insane. I was teaching around 18-20 yoga classes per week at my high point (to put this in perspective, I now teach about 9 per week and am close to my max!) , and as you may have seen firsthand if you're a part of the Tranquil Space community, my "5-10 hour per week" job quickly turned into a 15-20 hour per week job, and then to a 20-30 hour per week job as the studio grew. Similarly, as the studio expanded, I grew with it, going from a "Tranquility Concierge," to Studio Manager, to Studio Director, to Studio Director & Teacher Director. As my role at Tranquil Space grew, I adjusted my teaching schedule to make my life more manageable, but it was (and continues to be) a constant struggle to stay balanced.
While I pursued teaching and studio management, both of which I have ADORED, I also made sure to block out time for my creative endeavors, namely blogging and painting. Thus, Thursdays are my painting days, and I blog every morning, M-F, right upon waking (after stretching and making a cup of tea, of course). I've worked hard over the past 3 years to build a life in which daily creativity, working with people, practicing yoga, and teaching have become non-negotiables, and I feel so grateful, lucky, and honored to have built this life, along with the support of the amazing people around me (my family, friends, husband, yoga community, and everyone I work with at the studio).
But, I want you to know that within this framework, I've still struggled with my same old issues (as you've probably seen if you're a regular reader). Just because I now love *almost* everything that I do on a daily basis, doesn't mean that I don't still get stressed out, or freak out because I have too much to do, or get overwhelmed when I have big deadlines or too many things scheduled in one day. That's always a part of life, but my new life has helped me to keep everything in perspective and has given me a chance to really work on making changes in order to be happier and healthier.
One of the biggest parts of this process is having to constantly re-evaluate my schedule and step away from things I love. I've given up dozens of classes and private clients--many of whom I was very attached to--because I knew that I needed more unscheduled time. I've said no to new opportunities and left many emails unanswered (sigh), in order to create more space and downtime, and again, it's a constant
Thus, this is a good chance to announce another big change in my life. I've recently re-evaluated my schedule (yet again) and decided that after 2.5 years, I'm going to give up my role as Studio Director at Tranquil Space Arlington. I've decided that I can no longer give the studio the time, energy, and around-the-clock management attention that it needs, and that someone else (who we've already hired internally and who is fabulous!) will be able to give it much more heart than I can at this time. Plus, this chance to step back will allow me more time and energy to focus on my art, my teaching, my blogging & writing, the Teacher Director role (which I'll be keeping!), and my other creative endeavors. I'm ready and am very excited for this extra space in my life.
Although it's heart-breaking to give up this role that has defined me, guided me, and ultimately, been my life (and baby!) over the past few years, I am working to practice what I preach here on the blog. Yet again, I have realized that for my own sanity and creative energy, I have to say goodbye to something that I enjoy. These are the tough decisions that I always talk about, but these are also the kind of decisions that we have to make in order to ultimately realize our dreams. My Director role will officially end at the end of May, so come June, get ready for some fun new projects and additions to the blog.
Phew! For those who have asked about my story, that's part of it, but know that it is still unfolding. It's a work in progress, and I'm okay with that. In order to "live a life that you love" I think that you need to constantly redefine yourself, make changes, re-evaluate your schedule, your goals, your energy, and continue to grow [every day!].
If you're playing with the idea of making a similar transition in your own life, check back in tomorrow, as I'll be posting some helpful tips from what I've learned over the past few years of change. Thanks for being a part of my journey! I'm honored to be a part of yours :)
PS. I think this is the longest blog post I've ever written!? If you made it to the end, thanks for sticking with me ;) xoxo
I painted Tranquil Space's dedication! We're now selling these little guys at the studio (starting this weekend)...
Welcome to the very first post of my new semi-weekly column,"The Roundup!" This series is meant to be a quick dose of some of my favorite links, posts, and quotes from around the interwebs. I can't promise it every week, but will try my best to deliver as much as possible ;) Here we go...
My new favorite quick morning read: theSkimm. Genius. Delivers all of the important daily news updates to your inbox in a really quick, digestible way.
David Sedaris' new book is out and it was delivered to my Kindle when it dropped (I pre-ordered, haha!). So excited to read it. If you're as big a fan as I am, listen to his Fresh Air interview. He's so great.
Kelly's "letter to perfectionism." LOVE!Here's a post
that I wrote for the Tranquil Space Blog about being a "Flexitarian" or an "aspiring vegetarian." Hoping I'm not judged for it!
Still trying to decide what I think about these Silicone Wine Glasses
. Very interesting, no...?Even thought I don't have a baby, I have friends who do, so I got a big kick out of this article--an "exhausted mom's take on expert sleep advice."Neuroscientists have discovered that when you ask the brain to meditate, it gets better not just at meditating, but at a wide range of self-control skills, including attention, focus, stress management, impulse control, and self-awareness. People who meditate regularly aren’t just better at these things. Over time, their brains become finely tuned willpower machines.
—Via The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It
Still obsessing over Karmin. Here's my new favorite cover by the dynamic duo.
Two fun ongoing projects/offerings meant to add more beauty to your life: Spring Cleaning Art Sale
and Get Inspired E-Course
Love these art installations made on roadside marquee signs
. “What we’ve said to the girls is, ‘If you guys ever decided you’re going to get a tattoo, then mommy and me will get the exact same tattoo in the same place. And we’ll go on YouTube and show it off as a family tattoo.’”
on parenting his daughters.Patton Oswalt's take
on the Boston tragedy.
Hope you came across some interesting links this week, as well. Enjoy your Saturday!
This video says all that you need to know about why I'm [finally] giving up flip flops--forever
Not because I'm some amazing "athlete" and "athletes don't wear flip flops," but because I want my body to function as optimally as possible (and feel as good as possible)--and I think that proper alignment starts with the feet (read more in my "Lets Talk About Feet, Baby"
Oh, and if you're not familiar with him, the creator of this video is Kelly Starrett
, THE go-to guy for all CrossFitters seeking mobility help (and my #1 fitness/online crush). You can learn more about his "mission to get you guys to stop destroying your feel and ankles" on his blog, here
I hope you'll join me in giving up flip-flops this spring! Or maybe just working to reduce the amount of time you spend wearing them...?
PS. Notice that I didn't say cute strappy sandals with backs of some sort...just flip flops ;)
Botlhe - Maun, Botswana
Today's featured artist, Gabriele Galimberti
, spent 18 months traveling the world to take photographs of children and their favorite toys. The results of this project are really wonderful, beautiful, and moving, yet what he discovered on this creative adventure is almost as interesting as the art that he created:“At their age, [children] are pretty all much the same...They just want to play.” But how they play can reveal a lot. “The richest children were more possessive. At the beginning, they wouldn’t want me to touch their toys, and I would need more time before they would let me play with them,” says the Italian, who would often join in with a child’s games before arranging the toys and taking the photograph. “In poor countries, it was much easier. Even if they only had two or three toys, they didn’t really care. In Africa, the kids would mostly play with their friends outside.” Yet even children worlds apart share similarities when it comes to the function their toys serve. Galimberti talks about meeting a six-year-old boy in Texas and a four-year-old girl in Malawi who both maintained their plastic dinosaurs would protect them from the dangers they believed waited for them at night – from kidnappers and poisonous animals respectively. More common was how the toys reflected the world each child was born into: so the girl from an affluent Mumbai family loves Monopoly, because she likes the idea of building houses and hotels, while the boy from rural Mexico loves trucks, because he sees them rumbling through his village to the nearby sugar plantation every day.
-From Ben Machell's article, "Toy Stories"
about the project
Some of my favorite images from this series are below (although you can see the entire series here
Pavel - Kiev, Ukraine
Jaqueline - Manila, Philippines
Arafa & Aisha - Bububu, Zanzibar
Orly - Brownsville, Texas
Chiwa - Mchinji, Malawi
Tyra - Stockholm, Sweden
Alessia - Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy
Shaira - Mumbai, India
Taha - Beirut, Lebanon
Maudy - Kalulushi, Zambia
Aren't they great? I love how you can catch a glimpse of each child's personality within the composition.
Here's another interesting observation that Galimberti made after completing the project: Ultimately, the toys on display reveal the hopes and ambitions of the people who bought them in the first place. “Doing this, I learnt more about the parents than I did about the kids...There was the Latvian mother who drove a taxi for a living, and who showered her son with miniature cars; the Italian farmer whose daughter proudly displayed her plastic rakes, hoes and spades." Parents from the Middle East and Asia, he found, would push their children to be photographed even if they were initially nervous or upset, while South American parents were “really relaxed, and said I could do whatever I wanted as long as their child didn’t mind”.
[From "Toy Stories"
You can read more about this project and view all of the photographs on Galimberti's website, here.
I know that this video has been circulating via Social Media
this week, so I apologize if you've already seen it, but because it is SUCH an important message (go Dove!), I wanted to be sure that I highlighted it here, as well.
The basics: Dove had real women describe their faces to a forensic sketch artist (unaware of what was going on), and later, a stranger was asked to describe the same woman to the sketch artist. This (obviously) resulted in two very different portraits, thus highlighting our inability to see ourselves clearly, our inability to look past our own "flaws," our inability to see our own beauty. Genius.
I know that all of this is part of an ad campaign meant to get us talking about Dove, but I'm willing to let that part of the equation slide, because it's also gotten us talking about body image and self-esteem, which are two very
important topics--especially when it comes to women. Also, as someone who used to work in marketing and has been addicted to Mad Men
lately, I have to say that it's a pretty incredible ad campaign because it's actually
working and has gone viral (Don Draper would be very impressed!).
You can learn more about the campaign and watch personal videos about each of the women on Dove's website
, but here are a few of the sketches that really impacted me:
All images courtesy of realbeautysketches.dove.us
The differences are striking, aren't they? Something to think about: if you were asked to describe your face--just giving the facts and discussing your features--what would you say? I'm willing to bet that you would highlight the things that you think are unattractive, prominent, and different, as opposed to the things that make you beautiful.
Why do we have so much trouble seeing ourselves clearly? Why do we look in the mirror and only see the frizz, the dark circles, the pimple, the mole or freckle, and not the beautiful smile, kind eyes, open face?
You are beautiful just the way you are. Don't forget it.
A few weeks ago, my brother sent me an article by Shauna Niequist
(which I shared on SJOTW
), entitled "Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life."
Ever since reading this article, the topic has really been weighing on my mind, so today, I wanted to delve a little bit deeper.
[If you haven't read the article yet, I highly recommend that you read it
before we go much further...]
Basically, as I mentioned before, the article's premise is that everyone's life looks better (or perfect) on social media, and it's causing a change in how we relate to one another and how we think about our own lives. It's easy to get down on ourselves about how "boring" our life is when we're scrolling through our Newsfeed on the couch on a Friday night, but we often forget that everyone else who is sitting on their couch on a Friday night isn't posting pictures or status updates about that experience. Right?
I think this is becoming a total epidemic. One of my favorite lines from the article is this: The danger of the internet is that it’s very easy to tell partial truths—to show the fabulous meal but not the mess to clean up afterward. To display the smiling couple-shot, but not the fight you had three days ago. To offer up the sparkly milestones but not the spiraling meltdowns. I have to admit that I'm definitely someone who is guilty of doing this at times. As a blogger, it can be tough to decide what we should share, and what we should not. No one wants to read a blog about fights, washing dishes, having breakdowns, getting the stomach flu, folding laundry, or feeling depressed, because, well, it's depressing. It's a hard line to straddle--the line between telling the truth of your daily life and being honest with your readers about what's going on, without becoming the Debbie Downer blog when things are tough.What I want to emphasize today is that I, too, look a whole lot better on the internet than I do in real life. My life looks much more glamorous on the internet than it does day-in and day-out. Sure, I just got back from a fun vacation, but it was the first real (big) trip that Ben and I have ever taken as a couple (just us--in our 8 years together!). And yes, I quit my day-job to pursue teaching yoga and painting, but I still struggle just as much as I ever did with stress, anxiety, perfectionism, and being "enough." Some "workdays" I don't get dressed until 4pm (not so glamorous), I've been known to have nervous breakdowns on Sunday evenings when I get ready for a busy week (not so glamorous), I have bruises all over my hips from bumping into walls and doorways on a regular basis (clumsy yoga instructor = not so glamorous), and I've fallen out of headstand and arm balances many, many times. We're all just human, trying to get by, whether or not our internet personas tell that part of the story. When I first started writing Starr Struck, I made the conscious decision to create a mostly uplifting blog--a place where we could connect over trying to live a more mindful, inspired, joyful daily life--and share our experiences throughout the process. I hope that this blog continues to live up to this intention, and that it doesn't feel insincere (or too full of peak experiences), as that's definitely not the full story. I think that Niequist says it best in the article when she says: And on the days when you peer into the screen of your laptop and all you see are other people’s peak experiences that highlight your lack in that moment, remember that life isn’t about the story you tell about yourself on the Internet. It’s about a million more beautiful and complex things than that, like love and faith and really listening. It’s about using what you’ve been given to craft a life of gratitude and passion and grace.
Remember that the very best things in life can’t be captured in status updates. [LOVE this line.]
I hope that today, you can remember what life is truly about--and that it has nothing to do with what's happening on your Newsfeed.
back in early January, I read this Huffington Post article
entitled "Life Skills: Ivanka Trump, Thich Nhat Hanh And Others On The Things Everyone Should Master By Age 40." The article consists of a list of 20 life skills that various well-known individuals believe everyone should be able to do by the time that they're 40, and includes helpful quotes and links along with each item.
I loved the article--bookmarking it so I could come back it it later--partly because it covers skills that run the gamut from "How Not to Embarrass Yourself at Karaoke" to "How to Say Goodbye To A Loved One," and also because I love the idea of life lessons and learning to be comfortable in your own skin.
So yesterday, I revisited this article, and as I read it, I began thinking about my own list of skills that I think everyone should master in their lifetime. Although the article does a great job at touching on many truly important lessons ("How To Laugh At Life," "How To Know When To Quit," "How To Forgive Yourself," "How To Make New Friends--At Any Age"), I think there are still a few things that I would add...
10 More Life Skills Everyone Should Master By Age 40
1. How to say NO2. How to enjoy your own company/being alone3.
How to hang a picture (or a shelf, or a painting...maybe I should do a "how-to" post on this soon?)4. How to listen to your body5.
How to travel lightly6. How to take responsibility for your energy--"the energy you give yourself and the energy you create for others" 7.
How to sew on a button8. How to relax/take time off9.
How to love your body just as it is10. How to turn off your phoneWhat would you add to this list?
Funny aside: As I was reading this article, I said to Ben, "What is a life skill that you think everyone should master before they're 40?" His answer: "Um...I don't know...I guess if you have kids, er, being unselfish............I don't know. Whatever it is, I don't have it."
Haha! So we all have some growing up and learning to do, don't we?
I hope that no matter what your age, you've begun to master at least some of these skills. I know I'm still working on many of them!
As embarrassed and horrified as I am to admit it, I have a confession to make: I went to the tanning bed when I was younger. And not just once--multiple times over the years--sometimes as often as 2-3 times per week (especially when I was getting ready for an event or a trip).
Are you judging me? I know! I'm judging myself, I promise I am! It's so horrible. But, first, let me set the scene. I've always been extremely pale and freckly. I have always been extremely self-conscious--especially, as many of you can probably relate to, in high school. Until becoming an adult and truly learning to accept and love myself as I am (thanks, yoga!), I really, really, really hated my pale skin and freckles, and would do anything to change them. Thus, enter the "miracle" of the tanning bed.
What's even sadder about all of this is that I hardly ever got "tan." I mostly burned, for my entire life, really. I burned in the sun at the beach while wearing SPF 50 for babies, I burned in the tanning bed (obviously), I burned when walking down the street, I burned in the winter when the only thing showing was my face, I burned inside with the shades drawn while wearing a sweatsuit (that last one isn't *quite* true). And I still burn all the time. So why, oh why, would someone like me go to the tanning bed?
There are many answers to this question, but I'll save them for later, as I've gotten off track. Today's post isn't about tanning beds or how to avoid burning, it's about taking care of your skin. If there's one thing I've learned at this point in my life, it's that we MUST treat our skin with love and care. It is, after all, the biggest organ in the body. And on average, adults have 8 pounds and 22 sq. feet of skin covering their bodies (I know!?). Without skin, we'd literally evaporate. Pretty crazy, right? Definitely makes you think twice about taking this organ for granted, doesn't it?
A few weeks ago, I went to the dermatologist for my yearly check-in (not something I look forward to), and for the first time ever, I had to get a biopsy on a suspicious looking freckle/mole. And guess what? It came back positive (aka, it was pre-cancerous), which means that I now have to go in every 6 months, and that I avoided a very scary outcome by going to the doctor. Ever since this visit, I'm on total skin lookout.
Not to sound creepy or freak out any of my students, but when teaching, I look at a lot of skin. I stare at backs as I give child's pose and down dog assists, I touch arms, hands, feet, and legs on a regular basis, and I see a lot of faces up close while giving out savasana assists. Ever since having my biopsy, I can't stop noticing all of the freckles, moles, and marks that cover all of us. We all have so many little spots that make us individual, but these marks are also something that we need to learn to pay attention to. If you don't already, I urge you to get them checked out on a regular basis.
So, that's my PSA for the month: GO TO THE DERMATOLOGIST. Learn how to check yourself
and learn what to look for.
Especially if you, like me, are naturally fair-skinned and have put your skin through unnecessary stress in order to "look better" according to society's standards.
Learn to love your skin, and it will love you right back.
Oh, and if I spot anything suspicious while giving you a child's pose assist, I'll definitely let you know ;)