On Nourishing: Drawing Power from Powerful Women Around Me

 

I start my mornings the same way. And while they’ve evolved slightly since I first reported on my morning a few things haven’t changed. I still wake up with several minutes of cat-cow. I still oil pull…most days. I still enjoy a cup of tea or coffee first thing. Newer additions include a few snuggly moments with the cats, this big stretch that I cannot wake without, and a few happy little “start the day” chants to myself as I brush my teeth.

A favorite new addition is The Live Journal Podcast, a series of conversations with powerful women making positive changes in their community and daily life. It is hosted by esteemed life coach Paola Atlason. Both ethereal and grounding, her guidance through the podcast and anecdotal stories feel like gentle mothering from afar. The first episode I listened to was EP31: “Daily Rituals” with Jenn Tardif. I found it because I truly enjoy listening to Jenn speak and hoping a could find a podcast that she had guested on for one of my long runs. After listening to all of EP31 I was hooked and added The Live Journal Podcast into my daily life.

 

Jenn Tardif

 

Throughout the series, Atlason interviews women from all walks of life: a chef, an herbalist, an artist, a writer. In each episode, there are major drops of wisdom, some seemingly obvious, that are often overlooked and that can — grain by grain — improve your day. In EP28 Tina Essmaker talks about morning pages and journaling, two things that I have welcomed into my life lately. In EP34 (my personal favorite so far) Zivar Amrami talks about mothering the self and the steps you can take to feel most like you.

As I’ve listened to all of these 30-35 minute episodes I started to realize just how much of this power and wisdom I was soaking in and truly internalizing. I started to be more conscious about it, ex: bringing my journal with me everywhere, and only felt the positive effects compound. I’ve found this, listening to the podcast and using it as a tool, to be a great lesson in the power of surrounding yourself with powerful women.

I thoroughly believe you need to learn to love your likeability, but I also feel that there’s a second step to that. You need to embrace your vulnerability. You need to love and appreciate your sensitivity, view it as a strength. I think for a long time I focused on the aggressive side of my personality, leaning into my Aries Moon & Aries Rising and yang. Listening to so many women speak so openly about their success and failure has been a beautiful teacher in nurturing the yin and mothering the self.

Surrounding yourself with powerful women, whether in person or through your phone, is a powerful way of absorbing the now and the future you want for yourself and if you need a place to start I recommend The Live Journal Podcast.

Dear Molly, How Do I Get Past Imposter Syndrome?

Lately, I’ve been feeling more and more like a fake at my job. I just got hired last month and I constantly feel like I’m am behind everyone else. There’s so much I don’t know! I feel like I spend every meeting trying to hide my confusion. What should I do? Should I go to my boss about it? Have you ever felt like this? How do I get over imposter syndrome?

 

I’m a woman in my mid-20s writing an advice column for women in their mid-20s. Trust me, I’m well versed in all things imposter syndrome. Interestingly enough it’s something I’ve discussed numerous times in an academic setting as well. Within the world of Philosophy, you are often building a thesis to defend your own argument and interpreting other’s works to support your claims (just writing that gave me flashbacks to defending my 100-page senior thesis). Philosophy is dense, and misinterpreting classic texts is something every Philosopher is guilty of at some point — you often can have an out of body experience of feeling like everyone in the room is watching you dig yourself into a philosophical and metaphorical hole.

The takeaway of that digression is this: we have all felt that feeling. Especially in a professional setting. Here’s the good news, if you feel a little behind or outside of your comfort zone you are exactly where you need to be. That ‘uncomfortability’ is how we grow. The Educo Community has a great graphic to illustrate this:

 

 

In their model “Complexity” is where you currently are. Trust the people who put you in this position. When I was in middle school I had this idea (after taking five years off) to join my high school’s soccer team. I went to my dad about it and asked him if he thought it was possible and he told me one of those parental drops of wisdom “Just want it more than anyone else out there. They can teach you how to play, they can’t teach you to care.” I made sure I was the most aggressive person on the field and was offered a place on Varsity (and ended up running XC instead 😂). You were hired not only because you are capable, but because the person hiring you saw that you cared. That being said, there is a growth and adjustment period for every new position you are in.

Think about it like merging onto the highway, just because everyone else is coasting along and you are catching pace doesn’t mean that you are behind. You are finding your pace, your rhythm, and learning along the way. A good leader/boss/supervisor will anticipate a one to three month adjustment phase when they onboard someone.

Personally I would not suggest going to your boss about this, unless you are drowning. Playing on a previous metaphor, if it feels like you are merging onto the highway, stay the course. If it feels like you are merging onto an F1 race track, ask for a lifeline. Going to your boss and saying something along the lines of “I’ve really enjoyed the past few weeks, but would really like to dive in X deeper. I’d like to take next Wednesday to really learn all the nitty-gritty of the system.” You want to be sure to approach them with a solution/plan, not just a problem. Avoid words/phrases like “feel behind” or “confused” and speak in a more proactive and positive tone.

And to get you through meetings remember this, no one knows what’s going on in your head unless it’s on your face. Keep a neutral expression, take a lot of notes, and follow up one-on-one, after the meeting, with any questions you have.

Best of luck with the new job and I’m sure you earned it 🙂

 

xx

On Why: Learning to Love Your Likeability

 

“When you stand for nothing, you fall for everything.”

One of my favorite quotes and believed to be said by Alexander Hamilton (but that detail has blurred since the 18th-century). I always find it remarkable how someone living so long ago, in such a different way could have said something that still profoundly resonates today. We live in a world of quick judgments, fast fashion trends, and bandwagon fans where the urge to “stick to your guns” often overshadowed by the desire to “fit in”.

I used to be a people pleaser and the idea that someone didn’t like me was all-consuming. I spent a lot of my time trying to balance scales, curating myself to fit what someone else wanted. It felt like every interaction with someone was a test I needed to pass, and after I got waves of the self-doubt questions.

“Did they like me?”

“Did they have a good time?”

“Was I funny?”

“Was I ‘too much’?”

“Am I cool enough?”

“Pretty enough?”

“Skinny enough?”

It took a bad breakup for me to throw in the towel and truly not care about what anyone else thought of me. It taught me a very important lesson, one that I wish I had learned well before my twenties, and that is: Not everyone will like you all of the time.

You are not for everyone. You don’t need to be liked by someone else to be worth their respect and time. Your likability is not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to yourself and your honesty. To be strong in your authenticity. Your value is not derived from the evaluation or validation of another.

I learned that to constantly change yourself or strive to be liked by everyone around you doesn’t just hurt you, it hurts your relationships. It hurts your authenticity and the authenticity of your connections. It undermines your ability to truly connect with people. You are not a topiary garden to be curated for another’s enjoyment, you are wild, so embrace it.

Be nice, be generous, be forgiving, but know that others will come to their own conclusions about you. Don’t chameleon yourself to fit everyone else’s needs. You cannot control how others respond to you, you can only control you. Stand for who you are, not who you anticipate someone else wants you to be. It isn’t easy, but it’s powerful. Standing for something isn’t drawing a line in the sand, it’s raising a flag that represents who you are.

You are not for everyone, because not everyone deserves you.

 

Dear Molly, How Can I Move Past That Embarrassing Thing I Did?

Do you ever have those moments where you start to think about something embarrassing or cringe you did like six years ago? I can’t stop thinking about this one thing that happened and every time I do it’s really hard to feel confident. How can I move past it?

 

We all get those moments. We’ve all put our foot in our mouth or done something stupid and “cringy”. When that sort of a thought comes up it’s usually based on the feeling that everyone else knows or remembers that same experience. It puts you back in the moment, reliving the embarrassment.

When that happens to me I force myself to take a beat, relax, and then challenge myself to remember something embarrassing that someone else did in high school. And guess what? I can’t. And you probably can’t either.

We tend to write our mistakes in ink and mistakes of others in pencil. Be gentle with yourself. Not one else is thinking about your embarrassing moment, so why waste your time, energy, and happiness on it?

 

xx

 

Dear Molly, The guy I’m dating is pulling away. How do I keep him without being needy?

I started dating this guy a few weeks ago and at first everything was going super well. There wasn’t any weird “who is texting first” thing. There wasn’t any force conversation. It all felt so natural like we’d been friends for a long time. We went on around 10 dates, all good – I think – but since the last date (about 2 weeks ago) I’ve barely heard from him. A little here and there, but not like we used to. I feel like he’s pulling away and I’m not sure how to keep him without being needy. I’m frustrated and feeling forgotten. Help!

 

*A little housekeeping*

I’m going to start with the question most people reading this will immediately ask: Have you slept together and when? And answer it pretty quick: It doesn’t matter.

We get taught all these dating “norms” as women to wait until the third date or fifth date, or whenever, to sleep with someone because as soon as you do he’ll stop calling, stop texting, and slowly fade from your life. It’s just not true. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. There are no rules to how you can or can’t start dating someone.

 

Let get into it…

When you feel someone you care about pulling away it’s hard to not want to reach out all the time. New relationships are like sand, the tighter you white-knuckle them the more they seep through your fingers. With social media, we can see that this person is alive, and has the time to post and see their other friends. It raises the question: Why aren’t they choosing us? Why aren’t they writing us? Tempting as it may be to reach out, I highly suggest you refrain, take a beat, and regroup.

Maybe you just aren’t high enough on his totem pole of what matters in his day to day yet. Maybe he is pulling away. Maybe he’s simply busy. For most people this is the busiest time of their year, in the professional world we’re starting the biggest quarter of the year, it’s the end of Summer, universities’ Fall semesters just started up a few weeks ago. Instead of devoting your time to figuring out his motives, investigate why you are asking yourself these things at all.

All that we can say is definitely happening is that he is living in his freedom, living outside of the “you and him” and that is making you feel insecure. We have a habit of assuming that because someone doesn’t need us, that they don’t want us. His living free is not the same as him pulling away from you. When you start to ask yourself why he wouldn’t write you when he seems to have time you need to take a step back and ask why you care. Switch your focus from “Why isn’t he writing me?” to “Why do I need him to write me to feel wanted?”

Of course, we look at actions from people we care about as a reflection of how they care about us. Personally, I’m a big show me, don’t tell me person. But someone texting me “Good morning” every day isn’t “showing” me. Showing me would be wanting and working for that 11th date. It’s important to find your own foundation and stability outside of the relationship (whether that relationship is romantic, a friendship, or a family bond). Be solid in you. Flourish in your independence. Don’t rely on daily, breadcrumb interactions to validate how he feels about you. If he cares, it’ll be obvious once you step back.

You also need to remember that people love and express their care in different ways. Open up to the idea that he may be expressing his consideration for you in a way that you aren’t reading. Ten dates is quite a few for someone to just up and ghost you. I’d guess that he does care for you and that the two of you are speaking slightly different languages. What specifically makes you feel like he’s pulling away? That you aren’t talking all the time? Maybe he just feels like he doesn’t need to be in constant contact with you to show that he cares.

 

Moving forward

So what can you do right now? Don’t text him about the “space”. Don’t post your life on social media and expect him to come running. Don’t live for him. Don’t live for his attention.

Move forward in person. Try to schedule that 11th date. A little ruse never killed anyone. Shoot him a “My friend wants to hang out Friday, but I’d rather see you. You around?” or whatever feels like a you thing to say. If he’s interested he’ll make it happen. If he’s busy he’ll find an alternative time to see you. If he’s not interested, he won’t. You’ll get an “Ahh I wish I could”. Either way, you’ll have your answer.

Here’s the bottom line, you need to be secure in yourself and your partner’s freedom and you deserve a partner who never makes you question if they want you. Some people are naturally more independent, some people are naturally more co-dependent. I’m a very independent person and I really enjoy time to myself, but I know that my boyfriend doesn’t thrive in the same way. When I pull deeply into my own space and independence I have to be conscious of how it affects the relationship. In the same way that he stretches his stability to accept my independence, I stretch my independence to include him and keep a closeness.

If this person isn’t treating you the way you need, then move on. Earlier I said that there are no rules to dating and it’s true. Date whoever and however you want. What there are rules about is the behavior that you allow someone who knows you personally, romantically, or intimately to inflict on you. Do not tolerate what doesn’t serve you.

 

xx

 

Dear Molly, What Can I Do To Make More Friends?

So today I was hanging around at these cliffs by the lake I live near with a couple of close friends. About an hour into the day some of their friends showed up unexpectedly and both of the guys I had gone there with sorta just left me and the new dudes weren’t exactly ~hospitable~ or welcoming. They all ignored me so I just sat alone on a high rock. I’m not someone who’s usually afraid of confrontation or socializing but sometimes I just don’t know how to approach people. What can I do to I guess make more friends easier & get to know people?

 

This is a perfect example of a person standing in their own way. I wish I could say that making friends gets easier the older you get, but unfortunately, it gets harder before it gets easier. There are two main reasons for this: self-awareness and social assumptions.

When you are young you don’t know shame the way you do now and that ignorance allows you to be yourself with ease. It’s the sandbox mentality. When you’re placed in a sandbox with other kiddos you bring one hundred percent of yourself to the situation. You don’t mask who you are and so you build genuine relationships. As we get older we experience embarrassment and, as a result, learn shame. We become aware of ourselves and how we are perceived by others, which starts that social anxiety of “Should I have said that?”, “Are they laughing with me or at me?”, etc. We begin to protect ourselves with layers and layers of masks that we wear socially. We only share who we really are with people who we already trust. This is the birth of your self-awareness. Your ability to realize that others see you through their own lens.

As people, we don’t like blanks or grey areas. We research the mysteries of the world for answers, we push to add labels to relationships, we like definites, not in-betweens. This is great if you work in a research field, but in the real world, it can hurt you. Once we realize that other people are seeing us through their own lens we try to figure out what that lens is. Instead of allowing other people to make a decision about us and who are we are, we assume what they think of us. As anxiety is the largest mental health issue, it’s likely a negative assumption we make. They don’t think we’re funny, or cool, or pretty enough to hang out with. We project our self-consciousness onto others and form social assumptions that they are judging us from the beginning, seeing all our flaws as vividly as we do.

The second piece of social assumptions is that we assume because we act a certain way that others will do. Similar to projecting your self-consciousness we project our “way of the world” on others. When I meet someone new I am immensely shy (if you know me that may shock you, but it’s true). I’m a massive introvert and meeting new people makes me anxious and nervous and that manifests itself in my silence. It’s my own mask of self-protection. If you typically greet new people with a lot of warmth, and the two of us met, what would you think of me? Your social assumption in meeting me for that first time would probably be that I’m distant or cold, and neither is true.

We assume that our truths are true for others, and when they don’t match up we fall back into the pattern of a little voice telling us that we are wrong, we are the thing that’s “off”, and that everyone around us is having some underlying conversation about us. I’ve been there, overthinking every moment to the max, anticipating an alterior motive for every action. What you have to remember is that you are telling yourself this story. Some people are judgmental assholes, most people aren’t.

My biggest piece of advice is to give new people the benefit of the doubt. What you might be receiving as them being cold or exclusive could easily be their own nervousness to branch out from their group. Not a great thing as we all should be more eager to extend the olive branch, but not a reflection of you. Remember that we all have that little voice in our heads when meeting new people and sometimes you need to tell it to shut up. It’s not an easy thing to do, but recognizing that you are telling yourself a story of what someone else is thinking can help ease you into the first few steps of meeting someone new. Take the first step, introduce yourself, stand tall, start telling yourself the truth instead of a story. The truth is that you are worthy of other people’s time and friendship. You are someone who can *click* with someone new. You are someone who can boldly put yourself out there. You are someone who makes the first move.

I guarantee you will be shocked at how much this works out in your favor. Trust me, I practice this all the time. Initially, being aware that I was quiet when first meeting people (and that it was being taken negatively) was something I viewed as a weakness. But now I view it as my strength. Am I still quiet when meeting new people? Yes. But I channel it into being an avid listener. I pay attention to everyone in the group, even if they’re being talked over. I ask follow up questions. I show that I care.

Taking those little steps is like a social warm-up, let’s me relax, and bring down my social anxiety walls. Find the thing that helps grease the wheels for you. Maybe it’s a simple as offering a piece of gum, maybe it’s always opening with a compliment. Look for something that feels natural and easy for you to do and bring that to the table with confidence.

I’m in your corner! Good luck 🙂

 

xx

 

Dear Molly, I Don’t Want to Be a Quitter.

Why do I always give up on things I was once so excited about? It feels like the second something gets difficult or doesn’t go my way, I give up. It’s become a running joke of how much a quitter I am. I know it’s a confidence issue, but how do I fix this?

 

Personal Story

Feel you. Feel you hard. One day, when I was in elementary school I learned the word “quit” and immediately wanted to test it out. I went home and told my mom “I want to quit piano” and with five kids who each had a million after school activities, she was happy to have one less thing to take me to. I have a vivid memory of leaving my last piano lesson at the house with the blue fence and having tremendous regret. I was too stubborn to admit it then, but I really wish I never quit piano. What I learned that day is how easy quitting can be.

A few years of being an exemplary “quitter” later and another vocab word changed my outlook (shout out to NHMS). I learned what “tenacity” was and I wanted that. Badly. So I started, every day, practicing little acts of tenacity. Relishing the moments when the going gets tough and using every difficult moment as life training to become a stronger person. I gave myself a “love the pain” mentality. The point of sharing this with you is to show that mental toughness is something that you can learn and strengthen. Like a muscle, it requires a little training, but if you have the desire to move past being a “quitter” then you’ve already taken a major step.

 

When we meet something new

Laying the premise to keep in mind throughout this post: Despite the name “quitter”, you are not defined by the things you do or do not continue. You are defined by the actions you take. Do you take actions that are bettering you as a person or moving you forward to the person that you want to be? Then who cares (and who’s business is it) what you leave behind along the way? Trying things out, finding that they don’t work for you, and walking away is a strength. Blindly staying with something out of spite is not. Quitting is not just walking away from something. Quitting is what happens when you walk away from a challenge.

That being said, sometimes we walk away from things we care about. Whether it’s out of boredom, because we aren’t getting the results we expected, or judgment from others, these are the times that we need to hold our feet to the fire and carry on. Persevering beyond the “honeymoon phase” and through the “growth periods” are importing aspects to our growth overall. When we try something new we go through three stages:

Honeymoon Phase / This is when the project or thing is new and exciting. You might have a lot of support from people around you or feel all fiery when you think about it. It’s your new love, it’s exciting, it seems abundant with potential and you are psyched about it.

Growth Periods / This is when you leave “tutorial mode” and start struggling. Problems you didn’t see before arise and you start to get overwhelmed by what’s in front of you. This is when you become a stronger person. This is not the time to walk away from a project. This is the time to press on and truly grow.

Perspective / This is when we decide to accept something into our lives and use it for our development or when we walk away because it isn’t serving us. Perspective is the time after a little win when you look back and think something like “that wasn’t so bad”. This is when you are able to have more perspective on whatever you are currently working on and make a rational decision about whether or not to continue.

A perfect example is learning to ride a bike. We have a Honeymoon Phase riding around with our training wheels on and a parent holding the seat. But one day we take the training wheels off and move into the Growth Period. We struggle and are wobbly on something we used to be so excited and steady on. It stops being just “fun” and starts requiring “work”. It’s when we want to quit or go back to the safe zone of training wheels and parental support. Pushing past this, into your first “win”, is what allows you to reach the Perspective stage. Decide if you want to continue only after you’ve successfully peddled a little while. We all want to quit in the midst of a struggle, so wait to make that call until you’ve had a mini-win and can see with clearer eyes. Start looking at the difficult moments as speed bumps, not roadblocks.

 

Putting it to practice

You can’t fix something that you don’t know the cause of. In my life, there have been three major reasons why I would end up quitting. You have to determine why you quit and then address it, both mentally and behaviorally. Change not only what you are physically doing, but also how you talk to yourself around challenges. Changing that internal conversation will change how you treat new challenges.

Loss of Interest
    • WHY /  Are you starting things for YOU or for others? If you aren’t 100% into it at the beginning you will lose interest fast. You’ll get bored. You cannot motivate yourself based off of someone else’s desires or passion. Is this something that you yourself are at all interested in?
    • MINDSET / Before starting something new ask yourself the hard questions. Are you doing this for you? Are you doing this for your parents? For someone you’re interested in? Or maybe just because it seems like the “thing” to do? Be 100% sure that you are the fuel behind a new project and not someone else before starting.
    • BEHAVIORAL CHANGE / Find your motivator to push past the monotony. Start each new thing with an intense commitment you cannot walk away from (social pressure, financial investment, etc). For me, I know that if I’ve sunk money into something I will stick with it. I started and stopped blogging several times since high school, but the reason that it stuck this time is pretty easy, I bought a domain for three years. I told myself that I could quit after three years if I stuck it out for that time.
When Success Not Coming Fast Enough
    • WHY / Success does not come overnight. We’ve all heard it before, but it’s true. In a world of viral videos, it’s hard to continue drudging along when someone else seemingly “explodes” overnight. When it feels like we are stuck in the mud and that all our hard work is going nowhere it’s easy to quit.
    • MINDSET / If you hear yourself say “I’m wasting my time” double-check if you are actually wasting time, or if you’re just discouraged at the seemingly small amount of progress you’ve made. When you start to get that sinking feeling of “I’ve gone nowhere” remember to look backward and not just forwards. Be gentle with yourself. Relish the experience, not just the results.
    • BEHAVIORAL CHANGE / Make a list of all the small accomplishments you have made along the way so you have a tangible list of all your successes. Aggressively track your progress and give yourself credit for each win. I have a habit of being too hard on myself and sometimes it takes moments to look back and relish in a little moment of pride, to feel the psych come back.
Confidence
    • WHY / This is a big one. When you lack confidence you don’t move forward, you don’t take risks. External factors can heavily influence this, whether that be comparing yourself to someone else’s success, receiving “hate” from people you care about, or feeling like you’re going to fail before you begin. Each of these things shakes our confidence in different ways. If you don’t have a strong foundation of confidence you will have tremendous difficulty during Growth Periods and will find yourself giving up when you fail.
    • MINDSET / Being a runner I always think back to the advice my dad would give me before a big race. “Don’t hope to do well, work for it, and think about it all the time. If you think you’re going to lose, you’re going to lose.” He instilled in me a “winner” mindset. I always envision myself “winning” and that has made all the difference. Next time you talk to yourself, check if you are talking down to yourself. Are you anticipating failure? Are you anticipating you will quit? And then redirect the conversation. You are a winner. You are tenacious. Remind yourself why you started this project. Remember that the past does not dictate the future. If you flip a coin 100 times in a row the 101st time still has 50/50 odds. Every new thing you undertake is a new opportunity with fresh odds. 
    • BEHAVIORAL CHANGE / If you find yourself overly concerned and worried about what others will think of your new passion don’t share your goals so readily with people. Give yourself the room to struggle, fail, leave projects, adapt, without stressing what other people say. Other people are not entitled to force their opinion on you. You are allowed to protect a new, delicate passion project from them.

 

Start with something small. If you find you get bored of things often start with the small goal of finishing a novel that you keep putting down. If you don’t get success as often as you’d like to, make a 7-day, 15-day, and 30-day goal sheet for a project you have. Track your progress at a daily level so you have the ability to look back at your success as motivation to continue on. It’s hard to see how we’re doing when we’re in the thick of it, so give yourself the ability to zoom out. If you are struggling with confidence the biggest advice I can give you is to relax. Treat yourself with grace and kindness. Remember that failing is not an indication of your worth and you’ll find it easier to stand up and try over and over again.

 

xx

 

Dear Molly, How do you feel beautiful when you barely feel pretty?

Some days I feel really special and beautiful and other days I barely want to look at myself because I don’t feel pretty. I guess what I’m asking is, how can you feel beautiful when you barely feel pretty? How can you change your thinking like that?

 

Feeling beautiful and feeling pretty are not mutually exclusive and (unfortunately) not mutually inclusive either. You might feel one, the other, both, or neither.

Feeling beautiful is internal, it’s the most important feeling to cherish, nurture, and value. Beauty may show up on your face in a glow, in your body in the confidence to walk tall, but it is not dependent on the external. Feeling beautiful comes from internal thoughts, how you treat others, how you maintain boundaries, how you love, how you accept love. Feeling pretty is a fleeting evaluation of your external appearance. It’s a special feeling but does not contribute to your worth as a person. Being “pretty” is not nearly as important as being “beautiful”.

Feeling beautiful doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and in so many ways we’re conditioned not to see our beauty. Loving ourselves relentlessly is seen as vain and vapid, so from a young age we’re taught three messages:

1 / Loving yourself is a sign of vanity and instead, you should be overly humble.

2 / You should reject any compliments you receive with false humility.

3 / That feeling pretty is lower on the hierarchy of “attractiveness” than feeling beautiful. That you need to feel pretty first.

Fuck that. Seriously.

Turning back those ingrained lessons isn’t easy and I wish there was a mantra I could tell you to repeat 10 times each morning that would solve all your problems, but our minds don’t all learn that way. The one thing I can tell you to repeat every time a thought like that creeps up is “Fuck that.” Think that you shouldn’t love yourself? Fuck that. Think that someone else is better than you because her waist is leaner? Fuck that. Think you’re better than someone else because your complexion is clearer? Fuck that.

We are not here to compare ourselves or journey toward some end goal of “attractive” that less than 5% of the world’s population actually has. When I look in the mirror and feel beautiful it has nothing to do with how my skin, hair, body looks. It has nothing to do with whatever sexualized DM has popped up today. It has nothing to do with whatever compliment was given to me that morning. It has everything, everything to do with how powerful I feel.

The times that I question my beauty are the times that I question my strength. There are plenty of times I look in the mirror and see a surprise blemish or don’t feel as toned as I’d like to be, as a woman the list of things to be self-conscious about is endless. But I have to remind myself to step back and realize that the important parts of who I am are not external. I refuse to value the opinion of someone who only likes me for my external and if I don’t value their opinion then it’s meaningless.

If you are struggling to feel beautiful start by looking at where you do and do not feel in control in your life. Where do you feel like you are in the passenger’s seat? You are the woman in charge, you determine your worth. Your beauty is your birthright. Beauty is not something that you need to achieve, it’s something you innately have. You are entitled to it.

So what do you do when it escapes you? When you feel out of control? When you don’t feel in your power?

Channel someone who is in their power and use their energy. Choosing someone powerful and strong who has all the qualities that you admire, and focusing on that person’s energy when you are feeling low to zap yourself back into self-love. It’s not about becoming another person, it’s about feeling their vibrations and using that to spark the same energy in you. When I have a “self-conscious” day there are two women I reach for: Audrey Hepburn and Lara Croft. Very different energies and both powerful, magnetic, and beautiful in their own ways. How would they walk down the street? Internalize that energy and it will alter the energy you are putting out.

I’m going to copy something I wrote in a previous post below because I continue to stand by it:

Ingrain your beauty in every moment you have with yourself. Don’t just go through the motions of self-care, embrace the moments of self-care. Speak to yourself softly and gently and love yourself.

Love yourself with a long bath after a tough day. Love yourself with a facial massage to elevate some of that forehead tension. Love yourself with a little lip filler to boost your pout. Love yourself with a spin class. Love yourself with eating the “right” foods. Love yourself with eating the “wrong” foods.

Love yourself in all the ways that make you happy. There’s no right or wrong way to love yourself. There is no hierarchy of self-love. There is no hierarchy of beauty.

There’s beauty is all aspects of you. There’s beauty in your vulnerability, beauty in putting yourself out there, beauty in picking your battles, beauty is how you walk down the street, beauty in how you say hello, beauty in how you laugh, and beauty in how you cry. There is beauty in how you are.

 

xx

 

Dear Molly, I’m Searching for Confidence.

I’ve been really interested in starting an Instagram page for my photography, but I’m not sure where to start. Every time I start posting my photos I get really self-conscious and end up deleting all of them. I tried starting a new account, but am still struggling with what all my friends and family will think. I’m not trying to get famous or something, I just wanted to share what I’m doing and try to build my photography into a business. How do I stop caring about what other people think?

 

Starting something new is always difficult, no one likes to be a beginner. Starting something new on social media is worse because there is a massive feeling that everyone is watching you like a bug under a microscope. And worse than watching, it’s easy to fear that people are judging. And maybe they are, but the vast majority of people around you will be supportive as you venture into something new. If they aren’t then they aren’t people to surround yourself with. You are the sum of the people you spend most of your time with if those people aren’t making you feel supported it’s time to reevaluate that list.

But I’m not here to judge your friend group, I’m here to build you up. In my first year of the blog, I received just about every opinion you can imagine. People thought it was great, thought I was vapid, thought it was a phase, thought I didn’t know what I was doing (I didn’t). The confidence to keep going through it wasn’t easy to find, but I largely credit it with the confidence the runs throughout my life today.

When I started the blog I did so because I knew it was a bucket list item for me and I didn’t want to look back at 60 and wonder why I never started it. Putting off your goals because of what someone else thinks is not the way to live life. It’s a way to get through it. Life is meant to be aggressively lived, and that means ignoring the judgments by others and going for what makes you happy and what you want. I made a deal with myself, buy a domain name for three years and give myself that amount of time to build and build passionately. Every time someone sent me hate or rolled their eyes when I mentioned the blog I didn’t let myself retreat in shame, I remembered the deal I made with myself, held my head up, and continued on. Every time I did that was laying, brick by brick, the foundation of self-confidence I now have with the blog. Do that and every time you see reward you will know it’s because you were true to yourself and every time you experience failure you will be able to stare at it even-eyed knowing that you failed being honest with yourself.

The community I’ve built on with Molly and through Instagram are both incredibly important to me, but the person that is most important to me is me. Be selfish in your self-love and selfish in your goals. No one can champion harder for you than you. When someone comes at you with hate vise-grip your goal, grit your teeth, and walk away. Don’t delete your posts, don’t delete your passion.

 

xx

 

Dear Molly, Why Her and Not Me?

I’m wondering if you have advice on something…I just want to know, how to get over feeling “why her and not me” when it comes to guys. It just makes me feel not good enough 😦 Like if a guy is totally capable of treating you the way you secretly want to but chooses not to but then would absolutely do all of that for another girl. I guess I’m tired of feeling like the side person, or the placeholder for when something better comes along. Wondering if you have had experience with this before your current boyfriend or had any insight.

 

Totally know this feeling and it’s a very difficult series of emotions to filter through. I’d start by moving past the mindset that it’s “her” not “me”, because what it really is it “them”. She’s not a perfect being who doesn’t share any of your flaws, she just may be a better match for him. I’m a very different person in my current relationship than I was before. Previously, I was controlling and needy and suffocating because I wasn’t receiving the type of love and care I needed. Currently, I joke that my partner is “obsessed” with me because he’s so attentive and caring and affectionate. Him giving me love in the way I need it changed who I was in the relationship. I’m much more confident, laid back, trusting. (The Aries in me misses the drama, but c’est la vie!)

It’s not to say that my ex was wrong and my current partner is right, or that one is better than the other. What it is is the difference in relationships that Me+Ex v. Me+Current make. When two people come together and create a third thing that is the “relationship”. You both feed into the health of it, but sometimes you are mismatched in how you contribute to the relationship or how you give and receive to and from each other. It doesn’t mean that either of you is wrong or unworthy or, the dreaded word that 99% of guys like to fall back on, “crazy”. It means that the way you need to be loved differs from the way that he gave love.

It’s hard when we see things from the outside because we know that person in one way, but what we don’t know who they are in that relationship just because we’ve been with them before. People change slowly over time and quickly in situations. Being in a new situation with someone else doesn’t mean that he was capable of giving you everything you wanted and that he withheld it. Each relationship is unique in that way.

I’d also like to point out that you mentioned: “secretly want”. There should be no secrets when it comes to what you want emotionally, romantically, or sexually from a partner. Hiding that part of yourself does a few things. One, it makes you feel like they are withholding things from you because they aren’t giving what you are looking for. Two, it creates an unfair field in the relationship where you hold all the cards and he is working to decipher you like an elaborate scavenger hunt. I’m not saying to unleash all your emotional and sexual baggage on the first date, but it’s important to remember that dating someone is not a game to win. This is not to put the blame on you, but only to shine a light on the necessity for strong communication in a healthy relationship. If you felt like you couldn’t talk with him about these things that is a major red flag that you are better off out of that relationship.

As far as moving past the “her, not me” feelings that’s a tough one. Personally, I think it comes from within. I’ve found that small reminders really help me when those feelings come in. Remembering that it’s not personal (he’s not being kind to her to hurt you), each situation is different (you don’t know all the nuances of their relationship and it could have significant drawbacks. people share the good, not the hard), and that he didn’t leave the relationship looking for “You 2.0”. He left looking for something new and different to experience a new and different relationship.

 

xx