When I first meet someone, I feel they do not like me. I am unsure what they think about me; I only know it feels negative. It may not be as much of a dislike as disapproval. Then I have to prove myself worthy, and that is exhausting. Sometimes I feel seen as a privileged, idiotic blonde who could not possibly understand the struggles others face. That may be true in some ways. Maybe I don’t understand the struggles others face because I have not been through them myself. However, I, too, have struggled. It may not be in the same way or to the same degree, but that does not mean I am oblivious. One of my favorite quotes is, “Just because I didn’t live through the same hand that was dealt to you doesn’t make me any less or make any more of you.” It puts everyone on an equal playing field which is a hard place for humanity to survive without one group thinking they are better or more worthy than another. No matter our religion, political affiliation, race, sex, ethnicity, or age, we are all human. We can all relate on: the struggle of being human.
Sometimes it can be different, and I feel seen as an outcast or undesirable. I was never the star athlete or star anything, for that matter. I struggled to find my identity while others found theirs effortlessly. In turn, this gave them self-confidence and worth. They could feel good about the fact that they were good at “X” things. It feels good to know your strengths and play to them. However, it can be hard to play to your strengths if do not know what they are. So what is a person to do? How does one identify their strengths? It can be uncomfortable to name the things you excel at, especially at first. In time, it becomes easier. However, there is a fine line between being aware of your strengths and being arrogant. Once you cross that line, there is danger, and it can be a slippery slope to return to a humble mindset.
As a kid, that thing you excel at increases your self-esteem, which is positive. You immediately think about the star athletes or artists. What if you are mediocre at many things? That is how I felt. It can feel like an identity crisis at such a young age. It is not easy to know where you want to go if you do not know who you are. However, this is where we must be careful not to let our abilities define us. Yes, they are part of who we are, but not the entire picture. It reminds me of the quote from Be The Nice Kid founder Bryan Skavnak, which says:
“Some kids are smarter than you, Some kids have cooler clothes than you, Some kids are better at sports than you. It doesn’t matter. You have your thing too. Be the kid who can get along. Be the kid who is generous. Be the kid who is happy for other people. Be the kid who does the right thing. Be the nice kid.”
Bryan Skavnak, Be The Nice Kid
Why does that have to stop at childhood? I want to take that one step further and challenge you to replace the word “kid” with “human” and live out the quote. Be the human who can get along. Be the human who is generous. Be the human who is happy for other people. Be the human who does the right thing. Be the nice human.
Living out that quote allows us to give others and ourselves more grace and help us see the good in ourselves and each other. See and be “the good,” my friends; you won’t regret it.
I was the quiet girl in school. You know, the one off to the side observing everyone while silently pretending to read a book. I was terrified of embarrassing myself in front of my peers. I did not want to make a spectacle of myself or reveal any vulnerability. In my mind, it was better to be unseen than to be the subject of gossip or scrutiny. Perhaps, it kept some feelings at bay, but it ultimately limited my opportunities. When you advocate for yourself, it feels like a little piece of confidence is restored within you. In the past, there were times when I should have spoken up for myself but did not. As a result, the silence hindered me instead of helping me.
Admitting vulnerability is not a weakness; it is one of the strongest things a person can do. I know many will disagree with me, and that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Vulnerability is signaling to another person that you trust them. Having someone’s trust is a great honor. There must also be trust for there to be success. Staying silent only allows your feelings and thoughts to fester without a result, while speaking up sets you free. It gives you the key to unlock the next level for yourself. It is the truest form of “taking life into your own hands .” Anyone who has chosen to advocate will tell you that it does not always work out the way you planned, but it is always worth it. It certainly is not easy and takes much practice. .
I look at it like this. When you are at the store and cannot find a product, do you ask for help? If yes, you find the product and leave within ten minutes. If not, you spend 20 more minutes looking for the product only to ask an associate 20 minutes later. It may not always make this big of a difference, but you get the point. What about the next time someone hurts you with their words? Should you stand there and take it? Should you attack them verbally? Of course not. Instead, be honest and let them know why what they did hurt you. Help them understand why it was triggering for you, so they won’t make the same mistake again. You do not need to be rude about it; instead be kind and see the difference it makes.
I know that it is not human nature to be open and honest, but we have seen the benefits time and time again. So the next time someone speaks to you disrespectfully, tell them, “I am sorry for whatever happened to you to make you talk to me that way, but I do not deserve that.” What is the person going to say? “You’re a jerk?” I don’t think so. Often times you will hear, “People accept the love they think they deserve.” My response to that is to know your own worth. Know what you deserve and accept nothing less or short of the best.
I have been a fan of yours for as long as I can remember. Your movies have given me so much laughter and joy when I have needed it the most. Thank you for sharing the gift of your humor with the world because everyone needs a good laugh now and then.
However, that’s not why I am writing to you today. I am writing because I watched your Netflix documentary, Stutz, and absolutely loved it. I can’t imagine the anxiety you had over the documentary’s release, but I cannot commend you and thank you enough for putting so much hard work into it and going through with it.
To say, “I loved getting to know Dr. Phil Stutz,” would be an understatement. I had known about him as a professional, but the film allowed us to get to know him on a human level. The concept of a patient flipping the script and interviewing the doctor is brilliant. At one point in the film, you mention,
“It’s important to know that the people we look up to aren’t exempt from all the problems that we ourselves have. You [Stutz] are still in the struggle and in the fight of being human.”
One of the people you mentioned you look up to is Phil, and understandably so. It was fascinating to hear you come to that realization while speaking with someone you admire. As you told him, he laughed, and you asked if he was laughing because it was “absurd,” and he said “yes.”
Such an interesting scene and take on perception. It’s being brave enough to be honest about your perception and then being open to it changing over time. Everyone can think of someone they look up to whom they feel is “untouchable.” The reality is everyone struggles; however, it is a matter of how we deal with it.
My favorite scene (other than the final scene) was when you came forward with how you truly felt about the film to Stutz. You reveal you’ve been filming for years but have insecurities about it. You talk about being afraid of the film failing. Stutz said the following,
“Failure and vulnerability connects you to the rest of the world because you’re telling others, ‘I can’t do this by myself.”
The mere fact that you admitted that you were struggling and uncertain was powerful and comforting. You let us see that you’re human too. That is the one thing we all can relate to no matter who we are. We are all human, and we are much more alike than we think.
I have been struggling lately with deciding what I want to do with my own life. It was comforting to know I’m not in the fight to accept uncertainty alone. You’ve given a true gift to people, and it’s incredible to witness. It is heartwarming to see people do something not just for themselves, but also for the greater good. I hope you know that you’re changing the world for the better.
Anyway, I wanted to thank you for releasing the documentary because it meant a lot to me, and I can guarantee that it meant something to many others as well. However, I believe even if your film had only changed one life, it would have still been worth making. That’s one life changes for the better.
Thank you for helping break down the mental health stigma in such a beautiful way. Don’t let the critics get you down. You did a great thing for the mental health community, and no critic can discredit that. I can’t wait to see what you do next!
Typically, I am not impressed by Hollywood’s entitlement and need to tell us how to think. I get frustrated by the thought process, “Do as I say, not as I do.” How often have we seen a documentary about someone struggling with mental health only for them to continue doing what they know begets their triggers? Too often. If I could only use one word to describe Selena Gomez’s new documentary, My Mind & Me (now streaming on AppleTV+), it would be: refreshing. For the first time, we see the human inside the shell the world created called “Selena Gomez”. In fact, the film opens with Selena narrating a diary entry of hers. She reads the following:
“December 19. I have to stop living like this. Why have I become so far from the light? Everything I ever wished for, I’ve had and done all of it, but it has killed me because there’s always ‘Selena’.”
Her audience gets to see she is someone like you or me, just with a pretty awesome career to supplement! However, as she states, it has all come at a price: her health. A lupus diagnosis, kidney transplant, and bipolar diagnosis, and she is still standing. She says it killed her. The cost of fame and a public career is limited privacy. Only our little world knows when you or I go through a traumatic event. Can you imagine going through a traumatic event in front of the entire world? I really can’t. To see such raw, genuine footage of a highly publicized figure is rare. It is ironic since that is the title of Selena’s most recent album (released in 2020), and beauty company, Rare Beauty. Rare Beauty champions the Rare Impact Fund which has set the goal of raising $100M over the next ten years to help give access to mental health services. AMAZING, right? You can find out more about the fund here. Needless to say, Selena is most certainly rare, and thank God she is.
In the film, Selena is asked, “What’s holding you back?” She replies, “That I’m not good enough. That’s something that I felt a lot of growing up.” Wow. Me too. That exemplifies my point. She feels the same way we all do. It helps to connect with someone you would never have guessed you had so much in common with.
In the documentary’s official trailer, Selena narrates the following:
“Just be who you are Selena. No one cares what you’re doing. It’s about who I am. Being okay with where I am. I am grateful to be alive. Let me make a promise. I am going to stop living like this. How do I learn to breathe my own breath again?”
Once I heard that, I was hooked. It felt like she took the words right out of my mouth, which was comforting. Not because I wanted to hear all the bad that had happened to Selena Gomez. It was comforting because I could relate to her pain. I am incredibly thankful to have such a public advocate fighting to end the mental health stigma. Selena does not just talk the talk; she also walks the walk. She lives her truth.
The film opens on her Revival Tour and takes the viewer through Selena’s life from 2016 to the present day (or at least close). She pledged to film with nothing off limits and did so for many years. As much of a mental health advocate as I am, I am unsure I could do that. My anxiety would set in. “What would others think?” However, I only have a world that extends so far; Selena is known globally. That is a HUGE difference, and anyone who undermines that is simply wrong. Selena even said in her interview on Jay Shetty’s podcast, On Purpose, (a MUST listen):
“…Maybe I shouldn’t do this, maybe I shouldn’t release it [the documentary]. And this is too honest; this is too much of myself. Until I realized that, ultimately, it was meant for something bigger. It wasn’t just about me; it was about other people. And it took a life of its own and became what it is now, which I’m still nervous about, I’m still anxious about. But I think releasing it is a huge healing process for me. And it’s me letting go of that version of myself…”
Thankfully, she chose to release the documentary. Will there be critics? Of course. As much as we wish we could shield her and the creators from it, they all know it comes with the territory. She willingly chose to release it, knowing she would face critics, courageous to say the least. However, what may have been enough to stop most of us, did not stop her. She saw the bigger picture of how this could impact the world for the better. They say not one person can change the world as a whole. Maybe that is true; however, one person can change others’ hearts by sharing their experiences and perceptions. In turn, that changes the world one heart at a time. We are not usually this lucky to see the good and bad. The reality. The truth. That is a gift we must thank Selena for.
Selena undeniably has sacrificed herself to take up the mantle and be the face of mental health awareness. Although I am not in her position, I can’t imagine that being easy. However, I, along with so many, applaud her and sincerely thank her. Instead of telling us “it is okay to not be okay”, she showed us. She showed us that we are not the only ones who have bad days. We are not the only ones who struggle to get out of bed or leave the house. She showed us that no amount of fame, influence, or money can beget happiness. It must come from within. I love that in her podcast interview with Jay Shetty, Selena stated:
“… it’s a choice sometimes, but then I also hate when people say that because sometimes I genuinely wake up in a depressive state and I can’t get out of bed, but I allow myself to have that day and focus on things that can make me feel better instead of pushing it away…”
I can certainly relate to that statement, and I know I am not the only one. I have also been frustrated by the phrase, “Happiness is a choice.” While I know much of it is true, we cannot forget about the biological component of mental health either. It is a delicate balance of nurture and nature. I also love that she acknowledged that she “allows herself to have that day”. We all need to be a little kinder to ourselves and give ourselves time and space to heal. I think that is an extremely important point that gets often overlooked.
One of the most relatable statements Selena makes in the documentary is as follows:
“There’s a voice that comes in my head saying, ‘You miss this. That sucked. Oh, you get a glimpse of yourself on the screen — wow, that looks pretty f–in’ s–ty,” she says. “It just sucks the life out of me, and I don’t want to perform. The pressure is just overwhelming because I want to do the best I can and I am not…”
Who is your biggest critic? Most often, you are. We are the ones who are genuinely the cruelest to ourselves. We know our own deepest insecurities. We can then exploit them because we know they will strike a chord. Ever heard of being your own worst enemy? That applies here. However, let me be clear it is not because we want to feel this way or want others to pity us. No. In fact, we cannot always control this. So, please give one another some grace; people are trying their best just like you.
In the interview with Jay Shetty, he mentioned,
“… you’re one of these people that you serve to heal, and you give to let go. And that’s such a beautiful cycle because I think often we think when we are going through things that the more insular we go…”
Rare, again, we arrive at this word. It is rare to find someone who can identify that their healing is attained through service. More people need to venture outside their comfort zone to explore service as an option to heal. Selena is doing the right thing, which deserves to be celebrated no matter who you are or where you come from. She deserves numerous accolades for her work in the mental health community. She has done so much it’s hard to mention it all, but here are a few more:
1. Selena, her mother Mandy, and Daniella Pierson have started Wondermind, a mental health fitness website. Wondermind states:
“Mental fitness means working on your mental health—whatever that looks like to you. It takes more than an inspirational quote to really change your mindset. But showing up for your mental health shouldn’t be expensive, inaccessible, or time consuming. Even if you’re lucky enough to see a therapist, making time for your mind in between sessions can go a long way. That’s what we’re here for—to give you easy, doable ways to put your mental fitness first every day.”
2. Did you know she was working with the United States government to form a Mental Health curriculum? You can learn more about her work here!
3. As seen in the documentary, she also raised money with the We Charity to start not one but two schools for girls on Africa. Learn more about her work here.
Amazing would be an understatement. This woman has dedicated herself to a cause that has profoundly affected and shaped her. In her song she sings, “If somebody sees me like this then they won’t feel alone now.” Thank you to Selena for letting us know we aren’t alone. If you want to watch a refreshing documentary, I highly recommend My Mind & Me, now streaming on Apple TV+.
I hate to break it to you, but you are not that important. I don’t mean to be rude, but more realistic in the grand scheme of life. It never ceases to amaze me how people treat one another. I understand that in everyone’s world, they are the “star.” Sometimes as humans, we forget that just because we are the center of our world does NOT mean we are the center of others’ worlds.
I don’t mean it wrongly like you’re insignificant to the world because, of course, that is not true. However, we are not as big a deal to others as we think. People don’t notice every detail that we notice about ourselves. It is awesome you put effort into your outfit, but the only one who will truly appreciate it is you. You should do these acts of self-love for yourself; I just ask you to remember the intent behind it. These things make us feel good about ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Humans are programmed to think about our situations but not challenged to think beyond. This lack of challenge can result in others being too self-absorbed, where they react if someone threatens their little bubble. We must remember that nine times out of ten, that person made an honest mistake for various reasons you do not know. It was not personal.
Think about when you go out to a restaurant. Perhaps it is a busy night. You wait about ten minutes to be seated and another fifteen for your drink order. One comes back wrong. Before going off on the waitress or waiter, did you stop to notice that she is the only person covering not only his/her/their section but two others?
I know it is so frustrating to get an order wrong. “How hard is it to serve a soda?” Singularly serving a soda is not complicated, but multiply that by 100. Now you have 100 drink orders expected to be delivered accurately and quickly.
Next time the waitress or waiter gets something wrong, before immediately yelling, stop to put yourself in that person’s shoes. What if it was you or a loved one? How would you want someone to react? Do that. The fact is, someone made an honest mistake; do they deserve to be ridiculed for it? No. They do not. Instead, give them some grace.
My point is about more than just the food industry. Situations like these can happen in many instances. The truth is we are all human. We are all going to make mistakes. However, we have to be more forgiving of our counterparts. We know that mistakes are part of the learning process. Most people are not out to get you. Not to say life is all butterflies and rainbows. There is evil in our world today; I can’t deny that. However, pointing fingers at others has never been a solution that worked.
It would be nice to see humanity get it right for a change. We are all imperfect beings trying our best to make it through another day. We know our intentions, and most of the time, our mistakes are accidental and not intended to hurt others. Humans are the best at effing things up. However, we are better at building things back up together. We are better off trying to understand than proving someone wrong. We are better when we listen instead of speaking. We are better when we work in harmony together. We are better together.
In the wise words of MTV’s The Hills star, Lauren Conrad, “Go with your gut, but use your head.” Listen, I love The Hills as much as the next millennial. However, that line has always seemed contradictory to me.
Now my thought process may be a bit skewed, but hear me out. I always thought that going with your heart or gut meant “making a bold move” without regard for the facts. It is taking a risk or chance and hoping it all works out. Following your heart is motivated heavily by feelings and emotions. While on the other hand, I thought using your head meant paying attention to the facts and deciding what you know instead of how you feel. It is not taking a risk but making a calculated, informed decision.
When you think of it that way, (hopefully) you can see why these statements have always perplexed me. If not, then bear with me! How do you know what situations call for using your head and what problems call for using your heart? What if you use the wrong one? I suppose that’s part of the journey, as cliche as it sounds. I think part of life is learning when to make decisions using your heart or head.
Everyone gets it wrong sometimes but don’t let that discourage you. Failing is part of the process. It allows us to know when we do something incorrectly. Often words like “wrong” or “incorrect” have a negative connotation. Society conditions us to view mistakes as the enemy when they are essential to the process. Without mistakes, we can’t learn our limits and/or the truth. Sometimes you have to get it wrong a few times to get it right one time.
Next time you make a mistake that bothers you, remember the value. I bet you won’t make the same mistake again, or at least for a while. I have a quote on my desk that reads, “There are no mistakes, only lessons,” and I purposely put it there so I could read it every day. We all make mistakes, and that’s okay. However, our response is what makes the difference. Anger will only get you so far, but learning will unlock doors you never knew existed. Keep making mistakes (within reason, of course)!
Do not be fooled; sadly, the “mean girl” still exists. While the 2004 comedy dramatizes mean girls, cliques, and the pressure to be “popular,” they were not too far off. No, mean girls don’t all wear pink on Fridays or perform a sexy version of “Jingle Bell Rock” for their high school talent show. However, these girls like to do their deeds behind the scenes by gossiping, cyberbullying, mocking, or excluding others. No matter how mean girls execute their so-called “meanness,” it’s incredibly impactful for the person or people targeted.
Kids are mean, but girls take it to another level. Every female reading this can think back to a time when they experienced a singular or group of mean girls. They are the perfect example of a bully, tearing someone else down to make themselves feel better. The sad thing is that some girls become numb to this and forget that what they’re doing has implications for others.
It’s not cute or cool to be a bitch. I’m sorry to be blunt, but it’s the truth, and sometimes the truth hurts. It’s very telling of the relationship you have with yourself. It shows you have low self-confidence and must boost yourself by bringing others down. That will always be different from the cool, kind, or right thing to do. Ever.
We all start “adulting” at some point or another. As the sunset of your youth wanes, it becomes more apparent how weak and pathetic it is to bully others. In time you may or may not learn more about the bully and why they are the way they are. However, it’s never an excuse to be unkind or bully others. We can appreciate others’ backgrounds and get them the help they deserve. That’s how healthy people deal with low self-esteem; build yourself up instead of tearing others down. I promise you will be much more respected and liked in the long run. I’ll end with a quote by the great Maya Angelou.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, what you did, but never forget how you made them feel.”
Perhaps it was your sibling, best friend, cousin, aunt or uncle, child, parent, niece, or nephew; No matter who it was, we have all been touched by suicide. For those who are not aware, the month of September is Suicide Awareness Month. This month is a time to raise awareness of this stigmatized topic. We use this month to change people’s perceptions, spread hope and share essential information with people affected by suicide. The goal is to ensure that individuals, friends, and families can access the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention and seek help.
In some areas with specific Crisis Interventionist Teams, you call 911 and ask to speak to a trained team member. This trained member has been debriefed on how to best de-escalate the situation without adding to the problem. This is also a great time for local communities to assess their mental health escalation process. Research your community to see if this is something you already have. If it is not, you can visit CIT International’s Website along with National Alliance on Mental Illness’s (NAMI) CIT resources.
Sadly, suicide is not as uncommon as one may think. The twelfth leading cause of death in the U.S. is suicide. It is the second leading cause of death among people between ages 10–14 and the third leading cause of death among people between ages 15-24 in the U.S. So please, this September, don’t just nod your head at the cause but take action against this awful epidemic. Everyone must play a part in this to work. It cannot be an isolated turn of events. However, it must be a group effort to show that we are all still connected by our humanity. You should care about others not just because you have to but because it is the right thing to do. Wouldn’t you want someone to do the same for you if it were you?
Suicide is not inevitable. We do our part when we begin the conversation, give support, and direct help to those who need it. Research suggests that providing support services, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self-harm, and following up with loved ones are ways we can help. Crisis Centers provide counseling to everyone. They offer irreplaceable support and a chance to connect with trusted and trained professionals.
If you have suicidal thoughts, please know you’re not alone; some people understand. You can and will get better. If you are suffering from suicidal thoughts, please contact one of the helplines below IMMEDIATELY to get the help you deserve. There is another option when it comes to suicide: life. Choose life because it does get better and there is so much awaiting you, don’t miss it❣️
My biggest fear on this platform is to come across as a “know-it-all” regarding mental health because that is far from the truth. I’d be lying if I told you I never had days where my most significant accomplishments were getting out of bed and taking a shower. There are days when I feel “off,” and that is the best way I can describe it. Thankfully, those days are not as common as they used to be, but that does not mean they have disappeared completely. I look at this platform as if we (the audience & myself) are in this together. I have developed and researched coping techniques that have made my mental health journey more manageable, but the work never stops.
We know that coping varies from person to person. We continue to mold our coping mechanisms as we age; we develop new ones and retire older methods. What served us well in our 20s may be different when we reach our 50s, which is okay. The important thing is not to give up and continue along life’s path.
Feelings/Emotions ebb and flow – you will never be constantly happy, sad, angry, etc. Many factors affect this, so it would be impossible to remain in the same emotion all the time. Although it may feel like a disadvantage, this truly is to your advantage. Why? It gives you perspective and helps us relate to one another. We can find similarities in our feelings no matter who we are or where we come from. Human emotions/feelings are not unique but uniform throughout the world. These commonalities help increase our connection and understanding of one another.
While it may seem that the goal is to eradicate any perceived negative emotions, it is quite the opposite. Why? You feel grateful when you feel positive emotions because you know what it feels like to feel sad, angry, disappointed, etc. In a way, our negative emotions/feelings give us a better appreciation for life and remind us to cherish the good moments. The next time you read my blog post, listen to my podcast, or view my social media posts – know that it is not my intention to preach but to learn alongside you. We’re all students here. 🙂
Everyone tells you not to grow up too fast. Growing up or older is a strange concept that takes on a new meaning as you age. When you’re young, it seems unobtainable as time passes slower. As you grow older, you begin to wonder where all the time went. My grandad always told my mom and her siblings, “Don’t wish your life away.” Growing up and being an adult seems like the most significant thing when you are younger (no bedtime, no parents rules, no school, etc.). However, once you get there, you’d give anything to have just one more day as a young person. The concept of growing up is a familiar one. In fact, many songwriters have written about their own interpretations. For example:
Ben Folds wrote: “Everybody knows it sucks to grow up…” (Still Fighting It)
Lorde wrote: “Growing up a little at a time then all at once…” (Secrets From The Girl Who’s Seen It All)
Fleetwood Mac wrote: “Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’ ‘Cause I’ve built my life around you But time makes you bolder Even children get older And I’m getting older too” (Landslide)
Green Day wrote: “Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time” (Good Riddance)
As you can see, there is a genuine fascination with growing older. It seems to take forever, and then you blink, and it feels like it has gone too fast. We as humans are intrigued by this because we know time is something we can never get back. It is fleeting, and all we can do is make the most of each moment. This is where gratitude becomes so essential. Be thankful for your time, and don’t waste it on social media or binging on your favorite show. Those will never be the memories you look back upon with joy. In fact, do they become memories at all, or if they blend into the background?
I want to get out there and seize the heck out of the moment. Although I hate to be a downer, we do not know how much time we have left in this life. Would you rather spend it making memories or consumed by a device? We all can see the clear answer here. Check out this awesome video by Gary Turk below, which personifies precisely what I am talking about.