If you could place every word you’ve spoken
and every action you’ve taken into one of two boxes,
fear or love, which box would have the most?
The professionals who study minds and human behavior say the emotional basis for all thoughts and actions are either fear or love. That’s it. They say those are the only two emotions, so underneath of everything you say or do is either the feeling of being afraid or the emotion of love.
Most of my words and actions would go into the box of love. Of those that would land in the box of fear, the majority of them are fear-based words and actions taken against myself. I have talked myself out of more things that anyone else ever has. I have stopped myself from trying things out of fear, I have used negative self-talk due to fear, and I have allowed fear to dictate where I won’t go or what I won’t do. I’ve allowed the voice of fear to drown out the one of love.
I’m great at encouraging others, I want people who are doing great work or striving to improve, or going after their dreams, to succeed. But when it comes to me, I’m often a bully to myself. (You know the deal with bullies right, they’re the people who are supposedly so annoyed by you and hate you so much that they can’t leave you alone, which doesn’t make sense. Really, they’re projecting their insecurities and fears on you; they fear you’ll succeed and they won’t.) As much as my rational mind knows I’m capable and wants to see me win, my emotions get the better of me and. These instances don’t happen often, but when they do, I get honest with myself and shift to loving thoughts and actions.
Today is election day in the Unites States. It’s been a rough presidential race to witness as members of both parties have done an excellent job of using fear-based, bombastic tactics. Imagine how much more pleasant and effective politics would be if the candidates were transparent, honest, and loving. Imagine leaders who genuinely cared, who made policies and campaigns based solely on wanting the best for people and not for the sake of notoriety, money, or position.
I don’t have a desire to reform the political system, but I’m all in when it comes to leading the movement of everyday people who want to tell their truth and share honestly. Fear and love both serve a purpose and are healthy emotions. But if your box of fear is overflowing, meaning the majority of the things you do and say are down out of fear, it’s time to do the work to figure out why.
Get honest with yourself about what you’re afraid of and work to switch to thoughts and actions based in love.
You’re a creative person with a giving heart and big dreams. You want to be happy and successful, give back to others, and leave a legacy for your children and grandchildren. But, you don’t even know how to stay focused long enough to complete one task or check off one goal, let alone a life’s worth.
Focus is a multi-armed monster, and today’s arm is the concept of your quiver full of arrows. Archers keep their arrows in a bag called a quiver; they pull one arrow at a time, set in on the shelf of the bow, nock the arrow to the string, and focus on their target. To focus on what they’re hoping to hit, they silence the noise around them. They carry nothing with them that doesn’t improve their chances of success.
You, with all your dreams and talents have many things you like, movies you watch, people with whom you associate, and distractions; you must learn to quiet the noise. Turn down the volume of your life and only allow in people and things that will help you hit your target. The only things in your quiver must be things that will help you succeed.
I’m a football fan. I enjoy watching football and if I allow myself I can indulge in all of the talk that surrounds the game, teams, and players. From sports radio and tv channels to football Twitter accounts and friends and family, there’s no shortage of ways to satiate my football indulgence. This football season however, I have opted out. I decided to say no to all things sports related in the name of focusing. I am learning how to stay focused.
There’s nothing wrong with football, sports, or entertainment, but to remain focused, my quiver can contain only things that help me hit my target. Just because there’s nothing wrong with it doesn’t mean it’s something I need to spend time on right now. Besides, the athletes I’d be watching are already living their dreams. I, however, am not yet, and therefore must focus.
Before you decide that an inability to focus is your problem, make sure it’s not just a lack of target clarity. If you know exactly what your one (and only one at a time) target is, then focus begins by checking your quiver.
What’s in your quiver? If you have your sights set on a goal, a specific target, what you allow in your life’s quiver must not only help you hit your target, but it must not draw you farther from your target.
The more detractors and distractions you allow, the farther your target gets and the harder it becomes to focus.The more distractions you allow, the farther your target gets & the harder it is to focus.
My example of football is a simple one because I can simply remove the people and things (arrows) that have to do with football and replace them. For you, whatever your target, removing the arrows may mean literally cutting off friendships, turning off your phone or notifications, or giving up something you enjoy for a short time.
The quiver test- does it help me hit the mark? Not will it in the future or could it possibly? Answer in one second, does it right now help you reach your goal? If there’s hesitation or the answer is no, remove it. You can justify why you should keep it/them all you want, but lying to yourself only hurts you.
Our world is loud and our lives are noisy. From notification lights and sounds, to people who won’t be quiet, our days are full of distractions. It is your job to filter the noise and fill your quiver, meaning equip yourself and fill your life, with only the people and things that will help you hit the bullseye. Once you do, you’ll have time to indulge in those distractions before setting up to hit the next target.
Focus is about deciding what’s important, consistently reminding yourself of your target, keeping your goal in mind, and training your thoughts and actions to do only the things associated with the task before you.
About a year ago I had the idea to compile all of the moments of honesty and vulnerability that I had seen from YouTube creators. I put that idea off for a while because it seemed like the amount of time it would take to compile all those clips could be time better spent creating something of my own.
Last week, after seeing another creator share a real-life hard truth, I decided it was a video worth making and would be time well-spent. I looked through my YouTube subscription box and found YouTubers who had uploaded videos where they shared something personal, got honest about things on their mind, and who’d risked vulnerability and let their viewers in. People don’t talk about the hard things going on in their private lives, so when someone does, especially someone with a large following, I remember.
I chose 20 YouTube creators I’m subscribed to and featured their real-life moments as well as my words in a video called, “Dear Creators” that is on the Launch youtube channel.
The purpose of the video is to ask content creators (those featured and the thousands not featured) to join the movement of transparent living. I know Youtubers, vloggers especially, like to upload videos that are happy, positive, and well-edited. And I know we all like to keep aesthetically pleasing social media feeds and to snap and tweet the fun and happy parts of our lives. That is the highlight reel, the collection of picture perfect, movie-worthy moments that we are grateful to experience and that we should have lots of. There’s nothing wrong with a highlight reel, I sincerely hope you have lots of wonderful moments and memories in life.
The danger of a highlight reel life comes when there’s no balance. When there are no “low-lights”, that’s an inaccurate depiction of a real life, because real life is full of highs and lows. I mean, I get it, sharing real moments may mean losing followers or having to deal with haters, but only sharing the good is dishonest.
Some of the best conversations occur as a result of letting people in. Look at the amount and depth of the comments under videos where creators share about things going on in their lives. Those moments resonate deeply with people because we’re not always open or honest about the things we’re dealing with. We convince ourselves that no one can relate to us, and we hide our problems, when in reality, there are thousands of people going through similar situations.
I know the value, benefits, and freedom that come from sharing, for both the person opening up and those who listen. I hope you, as a creator continue to put out content that is fun, happy, and visually stunning because you do have a great life, most of us do, and I like watching what you upload. I hope you will take the transparency pledge. This call to action is a call for balance, not sharing one moment of pain for every moment of happiness, because hopefully your life contains an abundance of happy. Balance, not equal, meaning an honest sharing of your your not-so-good days amidst all the great days to remind those watching, that you too are human.
We know the power the YouTube platform holds. We have a powerful potential to start a movement, to be the people who no longer push their issues aside or ignore them, but who face what’s going on and to seek help with resolving them. Let’s be the people who tell our truth and not our business and who are happy instead of faking happy.
You can find the pledge page at launchyoungadults.org\pledge; it’s a simple call to action I hope you’ll live by. We, the most globally connected, technology savvy group of people have the ability to enjoy each other’s happiness and be a source of comfort for each others’ sadness. Pledge to share your reel and your real.
Featured YouTube Creators:
BfvsGf | The Michalaks | SuperwomanVlogs | Gabby- Gabriella Lindley & Gabriella
Joey Graceffa | Dose of Fousey | Travis Williams | More Zoella | Kevin Edwards Jr2 & ADayWithKev | WhenTheKidsGoToSleep | Jim Chapman | pixiwoo | BaileyLiving
SamanthaMariaVlogs | Latoya’sLife | SprinkleofChatter | bitsandclips | ProductJunkieXoxo
PsychoSoprano | Grace Helbig
Before a book begins the author will include a prologue before chapter 1. The prologue is a short section that provides background information or additional information that helps you understand the upcoming story and/or characters better.
Some things were determined for you before you were born. You didn’t get to choose your physical features, whom your parents would be, your birthplace, ethnicity, and other parts of who you are. Those parts of your story are important, they make you who you are at a very basic level, and they’re parts of your story you cannot change. Someone else wrote your prologue.
The prologue of your life is all the parts of your story that were decided for you.
Imagine yourself as the lead character in a bestselling book. Your prologue has been written, so there is no value in dwelling on those parts or using them as a crutch or excuse. You’re the author now and you get to pick the characters in your life, (and which characters need to be written out, and when) you can decide how you’ll overcome obstacles, defeat your antagonist, and prevail.
You hold the pen and therefore possess the power to write the story of your life. The things in your prologue, such as who raised you and where matter little. What matters most is your ability to decide. Your power comes in choosing whom you want to be and what work you want to put into the world.
What do you want the story of your life to be?
Write what you want to be read about you, and take action today in that direction.
I was familiar with the name Siobhan Curham, so when I checked out her blog and saw she’d written a book called ‘True Face’, I was intrigued. I decided to get in touch with her and after a friendly exchange, she invited me to write a piece regarding the difficulty of dreaming in the midst of racism. You can read my guest post on her blog here.
Though not her current book, Siobhan was kind enough to answer some questions regarding ‘True Face’. Like the work of Launch, Siobhan recognizes the importance of authentic living and helping young adults shed their masks and lead a life unmasked.
When did you first recognize young adults not showing their ‘True Face’?
“I do a lot of work in high schools giving talks and running workshops and I see the pressure on young adults to be something they’re not. That pressure has always existed, but it’s more prevalent today with the online world and social media. Young adults are constantly being told how to look, act and be, and so often they’re being presented with an image of perfection that isn’t even real or achievable, for example the air-brushed photos or carefully edited highlights reel of a celebrity’s Instagram feed.”
What led you to writing ‘True Face’ specifically for girls?
“My novels for young adults are for girls so my publisher wanted True Faceto be pitched at that same market. However, as the mom of a teenage son, I’m acutely aware that boys are under just as much pressure to “fake it” to fit in. As a woman, I’m not sure I’m qualified to talk about the male experience, as it is different to that of girls. I feel that a male writer would probably do a better, more authentic job of writing on this subject for boys.”
Did teenage Siobhan show the world her true face? Why or why not?
“I began to mask after my parents split up and my mom left. Her leaving was a massive shock to me and I can remember thinking, I must never let another person close enough to hurt me like that again. So I put on a mask of indifference and tried to numb the pain with alcohol and drugs. The irony is, I only ended up hurting myself more. My education suffered and I made some really bad relationship choices. It took me a long time to find the self-love needed to find my way back to my true self. This was a major factor in me writing True Face – I wanted to give young adults the tools and exercises needed to remove their masks a lot quicker, to help them avoid wasting years of their life in fear and pain.”
How can we empower and teach more young adults to live authentically?
“By showing our own authentic selves and speaking up about our so-called imperfections and making it cool to be different. We can share tools that help boost confidence and self-belief and teach young adults to honor their passions and follow their dreams no matter how different from the so-called ‘norm’ they might be.”
How can creators and influencers collectively do a better job of helping others live authentically?
“By coming together to launch initiatives, speaking out on our social media, opening our platforms for young people to have a voice. Collectively, we can force against all the phony crap young people are bombarded with by certain sections of the media.”
Huge thanks to Siobhan for her work and interview.
Siobhan Curham is an award-winning author of several books for adults and children including Finding Cherokee Brown, True Face, Dear Dylan– which won the Young Minds Book Award in 2010, and The Scene Stealers. Siobhan is also an editorial consultant, motivational speaker and life coach, and has written for a variety of publications including The Guardian and Cosmopolitan. You can buy a copy of her book True Face here, and read about what she’s currently working on her blog.
Yo, I’m hype.
I mean this could be one of those frequency illusions (Baader-Meinhof phenomenon) where you start seeing your new car everywhere, but I doubt it. It seems the conversation around being real, speaking up, and risking vulnerability is a real thing, and I’m here for it!
Today is World Mental Health Day. Positive conversation around mental health helps further diminish the stigma, fears, and embarrassment that surround mental health.
When I was growing up, mental health was a term reserved for people with “serious” issues. My mom’s a social worker and her first job I was old enough to remember, was at a hospital. There, discussing someone’s mental health included terms like psych ward and evals, which made it seem like something reserved for people who were seconds away from being committed. Mental health was a conversation surrounding those who’d experienced trauma, or whom had a mental illness or disorder. Mental health was for them, not me.
As I grew up and further understood what mental health encompassed, I realized that it’s exactly what it says. Just like the caring for of your body is physical health, mental health is that for your mind. One thing that can help improve the health of your mind is to face the thoughts, emotions, and secrets that consume you and work to resolve them.
Unmask isn’t a new verb. It’s not something created by social media, artists, or counselors, but the rise in attention around people who are tired of hiding and vocal about what they’re dealing with, is. Some people use unmask to describe their desire to the reveal mental health issues they secretly deal with. Here, it’s the movement of young adults who are working to show the world their true self so they can be happy instead of faking happy.
Masking is that bad habit that you learned from your parents or other adults in your life. It’s the (sometimes unconscious) practice of faking a smile or hiding what you’re thinking or feeling. It’s getting dressed in the morning and right before leaving the crib, choosing which version of you, you’ll show the world that day. It’s keeping the stuff that’s too real, too painful, or too vulnerable, to yourself, while presenting yourself as a person who is happy, fulfilled, and “fine”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s possible to be happy and in pain. You can stub your toe on the way to the door and still be glad to see the pizza delivery guy. But, I’m talking emotional pain.
Before you can remove your mask, you must be willing to recognize you have one.
If you’re reading this and thinking, this is cool, but this ain’t me, or this sounds like someone I know, glad I don’t have that problem, one of two things are true. You’re right or you’re wrong. If you’re right, good for you, seriously, and shoutout to the adults in your life who showed you how to live true and keep it real.
Want to know if you’re wrong? Nah, no one does, but see if any of the following apply:
Do you lead a pretty, public life and an ugly, private life?
Do you front, stunt, fake, or fraud on a regular basis and worry someone will find you out?
Do you spend so much time on your outward appearance in hopes of no one seeing beneath the surface?
Do you wish you had someone you could talk to about the painful stuff?
Do you smile in your REEL life but suffer in your REAL life?
This is a no judgment zone. My goal is to help you recognize that there may be a masked version of you walking around keeping the real version of you from living a healthy, peaceful, and authentic life. I want to help you unmask, but you must first get honest with yourself; admit and recognize the walls you put up and mask you put on to stay hidden and safe. After that, the work can begin.
There’s freedom in the unmasking. We are just beginning… let’s Launch!
Artwork for this post is by the talented Kirsty Peters. Check out more of her art at Kirzart.com and read her comments on her art and mental health here.
For more about unmasking, check out tomorrow’s post- an interview with UK author Siobhan Curham and her book, True Face, which also encourages young people to confidently live an authentic life.
In my childhood education classes, one of the phrases that showed up in just about every course was “Process over Product”. That saying means no matter what you’re teaching your student to do, what was is most important was the process involved and not the outcome (the product). That collection of terrible pictures from art class that your parents proudly put up on the frig, or kept in a folder, was your story of process and progress. It’s not about whether your drawings of snowflakes or science experiments were beautiful, it’s about what you learned and how the process helped you grow and improve.
Your cut out snowflake at age 4 and the one at age 7 should look different. By 7 your fine motor skills that let you hold a pencil and cut with scissors would have improved. The product, the actual snowflake is just the physical thing you walk away with that gets shoved into a folder or covered up on the frig. The process, the learning, you get to keep for the rest of your life.
For 10 years I’ve worked on this organization. I started Launch after teaching and seeing so many young people, who had so much potential, not get the support or resources they needed. I found an organization doing similar work to the idea I’d come up with, got in touch with them, and asked if I could work for them.
They said “no”.
They said no and for about an hour I let that “no”, deter me.
I let that “no” be where the story ended.
Then, I changed my mind…
Great stories start at “no”.
Many people will tell you that they were motivated by rejection, that the reason they work so hard is because someone told them no, or some system failed them, or an industry never let them in. More than just being angry that you didn’t get what you wanted, a rejection should make you work harder.
For me, I knew this was the work I was to do and whether that organization was going to have me or not, I wasn’t going to simply quit. The people who give up after hearing a “no”, who let a rejection force them to pick something else, should be grateful. If one “no” is all it takes for you to throw in the towel, that’s great, because now you know you weren’t committed to that work. If a “no” causes you to find another way or go about it, good for you; you’ve found the work that fulfills you, and that the world needs from you.
I hope you get rejected. I hope some person, system, or industry tells you “no” and I hope you’re better for having heard it. I hope that being denied leads you to the path you’re meant to pour yourself into. I hope that a no strengthens your resolve and that you go even harder after it.
Permission to Launch.
I’m excited to share with you that Monday, October 3rd 2016 will be the official relaunch of the Launch Young Adults website.
For years now I’ve blogged, taught, mentored, written newsletters, created videos, and used social media to encourage, inspire and motivate ambitious young adults. I felt called to this work after 7 years of teaching some awesome kids and seeing how much potential they had and failing to find a person or organization to help them reach said potential.
In the beginning, Launch focused around entrepreneurship, health & nutrition, and financial literacy because those were 3 areas in which I felt young people were undereducated. While those three subjects are still important, I realized that before any of that, before I encouraged you to find work you love and to discover your purpose, there was a preliminary step I’d missed.
In my life I noticed a pattern of adults who loved their families and loved their work, but who weren’t fulfilled or happy. Those adults had gone their whole lives sweeping their problems under the rug in hopes that ignoring them would make them go away. I saw young people repeating the bad habit they saw their parents doing, of pretending. I witnessed this awesome generation of ambitious, creative young people learning to mask.
I was focused them on the big picture, when the little picture wasn’t yet complete. So, I zoomed in and narrowed my focus. I looked at what was beneath the two goals every ambitious young person I’ve ever asked has told me they wanted, “to be happy and successful”.
The problem is, you, the most globally connected, technology savvy, and ambitious group of young creatives fail every day to put great work into the world. You fall short of living up to your potential because adults have unknowingly taught you how to suppress pain, hide hurt, and mask fear. Fixing that bad habit is the precursor to happiness and success (whatever your definition of those are).
Launch, will now transition from being a glorified blog to a teaching platform offering membership, paid courses, and free content for the young and hungry who are willing to be honest with themselves, live a transparent life, and work hard toward achieving success and happiness that fulfills them.
I’m excited for you to benefit from the stories I’ll share (from my life and the lives of others like you) and to see and hear of the positive changes the new content here will have on your life.