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.
When you were little the only thing you were good at sharing, was your germs. You had to learn to share your things. When your parents’ friends came over with their kids, you were encouraged to let their kids play with your toys. In exchange, you’d be able to play with their toys when you went over their house.
As you grew up you fully understand the concept of sharing and you realized the benefit so much so, that by middle school, you shared everything with your friends- clothes, books, toys, games, etc.
Sharing is risk. When you shared your toy there was a always a risk that it’d get broken, lost, or not returned. The more you cared about something, the harder it was to share it because the greater the risk- the more upset, or hurt you’d be if something happened to it.
That risk is why as a young adults, you don’t share the things that are the most important and closest to you. You don’t share your hurt, your pain, your sadness and loneliness and you don’t share your story.
The more important, the greater the risk, so you don’t share because you’re afraid. You keep things to yourself because you think no one will understand, can relate, will care, or maybe you’re embarrassed. But the truth is, freedom comes through sharing. When you hide, you rob other people of the opportunity to get to know you better and you fail to encourage them to do the same.
Your story is different from anyone else’s. You’re living your story as I live mine. I am learning to share my story publicly after many years of not seeing any value in doing so. Truthfully, I didn’t think I had a story. I’m a middle-class raised American child, educated in public school who earned a college degree, and who is in the process of starting a business. Snoresville.
I’ve started to share more about who I am, what I learned along each of those phases of my life, and what I want young adults to know earlier than I learned the lessons, and it’s been liberating. Not only have others gotten to know me better, but as I share, others share, and I realize that we have a lot in common.
We’re all on a journey trying to figure out life, who we are, and what part we play in the world at large. There’s no reason we need to go through it alone. Stop being scared to share.
Share your story, share who you are, what hurts, and what goal you’re going after. Find liberation through being transparent. Tell your truth, not your business.
I have a friend who doesn’t tell the truth.
I don’t call her a liar, (although that’s what you’d call a person who doesn’t tell the truth) because she doesn’t know she’s lying. To her, she’s telling the truth as she understands things in the moment. It’s not until things go wrong that she realizes she chose to ignore the red flags and warning signs.
After the guy she was head over heels in love with, broke her heart, then she clearly saw the red flags. Post-breakup she told me parts of his story she’d previously left out- his relationship history, the vices he indulged in, his behavior when he got angry.
In the beginning, I was happy for her, I encouraged her to pursue her relationship with him based on what she’d told me, because I believed she was painting a complete and accurate picture of him. When I asked her why she’d left out the ‘bad’ when sharing the ‘good’, she said she thought she was telling the full story. The truth is, she wanted so badly for him to be ‘the one’ that she chose to ignore the things that later eroded their relationship. She lied to herself for so long that she believed it as truth.
Tell yourself the truth, first. The more you lie, the less trustworthy you become.
Ever seen the Youtube challenge tag called, “Two Truths, One Lie”? One person states 3 things and another person guesses which two are true and which is the lie. That’s cute for a harmless video, but it’s detrimental in life. It’s bad enough to lie to other people, but it’s truly damaging to lie to yourself. If you can’t trust you, no one else will either. Tell yourself the truth, your word is all you have.
A lie is anything that erodes a person’s ability to trust you.
Tell the truth no matter how ugly, hard, or how much you wish it were different. Then you can start the work of making the ugly truth, prettier.
Episode 53 of the seanwes podcast was my first podcast. Ever.
I consumed it all and freeloaded until I was told that I was a freeloader.
I paid for a one-month membership (to the seanwes community) and didn’t use it.
In 2012 I “overlapped”, before doing so had a name. I worked a full-time job (that didn’t exhaust me) and I saved enough money to live on for a year. I quit that job June of 2012, and ten months later an injury forced me to move across the country, back home with my mom, exactly what every 33 year old wants. Not.
I had a choice, anger or action.
I chose action. I chose action after a month of sulking. Mistake #2
When the sulking was over I taught myself WordPress, plugins, and enough html and css to make a respectable website. I borrowed my brother’s camera and learned photography basics. I wrote blog posts, newsletters, scripts, and tweets. I recorded, edited and uploaded videos of myself and others. I woke up early and wrote 1k+ words per day and turned it into a book. I funeralized my bio dad and stepdad within a year, which reconfirmed that life is but a vapor, and that time waits for no man.
Everyone is waiting on me. They don’t know it, but everyone my life and its work will touch, is waiting on me to perform, produce, and build a business.
The longer I underperform, the more people I let down.
For me to improve and my business to grow, I needed to find my tribe. I needed to surround myself with a group of people who were smarter than I, and who thought like me.
I joined the seanwes community July 1, 2016 and forced myself to be all-in for 60 days (instead of 30 so I couldn’t get my money back). Yesterday was day 60. I’ve wanted to cancel my membership a few times. I’ve doubted whether it was the place for me, whether I can be of help to others and whether others could or cared to help me. I don’t always say the “right” things in there; I’m still learning. Along with being introverted, I have a sarcasm and east coast air that doesn’t always translate well in text, so I usually just read what others write and stay quiet, but I return every day. I know as I settle further in, I’ll be of value to others, as they have been to me. For years I let the cost of entry deter me. I was right to be cautious, but wrong in being fearful; the experience has been priceless.
I tell you all the time to surround yourself with people who are on or above your level, people who match or exceed your ambition. I was a hypocrite in telling you that, because I wasn’t doing the same. I thought I could go it alone, and for years I did. After years of building what I thought was a business, 60 days into being a community member, it feels like I’m back to square 1, as though I did it all wrong for all those years. If I allow, I can let the thoughts of wasted years and time beat me down, but I don’t.
When you know better, you do better.
I shared in the last post that changes for Launch are coming, those changes are the direct result of investing in myself, my work, and ultimately, you.
If you have a hobby or passion you’d like to turn into a business, if you have a product or service you want to grow- find your tribe. I recommend the seanwes community of course.
1. Don’t not invest in yourself, first. (Double negative intended)
Find a course, person, or group who challenge and drive you, and jump in with both feet.
2. Don’t spend time being angry or worrying about things you can’t change, like “wasted years”.
Focus on what you can change and be grateful for the time spent learning what not to do.
Thank you for bearing with me as I found my footing.
Let’s get ready to Launch.
I feel bad because I think I’ve failed you. I failed to provide you with the education you need, I failed to effectively help you solve your problems, and I failed to make this website and organization an actual resource. I didn’t meant to. I didn’t realize until recently how much deeper my work here should go.
Launch was legally formed in 2013; there was 6 years of work, reading, writing, trying, and failing before that and there has been more of the same since. On July 1, 2016 I made the decision to join a community of like-minded thinkers. I joined a group where global creatives and entrepreneurs gather online to teach and learn from each other. Joining has been wonderful and overwhelming because I realized how much I wasn’t doing. I did what I tell you, find people who think like you, but who are smarter than you, (meaning who can offer you an objective opinion and advice based on their outside viewpoint) and that’s what this group is for me.
Through the sharing of their stories, work, and struggles, I have realized that Launch Young Adults needs a change. Change is good when it’s the result of growth and insight.
October 1, 2016 the changes will kick off with a new website look. The new site will reflect Launch’s new mission, premiere new blog post content, and a new video series. Launch is an educational resource and the website will be a hub, a library of all things real-life; free and paid courses, ebooks and published books, stories from ambitious young adults like you, and an actionable weekly newsletter.
The new, focused, mission means I’ll be able to help more of you, and in turn, you’ll be able to help others.
Thank you for sticking with me through years of clouded attempts, major failures, and small successes. I’m tempted to delete every blog post and video I’ve posted in the past, but it’s all part of the journey.
If you’ve ever asked yourself or someone else, what is Launch? Thank you. I have asked myself that as well, and not having an answer challenged and drove me to concretize the abstract. I knew I wanted to help and I knew who I wanted to help, but I didn’t get clear enough on how best to help and of what value I could be to the people the work served. I encourage you to do the same with whatever you’re working on or struggling with; start at the finish-line of your success and then walk backward until you reach the work you can do today.
See ya soon!
“Work hard and have fun” was something I learned this past year from my history teacher. She applied it to the material we were learning, and to real life.
Her classroom served as a testament to this statement. It wasn’t gray and bare like others; she had quotes, and colorful paper covering cork boards. There was always Bon Jovi playing and students always working. She fit the description of “Work hard and have fun” perfectly. Somedays we would spend the first half of class just talking and laughing but when it was time to work, everyone got to it. There was this unspoken agreement that this is how class worked and we all followed it without question.
I think this teacher left an imprint on me that this isn’t always how life works, but this is how it should.
To reach something you really want, you need to put in the time and patience to achieve it, but you also have to have fun or you’ll go mad. I don’t mean go to a spa resort or have a five course meal every time you feel over worked. But listen to your favorite music, eat the cake that’s taunting you, have a friend over to help boost your morale, or just get some fresh air.
Even though history isn’t my favorite subject, and for half the year I dreaded her class, I’m so glad I had that teacher.
Written by Maddie R