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.
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.
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!
The last post was an abridged version of a behavior cycle. We discussed how we first become triggered, then we act out our bad habit, and then we are rewarded. But this topic is one of those things I wish I would have known when I was younger, so I wanted to go into more detail about it in hopes that you’ll learn and recognize it about yourself earlier in life.
One Thursday my friend Vanessa had a rough day at work and because she was so busy, she didn’t eat lunch. She was stressed out about the situation, the rough day, and she was stressed out about not taking care of herself and eating. She started thinking about how much she resented her job and her boss for how much work she had and she had some negative thoughts about herself, including how dumb she was to not stop and eat. She started feeling dumb, sad, and disappointed in herself and she wanted to make herself feel better in the moment and for her, chocolate always made her feel better. (Even though she was trying to eater healthier and lose weight.) To make herself feel better in that moment, she planned to stop at the store on her way home for some. She set herself up for quick fix success by heading in the store’s direction, instead of heading toward home when she left work. While walking there, she convinced herself that she deserved some chocolate because of the day she had. She walked into the store and bought her chocolate and while walking home, she ate it. After the first bite she had an “ahhhh” moment of release and by the last bite she had promised herself that the next time she wouldn’t fall into the chocolate trap again. A week later she ended up doing the same thing again, and that time she felt even worse because she’d broken a promise to herself.
That’s the cycle, we go from triggered to promise to change in seconds and we repeat the bad behaviors we so baldy want to stop. For Vanessa, it’s chocolate, but for you it could be drugs, shopping, overeating, sex/pornography, stealing, lying, etc.
The way to stop repeating the bad behavior is to practice being aware and slowing your mind down. As soon as you feel triggered, acknowledge the negative thoughts, unpleasant emotions, and even the urge to want to use your go-to vice, and leave things there. Easier said than done, but it doesn’t take long to form a new, better habit. Once you become a pro at that, you can go deeper into the why.