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.
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!
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.
I had a conversation with a friend today in which she shared that she was tired of things being the same in her life. She is frustrated that her life today looks the same way it did last year. Along with other small goals, her 3 main goals last summer were to save more money, to lose weight, and to move into a place of her own. This summer, none of those main goals have been met and while she has had a year of learning, of overcoming, and of growing as a person, her life ‘isn’t where she wants it to be’
You are what you repeatedly do.
So if what you repeatedly do is make excuses, give justifications, choose laziness, or take the convenient road or the comfortable path, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your life doesn’t look the way you hope. Hope does not equate to action and only action, habits, good habits result in meeting your goals.
Our minds work in cycles, something sets us off, (the trigger) we respond with an action (the habit) and we benefit by doing so (the reward). In my friend’s case, she sees new shoes she loves (trigger) she tries them on (habit) and then she purchases them (reward). Or maybe she’s hungry (trigger), she heads to a drive-thru (habit), and she receives her meal within minutes (reward).
So how do you change your bad habits?
Set yourself up for success. If you’ve ever set a goal to accomplish something that takes time, isn’t always fun, and requires work, you know that preparation is key. If you want to lose weight and decide to start going to the gym you don’t wake up one day and just head there, you prepare. You find a gym, buy a membership, make sure you have workout clothes, and you put a firm start date and time in your mind to go, as well as know specifically what you’re going to do when you arrive. On start day you are prepared, you know that mornings will work best for your schedule so after you wake up and have breakfast, your next move is to head toward the gym. The trigger is you waking up and dressing for the gym. The habit is that as soon as breakfast is over you get in the car and drive straight there and the reward is a completed workout and the rest of your day to yourself.
The good news about changing your bad habits into good and productive habits is that when the rewards are things we want, like losing weight, or seeing our savings account balance grow, we tend to do them more often.
So no matter what you want to change in your life, whatever bad habit you’d like to rid yourself of, begin by inserting a new behavior and forming a new habit. The routine and the reward will eventually happen without you even thinking about it. The most important part is the red arrow, the time between being triggered and doing the habit. Prepare by have a fresh goal and a positive and healthy habit in place.
Concept based on Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit.
If you’ve never had to raise your voice an octave to sound less abrasive, if you’ve never had to overact your movements when in a store or when leaving a store empty-handed to show to whomever is watching you that you’ve done nothing wrong, you probably can’t relate.
If you feel offended, confused, or annoyed when you hear the words ‘white privilege’, if you’re tired of the conversation and would like to just stop hearing about it, you’re probably the privileged. The people who get the option to not think about race, are the majority. Minorities don’t have the luxury of tuning it out and turning it off, because they live it every day.
I read a story about a lady who sat in a classroom of her multiethnic peers and while discussing race and privilege, she said that she didn’t think about race when she didn’t want to and she didn’t understand why other people don’t just do the same or stop talking about it. Her professor simply said to her, “that’s exactly the point. THAT is privilege.” The lady started crying and for the first time she realized that part of her privilege is that she gets to not think about race or anything involving race when she wanted to and could choose not to when she didn’t.
For the umpteenth time, the privilege discussion, white privilege isn’t about blame. The conversation or topic doesn’t exist to make people who didn’t get to choose their ethnicity or skin color feel bad. It’s simply a matter of making those people aware that two people, both born in America, are entitled to the same unalienable rights, but that they have different freedoms.
Fortunately, we live in a time right now where things are better than they were for our grandparents. We also live in an age where we can begin and continue conversations with people all around the world who are different from us. We can begin to break down barriers by simply reading an informative blog post, and we can be catalysts for change. Being a minority is a full-time job on top of everyday living, that only minorities understand. The privilege conversation shouldn’t bother you, the need for the conversation should bother you. Heighten your awareness to the injustices and listen. It’s not an attack on who you are, it’s an attack on a system and society that functions on an uneven playing field.
Same rights, different freedoms.