Yesterday, I listened to an interview with Elaine Welteroth on “No Limits” podcast (Elaine is a bestselling author and award-winning journalist. She’s also a judge on Project Runway and the youngest person ever appointed by Condé Nast to be the editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue…at 29 years old!) and couldn’t help but shout “AMEN!” at the few times she mentioned her struggles fitting in, embracing her background and eventually figuring out who she was. Ironically my mom, being the avid reader that she is, just finished Elaine’s book, More Than Enough, and offered to send it to me. “No, mom. I don’t have time right now…but thanks,” as I brushed her off. “But Steph, she reminds me of you.” Tank: old, similar here and here Pants: Johanna Oritz, Belt: Johanna Ortiz Earrings: vintage Dior Clutch: vintage, found on eBay So instead, I opted for the podcast. Sometimes I feel like I’ve graduated from business school – having listened to the amount of podcast episodes (entrepreneurial, fashion, creative, tech – all business related) as I have. But it wasn’t always this way. About five years ago, I was introduced to my first podcast through a friend who famously and frequently questioned my every move (I laugh about this now), “But why do you have to fit in and do what everyone else does?” And I’ve been hooked ever since. Now, I listen to at least one episode a day while I’m driving, editing photos or steaming clothes. Back when I started my blog, I was barely holding it together and heavily dependent on the few (and very late) paychecks I received from freelancing that I turned to podcasting as an outlet for hope and inspiration. It was the only way my mind could temporarily shut off and escape to a place of innovation, creativity and inner growth. Podcasts brought a sense of solace and peace to my mind – especially when I realized that I wasn’t alone in building something from scratch and struggling along the way. I could go on and on about this, but that’s not the point of today’s post… (If you want a list of my favorite podcast episodes, please comment below and I will share them with you!) I mentioned this in Wednesday’s post, but I’ve been working hard to shed layers of who I’m “supposed” to be as an influencer…blogger…and listen to my heart. It all started out as a simple rebranding venture, early in the year, and has unexpectedly matured into something greater. I began telling myself to “take more risks, embrace your heritage, be intentional, dance again and build something great,” even if that meant going against the grain. But with each passing day, I found myself wrestling with the desire of wanting more from my job… what’s in my way? What value can I add? What am I still missing? You should probably know that I’ve struggled with shedding layers throughout my entire life, not just as a blogger, but as a professional ballet dancer. It was the one thing in my life that I was deeply passionate about before I discovered blogging. Although, I was considered well versed in other dance genres, like contemporary, I was really behind in ballet. Most ballet dancers start training at the ripe age of 10 – I was 16. But I refused to let that determine my path. I wanted to be a ballerina…so I did everything in my power to become one. I’ll spare the painful details, but all throughout those formative years (16-22), I wrestled with the imposter syndrome because I didn’t have the same classical ballet upbringing as everyone else. I would intentionally hold back in my contemporary classes purely out of fear that my teachers would say, “You should pursue contemporary dance instead of ballet.” I’ll admit, I struggled with stage fright and even grew to resent my body because I didn’t “look like the traditional ballet dancer.” I still have vivid memories staring at myself in the mirror and my inner narrative saying, “You shouldn’t be here.” It undid me. And as I allowed that fear to seep into my mind, I’d nervously forget my choreography and stumble over my movement pretty frequently. It’s silly, but it’s true. My fiancé, who briefly played baseball, and I joke about this now…because we’ve both realized that sports are one part skill, one part mindset. And I think learning to capture my thoughts and changing that inner dialogue has helped reshape my mindset. It’s allowed me to visualize my goal(s) and move boldly toward it with a new type of confidence…because I’m (you are) enough. Today, I walk into a dance studio without any inhibitions. I could care less what others think or how bad my technique is…all I crave is movement. Hindsight, I wonder if I had this approach at 16, would I still be dancing ballet (professionally) today? Nonetheless, my inner narrative points out: I’m dancing now (having freedom and fun with it). I smile, because I’m so thankful for where my journey has brought me. I’m a firm believer that all pivots in life are meant to teach you something greater and can lead you to your ultimate calling. Similar to this brief excerpt I read from Elaine’s book, More than Enough, it’s the one my mom texted me (with highlights and all) way before I ever listened to the podcast episode: “…job titles are temporary. But purpose is infinite. There are no destinations, no happily ever afters in real life, no glossy pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There are only new beginnings. Just as you reach your first summit, you’ll find a new horizon awaits, one with new mountains to climb, new peaks and valleys to wander across. Trust that life will continue molding you, challenging you, and readying you for your next adventure. But only you can choose to walk away from what no longer serves you, to leave what you’ve already conquered, and to step boldly into what’s next. When you find yourself existing in the space between dreams realized, parts of you will feel too big for where you are, while other parts of you will feel too small for where you are going. Go anyway. Do not wait. Do not wonder if you can. Do not ask for permission. When you get lost, it’s okay to stop, to look up, to look within for the answers – they’re always there. And when the world tells you to shrink, expand. Remember: You have done enough. You are enough. You were born enough. The world is waiting on you…” And that my friends is “Life As I Know It” as of late… Xo, Stephanie P.S.: Placing Elaine’s book in my Amazon cart now. Thanks mom.