Episode 16: How Three Friends Made Me Rethink #SquadGoals and Find New Inspiration
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Hi. I'm Victoria Hefty and welcome to Activate Purpose where I talk about finding purpose through action while balancing motherhood and career. In today's episode I'm going to talk about how in this age of social media and online friends it's easy to give in to admiration or even envy of online friends and overlook the physical presence of friends or acquaintances in your own life who are trying new things, starting new businesses and finding their own way. I'll share how three of my friends have recently inspired me to think bigger and re-think squad goals.
#squadgoals. What is that? Well, the urban dictionary, because clearly the urban dictionary is a legitimate source, defines #squadgoals as an aspirational term for what you'd like your group or friends to accomplish or be. So if you do a quick search online especially Instagram, you'll quickly get the idea for what it is. And for me, I like all good things, the idea behind squad goals, I get it. I think probably started out well meaning because, 1) who doesn't want to be successful and 2) be a part of a group that is successful. Everyone does, right?
But ever since I had a rare bout of envy and jealousy that I talked about in Episode 14, I've really been keenly aware of how Instagram for me has become a real slippery slope of admiration and envy. S,o as I mentioned in the episode, I've decided to take a step back and sort of severely limit my time on the app. But don't worry. This isn't one of those, you know, I'm better than you and social media is the devil type of announcements. It's more actually just a realization that as I'm working on something new and creative, I find myself even more vulnerable to sort of outward appearances of perfection and, as you know, a lot of that does happen on Instagram. So I'm staying away from consuming too much of that world while I'm sort of in this creative, vulnerable space.
Which leads me to the topic today. It was only when I stopped going on Instagram so much that I started recognizing all of the amazing things my friends were doing. You know, my actual friends in real life. How did I do this? Well, by communicating with them over e-mail, phone, Skype or even a GroupMe text, so nothing completely out of reach just a much different way of communicating than I had been. I think sort of just scrolling and scrolling rather than actually engaging in back and forth discussion with my friends. It's amazing how you notice the little accomplishments that actually aren't so little.
I'll give you a few examples. A good friend of mine recently organized and ran a conference in Chicago for high school students called the ZSummit. She didn't really have any experience running it and this was her second year doing it and yet she managed to still get over 200 students to register. She convinced more than 50, I believe, busy professionals to volunteer their time on a Saturday to mentor these students and she also was able to get a whole bunch of other volunteers to help with the set up and take down. It was actually really amazing to watch. I knew she ran the conference last year but I was in my own world and I really didn't appreciate the effort that went into it. But this time, because I am putting myself out there more and more and I was actually privileged enough to be a board member of her conference, I realized the courage and faith that it really takes to launch these types of events.
You don't know whether you're going to succeed or not, right? She didn't have a big budget and she just sort of had to trust that the volunteers would show up. And there was just a lot of stress as you can imagine of overseeing every little detail. She did have some people helping her but again, ultimately she was responsible for the success or failure of this conference. But she did it, man, and she did it so well. You know, what really impressed me was even as this was happening as she was planning, I had a moment of doubt myself where I was just feeling like really nervous and just kind of fearful about this project that I'm working on and I asked her if she could take some time to just talk to me about it because I was struggling.
She took time out of her workday and we had a quick call. I mean it was only like 10 minutes if that, but I quickly just sort of shared my fear of this maternity leave website that I'm working on and she was so encouraging. I trusted her words because she knew exactly what I was talking about, that fear of putting yourself out there, the fear of not knowing what if. That made me realize that sometimes we are too quick, I think, to search ... I can only speak for me but I do know there are more people than me than do this. We're too quick to search for a quote or let's say a motivational YouTube video or Facebook group that motivates us, when perhaps we may have a friend or even acquaintance who could talk to you for just 10 minutes and give you that direct support that you need.
Another example is another good friend of mine runs this organization called Soka Tribe that she offers dance classes and a taste of the carnival experience and it's awesome. This friend has been putting in the work day in and day out for almost I think three years, trying to build her brand and business and finally it's starting to catch on. So like me, she supplements her income by doing freelance work but seeing her grind has been really motivating because it's not the traditional sort of just grind and you're holed up in your bedroom alone just working odd hours. She makes sure that she has fun every step of the way even when the budget is super tight. Even when potential sponsors fall through. Even when she's got 20 things going and it's just nonstop. She makes sure that she has fun and recognizes I think the beauty and the privilege that it is to pursue something that you really love.
And so sometimes when I'm nervous about doing something, she's actually one of the people that I think of. I'm like, "Okay, what would this friend do?" She would just do it. She wouldn't think twice and that's what I do. I just go for it and that's why I love her. So the last example is from an acquaintance that I knew when I lived in the Caribbean. That's a whole 'nother story. But she's a mom of two babies now and she recently sent me an e-mail about how she's taking the time to really figure out what she wants in life and realizing that she's in control of her happiness and not her husband, not her job. All these other things are not responsible for whether ultimately she's getting what she needs from life. It's her responsibility. And as a result, she's taking the time to explore two things that she loves, nutrition and yoga.
I'll use the yoga one as an example. So, she's going to be taking a year-long yoga teaching class. You know, maybe she'll end up teaching yoga as an instructor or maybe she'll end up pursuing something else related to yoga but either way, I think her actions too are really quite amazing when you think about it. I'm so proud of her for again, being brave enough to say, "I don't know what I want but I want to explore it even if it means my life and schedule are a little crazy. Even if it means people may think I'm strange for taking this on. Even if I don't really know what this is but I'm still going to share it because it's something that I want to do right now."
I think we as a society are so focused on the huge wins that we're very quick to praise, that we forget the sort of initial beautiful baby steps and the struggle that it really took to reach those heights. I think that there is glory in the journey, there's lessons in the journey and every day people around you are doing big things. They may not seem like big things to you but if you look closely, I think you'd be surprised. I'd make the argument that they are big. Every step and action you take to step outside of your sort of day-to-day routine and really challenge yourself to grow is an important one. Every step and action you take to start answering that gnawing what else do I want to do with my life? What else do I want out of life?
It's not about starting a business or leaving your job but I think asking yourself, "Am I growing? What else do I want? What do I want to learn? What do I want to try?" And then taking a look around you and being aware of other people that are doing the same thing whether it's an old friend from high school or someone who runs a studio you really like or someone who launched a product, whatever it is. It can't hurt to maybe just even ... If it's not asking for a 10 or 20 minute conversation about their recent wins or failures or just talking about what they're working on. Asking how did they take that first step. Asking what advise they have you or even just simply supporting their business and telling them how much you appreciate their service.
Or my favorite, just a simple congratulations. When you see it either online or in person. A friend that is just recently trying something new, it cannot hurt to call, send a message, send an e-mail but don't just like like the like button. Make an extra effort. It doesn't require much. I think what it does require is a much more intentional approach to re-thinking about this whole #squadgoals and realizing that maybe you already have one around you and you just don't appreciate it.
So before I end the show, I just want to say that I realize that not everyone is surrounded by friends or family that are doing meaningful things. That's something that I'm sensitive to and it's just the truth, right? Sometimes the group of people that you are around are not the people that you need to be around. But don't let that stop you. I would say join local organizations. Find a group that actually physically meets, like meet up, whatever it is. The point is that social media is great for some things but the joy I think is in real relationships. A motivational quote will never replace a person telling you exactly what you needed to hear.
My challenge for you is to think about either the friends, family members, acquaintances or just people that you admire in or near your life that have either started or created something new in their own life. Ask yourself, "Is there something I could learn from their experience? Did I send them an encouraging note? Did I sent them a congratulatory note?" And then make a point to be more aware of the people in your day-to-day life that are achieving big things. Tell them that you noticed. I promise it will make their day and leave you feeling even more inspired and ready for your next action.
If you have any questions, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to read the show notes at activatepurpose.com/episode16 and if you enjoyed today's episode, make sure to leave a review.
I really appreciate those, and subscribe to next week's episode. I look forward to this continuing journey.
Until next time.