“Who am I?” In this introspective episode, Whitney Lauritsen goes on a raw and honest journey as she answers questions as a part of a feature from Shoutout LA. Whitney dives deep and uncovers her personal stories and turning points that lead to her recent discoveries on her identity. She also shares the inspiration behind Beyond Measures and opens up about her renewed definition of success. Tune in to learn more about Whitney and take time to reflect on these questions with her.
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Shouting Out Loud About Who I Am
In this episode, I’m going to do something that I don’t think I’ve done before except for maybe at the very beginning of this show. In the first few episodes, Jason, my former co-host and I dedicated one episode to each other to talk about who we are and why we were doing the show. Since then, a lot has changed. We recorded that episode probably in October or November 2019. I have certainly evolved over that time. The main reason that I am doing this is I find it a little amusing. It is a look inside my brain. Speaking of my brain, I’m like, “I don’t know if I mentioned it.” What I’m going to do is “interview” myself, but I’m using questions that somebody sent me as part of a written interview.
I was approached to answer some questions about my work and to be a part of this website, a virtual magazine called SHOUTOUT LA. First of all, I have a hard time writing content like this. I tend to overanalyze. I’ve also noticed that writing, in general, feels daunting to me. This ties into what I believe is my neurodivergence. If you have not read the episodes where I’ve talked about my journey to better understand my brain and come to a conclusion that I’m neurodivergent on the spectrum of ADHD and autism which is surprising for me, I’ve been doing a ton of research on what that means to see if my symptoms line up.
I don’t even know if symptoms are the right word, or traits and the way I work. It has helped me understand why some things are challenging. I think that I have done so much masking. I’ve talked about masking, which is essentially changing yourself into somebody or appearing to be different than you are in order to please others, fit in and get by.
For me, especially, it has shown up in my work. I have felt deeply uncomfortable on levels I never understood. All this reflection I’ve been doing is bringing up old memories of how much I struggled in school. As a way to succeed, I taught myself how to pretend or shape myself in some ways but deep down, I was feeling so much frustration, anxiety, burnout at times and self-esteem issues. So much has been there on the surface and I got so used to it.
I also didn’t realize that other people don’t function that way. Part of the reason I’m trying to be more outspoken about it is if I am in fact a neurodivergent. The more I research it, the more complicated this is to figure out. From what I know right now, I’m not sure how easy or simple it is to get a diagnosis or even if I need one. Part of me is trying to find the confidence to call myself that. As I mentioned in the previous episode, I don’t want to put myself in a category that I don’t fit into. That’s complicated, but I bring all of that up to explain the way my brain works.
In the context of this episode, my brain found a solution. I was approached and initially, I thought this was going to be more of a special interview. It’s not something a lot of people are approached to. I’ve been interviewed off and on throughout my life. Sometimes I get a page in a magazine or something or a page on a website and a feature. It feels very much special and unique. Maybe only a few people get that opportunity at a time or a year or whatever.
To be honest, those are appealing to me because they make me feel special and thus, they feel worthwhile. That’s what I thought this interview was, but then I dug into what SHOUTOUT is as a company. They feature people all across the country. I don’t know if it’s outside the US, but in all major cities throughout the country. They feature individuals in these more “interview styles,” where a bunch of people is answering the same questions.To add value is to do things differently. To add value is to build upon things other people are doing or to support what they’re doing or saying by amplifying it. Click To Tweet
Honestly, my ego felt a little bit disappointed. I’m probably hundreds of people that have all answered the same questions. Because I didn’t feel special or unique, I felt like it diminished the experience but I had already agreed to do it. I did not want to take back my commitments. I felt trapped to do it because I want to be integrity with my word. If I say yes to doing something, I want to follow through. Because I struggle with writing, I got incredibly overwhelmed with answering these questions, especially given that my brain tends to work differently when I feel like there’s a big reward.
When this reward of feeling special is taken away from me or when it turns out that the reward I thought I was getting was different than the reward I am getting, it makes it even harder for me to complete this. This is an interesting thing. I don’t know if this is a common neurodivergent trait. I’m not sure if it’s even worth putting in that category, but that is certainly something I’ve struggled with my whole life.
I think I mentioned in a previous episode that I work best when I have a deadline. The guy that sent me the interview questions gave me a very open-ended deadline and I was like, “Great. I’m not going to submit the questions until the very last day.” I waited around past the vague deadline he gave me until he followed up again because his following up showed that he cared. I think this is part of it too. I feel uncared for in these situations when I don’t feel special. That’s something I have to dig deeper into. Maybe it’s something worth exploring with a therapist that I’m going to see soon.
I don’t know why it’s so important for me to feel special. Maybe everybody wants that. Maybe that’s part of how I feel valuable. The value side of this ties into the reason I decided to turn this into an episode. When I looked at the questions, they felt in depth. There were a lot of different ways I could answer them. If I was going to do them quickly, I would probably give more generic answers to them. I went onto the SHOUTOUT LA website and read through some of the answers that other people gave to try to see if or where I could fit in the gaps.
For me, to add value is to do things differently and build upon things other people are doing, or support what they’re doing or saying by amplifying it. Maybe saying that as well, but not echoing it or perhaps saying it in a different way. That is my goal. Once I saw how many people were interviewed, my brain thought, “I don’t want to fall into this category of being another person answering the same questions the same way.” That’s also where my brain went in this situation. It is like, “What is the value to me?”
With things like this, if I’m not getting paid for it and I’m not going to build my whole career off of something like this, I’m looking for, “How can I add value and receive value?” Some people call it overthinking. This is where I started to suspect I’m neurodivergent. It seems to be a common thing where I’m overthinking something that most people would do and be done with. Some people would spend fifteen minutes answering these questions and move on with their lives. My brain doesn’t work that way.
I can force it to work that way or mask myself into working that way, but I also realized the situation that I don’t want to force my brain into being something that it’s not if I don’t have to. The downside is that it takes so much time and energy for me to do something like this interview. I wanted to repurpose it into something else, and thus this episode.
Lastly, because my brain tends to work better when I can share things out loud, my goal is to answer the questions as if I was being asked them on a show, which is easy for me, then to take the transcript of this episode and copy-paste it, maybe edit it a little, and put it into the interview. That is my process. It’s also worth doing this episode to share that there are unique ways that you can reach your goals, satisfy yourself and do things differently. I’m going to pull up the questions and answer each of them. Maybe you’ll learn a little bit more about me, but my big goal is that the answers that I give add some value. I wish that I could do this in real-time. Technically, I could have gone live with this episode.
In my experience with live video these days, it’s hard to keep people’s attention. Those of you who are dedicated and interested, I wish that we could have a real-time conversation. Another way that my brain works are I like knowing what’s valuable to other people instead of guessing. I also want to answer these questions in a way that’s not only about me. What I see a lot in interviews like this is a lot of people are saying things that boost their egos.
I’m sure this boosts my ego on some level. I’m not saying I’m immune to that, but it’s a little bit more obvious when someone is boasting about themselves or whatever. I don’t feel comfortable doing that because, technically, an interview is not about me feeling good about myself. An interview is so that other people can learn or see things differently. With that said, I’m going to open up the questions and go through them
Also, part of my process, and this is another sign that I am likely neurodivergent, is I took all the questions and copied and pasted them into my Notion. It is an amazing tool for note-taking and organizing. I went and looked up every single question in SHOUTOUT and read through a bunch of them. I took some of their answers as a way for me to reflect on what my answers may be and how they differ. I may share some of that with you as a way of me trying to get to a concise answer for this.
My Personal Story and Turning Point
The first question. Tell me a bit about your story. What makes it different from other people’s stories who have gone through similar things? What was your turning point? My story is about transitioning away from being a people-pleasing perfectionist who placed too much focus on what others thought of me physically, mentally and emotionally. My first turning point was in college when I started healing from my disordered eating. My second turning point was years later when I transitioned from one career to another that was more fulfilling. Themes in my life have been comparison traps and not-enoughness. Now, I’m focused more on the internal versus the external. This is what I wrote in advance.
Reading that out loud, I feel like that seemed like a good answer. I guess I could go with it, but it definitely feels more about me. This is the thing too about this interview with SHOUTOUT LA. I get to pick some of the questions so I can skip over them if I don’t think they’re great. I’m trying to decide whether I want to submit an answer to that. I think I have to pick 1 of 10. I’m going to answer all of them here in this show and use my gut feeling to decide which one I liked better.I don’t intentionally color outside the lines. I just don’t fit the mold. Click To Tweet
This is where audience participation would be so amazing for me because I don’t know from the outside if that is helpful. A lot of people identify as being people-pleasing and perfectionist, but do they identify with being neurodivergent? That is something that I’m wondering if I should add to my story. It feels iffy for me because I’m a little nervous about using the term neurodivergent. Part of me wants to but part of me doesn’t feel fully ready to call myself that.
Although behind the scenes, I have started calling myself neurodivergent in a context where it seems important and I don’t know how else to describe the way my brain works. For instance, I use that phrase to help one of my clients understand my differences. It feels like a better word for me than saying, “I have ADHD,” or “I’m on the autism spectrum.” Those words feel uncomfortable for me to use because I think they come with a lot of misconceptions. I’m afraid of being misunderstood, which is a big pain point for me.
Back to this question here, I’m going to dig in as if somebody was asking me and not just read my response. The other part that I have trouble with here in my brain is when someone says something so open-ended like, “Tell me a bit about your story.” I’m like, “What part of my story?” I’m long-winded. I record hour-long podcast episodes that some people could do in 10 or 15 minutes. Maybe that’s what makes me different. The answers are starting to come together as I’m sharing this aloud, which is helpful for me.
Maybe that is my angle. What makes my story different from other people who’ve gone through similar things? I have felt different my whole life. I have felt like an outcast or I don’t fit in. I feel a lot of shame and unworthiness or not-enoughness. I think shame, unworthiness and not enoughness are pretty common things. Burnout is common. This journey of discovery in terms of how my brain works and why helps me think to gain more clarity. I guess you could also say what makes my story different from others.
The reason I put that answer about focusing on the internal versus the external ties into Beyond Measure, which is such a huge passion project for me. For those that don’t know, I started this online community a few years ago and kept it under wraps up until a few months ago because it didn’t feel “ready to share publicly.” I was inviting people one by one and taking my time to let it evolve, which I’m glad that I did. This ties into something else that makes my story different. It’s that I don’t want to focus on the external in the sense that it’s about my ego that ties into the masking.
I bring that up because Beyond Measure is not about money. It’s free. I’ve lost money on it. I haven’t even calculated it, but I’m spending money and time every month to run Beyond Measure and that’s okay. It has been so meaningful to the other members there that money is not the priority. That is a little different. I’ve been okay with making less money and feeling more personal satisfaction. Maybe I’ll put that in there because I feel like that could be valuable to somebody, given the ethos of Beyond Measure is about your inherent worth. I feel satisfied with that answer.
The Thought Process Behind My Business
Here’s the first question from SHOUTOUT. What was your thought process behind starting your own business? Here are some notes I wrote down. One is I wanted to work for myself. In hindsight, I realized that’s the neurodivergence that I’m noticing within myself. I did not work very well in another workplace. I felt it was incredibly difficult for me. This is something that I’ve been reflecting on a ton as I explore what it means to be neurodivergent. It’s thinking back to how that has shown up in my life.
I started to recall all these memories, not just in school and in my personal life but also at work. It has been a long time. I quit my last part-time and full-time job several years ago. I remember after specifically quitting that last full-time job in 2010, I felt freedom and fear at the same time. I have strong memories of not knowing what to do with myself and my day without structure. Structure helps me but at the same time, it feels uncomfortable and frustrating because I tend to color outside the line.
Maybe structure for me works as long as I have permission to go outside the structure to break it. In a lot of work environments, you don’t have that permission. I would see how much I felt or perceived people to be looking down on me in those work environments. Especially when I worked in corporate environments, it was like, “Follow the rules. This is what you do, so you don’t lose your job.”
An interesting fact about me that came up in a lot of my processing is I’ve been fired officially twice. I felt so much shame. It’s three times, and two times were official. One time was when I was working as a temp worker. I was transitioning from a temp job into a permanent job at this one company. During the transition period, they told me that they were going to hire someone else in my place. It felt like I was being fired.
It was because I did something that they disapproved of. The first job that I was fired from was right out of college. It was my first job in Los Angeles. I worked as a receptionist, which is a job I did a ton when I first moved to LA. I had also done a little bit of it in college in Boston. I worked as a receptionist at one of the offices at the school. I had some experience with it. I enjoyed parts of it. Although in hindsight, I’m like, “Did I enjoy it?” That sounds like a nightmare now.
I was answering phone calls and greeting people. As a neurodivergent, that can feel uncomfortable. I wonder, did either my brain change or was I drawn to elements of that job that made it worthwhile to go through the discomfort? At this job that I was eventually fired at, I was probably there for a little under three months before they fired me. I remember not liking the place I was working but it was a job. I needed money. There was enough about it that worked for me.
I remember doing things and constantly feeling on edge like I wasn’t doing things right or well. I could go on and on about that. To get back on topic, I didn’t feel like I fit in. The shame I felt when I was fired was awful. I literally remember feeling like I was going to pass out almost. I was in such shock. I did not see it coming. One day, one of the higher-ups of the company called me into her office. She had this other guy there who was probably part of HR. I don’t even remember it. It was so long ago.
They sat me down, eased me into it and said they were letting me go. I remember feeling like everything closed in on me and I panicked. I started crying and asked if I could be given another shot. I said, “This is my first job out of college. I can do better. I would like more guidance.” They refused and had to escort me out of the building. It was so embarrassing. I felt so much shame because I felt I failed and didn’t fit in.It’s not just about me being special, but it’s about the collective guidance that a lot of people share. Click To Tweet
That happens two more times. One of them was at a temp job. I also did not feel like I fit in and was doing things differently. I was always on the border of the rules and pushing the limits. It’s not because I’m a rebel but because I naturally color outside the lines. I’m not somebody who thrives being told what to do. To me, it’s not a rebellious thing or an ego thing. I don’t intentionally color outside the lines. I don’t fit the mold. I’m trying to fit my own mold within the organization.
That’s been me, more and more, I think, as I’ve reflected on myself anyway. That job was not a big deal but the third job was also mortifying. It was a little less so because I was older, more experienced and confident, but it was in an office environment where they did not set expectations. This is something else as I was doing my neurodivergent research. I learned that especially people who fall on the autism spectrum struggle with understanding what to do or what’s expected of them unless it’s very clear.
People on the spectrum tend not to read signals very well. They tend to take things very literally. I think I felt a lot of shame and probably still do asking for people to be clear with me because I’ve been shamed so many times in my life for not understanding. I’m terrified of being perceived as dumb. I still have to get to the root of that. This is probably tied to the trauma of being neurodivergent. People misunderstood me or saw me as not as intelligent because I think and do things differently.
Especially in school systems, there are a lot of structures and rules. I struggled so much with that because it didn’t work for me. I would try so hard to fit into that mold but I couldn’t. Even when I was masking, I still felt I was failing expectations because either the expectations weren’t clear or the structure didn’t work for me. It was this constant fight throughout my life to look smart, intelligent, savvy or whatever. I’ve convinced a lot of people over time that I am maybe because of these traumas.
The trauma of being fired, for me, there was that deep shame that I would do anything to avoid. How does this question tie into starting my own business? My thought process was that I wanted to get out of those constraints. I remember the moments that started to make sense for me in my last full-time job. First of all, I got my dog, Evie, as a puppy who needed a ton of attention. I was deeply overwhelmed by that because I had never cared for an animal completely by myself before.
I was single and definitely living on my own at the time. I was working a full-time job and felt like a mom. I was like, “This is so shocking,” but you don’t get time off. I had to ask for accommodations. I was working two jobs, one full-time and one part-time. I remember one of the jobs I was okay with it. The accommodations were mostly being able to go home during my lunch break or have different hours or whatever. I was trying to work it out so that my dog was taken care of. I remember feeling this deep sadness and frustration that they didn’t seem to understand. This is a common theme for me. I got to take some more notes on being misunderstood.
In addition to Evie, I had a lot of moments at that last full-time job where people seemed to be irritated with me. I was working in a small company and it was cool. This was one of my favorite jobs overall for these amazing independent filmmakers in the environmental world. It felt like a dream job for me, but there was a lot of disorganization. When things aren’t organized, I deeply struggle. That means either I have to be hyper-organized or there’s no room for me to be disorganized. If nobody’s organized, it all falls apart. I felt all this pressure to be organized. I was still young in 2010. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself and to ask for what I needed.
I felt like I couldn’t because I was perceived as this young woman and everybody else seemed to be following the rules. That has been another big theme for me deep down knowing that the rules don’t work for me but being terrified to stand up for myself. It felt like the only option for me was to leave. When you don’t fit in, you’re either going to be fired or you’re going to have to choose to leave or suck it up. Throughout my work history, I was doing 1 of the 3 all the time, and none of them worked for me. I decided one day to leave the job and try to make it on my own. That led me up to where I am now.
That was a big thing. A few other notes that I wrote down for this is having the fortune of many members of my family having their own businesses. I had always been entrepreneurial growing up, like lemonade stands and babysitting, which was awesome. I knew how to make money and get clients and customers. I felt confident in that.
I was encouraged to make my own money from a young age too. I would garage sales. I was always thinking about money when I was little, which is interesting. Given that I don’t want my work to be about money now, money is something that I’ve always been interested in and excited about. It definitely motivates me, but it’s not the main reason why I do things. I have to reflect on that a little bit more because it sounds contradictory.
Another note I put in here, at that last full-time job I described, I had a stroke of luck coincidentally. If I were going to say, there’s some divine intervention or something from a spiritual perspective, it’s nuts. The people I was working for were entrepreneurs. They are mostly known for being filmmakers. One of them decided to write a book and I was enlisted to help with the book process. It’s so funny because years ago, I had no experience with stuff like that. I don’t know what I was doing.
I was tasked with finding people to interview for this book. This book was full of interviews with female entrepreneurs who worked in the environmental world and were generating money from it. It was proof that women are powerful. Women can make money, change the world and make a difference. I got to interview at least 50 women about how they did their careers. I learned everything about them and was so inspired. By seeing all those female examples, I felt the courage to do it myself.
It’s interesting and I’m recognizing it in this very moment in real-time. That book is very similar to the SHOUTOUT LA project. I think it’s helping me understand the value. Maybe the individuals in that book did not feel that special because they were 1 out of 50 or 100 women we featured. I can’t remember the number, but each of them had their strengths. What we did with this book is we took their answers and then pulled out the most valuable parts of them.
We categorized them based on pieces of advice so that a female entrepreneur, in particular, could pick up this book and see a course of action laid out for them based on these women’s stories. Maybe if I reframe the SHOUTOUT LA interview in that way, I can find the value and giving other people. It’s not just about me being special, but it’s about the collective guidance that a lot of people share.On giving up It’s almost similar to knowing when to leave a relationship. Click To Tweet
How My Work Helps The World
Next question. I feel like I spent so much time on that question, I probably could end the interview here, but I’m going to try to do a little bit more, at least. How does your business help the community or the world? One thing that I’m very focused on right now is helping people reduce overwhelm. I have narrowed that down as a skill of mine because the way my brain works, I’m able to see solutions very quickly and creatively. This has been a major skill especially working for myself and getting clients in my freelance work.
I feel like I have almost a gift for helping take the burden off somebody else. I still have a lot of work to do on that end because based on the way I talk and the ideas I have, I can easily overwhelm people with my ideas. The ideas come to me and I’m like, “Solution. Look at all this stuff we can try.” I see the looks on people’s faces when I’m coaching them sometimes where they’re like, “This is a lot of information.” I also have the ability not to get overwhelmed with ideas for other people. I get very overwhelmed in my life all the time. Every day I feel overwhelmed.
Somehow, it’s different. My brain compartmentalizes it. All the ideas I see for other people, I can lay it out in a plan, help them pace it out, guide them through and hold them accountable. I’m still working on that. That’s something I have a major passion for and want to be good at, but it’s complicated to figure that out. There’s a lot of psychology involved there. That’s one way that I can help the community. In a major way, the well-being side of my work is a major way that I can help my community and the world.
My community could be Beyond Measure. That’s at the core of the Beyond Measure community, which is bringing people together in a safe place with like-minded people and having conversations without judgment, and talking about all different elements of well-being personally and professionally. I’m also integrating well-being into all my work, especially this neurodivergent journey that I’m on. I’m thinking not just for myself but for others. If I can better understand how other people think, feel, process information and all of this, I feel that in itself is part of well-being.
For me, my well-being has been challenging whenever I feel I don’t fit in and misunderstood, I feel so much shame, unworthiness and not fitting in. Those are tough emotions. It’s the sadness and the depression that I felt. In fact, overwhelm can also trigger a lot of anxiety for many other people and me and lead to burnout. It can be confusing sometimes.
When I was younger, the very first time I had seen a therapist was in my first year of college. I went to a psychiatrist initially because of my disordered eating. She identified very quickly that the disordered eating seemed to be tied to something else. What’s interesting is that there are some correlations between disordered eating or eating disorders and neurodivergence. I’ve been wanting to study that more to see if there’s a tie in there, but she was able to attribute the reason I was treating my body and food the way that I was back then to my relationship with my mother. Somehow, I went down this path where I was treated for depression. I remember not feeling quite right.
As I’ve been reflecting on who I am and what my life has been like, and if neurodivergence plays a role there, I remembered this time in college when I first started taking medication to treat my depression. I remember physically how I felt, and that feeling never went away with medication. That feeling has remained with me throughout my life and probably has already been with me. That feeling has been this deep frustration and sadness. It’s feeling like I don’t have support, I don’t fit in, I’m being judged, and I’m not doing things right.
It’s all those emotions and I wonder if those were mainly related to my brain working differently in a world that’s not set up for my brain. Without a diagnosis at a young age, nobody knew this about me. I didn’t know it about myself. I’ve spent most of my life going through the world feeling constant shame, constant disappointment, constantly an outcast, and all these emotions. I’m masking it so well that nobody noticed it. I assumed everybody goes through this and this is part of life.
This ties into the well-being side as I often wonder what my life would have been like, professionally and personally, if I was more understood and supported, and I felt like people were taking the time to help me. When I think about the rare times that have happened for me, unfortunately, it brings me the greatest comfort. I noticed that in all sorts of small interactions. If I can offer that to other people, it feels like I’m able to give to others what I don’t always receive and have rarely received in my life. That’s where Beyond Measure came from. I knew that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. I didn’t want to be constantly judged for the external because so much of my external feels like a mask.
People are seeing whatever on the outside however they are perceiving me, but if they don’t take the time to know what’s deep inside me to understand my heart and soul, they don’t know me. Beyond Measure came out of the idea of I want to connect with the internal elements of people and try to shed these layers of the external. That’s what it has become. It’s the most rewarding thing. One of my big goals with this SHOUTOUT interview is to talk about Beyond Measure. I think I should tie this into that story.
Keep Going or Give Up?
This episode has gone on the longer side. There are a few other questions. One of them that I’m drawn to is, “How do you know whether to keep going or give up?” I feel drawn to this because I see a lot of people who struggle to keep going and I do too sometimes. Even though I have a lot of perseverance and I feel this large sense of being motivated and inspired, and I’m someone that can get up off the ground and do things and rally, I also have felt smaller versions of this question of wanting to give up. I even feel the word give up isn’t quite right here.
I feel like pause could be the word and I tend to do a lot of pausing to reflect. Certainly, there are projects that I’ve paused and never returned to. If you have been part of my online journey for a significant amount of time, I have numerous YouTube channels. Even though the show’s YouTube channel has been on pause for a few months because it’s incredibly overwhelming to me. It’s not abandoned. It’s just paused and I look at most of my projects as a pause.Success comes down to feeling satisfied and feeling enough. Click To Tweet
Maybe that’s because I don’t see things in this black and white as finished ever because nothing is finished until the end of our lives, in my opinion. It isn’t over until it’s over. We had these ideas of giving up. When people ask me about Eco-Vegan Gal, which is the avatar and the name that I have used for many years, I guess I wouldn’t say that I gave up. I say that I transitioned because that is the truth. Eco-Vegan Gal is a name that no longer served me. A lot of the root of Eco-Vegan Gal is still part of everything I do. I’ve evolved as a human being.
I don’t use that. I ask people not to call me that anymore. It’s going to take a very long time. They may perceive it as giving up, but that’s not the truth of the situation. If the question were, how do you know when to move on from something? How do you know when you need to transition away from something? How do you know when to pause? I would say it’s when it didn’t resonate with me on an ongoing basis. With Eco-Vegan Gal, I felt it in small ways and evolved over time.
I felt it pick up in intensity. I noticed that it gave me the ick. I love that term. People say this about relationships. I see this a lot on TikTok. When you get the ick in a relationship, I always laugh at the examples on TikTok. Usually, it’s light fun but they’ll show a video of somebody doing something. The caption or the comments will be like, “This is when I got the ick and couldn’t date this person anymore.” People will show a video of their partner, and other people in the comment will say, “If it were me, that would have given me the ick.”
I think Eco-Vegan Gal started to give me the ick. It feels not me. It’s a name that served me for a while but it also limited me. That’s part of this too. It’s feeling limited, feeling the ick, feeling no longer in alignment. You know. It’s almost similar to knowing when to leave a relationship. It’s like the ick factor. You go through a big heartbreak and a tough time. It’s pretty rare for me to fully cut things off, even romantically. Sometimes those linger for a while and dissolve, but the feelings are always there even when you’re no longer in the relationship. That’s a rare example of something feeling over.
At the same time, it’s also possible that a romance will come back around. There are plenty of cases of somebody who broke up, dated other people and got back together with somebody years later. It’s a thing. How do we know when something is ever over for good? I don’t know if that exists, but I do like this question.
The last one I feel compelled to answer in this section of questions. There are a few more that I have to answer that I’ll get to before I wrap up this episode. The last one in the optional category of questions is how do you define success? For me, that is very simple. It comes down to feeling satisfied and feeling enough. I went through so many times in my life where success felt like this big thing, this milestone and a lot of it was based on the external.
Now, I’m very focused on the internal and redefining what success means based on what I believed it to be but also defining it for myself and making it my own. I usually don’t feel that satisfied or enough. I’m working on it, but that’s usually based on the externals like, “You’re never going to have enough followers.” It’s so silly. “Are you ever going to feel successful in your relationship?” Maybe not. Relationships are constantly going through waves, shifts and stuff like that.
That is something, as an adult, I find fascinating. I grew up with the idea that once you found the “one,” you were done. It’s like the Disney fairytales. Your life is all perfect once you get married. The Disney fairytales never share what happens after marriage. I’ve never been married before but in my long relationships, I’ve realized they’re hard. If you’re going to stay together, that in itself is a success. If you can work through it, it doesn’t always feel good. My work life is very similar to that. I have moments of feeling great, high and excited like, “This is amazing.”
Everything is going well and on the same day, I could feel absolutely awful. The smallest things could trigger me to feel inadequate. That just happened to me and I was surprised by it. I was like, “Why is this making me feel so bad about myself?” It’s not that the situation was making me feel anything but I was reacting to it. It triggered me to feel that inadequacy. It’s similar to the SHOUTOUT experience where I was invited to ask a question to Mark Cuban. He was speaking on stage in Los Angeles. I didn’t go in person. I was invited to ask him a virtual question. It was a cool setup.
If you have read any of the episodes that I’ve done in the Fireside app, that’s something I’ve been working on. Mark Cuban is one of the founders of this app, which is live audio and video-based app. It’s like Clubhouse but with a lot of different features. Because I’ve been involved with Fireside, they invited me to ask Mark Cuban a question in this live broadcast they had about Web 3.0 content. I was excited and felt super special. I got to be the first person to ask a question. I was like, “This is great.”
I asked a question and it didn’t feel like it resonated. I thought it was going to be a wise question when I was forming it in my head, but it didn’t land even with Mark Cuban. He was on the stage with a few other people. They all collectively answered my question. That in itself is cool. I’m not discounting that. Charlie Sheen and some of the people from Entourage, the TV show, all answered my question. It’s awesome. They didn’t answer it in a way where I felt they got it. That triggered me to feel misunderstood. I felt shame or embarrassment or guilt. I don’t know exactly.
They are three separate things. I need to go back and re-study some of Brené Brown’s definitions on those. Whatever emotion it was, I felt at least embarrassed. I guess it wasn’t guilt. Maybe it was embarrassment but usually, embarrassment leads me to feel shame. All of a sudden, I went from feeling so privileged to be able to ask a question to feeling like, “I asked such a bad question,” and I started beating myself up like, “How embarrassing. You totally botched this chance to impress Mark Cuban or the Entourage guy or whatever. You made yourself a fool. Why couldn’t you have been smarter?”
All of these voices came out of the woodwork of like, “Why didn’t you do better, Whitney?” That sat with me. It started spiraling. I started thinking of the woman that invited me to ask the question. Does she think I’m a complete idiot because of the way my question came out? Is she disappointed in me? Am I going to get an opportunity like this again? I could go on and on with all of this. It was literally maybe a one-minute-long experience that triggered hours of self-esteem issues for me.In order to feel successful, you have to allow yourself not to feel successful. That’s part of the process. Click To Tweet
This is coming back to the well-being side of things. I think I’m not alone in this. Even if someone is neuro-typical and not struggling with the things that a neurodivergent person does, they’re probably struggling with shame and anxiety or depression or burnout or overwhelm, all these things that many of us experience on some level. I know a lot of people don’t feel like they’re enough. I know a lot of people have self-esteem challenges and probably mask them so well that you would never know that about them.
I don’t even know how this ties into defining success. My point being is it’s a roller coaster. I’ve been training myself over the years to allow those emotions to process. I don’t want to have shame and feel shame. That has been another pattern of mine. In order to feel successful, I have to allow myself not to feel successful if that’s part of the process. I’m just allowing it. My inner self is throwing a bit of a tantrum. She’s crying and turning red. Did you see that movie, Turning Red? I love that movie. It’s like Inside Out, which is both beautiful representations of the emotional rollercoasters kids go through.
What if we imagined ourselves to be those kids who were throwing tantrums, crying, embarrassed, uncomfortable and all those rollercoasters. We still go through that as adults. If we mask them and pretend we don’t go through them, then they’re just pushed down. It’s like we’re hiding it from others. It’s like Turning Red. I haven’t thought about it in this way. This isn’t spoiling it. I’ll say it very vaguely. This also happens at the beginning of the movie. There’s a lot of hiding who you are, hiding your ancestry, hiding your relationship with your parents, and trying to fit in with your friends at school. I think most of us have had those experiences and maybe that’s how we’re taught to mask it.
I don’t want success to be defined as something that’s the result of a mask. I don’t want success to be defined as my external projection. I don’t want success to be defined by what other people think of me and how they react to me, because I can’t control that as much as I could try. I’m probably going to disappoint some people. As much as I try, people may misunderstand me. You can use this question to Mark Cuban and the rest of them on stage. I thought it was a good question. I remember thinking it through and how I was going to ask it. I write it down. It’s my typical overthinking and feeling confident when I ask that question.
I didn’t have control over how they answered it and whether they understood me. I have a tendency to see other people’s reactions to me and internalize them. What if I worked on feeling firm and how I feel about what I’m doing before other people respond to it? Maybe that will translate to when they respond to it in a way that doesn’t feel good to me or isn’t what I expected. Can I still come back around to how I felt before I got that feedback? That would be the greatest version of success for me. If I could go through life being myself, unmasked, confident in who I am, loving myself and feeling enough, that would be a success.
Some of these questions tie into what I’ve already said. Let me see if anything else comes to mind. I have two more questions. One is, “What sets you apart from others? What are you most proud of or excited about?” Obviously, Beyond Measure and a lot of the things I’ve said. I’m naturally set apart from others if I’m neurodivergent. “How did you get to where you are professionally? Was it easy?” I think I’ve already talked about that journey. It’s certainly not easy.
My Los Angeles Itinerary
“If not easy, how did you overcome the challenges?” It’s exactly what I said. I’m experimenting. Experimenting has been not giving up and being flexible. “What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?” I already answered that. “What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?” I think I’ve answered that too. Lastly, this one is fun. I’m excited to answer this one out loud. “Let’s say your best friend was visiting Los Angeles and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary. Let’s say it was a week-long trip. Where would you eat, drink, visit and hang out? In your view, what are some of the most fun, interesting and exciting people, places or things to check out?”
This is simultaneously easy and hard for me because when my sister visited me in 2021 for the first time in years, I came up with an itinerary. I blocked it all out off the top of my head. If I had to narrow it down to one place to eat, it’s so tough. I’m so nuanced. I would modify it to what that person’s palette was. The very first place that comes to mind, I’m a little torn, but it is called Pura Vita. It’s a vegan Italian restaurant. It has got an amazing atmosphere and great service. If you’re sitting down, an impressive menu with unique items.
I don’t know of many people who don’t like Italian food. They have pizza, pasta, breadsticks and focaccia or bruschetta, all those traditional Italian foods. It’s so lovely because they’re very accommodating to gluten-free eaters. I don’t think their menu has much soy or if any, so it’s easy to navigate that. That would probably be the number one place we would eat.
Drink depends on what type of drinks you mean. When I think of a drink these days, I think of coffee. I would probably pick a place that also has good tea and other beverages. That’s tough. I have a friend who is visiting Los Angeles and we’re going to meet at this coffee shop called Verve. I narrowed it down because the Verve has a very nice atmosphere. They have fantastic coffee. They also have baked goods and other drinks there. It fits everyone.
“Where would you visit?” There’s so much to do in Los Angeles, but if I had to pick one place, the first thing that comes to mind is the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena because it’s outdoors and beautiful. Depending on where you’re traveling from, you’re going to drive through a lot of different parts of Los Angeles to get there. It’s not super pricey, but I’m trying to think what my sister and I did when she visited that she enjoyed.
We did drive up to Sebastopol, which is out above San Francisco. It’s not part of Los Angeles. We drove down the coast and went to Big Surf for my very first time. We did all these cool things. We spent a lot of our time doing that. I’m trying to think about what we did in LA that she liked. Walking around some of the streets here for shopping where you could see the culture of LA and maybe go into some different shops for window shopping. We did a lot in West Hollywood, which I feel is a nice thing.
There are touristy things to do, but it depends on the type of person. It’s so tricky. Every time someone comes to visit me in LA, I get stuck with this. For this answer, I would say the Huntington Gardens probably, but I might change my mind. A hangout is an option too, but I would say hang out in West Hollywood because that’s where Pura Vita and Verve are. There are tons of great shops out here and celebrity sightings if you are into that. It’s a cool vibe. I guess that would be my answer.
“In my view, what are some of the most fun, interesting and exciting people, places or things to check out?” I think I already answered that but in terms of fun, the Huntington Gardens could be perceived as fun. What’s neat about West Hollywood is they’ve got incredible restaurants and also bars if you’re into drinking. Some of the bars or restaurants here also have non-alcoholic cocktails. You could spend your entire trip in West Hollywood.
In fact, another restaurant that’s neat, especially if you’re going to see celebrities is called Craig’s. It’s a fancy restaurant, a little on the pricey side. Pricey meaning entrée is probably between $20 to $30 versus Pura Vita where most things are at most $20 or something. It’s probably between $15 to $20. Pura Vita is also a little on the fancy side.
Craig’s is a cool place because it’s known for having paparazzi outside. There’s almost always someone famous in that restaurant. If you’re looking to see someone famous, a celebrity of some sort, Craig’s is one of the best places for that. When I took my sister there, I went for the very first time. They have a great vegan menu, great service and a cool atmosphere. I love that experience. You just have to be willing to pay a little bit more money for it. It’s definitely interesting, fun and exciting.
The other interesting place to go to, I don’t know if my sister and I ended up going there, is called Erewhon. It’s this grocery store that is also known for celebrities and interesting food. It got a very LA feeling to it. You could go in there and find a bunch of interesting food to buy and enjoy at home or sit outside. They have tables there. There are several locations across Los Angeles so you could go and bask in the experience and probably spend a lot less than you would at some restaurants here, but get a lot of interesting excitement out of it. If you enjoy going to the grocery stores, it’s fun.
That’s my answer. I think that’s it. I have made it through these questions. I hope that you found this valuable. I want to thank you for reading because doing this is helpful for me in processing these questions. It made it more fun for me. This process felt deeply satisfying and I needed to do an episode anyways. I fed two birds in one hand, that is a nice way of saying that. I appreciate you. I would love to hear any of your thoughts. I know I talked about a lot of things. If I overwhelmed you, that was not my intention.
Speaking of which, I love to learn from others. How does your brain work? Do you get overwhelmed? Do you get bored or frustrated? Do you like long-winded shows like this? Are they too long? I love feedback. Even if I’m not going to change, I like to learn how other people think and feel. I want you to know that it is always welcomed through social media. You can go to the @Wellevatr Instagram account. I am very active on Twitter under @WhitLauritsen. I’m active on Instagram too. It’s very easy to direct message me and leave me audio messages if you want. Those are my two favorite platforms.
I spend a good decent amount of time on LinkedIn. I don’t spend as much time on Facebook, but you can reach me there too. I’m very reachable. Another thing that I have been working on behind the scenes is getting someone to help me answer emails because I struggle with that. If you email me, I’m working on having a faster response time, but I love to remind you and everyone who I tell about emails. Just because I don’t respond, it doesn’t mean I never will. It could take me weeks, months or even a year to respond to you but my intention is always to respond.
I have a whole queue of emails that I aim to respond to someday, but I read every single email that comes in unless they are newsletters. I don’t always read those, but personal emails and personal messages on social media, I read it all. I struggle to write back. I’m working on a new system for that. I want you to know that you are welcome to reach out to me. The best way right now to connect with me is through Beyond Measure. Every week I have a live call with the other members. It is a discussion, getting to know each other, accepting, loving and nourishing. It brings me so much joy. I would love to have you part of it so I can get to know you, your heart and your mind better. Thank you so much for being here. I’ll be back again.
This next episode is great. If you haven’t subscribed to the show yet, I highly recommend it. I love every single guest on here. I hope that you don’t miss them. There are episodes every Friday with guests and every Monday is just me talking. If you’re not a fan of this style, at least the guest episodes will hopefully bring you some joy and satisfaction. Find out who my guest is by staying tuned. I hope to have you in an upcoming episode. Bye.
- SHOUTOUT LA
- Beyond Measure
- Fireside – Whitney Lauritsen
- @Wellevatr – Instagram
- @WhitLauritsen – Twitter
- Instagram – Whitney Lauritsen
- LinkedIn – Whitney Lauritsen
- Facebook – Whitney Lauritsen
- https://Amzn.to/3K4oWRI – Hot, Rich & Green!: The Secret Formula Women Are Using to Get Rich and Save the Planet
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