“External circumstances can be incredibly hard to deal with, although I think the hardest battles we face are inside ourselves.”
In my late teens and beginning of twenties I read a lot of self-help books, from Budhism to anything that I could find related to finding my way. Each word I absorbed helped me in my progress, shaped my thinking and supported me through times where I needed someone a lot wiser than me to tell me that everything is going to be all right. When I recently stumbled over the wonderful self-help/ popular psychology book ‘Well, This is Growing Up’, written by Australian model and soon-to-be teacher Megan Street, I immediately felt its soothing comfort by its clever and viable advices and the personal openness of the author. And reminded me again of the importance to live in the moment but leave your comfort zone from time to time, to develop your emotional maturity in order to face life´s obstacles better and to remember that there is always something to be thankful for.
Megan, in the introduction you said you were inspired to write this book after looking back at the last 10 years of your life. Was there a specific reason to look back?
I decided to write WTIGU after tragically losing a friend to suicide when she was only 20 years old. The reason I decided to look back:
I’ll never forget the day when I saw truly inspired to write WTIGU – just warning you it’s not some ‘I had an epiphany after taking up doing yoga’ story. So I had just got home and was moping around feeling sorry for myself because I had like zillion uni assignment due when I received a phone call from one of my girlfriends… I picked up and heard her crying heavily and as anyone would naturally ask I said ‘hey what’s wrong?’ the last time I heard her cry like that was when the guy she was seeing cheated on her, she took him back so I thought he might have done it again…when in amongst her crying and weeping she managed to mutter the words ‘Lara’s gone’. My stomach dropped, I burst into tears and curled up into a ball crying. I knew full well what had happened – in the past Lara had unsuccessfully attempted suicide, although this time was different it wasn’t unsuccessful – Lara was gone.
As I drove to see the friend who had just told me the news tears streamed down my face as I thought to myself there has to be a way to stop people from doing this… There Has. to. Be. It was then that I thought to myself that if I can’t change the past (Lara’s death) I would try my best to change the future…This is what lead and inspired me to write WTIGU.
I thought as shit as life can be all the hard crazy and emotionally and circumstances can be everything we go through helps us to become a stronger and better person! Although I knew that I couldn’t change the past (Lara’s death) I could at least TRY and change the future.
When I was growing up and even a lot now people come to me for what they call ‘wisdom’ when I was in high school people joked that I was ‘the female Dalai Lama’ and they would often say ‘I need to consult the ‘FDL’ before I make a decision!’ I used to love this as I have always really enjoyed helping people through circumstances they are facing and wore the ‘FDL’ label as a badge of honour.
Naturally I was devastated after losing Lara and one night I needed something to help me cope so just started writing about how how much things can suck and how shitty life can be – but anyone can and WILL get through it and live a happy life. Mindset is everything. We are what we think. – one thing lead to another and suddenly I had a whole book! I got incredibly lucky, the publishers liked it and here we are!
‘Everybody wants happiness, nobody wants pain, but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain’ – Unknown
“I decided to write WTIGU after tragically losing a friend to suicide when she was only 20 years old.”
Can you sum up what are you hoping to trigger in young people reading this book?
A practical easy to understand way to allow young women/girlies to transform their life! So that they can go from feeling sorry (why me, mindset) for themselves to pure joy!
– A CHANGE.
– For beliefs and thought to be challenged
– Dint care what others think G way quote
– If you’re going through hell keep going
– The enemy of your potential is your comfort zone
– Live in the moment – not thinking about past or future but enjoy whatever it is that you are in now ‘Some people spend their whole lives waiting to live’ – Echart Tolle, The Power of Now
– You’re not alone and overall – other people are going through what you are.
– Nothing is worth dying for … NOTHING
“The best thing about being young? Doing what people say you can’t do.”
The book starts with a French proverb: „To turn one´s obstacle into one´s advantage is a greatstep towards victory. „ What has been your biggest obstacle in life so far?
‘External circumstances can be incredibly hard to deal with, although I think the hardest battles we face are inside ourselves ‘ – Megan Street
I can say that 110% the hardest circumstance I´ve ever had to deal with is what exprets call ‘IBS’ irritable bowel syndrome, which consisted of nausea and discomfort for almost 70% of the time over the last 5 years of my life. And although I was never needing to run to the toilet chronic illnesses can be very difficult to live with. Thankfully, I have been heaps better lately thanks to an amazing gastroenterologist. I couldn’t be more thankful of the last 7 months after the treatment.
Although it was a difficult 5 years I knew that every negative has a positive and although hard both physically and mentally to deal with often when I felt sick I would either read, write or d a unis assignment – it forced me to take a step back, do what I needed to do (uni stuff) and from all of the reading I have done I’ve learnt a lot too. If it wasn’t for a few of the most difficult circumstances I’ve ever had losing a friend and living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome I can almost guarantee that WTIGU would not exist.
‘The happiest of people don’t have the best of everything they make the best of everything’ – Zig Ziglar.
One chapter is about bullying. And how you explain that a lot of bullying comes from jealousy. I like that you talk about both sides, the bullying person as well as the bullied one, as both sides struggle with their own issues that are not only connected to the bullying situation, and both parts have the power to change the situation around. I could relate to your example with the „skinny bullying“ as I had a colleague that would tell me every day to eat a cake or so. ( which is not such a bad thing. laughs.) So one of the steps for a good change of a situation is always to look at your own options for change rather than feeling like the victim or focusing on what the other person is doing wrong (even if they are wrong), is that right?
Although I believe that a lot of bullying can come from jealousy and envy ultimately I think that it definitely comes from some form of lack in the person who is bullying.
A lack that they have due to themselves or their situation that they are expressing through their actions which are being directed at you. I’ve had countless people apologise for mean things they have said and done and majority explained why they did it – after reflecting people realise that the inner or sometimes outer lack they have/had caused them to act in the ways that they did. It could be:
– Lack in happiness (bad mood)
Lack in friends
Lack of supportive people in their life
Lack of self-worth
Not feeling good enough
WHAT TO DO WHEN SOMEONE IS BEING BULLIED – how to change the situation
– Bullying forum, knowing that other people are going through same things can help tremendously
– Ignore sometimes they want a reaction and to a bully sometimes ‘any reaction is better than none’
– Don’t remain in victim mindset – there is good in everything it’s just a matter of working out how you can use your situation for good or to at least see it in a positive way. We must open our eyes and see the blessings hidden in disguise. GIVVVEEE EXAMPLEEE!
– Move school or class workplace environment – but I don’t want to ‘run away’ …sometimes your wellbeing will outweigh the environment – sometimes you have to stay where you are.
“I believe that a lot of bullying can come from jealousy and envy ultimately I think that it definitely comes from some form of lack in the person who is bullying.”
Your advices in the books are great, but do you think a young person really always has already this foresight and wisdom of a situation or is it maybe sometimes rather about accepting that it´s just one part of growing up to go through all this difficulties as well?
Even if readers do know something that is in the book it’s so great to know that you are not alone and that someone has gone through the situation or similar and put a positive spin on it – it motivates them and makes them realise that they are not the victim they CAN turn their situations around also, some of the stories are very relatable and mistakes they may be thinking of making but shouldn’t coz trust me I have and they can read about the result of my poor choices in hope they don’t choose the same path/decisions as me! laughs
I also strongly believe that we should constantly be developing our ‘emotional maturity’ and mindset and I think that when people are young is best to help them ‘train their brain’ to positivity, optimism and resilience. Life is not always easy, but if we have the correct mindset any obstacle can be turned into an advantage and then you can truly do anything! And what better time for people to learn this than when they are young! I discuss in one of the chapters the importance of putting emotions into an outlet or activity for example I wrote this book when I had a lot of negative emotions about losing Lara – but I used these emotions to help create something that will help many. So mine was a creative outlet but any outlet works sports, painting, helping others/charity work.
“I also strongly believe that we should constantly be developing our ‘emotional maturity’ and mindset and I think that when people are young is best to help them ‘train their brain’ to positivity, optimism and resilience.”
One chapter is about kindness. And one really does sometimes have the feeling, that there is less and less empathy within society maybe due to factors such as a fast increasing population meaning each individual has to fight more for their„place“, an education system that makes you ready for a competitive world, social media changing our way of communicating with each other making us more „fearless“ to comment in a negative way and in general people becoming more opiniated due to an overload of information but not necessarily having more knowledge. In your opinion, what will the world look like in 20 years? And with the world sometimes being such a crazy and unfair place, how can we actually as individuals win this fight to create a happy place for ourselves and our surrounding?
You have some really great points and this is a really interesting question- which I love!
You are absolutely right I think it is quite rare to find true empathy in someone and society these days – in a world where social media is so huge I believe that we are losing our ability to truly heart to heart connect with one another. This is terribly sad. Social media cannot teach us real social skills (emotional intelligence) which have recently been proven by the Carnegie Institute of Technology to be more important than important in achieving ‘success’ in this day and age. This is not entirely our fault as social media is created to be ‘addictive’ because every time we get a notification/message/like or anything similar it releases dopamine in our brains which is the pleasure hormone! This is what causes us to spend so much time on social media and keep checking it in hope that we can get our next ‘hit’ of pleasure from social approval. The people who create any form of social media platforms use this fact to their advantage to keep us on it!
“Social media cannot teach us real social skills (emotional intelligence)”
Being a fourth year Education student the education system in not only my opinion but many other teachers and principal’s opinion is truly out-dated (in Australia). Something that many believe is true is a theory by Howard Gardner who discusses that there are many forms of intelligence! Visual, musical, bodily, people smart, verbally, logically/mathematically, self-smart and nature smart. We need to cater for different types of learners to ensure students are given the highest level of education possible. Believe it or not I actually have a poem on this topic if you care to read below.
As a future educator I highly value education and believe that through it us teachers can impact and change the nation… Although I have some thoughts regarding our school system and if are so kind to bear with me I might just list them! There are masses of kids who are told to ‘shut up and sit down’ are we doing them a favour or forcing their talents to drown? If you have a student who isn’t good at English, Science or Maths too, as a teacher what are you going to choose to do?
Are you going to teach them in the academic way, that you understand – or will you help the grasp the concept in any way you possibly can? Will you give the opportunity for them to stand out or will you let them sit there bored and dwelling in self-doubt. When we tell them to excel in a standardised test, most don’t respond well and more often than not end up beyond stressed. When almost every second kid has developed depression, could it be linked to pressure and academia obsession?
Smashed at 15 and doing drugs at 12 but is it really their fault when we put them through hell? Are we allowing students to have their say or are we crushing their individuality so they receive the next ‘A’. When creative subjects are cut- the ones where students can express, it’s any wonder that their heads are such a mess. Whether is Art, Drama, Music or Dance, let’s give every subject and equal chance. Yes, they need to know their 1,2,3, but persistence, creativity and resilience are also key! Confidence, social skills and even goal setting, are we giving students the education they should really be getting? Now if you have a student struggling academically to get by, will you give up on them like so many have and simply just ‘sigh’ or will you be the standout teacher who encourages them and helps them succeed, sometimes someone who believes in them is all they need.
Then, in the future will come the day, when that student will approach you to thoughtfully say… ‘Thank you miss/mister for helping me, if it wasn’t for you I don’t know where I’d be’.
“Confidence, social skills and even goal setting, are we giving students the education they should really be getting?”
Are we teaching in a system where we drastically need a change? Or should we keep moulding students to be all the same? Education isn’t black and white you see; let’s not judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree.”
How I think the world will be in 20 years! Wow great question! In 20 years on the positive side there will be a huge range of new jobs available which is super exciting for example even just 10 years ago there weren’t many ‘social media managers’, ‘Youtube bloggers’ and ‘Instagram models’ around so it’s awesome to see that people are able to work full time doing these jobs – I love the free expression and creativity they have the opportunity to express!
Although on the not so great side, unless something drastically changes I believe mental illness especially depression will become more common than it already is (it’s crazy to think that it is now the leading cause of death!) – although social media is great in many ways it can wreak havoc on our self-esteem and minds a really interesting post of this topic is written by fellow Aussie Models Laura Henshaw and Steph Claire Smith regarding body image – you can read them on this link. Amazing post definitely check it out it’s 110% worth the read! We compare ourselves to unreal (photoshoped and edited) expectations and then feel shit about ourselves and that’s not just talking about body image! This happens in general too, we compare our lives to others social media lives and then feel crappy about our own. A quote that I should share is ‘we compare our behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel’ by Steve Furtick. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to the social media pages of others and I swear we’ll all be happier and mentally healthier people!
“We compare our lives to others social media lives and then feel crappy about our own.”
How can we win the fight to create a happy place for ourselves and our surrounding?
Something that I write about in WTIGU is that although life and circumstances happen outside of us we can choose how to interpret them – ‘the happiest of people don’t have the best of everything they make the best of everything’ – Zig Ziglar. Although it can be very difficult we can always put a positive spin on something negative. It may require us to look outside the box, look left right to the side and even upside down but positive in the negative does exist. A practical way to quickly change our thoughts when something has gone or is going wrong is by thinking of a list of things you are happy about! I have a gratitude book (it’s mini and can come with me wherever I go) and I write lists of things I’m grateful for so that when I feel down/something ‘bad’ has happened I can immediately get it out and remember what I am happy about in life. This automatically changes your mindset as you can’t think bad thoughts when you are being thankful. It can be really simple as ‘I have a roof over my head’ or ‘I’m thankful for the clean water I have to drink every day’ there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. And, being thankful automatically takes our thoughts out of a negative mindset into a positive.
Do you consider yourself more as a realist, optimist or utopist?
I’d consider myself a mix between a realist and an optimist – naturally I have always been quite optimistic and it’s an interesting way I found to appreciate and realise this… when I was a finalist in Miss Universe Australia – in the question and answer part of the pageant I was asked ‘What is your favourite thing about yourself?’ (with mammoth butterflies in my stomach, practically chocking on my words, totally freaking out) I managed to mutter ‘my eyes’. As soon as I got off the stage I 110% regretted my answer and wanted to run back to the MC and re answer my question but knew it wasn’t worth the risk of most likely tripping on my ball gown/stilettos, freezing on the spot or being told ‘you can’t re answer a question, It’s against the rules!’ so I let it be. What I would have corrected myself with and what I really believe is my favourite thing about myself is my ‘mindset, motivation and will to help others in anything and everything!’
“I normally look at situations in many different ways which helps me to see the big picture and how things truly are.”
And a realist because I have the ability to see big picture and how things truly are – there is no BS in my book and that is how I live my life too – I normally look at situations in many different ways which helps me to see the big picture and how things truly are.
What has been the best advice given to you by someone else so far?
When there is will there is a way,
The enemy of potential is comfort zone, although it may feel good it is a dangerous place to be.
“There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.”
If you could give your younger self three sentencesof advice – what would they be?
– What Suzie says of Sally says more of Suzie than of Sally.
– Having tongue hockey with the guy you like isn’t the most important thing in the world even if he is an 11/10.
– Life is very, very short, and you can choose to live it how you want. You can choose to dumb yourself down and not express yourself just so you can fit in, just so people won’t dislike you- or you can fucking live! – Gerard Way
What´s the best thing about being young and growing up?
Breaking the rules (nothing illegal)
Meeting and getting to know so many incredible people!
Making out with cute guys
Doing what people say you can’t do
The memories you create and will never forget
What comes next for you, what´s your next focus and goal in life?
I have some exciting colabs and opportunities lined up that I can’t wait to share with you all but for now they have to remain a secret so you’ll just have to wait and see! Stay tuned on my instagram. And, my main goal is to help a lot of people all around the world through ‘Well, This is Growing Up’ and connecting with others!
images provided by Megan Street