The Thrive Questionnaire//

Why Felicia Day Encourages You to “Embrace Your Weird”

The actress, author, and mom on why creativity and play are great forms of self-care.

Getty Images
Getty Images

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people. 

Many of us have a habit of focusing on the negative when problems and obstacles arise. But what if we could shift our mindset and make problems… fun? According to Felicia Day, we can. As a web entertainment pioneer, producer, actress, and author, Day has faced her fair share of rejection, failures, and bad days.  Instead of dwelling or getting stuck in negative thinking, she turns those moments into a chance to play. 

In her new book Embrace Your Weird, Day shares how you can flip the script on stressful moments and actually learn to enjoy them. With techniques from therapy, self-help, and just plain trial by fire, Day’s interactive workbook helps people discover their playful voices without fear. Her animated approach to life is a reminder that it’s healthy to have fun. “Creativity is the best form of self-care you can include in your life,” she says. 

Here, in her Thrive Questionnaire, Day shares the creative passions she adores and how they help her conquer even the craziest of days.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

Felicia Day: I avoid looking t my phone. It’s always a physical effort, but a morning routine without other people pulling at me always centers me for the day. 

TG: What’s your secret life hack?

FD: Pretending I have a writing partner and an assistant so that I can block off time I should be using for myself in a way that feels more justified. “Sorry I can’t do Thursday, I have an appointment with my writing partner.” (Secretly me!)

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?

FD: I listen to anti-anxiety meditation tapes before bed each night, so I have to have it near, but I have a “no social media or email” rule after my baby goes to bed at 8. I put it on airplane mode from then until sleep. 

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?

FD: I always feel a bit burned out after projects end. I give everything 100% so having something END feels like falling off a cliff. 

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it? 

FD: Recently I pitched a TV show and, even though I love it and everyone did too, it did not get sold. It would have devastated me earlier in my career. But I decided this year to only pitch things that I truly love as an artist. So even though it won’t be a TV show, I know I can always tell that story in a different format. It was the story that was important, not the approval. That artistic approach helps overcome the business rejection for me. 

TG: What advice would you give your younger self about reducing stress?

FD: You have to fail to get better. No one project is totally precious; they’re each a stepping stone on the journey to knowing who I am as an artist better.  

TG: Do you have any role models for living a thriving life?

FD: My baby. She is 2 and so vibrant and passionate and funny and artistic. She has not learned to guard herself yet, or suppress who she is for the benefit of others. I hope to keep it that way for her for a long time. 

TG: What brings you optimism?

FD: When I see small things people do in the world that have a ripple effect, I’m able to shake that feeling of “I’m just one person” and rest assured that everything we put out in the world could have an impact beyond just us. We just have to do the work to put ourselves out there in the first place to hope to make a difference. 

TG: Fill in the blanks: People think I/I’m _______, but really I/I’m ______.

FD: People think I’m a great multitasker, but really I’m only happy when I’m hyper focused on one thing. 

TG: What was the biggest turning point in your life?

FD: When I stopped trying to please everyone and started empowering myself to making things that were important to me while going around the gatekeepers.  

TG: Your new book is titled Embrace Your Weird. How do you define weird? 

FD: The word “weird” is often used in a disdainful way, but I look at it as a way to identify and be proud aspects of our individuality. Our weirdnesses are our creative superpowers.

TG: Your book encourages people to get motivated, get creative, and get weird. What are 3 ways we can do that today?

FD: Think about your life like you’re writing a memoir. Framing your journey for others to learn from is so valuable. You can learn so much about yourself. Carry a notebook around to collect all your creative thoughts and ideas. You are worth collecting. Look at every problem as a chance to play instead of being frustrated. It helps the process of problem solving. 

TG: Your book takes people on a journey to find, rekindle, or expand their creative passions. How do creative passions help us thrive?

FD: I think creativity is the best form of self-care you can include in your life. Yes, going to the spa is fun, but having a fulfilling creative passion in your life, however often you do it, is additive in an irreplaceable way. 

TG: You inspire people to unleash their creativity. Do you have a favorite creative outlet or exercise? 

FD: Outside of writing, which is my creative hobby/career, I love playing my violin for myself and I love baking for my family. When I escape into something I don’t do in my professional life I feel so full afterwards, like I’m living a secret life. It’s wonderful!

TG: You believe that a major part of embracing our weird is facing our fears. What is the best way to overcome fear? 

FD: Treating ourselves as gently as we would our own child, or a best friend, is the key. We are often so harsh with ourselves. Reassuring our inner creator, “Yes, I hear you, and I want to work with you to make you feel more comfortable, so you can let our voice fly!” is so important. 

TG: You provide honest advice to your readers that ranges from therapy to self-help to “just plain trial by fire.” Would you mind sharing a favorite personal anecdote of yours that we can all learn from?

FD: One recent piece of advice I love is to understand that all creativity, whether a profession or a hobby or a whim, is worth exploring. I recently saw a tweet from a woman who said that one YouTube video of mine from 2012 where I crocheted, inspired her so much that she picked up the hobby and now makes crochet videos on YouTube! She has an Etsy shop, etc. It’s a huge part of her life now. I did that video on a whim. You never know how your creativity will affect other people unless you put it out into the world!

TG: Your book is a refreshing blend of hilarity and hard-earned wisdom. Is there a specific something or someone that inspires your writing? 

FD: I adore a book called “If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland. It was written back in 1934 but she is the best cheerleader and the book is full of total acceptance, encouragement and love. It’s a little treasure of a book that inspired this book of mine a lot. 

TG: Your book tour kicked off this month so you’ll be visiting a variety of cities. Let’s talk travel. What keeps you grounded while you’re away from home?

FD: Working on my next project. It gets me out of the moment of seeking approval, and focused on what I can work on next.

TG: What is one piece of advice for someone who may be hesitant to step out of the box and tap into their weirdness? 

FD: If you’re afraid of alienating people if you show the world your authentic self, then those people weren’t worth having in your life in the first place. They don’t love you for who you actually are.

TG: In your new book, you reveal your passion for gathering allies. Do you feel it is important for people to cultivate a community of their own? 

FD: Absolutely. We are social creatures. If we don’t surround ourselves with people who support our vision, who in turn, we can support as well, we’ll never be able to get through the hard times that spring up while being creative.  

TG: You are a fan of daily creative habits. What are some of yours?

FD: I carry a notepad around to write down errant ideas and thoughts. I love to capture my thoughts in the moment. I also stop using social media after dinner, until after breakfast. It makes me prioritize my own voice in my head, instead of others’.  

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

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