Community//

Kryss Shane: “keeping up with the Joneses”

Focus More on People, Less on Stuff- We’ve long lived in a “keeping up with the Joneses” society, causing comparison anxiety. The truth is though, we don’t have to feel this way and we don’t have to keep up with anyone! Too often, we work too much to afford things we never enjoy because we […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Focus More on People, Less on Stuff- We’ve long lived in a “keeping up with the Joneses” society, causing comparison anxiety. The truth is though, we don’t have to feel this way and we don’t have to keep up with anyone! Too often, we work too much to afford things we never enjoy because we are working too much. It leads to owning too many things and wondering why we are always exhausted. This is also a really privileged problem to have, as not everyone has consistent employment or the life situation that allows them to spend frivolously. We can solve both, though. What we need as humans is not more stuff, we need more positive experiences, we need more love, we need more laughter, we need more opportunities to connect with others, we need more opportunities to enjoy ourselves. When we focus less on what we can buy, we can focus more on our relationships with others. It can give us an opportunity to do more volunteer work and to help those who do not have the privileges everyone struggles to juggle. When we focus on making those connections and giving of ourselves, we become more balanced as we contribute more to the bettering of society than to mindless spending. A desire to help more or to share more is always healthier than a desire to buy more and to collect more.


As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kryss Shane. Named by The New York Times and many national and international platforms as America’s go-to Leading LGBT Expert, Kryss Shane, MS, MSW, LSW, LMSW (she/her) has 25+ years of experience guiding the world’s top leaders in business, education, and community via individual, small group, and full-staff trainings. She is known for making each organization’s specific Diversity and Inclusion needs become more manageable, approachable, and actionable. She is also the author of “The Educator’s Guide to LGBT+ Inclusion,” the first book of its kind to guide educators, administrators, and school staff to become able and empowered to make their schools more LGBT+ inclusive.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

The issues related to self-love and self-care transcend all classes, races, genders, and socioeconomic statuses. However, I recognized early in life that difficult upbringings and not being accepted in society can create a lifetime of struggles for those without access to the compassion and care needed to undo negative thought processes and the damage of traumatic experiences. With a recognition that the beginning of life is where many self-worth struggles occur, I began there with my education. This led me to earn my bachelor’s degree at Ohio State in Human Development and Family Sciences. Simultaneously, I was volunteering a ton with LGBT organizations. Over time, my volunteer work grew, and my experiences allowed me to consistently hear about the struggles so many in the LGBT community face(d) due to being rejected by loved ones or forced to remain closeted for decades, thus creating internal chaos and a lack of self-love because they lacked acceptance by those whom they loved. This realization sent me into my first master’s degree program, where I graduated from Barry University in Social Work, where I focused my studies on LGBT issues.

As years passed though, I was always bothered by how often textbooks in schools still lack representation of minority groups and how this lack of representation often created a lack of self-acceptance and self-love by those who did not see positive role models in their textbooks. This led me to go back to school, where I earned my 2nd master’s degree, from Western Governors University in Education, specializing in Curriculum and Instruction.

My work now focuses on the needs of the LGBT community, teaching and training schools and businesses how to become more LGBT inclusive, working as an Adjunct Professor at Brandman University, working as a Liaison at Columbia University, and writing articles, book chapters, and books (including The Educator’s Guide to LGBT+ Inclusion” the first book of its kind to guide educators, administrators, and school staff to become able and empowered to make their schools more LGBT+ inclusive) that focus on acknowledging and celebrating the minority populations that have been too long left out.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Although I have always loved to read and once had a large collection of beloved books, the reading that stood out most to me as a kid was a poem from an edited collection. It was Edgar Guest’s “The Junkbox.” I found it in a book when I was about five or six and loved it so much that I memorized it just by reading it so often. Until now, I hadn’t wondered if it was still in my brain but *pauses to think for a few seconds* yep, it’s still in there, the entire piece!

Anyway, the poem is about how no one is disposable and even when someone seems different or broken, it doesn’t mean they don’t have value or worth. As a kid, I don’t think I realized it was really advocating for equity and equality, but as an adult, I find that it still resonates with me and my belief about humanity.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

  1. Animal Shelters- So many cities right now are talking about not having enough pets for all who want to adopt them. Other shelters are accepting donations so that those with finances can pay the adoption fees for others who want to adopt. In our time of stress, so many of us want to save and love an animal. It is truly the best of our humanity!
  2. Educators- At a time when the rules change daily, our world is full of educators who have dropped everything to work tirelessly to continue to provide education to our kids. In the midst of shut-downs, here are people who are prioritizing learners over everything else, guaranteeing that no child will go without knowledge and growth during this time!
  3. Ingenuity- Much of the world pre-covid is not the same as the world in-covid. Some are digging into new ways to adapt while others are creating brand new products and services. During a time when nothing makes sense, they are adjusting to the new world and are finding ways to evolve, saving jobs for many and creating new opportunities for others!
  4. Love- With so much more time locked down, we are all seeing what we miss and what we don’t. Many of us are finding that we haven’t thought twice about the menial tasks at the office but instead miss the life updates shared between colleagues. Some have barely noticed their spouse but are now remembering how much they love to sit together for a meal. Others are missing brunches or happy hours with friends and are now setting up regular video dates. So many are taking this time to recognize the love they have for others and this gratitude is a great way to celebrate one another!
  5. Books- Though libraries are often still closed, local bookstores have been working hard to keep everyone reading while also promoting sales through them to help keep them in the community. As a result, people are buying up books more often. Plus, social justice activists are writing and writing, creating new books all the time. This is giving us all new opportunities to support local businesses as well as learning from the experiences and knowledge of those with differing perspectives and identities. We can’t unknow what we learn, so we know this will not only make us better now, but it’ll continue to keep us growing when we reach post-covid times!

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Each of the following are things you can encourage others (and yourself) to do, in order to help combat anxiety. (Obviously, if your feelings are bigger than this, seek out support from a licensed mental healthcare provider. If your feelings are causing you to be unsafe, contact any suicide prevention lifeline or go right to your local emergency room so you can be helped immediately. Encourage the same for others.)

Take a Breath- So often, we are “go-Go-GO!!!!!!!!!” It leaves no room for relaxation or even to process the joy of what was just experienced. This can lead to anxiety because the feelings didn’t get to process. Building time into your schedule to just breathe can be incredibly beneficial. One of the ways I do this is that I always sit through television and movie credits. Not only does this allow me a moment to process and appreciate what I just watched, it lets me see the names of those who contributed to the entertainment I just received. Plus, it reminds me that even those whose names are far down the list made a difference in making the world a better place through their work in entertaining others. It reminds me that my work matters too, even if it isn’t the most glamorous or most prestigious.

Stop Apologizing- It is really common for us to apologize for the things we enjoy. We feel embarrassed or call things our “guilty pleasure.” We may even feel anxious about anyone knowing we enjoy these things! What is there to feel guilty about? If the thing isn’t causing harm to you or others, just enjoy it! For me, it’s a show called “90 Day Fiance.” I’ve been watching since day 1. For a while, I would explain it as “well, I’m watching because it highlights different cultures.” Then it became “I’m a licensed mental healthcare provider, this helps me see communication style differences.” I finally realized that I wasn’t fooling anyone (largely because no one was judging me but me). Now I just admit that it’s “brain junk food” and I relish the break from life’s requirements!

Accept Yourself- This one can be incredibly difficult, especially if there are parts of who you are that society says is not _______ enough. What does that mean? I mean that we are so often told that we are not tall enough or short enough, not curvy enough or thin enough, not dressed up enough or appearing natural enough, not white enough or Black enough, not American enough or connected to our roots enough, not straight enough or openly gay enough. The list is infinite, which means so are the opportunities to feel anxious about this. In reality, Nobody is anything enough, which means that everyone is enough. *laughs* I know that doesn’t make great sense in English! In reality, none of us will ever be the exact “enough” that will make every single person in the world happy with us. The problem is, we get so caught up in trying to be that we turn ourselves into versions of them rather than into growing versions of who we actually are. The more we can focus on what makes us happy and less on what others think should make us happy, the better off we’ll be!

Focus More on People, Less on Stuff- We’ve long lived in a “keeping up with the Joneses” society, causing comparison anxiety. The truth is though, we don’t have to feel this way and we don’t have to keep up with anyone! Too often, we work too much to afford things we never enjoy because we are working too much. It leads to owning too many things and wondering why we are always exhausted. This is also a really privileged problem to have, as not everyone has consistent employment or the life situation that allows them to spend frivolously. We can solve both, though. What we need as humans is not more stuff, we need more positive experiences, we need more love, we need more laughter, we need more opportunities to connect with others, we need more opportunities to enjoy ourselves. When we focus less on what we can buy, we can focus more on our relationships with others. It can give us an opportunity to do more volunteer work and to help those who do not have the privileges everyone struggles to juggle. When we focus on making those connections and giving of ourselves, we become more balanced as we contribute more to the bettering of society than to mindless spending. A desire to help more or to share more is always healthier than a desire to buy more and to collect more.

Dance It Out- Okay, so I’m borrowing from Shonda Rimes here, but hear me out! Anxiety can feel like having too much energy and not having a place to put it or a way to get it out of our bodies. Most of us have a favorite song or three. Most of us have songs that make it feel impossible to sit still or impossible not to close your eyes and get lost in them. We need to lean into that experience! Whether it’s Garth Brooks or 2Pac or Curse of Lono or Jackie Shane (no relation) or Daniel J. Watts, the goal is to let yourself feel. Dance around when the mood strikes, whether it’s in your living room or in your car. Play the best air guitar ever (Hendrix has nothing on you)! I have to tell you, I genuinely believe that there is no better drummer in the entire world than me… on my steering wheel… when I’m alone in my car. I am also the world’s best singer… when I’m alone in my car. Is this factually accurate information? Who cares?! It feels good. Figure out what feels good to you, put on the music, and become the world’s best, whether you’re a better dancer than J.Lo or a better pianist than Mozart or a better singer than Whitney Houston, when you’re alone in your space, enjoy it… you can even find a recording of applause to play at the end of each song, because, of course, you earned it!

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

This can be so specific to the individual. As a result, the best method for this is to seek out support from a licensed mental healthcare provider. They are available online, via phone, or in person. They have sliding fee or free options for those without insurance. No one can tell another what best works for them without in-depth conversations, so if the tips above don’t work, seek out support specific to your needs by someone trained to help you!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. -Audre Lorde

For me, this reminds me to use every position of privilege I have (whether by luck or having been earned) as a way to reach my goals or the goals of those I am leading. It reminds me that, though I may sometimes struggle or fear getting leadership exactly right or hitting every goal exactly perfect, I cannot and should not be rooted in fear. It reminds me that my fear cannot be the reason why I lose vision or why I do not act.

Being a leader is really difficult and sometimes it is scary to know how many are depending on you to know what you are doing and to know how to reach the goal. By acknowledging the reality of the fear and understanding why the fear is not the priority or the most important part of the work, I can be a more successful leader, which means those I am leading can be more successful too.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My life’s work is in LGBT+ inclusion, focusing on safety and affirmation. All I ever want to do is to make it safe for LGBT+ people to live their lives openly without being at risk for discrimination or harm. Not only do I think that this would allow for LGBT+ people to live happier, I know it will also allow others to realize both that their differences don’t make them unsafe and it will lead us all to grow because we can learn from all of the ways people are unique, once they no longer have to hide their uniqueness out of fear of harm!

What is the best way for our readers to follow you online?

Twitter: @itsKryss

Instagram: ThisIsKryss

Website/Bookings: ThisIsKryss.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kryssshane/

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

22 Benefits of Less

by Carl Phillips
Community//

Now What? Now Wait

by Michael Thomas Sunnarborg
Community//

Declutter

by Shannah Kennedy & Lyndall Mitchell

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
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.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.