In a world where the loudest, boldest gestures reign supreme and attract likes, revenue, and re-posts; some of us crave peace more than popularity.
After earning the degrees, the accolades, and the attention that comes with worldly success, why do so many of us still feel empty? Why isn’t the noise enough?
I discovered the truth about popularity after years of subscribing to the norms that cause depression, loneliness, and performance anxiety. Being liked is the most clever curse. A curse that some of us will never recognize or abandon. It’s just easier to be accepted. And guess what it takes to be accepted? Living a life that everyone agrees with even if being who they want you to be costs your joy. That’s what popularity is- being a character in exchange for their applause and approval.
I woke up on my 30th birthday, canceled my birthday party, and decided I was going to spend the rest of my life figuring out who I am and what matters to me. Guess what isn’t on that list? Being liked.
The journey into my true untainted self was comfortable and cliche’ at first. I lit candles, took limpias and a few selfies of myself being deep (for IG). I read a dozen self-help books. None of it worked. None of it liberated me.
Because there’s no point in begging God to set you free from the bullshit (people and habits) that kept you in bondage, if you’re going to keep running back to all of it and apologizing for evolving.
I made a merry-go-round of memories that kept me captive. I would revisit every mistake, every relationship, every failed friendship at least once every day. Instagram made it easy to feel like everybody was living their best lives, arriving before me, meditating longer, and being more profound.
I found a way to crave popularity, even on my journey to authenticity. I wanted someone to tap me on the shoulder and say “good job” even though I isolated myself to escape the need to be liked. It was exhausting. It took two years, of extreme and agonizing silence, to accept what I now carry as a mantra.
The goal isn’t to be relevant. The goal isn’t to be impressive.
The goal is to serve, teach, and free others by offering them the wisdom that changed my life. Being addicted to pleasing people is a curse. I didn’t learn or accept that reality overnight. I deleted social media accounts that promote oversharing and project perfection. I redefined home. I stopped showing up to spaces where my strength was an insult, treated as a threat rather than a gift. Privilege and opportunity gave me the resources to find and define home for myself in a new place, far away from the worst of my memories. Then, I threw my entire identity in a furnace. My prayer was: Lord singe and burn away anything and anyone that is preventing me from being myself.
The aftermath was catastrophic. Imagine a fire, burning freely through the hills without regard for the homes and lives it destroyed. That’s what happened in my soul. I thought there’d be a few remnants of my old life left. I didn’t realize that the prayer intended to refresh my life would force me to design a new life.
I spent months re-reading every book that ever inspired me. I added new titles to the list. I leaned in to talks that are celebrated around the world for encouraging vulnerability and curiosity. Then, it happened.
I became the woman I am today. Proud, bold, and unapologetic about protecting her sanity and herself above all else.