The Darkness & Truth Behind Social Anxiety: A Letter To Myself

This letter was written to myself at 2 in the morning laying in bed in a wave of racing thoughts and a day of dealing with moment upon moment of social anxiety. It’s had minimal edits.
Dear Kristina,
Do you know what it feels like to face all the shitty sides of yourself?
Well I should rephrase this. Do you know what it feels like to face all the sides of yourself that make you feel shameful, guilty, bad, messy, etc…?
It makes me feel more shame. More unorganized.
Vulnerability, authenticity and self love are buzzwords. The idea that we aren’t supposed to be placed into a box and be our true selves is now being placed into a box within this self-growth subculture.
I have thoughts like “is my vulnerability going to be cool enough? Real enough? Honest enough?”
I get vulnerable about being vulnerable. 
I envision my vulnerability looking a certain way.
I envision my future carving of paths to look a certain way.
Organized.
Loving.
Motivated.
Without shame.
Full of self love.
But guess what Kristina!
It’s going to be messy as fuck.
You’re going to fail.
You’re going to not follow this path.
You’re going to not be vulnerable in moments, even when you’re trying.
You’re going to do things wrong.
It’s inevitable because well, you’re human.
You’re going to have a certain idea and hear from the media to “STAND STRONG AND BE A PROUD WOMAN” but when you stand so strong in a belief or idea you start to question it because you question everything and when you start to shy away you’re going to hear the world (or is that just your inner voice?) say things like “LOOK AT YOU BEING A SHY LITTLE GIRL. Actually believe in what you believe in! Stand up for what you know!
But….you don’t always know.
You’ll never always know.
No human will ever always know.
Literally no one is all-knowing.
You’re a soft little vulnerable bunny with no backbone at times.
This little voice, right here, it’s not going away.
The negative self talk has got to go, yes, but the constant questioning of all things around you… that’s what makes you grow, learn and mold into the highest version of yourself!
You’re going to do things you love as you jump into the fire of the world.
You’re going to fail and also hate some of these things.
You’re not going to jump in far enough sometimes, because maybe you’re scared.
You’re going to jump in maybe a little too far sometimes… and you’ll be ridiculously over excited, amped, and unreasonable. (I like this passionate side of you.)
You’re going to feel scattered.
You’re going to feel like you don’t know what the fuck is going on sometimes.
BUT GUESS WHAT.
It’s okay! Without allllllll offff this, you wouldn’t have jack shit.
All of this craziness is going to happen.
In the past, I can see where some of this has already happened.
Looking back, there are some moments that I flinch away from in my life.
I’ve made some mistakes, and I will gladly own all the sides of them, here’s a few to scratch the surface:
I’ve made some small mistakes:
– Texting a guy I’ve recently began talking to, too many times and showing him my insecurity before I knew him. *Not playing the game… P.S. Fuck ‘the game’ of dating nowadays. More on this later.*
– Laying in bed drowning in my own self loathing for days at a time eating gummy worms.
I’ve made some big mistakes:
– Getting fired from a job I loved with all of my heart for smoking weed.
– Getting black out drunk a number of times throughout the years and making a complete fool of myself, ruining some meaningful relationships in the process.
My past could be worse, it could be better. I’ve been so far out of alignment with myself in the past I can’t even begin to explain. As I come back into alignment with who I am, I can see more and more exactly where those moments of misalignment were in the past. Because I know exactly how it feels to step out of alignment with myself, I’m able to step back into alignment more and more everyday into the future.
I see where I should have loved more, worked harder, been gentler, stood up for myself, stood up for others, chilled the fuck out, texted more, texted less, talked more, partied less, followed less, talked less, there are literally so many ways I could have been BETTER.
But damn, isn’t that exhausting…evaluating every moment of our past?
Take a deep breath.
The moments of total doubt and shame from your past will randomly enter you.
Don’t fight it.
Let it happen and pass.
Those moments don’t define you, Kristina. But:
If you do fight it (which you probably will knowing you), it’s okay.
But then learn!
Reflect.
Write.
Grow.
Make a fucking chart.
Make some art.
Think about it.
For future endeavors so you don’t make the same mistake twice.
And then – stop thinking about it.
Do what you can and then stop ruminating.
I get pointful* worry.
It gets us places when productive.
I’m not over here all like “nah man it’s all good peace & love brotha save the world”
I mean those are my favorite types of people but I’m not naturally that relaxed.
Worry is good – to a slight degree.
Golden mean Kristina.
Right in the middle.
Reflect, grow, make a chart, organize it, and then let it rolllll off your back. Drink a beer. Go in the ocean. Climb a mountain. Laugh with your friends. Take photos. Do whatever you wanna do to live a happy, laughter filled, positive life. Worry for only a moment long enough to get the point across in your brain – “ok now I know I was really in my head and didn’t listen to the other person and I’m gonna pay attention to how many people I interrupt today.”
Write it down by all means.
And think about it! But then, leave the rest of the negative bullshit for somewhere else in this world.
Because yes, I get it, following or preceding this talk is “Jesus Christ Kristina you talk so fucking much you can’t listen to anyone you’re so self focused why can’t you value what others have to say I know you do value them but you’re so insecure that you want them to like you so you say these things and end up interrupting them to try to be cool and it’s so not cool and you just need to chill out dude. Like I’m super resentful towards you when you act like this and you can’t just chill out” and then I begin to analyze every single conversation with that person and the things I said and the things they said and what they think of me and what the collective world thinks of me and then I get pissed that I’m even thinking about this and begin thinking about why-the-fuck can’t I be a person who is naturally not a shitty person thinking about such vain topics!
AND THEN I REALIZE WHAT’S HAPPENING AND I STOP
I’m just a human.
I’m not a shitty person.
I’m a really(!) loving, happy, positive filled person who holds a lot of value in this world.
I truly care about my family and friends.
I create awesome things.
I LOVE & empathize with all humans.
I don’t judge others.
My heart is pure gold.
I’m just simply yearning for connection.
Like every other human on this big earth!
These thoughts happen, regularly…but I have the power to control them and redirect them. 
I don’t need to get zen’d out all day long (although meditation does strengthen the ease of switching negative thought patterns) but I do think about what I’m thinking about and redirecting to a proactive technique of self realization is useful and then the ruminating stops and I enjoy the moment I’m in.
And I’m a heck of a lot more useful to this world at this point.
There are two sides to this thought in the world, and I am in the middle:
1. Work hard and feel shameful if you didn’t work hard enough, lions eat sheep. Blah blah blah.
2. It’s okay if you didn’t achieve your goals, dude. You’ve got tomorrow. Take a break and let’s not shame ourselves for it. It’s no big deal.
I’m aiming to be somewhere in the middle.
Work hard, but don’t hate yourself if you don’t achieve your exact goal.
Reflect upon yourself and find true self awareness…work at making those changes to be a better you all the while loving every aspect about yourself.
Send compassion to all of those shitty sides of yourself.
You were doing the best you could with the tools and knowledge you had.
Above all, Kristina, I want you to realize that no matter what decision you decide to make, no matter what words you decide to use in a conversation, no matter what thought you dwell upon, YOUR HEART IS GOLD.
Despite everything, when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night, you are worthy of love and connection and nothing defines your self worth except the pureness of your own heart.
Haters gonna hate. You’re gonna love them and yourself with the pureness of your own heart.
Sincerely,
Yourself
*I understand pointful isn’t a word but this is my letter and my blog so it’s officially a word.*

Here’s Why It’s Ok To Change Your Mind On The Daily

This is for all of those who are in the “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with my life” club. I’m right there with you. I know I want to travel, climb mountains, be sustainable, grow my own food, meet new people, help others, hear stories, share my story, be physically active, take photos, take videos, feel creative freedom…and the list goes on. This is my story, and this is what I’m creating a life full of.

I don’t know what your story is, or what you want to create but here’s what I have to say about it: IT’S OKAY TO CHANGE YOUR MIND.

I say this so strongly because it’s hammered down on those of us finding our way in life to “pick something and stick with it.”

Well, no.

I’m not going to pick something and stick with it. There are some people in life who at the age of 6 know they want to be a doctor and then become a doctor by the age of 27. That’s awesome! I’m genuinely happy for anyone who knows early on what their life calling is, or has such a clear sense of vision. I am not one of those people. I’ve always been a little unsure of how exactly to tackle the life of my dreams or even what the life of my dreams looks like. Everyday I’m figuring it out more and more. It’s the most beautiful process.

For me to figure out what exactly it is that I want, I HAVE to change my mind. I have to relish in the process, dig into myself, get to know myself better, and unravel my thought process. And I don’t owe an explanation to the world about each decision either. Within all of this super intense growth, is lots of change! I think that we should stop making people feel flaky or bad for changing their mind – and we should do the opposite.

This process should be celebrated. We should throw parties around changing our minds. It’s such a beautiful time of self growth and self discovery, why not?

To dig into this a little deeper, I’m going to share with you my personal story. It involved some super intense change I had going on this past September. I was traveling around the west coast by myself for a month in my camper SUV (if you want to know how to do this go here).

Prior to this trip I was: living at home, working at REI, attempting to save money, feeling really disconnected with myself. I had lost my direction. I had moved home a year prior from sunny Colorado to begin saving money to travel full time but I was feeling super blah and unsure of where exactly this world would take me or why I would be doing that. At this time I had told myself and the people around me that my next plan was to stay with REI for a long time, and move up the ladder. This company is the most astounding company I had ever worked for and so that really did feel like a great goal for a while.

However, this trip ignited a fire under me. It made me realize that working in retail, even if the company is amazing, won’t serve me the lifestyle I want to live. Plus, I wanted to build a non-profit at the core of it all and I wanted to dig into those feelings even more.

[Introduce change of life plans for umpteenth million time here.]

In my journal, I wrote the following passages:

“What do I love?

  • Human connections
  • Storytelling
  • Being active
  • Learning new things
  • Being outside
  • Being creative
  • Photography
  • Traveling
  • Helping people

I want to grow daily. I want to learn more about myself daily. I want to be creative and have the time to take on creative outlets. I want to help people – this world is not in balance and I have a desire plus the ability to help others not in my position. What can I do?

Do I stay in Iowa?

No, I can’t stay in Iowa. I need to be near the mountains or at least an ocean. I feel most connected with myself outdoors in those areas.

Do I continue working at REI and eventually move up that ladder?

Unfortunately, I don’t think I could see myself working for someone else forever. I have to eventually venture out on my own and create a lifestyle around doing the things I love every single day….Great…here you go again. Changing plans. You never have any focus. You’re so flaky and floaty. You tell people this is what you want and you can never follow through. You’ll never achieve anything if you don’t follow through.

FUCK THIS STORY.

Those thoughts are not me. Everyday, I am going through something new. I’m talking to someone new. I’m experiencing something new. To go into these with an open mind, is healthy! It’s so so healthy to change my mind often. This is the process of refining myself to be exactly who I want to be – to live in a way that is deliberate and caters to my highest sense of being.

If I never change my mind, I’m settling for mediocre.”

And the journal entry goes on. I was debating between college, moving to the west coast, working at REI, and traveling the world full time. I went back to the decision of traveling full time. I’m becoming location independent slowly but surely and truly creating the life I want to be living. I’m digging deep into myself to know my thoughts better, to myself better.

If I know myself to the core, I will be able to know others. If I know others, I will be able to exercise empathy from a genuine place. Having genuine empathy for those around me is the type of shit that changes the world.

So take it from me, someone who is figuring out what it means to navigate this world in a meaningful way, that it’s okay to change your mind on the regular. In fact, every time you do change your mind, it’s reason to throw a party because you should celebrate getting to know the realest version of you.

It’s one of the most beautiful things out there!

With love,

Kristina

Self-Love Is A Choice

This topic is huge on my mind and I said I would be an open book on this blog. I think about, write about, and talk about self-love regularly. I follow the people who talk about it, I read the books about it, I find the articles and websites….I love this stuff. Despite all of that, I have honestly been pretty unsure and nervous of how to talk about it on my blog, with YOU all. It’s a touchy one. A vulnerable spot. Nonetheless, I’m here and I’m ready to discuss it.

I have my own battles with myself, regularly. The doubts, the anxieties, the questions, all of that….it happens. Social anxiety? Oh it’s the worst cause it’s so common. I would never show any part of this to the public eye… in fact I hide it quite well, unless you’re a close friend. I’m real good at making it look like I have it all together. (Haha jokes on the world.)  I have my good days.  I have my bad days. I have my meh days. Since I’ve been wrestling this topic for so long, I’ve been trying to figure out WHAT self-love is.

How do we attain it?

How do we know when we have it?

Do people with self-love live a certain way? Or have a secret password?

There’s no award or gold-medal in self love out there. (Heck maybe I should create this.)

On New Years, my best friend Julia and I spent our evening in my basement discussing this very topic, creating vision/gratitude boards and eating bacon. (It was a new years for the books.) This is notable because there was a point during the evening where I’m exasperated at my own inability to love myself and wishing I could have the dang thing (self-love.) I couldn’t understand or even wrap my head around where some of my doubts and fears came from. Why can’t they just go away???? At that moment I ask Julia, “But how do we go about this? How do we just get the self-love?” And Julia (whom is seriously the most loving and inspirational human I know) says, “Before any choice, ask yourself ‘Is this aligning me closer or further to my highest sense of self?'”

And now to be honest, I kind of forgot about that conversation until recently. Lately, on my own finding, it has been lamented in my head how extremely important every single decision is. This is how I came to intellectually and emotionally understand Julia’s words.I had heard what she said, but I never experienced it.

Finally, I was experiencing her words for myself, and that’s when it all came full circle.

It’s been hitting me square in the face.

My self-love is awarded through my words towards others, my thoughts to myself, and my daily actions. It’s even more that I don’t shame myself for the actions I do take or have taken in the past. The mistakes will happen. The negative thought will arise and I will dwell. I will say the wrong thing. I am totally human, in all ways so duh, I’m gonna mess up.

Here’s the important things to remember: 

  1. Staying present with where you are. Even with your thoughts.
  2. In that presence, realize every moment is a choice. Your thoughts, your words, your actions. All choices.
  3. Once the choice is made, it’s in the past. I can’t figure out how to say this in a non-cliche way but: Don’t dwell on the past. Even better, don’t shame yourself for past choices.

It’s this rotating situation.  For the longest time, I considered self-love an action. (And it is, kind of but it’s deeper than that.)

I make an action or speak words that are out of alignment with who I am, and then I dwell (think) about those actions and those words for a period of time, and then make another action or speak more words out of alignment with who I am, because I’m so far away from the present at that current moment because of that past action…and the cycle continues. And it’s HARD to break. I get it.

I run the risk of sounding cliche right now, but this is what self-love comes down too: lots of minuscule choices. Constantly asking myself “Is this in alignment with my highest self?” And if it’s not, I’ll be able to feel it. I’ll feel the guilt coming. The shame. That pit of the stomach feeling. And if it is in alignment, it will feel like joy, happiness, and contentment.

So there it is. Self-love is an everyday practice. An every moment practice, in fact. There’s no gold medal.There’s no test. We all have it within ourselves, we simply have to choose it. Every single day!

There’s a lot that goes into this topic and I’m looking forward to diving into it in the future.This is only touching the surface of a broaaaad journey. I’ll be discussing my daily battles and victories with honoring myself, honoring others, dealing with my past shame, forgiving myself, addressing motivation versus discipline, among many other topics.

If you’d like to share any of your own personal thoughts on this topic or have questions for me, please comment below or shoot me an email! My inbox is always open.

With all the love,

Kristina

How I Turned My SUV Into A Camper

This past September  I traveled the west coast for an month by myself. (Mostly) this trip is what has been an inspiration for the rest of my travels and what I get the most questions about. Question no more!

6,000 miles, 28 days, 12 states and $1600 dollars.

I will dive into exact topics from this trip in other posts – but this particular post will be about my mode of daily travel.

I simply turned my SUV, a 2003 Mercury Mountaineer, into a lil baby camper. And it worked great! I was a safe warm ball of bliss every single night. This should work for any size SUV you have – except you might need to take the seats out vs putting them down like mine.

Step 1: Make note of the materials you’ll need before you go to the hardware store and follow step 2 before you go:

  • plywood
  • 4×4’s
  • some bins
  • an electric saw
  • a friend (or in my case, my dad who is also my friend)
  • measuring tape
  • a level

Step 2: Measure out your bins, the area of your car, and how tall you want your bed to be. I used some of my own bins and they were too big. I went to the dollar store and bought 4 $10 bins that worked perfectly. Take these measurements with you to the hardware store. For nails, we used long nails ( I could not tell you technical terms) and we used approximately 50 of them. Buy 75 for good measure.

Pictured here are my personal bins that didn’t work. The dollar store bins worked great.

Step 3: Saw up all the things. You’ve got your measurements. Your plywood. Your 2 x 4’s. Your long nails. Your electric saw. From here, you will want to measure out and cut your plywood to fit in your car. There are other designs on the web – this is the one I went with to make it easiest.

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Here is the plywood after it was cut down to fit in my car.

From here, it’s time to decide how tall you want your bed to be so your bins can fit comfortably underneath. My dad and I decided to make three rows of 2×4’s underneath the plywood. This meant we needed three different measurements to make sure my bed was level – this is also where the level comes in. Play around with these measurements and then cut the 2×4’s as needed. We also screwed two 2×4’s together to make sure it was sturdy enough.

Unfortunately it got dark when we did this, but you can see from the side and the back once we nailed in our feet to the bed. We also created a 2×4 brace at the back of the bed (back of the car) along the bottom of the back 2×4’s, this isn’t pictured. This was done for added stability but I wouldn’t say it’s necessary.

Step 4: Your basic design is created! Congrats! From here, you and your friend (or dad) should test out the sturdiness of your car-bed. Then, the fun part. Adding cushion, blankets and lights.

Yay! We both are able to lay on it! I used 2 pieces of egg crate foam padding for the base. You could staple carpet, throw on an actual mattress, use sleeping pads, tons of clothing….However you add to this comfort is up to you. An egg crate worked fine for me. From there, I added some sheets, a sleeping bag and two base blankets because I am ALL ABOUT the comfort. I wanted a big cozy bed.

I also added in some twinkle lights I bought from Ace Hardware at this time. To attach these, I used some mini nails and nailed them right into the soft part of the ceiling in my car. I’ve seen others on the web use the sticky photo hangers if you want something that won’t damage your car or if you don’t have a soft part. To plug them in, I bought a converter for my cigarette lighter that could plug in anything. This was useful throughout the entire trip.

A note: My car is able to charge things without it being on. I’m aware that other cars don’t do this. If this is the case, and twinkle lights are a must, might I suggest battery powered lights like the ones ENO sells. This is also a little bit safer and you won’t have to be conscious of how long they are on for, so your battery doesn’t die.

Step 5: Curtains! This is an important step. You will want to be sure that you can be hidden from the outside world if you are ever camping somewhere semi-public. Safety is important. My mom helped me with this task. (My parents are total saints and I am so grateful. S/O to them on so many levels, ya’ll will hear about how amazing they are as time goes on.) We used an old sheet. We cut it to fit the window size and then every night I used these little push pins in the soft part of the ceiling to hold them in. It took me about 10 minutes every night and every morning to prepare my curtains. It would have taken longer if I was more unorganized in my daily routines and they were a little bit of a hassle.

This photo quality isn’t fabulous but here’s a lil insight into my nightly cocoon – once it was set up I loved the coziness of the sheets and loved how homey it felt.

Step 6: Putting all the things inside! Feel free to organize your things however you would like. I was extremely particular about organizing everything so it had a home. You will want to think about these things: What will I need most often? What items will I be needing together? How accessible for safety reasons will I need particular items?

In this way, each tub was dedicated to it’s own type of item and then I had 3 smaller backpacks. One for books, one for shoes and one for miscellaneous items. I also had a folder for important papers and documents. I brought a suitcase that was packed like I would normally be traveling for any other trip. I brought all of my normal camping gear – tent, sleeping pad, stove, food, etc. I’ll go over these things in another post. I had a bag for all cosmetics. This was crucial so I wouldn’t have to build a bag everytime. Flipflops were in there as well

Step 7: Profusely thank whoever helped you build this beautiful little home of yours!! And give them a beer if it fits the situation! For me, this is a huge thanks to mom and dad. 🙂

I will go into more detail about my daily routine, the importance of a daily routine, housekeeping and organization on the road in my next post. Look out for that next Friday.

Thank you genuinely for reading this post, my love extends to all of you.

Stay beautiful. Stay inspired. Let me know if you have any questions!

Writing My First Blog Post

It’s rather hilarious how long it took me to get to this exact spot, writing these words. I came up with EVERY excuse to not. I have a few days off from all of my day-to-day work and I’ve committed that time to creating this blog, meditating, running and yoga. I bought this domain name a week ago and it’s taken me a whole week to finally sit down and JUST WRITE the dang thing. It sounded a lot like this:

“I need a better logo.”

“I need to cook these beets in the fridge or they will go bad.”

“I should do another guided meditation.”

“Ugh, I am so craving french toast. I need to make that or I won’t think clearly.”

“I should learn some more about online marketing.”

Anyways – now that I’m here – let me tell you what’s going on with this here blog. First off, thank you for arriving and reading! It’s a pleasure for me to share my life with others and I’m truly honored that you are taking the time out of your busy life to read this. This blog is going to be dedicated to my own self discovery with the hopes that I can inspire you to also dig deep into your self discovery.

I’m currently living in Des Moines, Iowa. You’ll hear more about my broad life story as time goes on, but for now I think it’s only important you have an idea where I am located this big ol’ world.

Here are some things I’m doing:

  • I am saving money to start traveling the world full time starting in September.
  • I am training for my first 50k that is on September 2nd.
  • I am on an internal journey towards radical self acceptance and self love.

I’ll be writing about my thoughts, experiences and training process pertaining to these goals and topics. I’ll be sharing the resources I use to achieve these things as well as tips, tricks and hints to improve my own efficiency that I’ve discovered or created along the way.

I don’t want this blog to be purely me talking to you. Please feel free to email me at kristinaryan100@gmail.com if you have any comments, questions, noted a typo, conversation topics, cool tips, a hilarious story (this is very needed), needing a pick me up, to be told you’re loved or any other thing you’d like to chat about! I’m all ears.

My love extends genuinely to all of you,

Kristina Ryan