A creative and inspirational blog dedicated to busy and burnt out creative entrepreneurs.

The Element Blog

pay attention

Life moves at such an interesting pace. So quickly nowadays. Information moves faster, we move faster, sometimes not even peeking up from under the visor of our everyday routine, shrouding us in more of the same.

And we wonder why we aren’t happy.

I went to get groceries today. I went down the same aisles, dropping the same foods in my cart, without even looking up to meet another eye of a human other than the cashier.

Head down, keep moving.

Zipping from one end of the store to the other, having forgotten certain items that never made it to my actual list but popped up in the moment.

Head down, keep moving.

Dragging plastic bag after plastic bag from the cart to my car and running to drop the cart in the right place where they’re collected, thank you very much.

Head down, keep moving.

Loading as many bags as I can onto my arms when I get home—sometimes 8 at a time—from my car into the house, winding around an overly eager pup’s squeals.

Head down, keep moving.

And then I started putting the food into the fridge, which had to be put on pause because I hadn’t emptied the fridge of leftovers and such for over two weeks, and there was no waiting for that.

I grabbed a new garbage bag from under the sink. I knew the garbage was already a bit too full for what I’d need.

Head down, keep moving.

I started grabbing plastic fruit bins and tossing them into the bag. Some leftovers were too far gone to even care about the completely reusable plastic tupperware containers they were stored in.

So I just tossed those into the garbage bag too—I have plenty more.

Head down, keep moving.

I found some spoiled yogurt, grabbed it, and looked down at the bag’s bulging sides, tossing it in and turning back to the fridge.

Head down, — wait.

I looked back at the bag.


I not only threw away a ridiculous amount of plastic without even really…noticing, but I also wasted a lot of food. There was a large container of meat that I made and just…didn’t want to eat for several days, a bowl of at least 3 more serving sizes (maybe 2) of mixed salad.

A bowl of rice with beef and onion from two weeks ago when I ordered chinese food.

Several pieces of fruit from the bin on my counter.

And I didn’t even realize I was wasting so much.

Because the truth is that I do care about the environment. I care about wasting food, and I had in fact told someone close to me that I was making an effort to waste less food not two weeks before today.

But I was throwing away a big bag full of it.

I hadn’t even been paying attention.

I move move move, so quickly, all the time, that I don’t even realize that I am not living up to who I really want to be—to who I truly am.

And I can’t help but think a lot of the rest of the world is probably doing the same thing.

Who would we be if we just…paid attention?

If we caught ourselves in the moment of awareness and stopped ourselves from doing something that was against our morals or values or even just our goals?

If we instead chose what we wanted, intentionally, and lived up to that?


Who could we be?

What if we looked up more often in life? The Art Of Paying Attention

self development growing pains

When we think of self-development and personal growth, we often think about people who teach it and what their lives look like now…

The Tony Robbins and Brene Browns of the world, preaching their findings to wanting ears. These people who have millions of dollars, a family life to envy. People who are really living a dream that still feels so far out of reach for those of us on the outside, our noses smashed against the glass of their star-studded Instagram feeds, desperate for a closer look.

And when we start trying, when we actually put forth some effort toward real change and making something out of our lives…we end up stuck.





Why do they seem so happy even though they’re doing the same things we’re learning from them? Why does it genuinely just fucking suck to do? Isn’t it supposed to be making our lives better, not worse?…

What are we doing wrong?

After over 6 years of intentional growth in this department, it’s still hard sometimes. But there is a reason for it. And where there’s a reason, there is understanding. What you’ll come to understand here is that sometimes all you need is recognition to trigger a different perspective.

What they never tell you about self-development and its growing pains

It’s called “growing pains” because there are a few parallels between physical growth and emotional and mental growth.

When you’re a child growing up, you outgrow a few things, like toys and jeans and shoes for the physical, and for the mental, it’s things like hobbies, toxic habits, and people. But as you grow, there are actual pains that come along with it. Whether it’s an ache in your lengthening legs or something more emotional. Not every moment will be easy and painless, and oftentimes, these periods come in seasons.

We’re warned about the things we outgrow, but not what that growth feels like.

One late night, right before bed as I was trying to fall asleep with my mind racing. I kept running through why I was having a hard time emotionally.

I had recently been through a rough time with a guy (ugh), and we had a very necessary hour-long conversation after he had done things to hurt me emotionally. During the conversation, I found myself feeling outside of my body a little bit, almost like I was simply watching it unfold.

The Bella from a few years ago—even a single year ago—would have sounded so differently, much more angry and emotionally charged…

But the Bella on that call was calm, clear. She stood up for herself and spoke her truth and that was…weird.

As I was lying in bed falling asleep, I felt uncomfortable. It wasn’t a physical discomfort but something just felt…off. And as I let my thoughts go and my inner monologue take over, I actually wrote down what it was saying about this era of growth for myself—about this very realization nobody actually tells you about self-development:

There will come a time in your journey of self growth where you don’t recognize yourself. You feel like a stranger to yourself. THIS is growth. You are evolving before your eyes. Do not hide away from this, but lean in. Get to know the new you, appreciate it in the moment, because if you’re doing life right, you’ll feel this way again and again over the years. It will feel easy to pull back to the self you know, the one whose thoughts are predictable—albeit worse—than they are with your new self.

Because we find comfort in the normal, even if that normal is uncomfortable.

You have to embrace discomfort in your identity to truly become who you are—who you’re striving to be.

Feeling like a stranger to yourself can cause…issues

Think about a time you were around people you didn’t know at all, strangers.

Depending on your personality type, you may have been fine, even talkative. Or, you may have been like me, quiet and on the outside. Perhaps hiding in a corner, observing.

Now imagine one person finds you, and comes in closer. They invade your personal space, and in fact, they start saying things to you, talking to you as if they’ve known you your whole life but in reality…you have no fucking clue who they are.

What’s your reaction?

No matter if you’re the first type or second, you likely try to back up rapidly, and even say something like, “uh, what the hell dude?”

Because when strangers are in our personal space, telling us things, our reaction isn’t to let them get as close as possible, but to put distance between us because it’s uncomfortable.

Now, imagine that stranger is yourself—and you can’t. get. away.

Is that a bit of an exagerration? Sure, yeah. It’s not an outside stranger approaching you, getting too close, and making you feel unsafe.


It could be even scarier because instead of someone on the outside you can move and get away from…

There is no escaping yourself.

And with something like this…you may be tempted to try. Because again, we find comfort in the normal, even if that normal is uncomfortable.

Meaning, it can be easier to fall back into old habits when you feel isolated from your very self. The old you is predictable. You’ve lived with that person forever, you know them, the way they think and act and what they like.

This new you will face challenges you’ve never encountered and it will be scary. Fight the urge to divert back to your old habits and thought-patterns. It’s okay to recognize that, “shit…this feels really weird but…in maybe a good way?”

And that’s just one method of handling something like this so you DON’T go backwards—reminding yourself that not all uncomfortable feelings are bad.

How to get through this specific hardship of self-growth

I’m not just here to tell you the what. I want to actually help you with the how (which to be honest, is a huge pet peeve whenever I read books/blogs about self-development…I mean I GET IT THIS IS WHAT SHOULD BE DONE…but then HOW?!).

It’s not easy. No self-development is easy. If it is, I’m sorry, but you’re doing it wrong.

Here are a few things I do to get through the times where I’ve experienced growth to the level that I feel weird inside my own skin:

1. Do this “outside-perspective” exercise

One time, I was having a hard time with my identity (mostly because of this very topic on self-development—though I didn’t realize it at the time) and I started feeling like I didn’t know who I was.

So I decided to make a list.

I started with with, “I’m the type of person who…” and then I simply listed all of the real things I have done.

Here’s an example of this exercise:

I’m the type of person who…

  • moved across the country twice in a single year
  • has a job & income I never imagined possible in my lifetime, let alone at 26-years-old
  • listens to and reads books about bettering myself all the time
  • would rather sit in the uncomfortable truth than to be ignorantly comfortable
  • prioritizes mental health even though it’s the hardest thing for me
  • eats mostly real, nutritious foods
  • journals almost every single morning
  • is a leader at work and for my siblings

This is just an example of a few things about my life that truly represent me.

Sometimes, I don’t feel like that person. I still feel like the 17-year-old high schooler who was angry all the time, worked too much, didn’t talk about her feelings, and distanced herself from those trying to get close.

But when I actually write those things out, I recognize the truth of who I am.

If you’re having a hard time, start with something that makes you proud of how far you’ve come. It can be very, very small. When I first started, it was simply, “I’m the type of person who shares my ideas in work meetings” because that was a monumental step for me.

2. Talk to a friend about this specifically

The reason the above exercise works so well is because it forces you out of your head. You get to see who you are with facts, written down on the outside.

Talking to a friend about how you feel about this stuff can do the same thing, especially if you’re an external processor. So ask a friend if they have a minute, mention you’ve been working on yourself (they should already know, because support systems are vital), and tell them what’s on your mind—that you feel like a stranger to yourself because of how you handled a certain situation (or whatever triggered those feelings to bubble to the surface).

Most of the time, they’ll sit there and tell you, “I see you as that new person, you’re not a stranger to me.”

That alone can make a huge difference. It can bring that stranger-you close enough to metaphorically hug.

3. Remember that it’s a passing phase

These feelings are temporary. You won’t always feel like a stranger, and in fact, the amount of times you feel like a stranger to yourself will diminish with time.

The more you grow into the self you want to be, the more you’ll learn to understand this discomfort as growth. You’ll learn to embrace it, and even acknowledge it as a sign you’re getting better.

Self-development is hard. It has growing pains that are unique to each of us as well. This specific one is difficult, because none of us wants to feel like we’re alone inside our own minds. But recognizing it, and learning to understand and cope with it, are a huge part of the self-improvement process.

Ultimately, it will help you take ownership of your life and grow in to bigger and better things.

Self-Development Growing Pains: The 1 Thing Nobody Tells You About

be a real adult

I know. What the hell is a real adult?

To be real with you, this title is a bit clickbait. Because the concept of a “real adult” is a bit bullshit.

If you’re an adult, you’re an adult.

I guess what I want you to get out of this post is how to get your life together and be responsible, and what you need to do to make that happen.

Because I want the best for you.

But the fact of the matter is that school doesn’t prepare you for real adult life. And in the case of most of us, our parents don’t either.

Look. As a kid, my parents and home life didn’t set me up for success. I wasn’t given the tools or knowledge or even the examples to have success in my adulthood.

That being said, at 25-years-old, I’ve got my shit (mostly) together. I had to figure that stuff out by myself and in some situations, I had to learn the hard way.

Which is what I want to help you avoid.

Because going into credit card debt? Having a shitty credit score? Not having any savings at all? Not knowing what to look for in a home?

^ That shit will ruin your life. In full.

And we don’t want that, now do we?

Nah. Not at all.

So, I’m here to help you know what stuff you should have in order as an adult in order to set yourself up for success in your adult life.

1. Get a blood work panel

Lol I know this is a very weird first step for “getting your shit together” to be an adult but honestly, it’s important.

You need to have a reference point of young, healthy (hopefully, at least) you in order to know when shit goes south with your health when you’re older.

And if you don’t get this, because it’s not really something they just do at the doctor’s, you won’t really know what’s off in your bloodwork.

Obviously there’s a “base” they can compare your results to, but even that isn’t completely accurate because people have varying levels of what’s healthy for them.

My blood pressure, for example, is naturally very low. It’s about 95/60 on average.

To some, that would be alarming. But to me, if I go in with a blood pressure of 120/80, which is the standard “average” for healthy, it’s actually high blood pressure for me.

See what I mean? You need a baseline and that should be done sooner rather than later.

Medical talk is super boring, but it’s also one of the most neglected areas of our lives when we’re young and that makes our health even more of an issue when we get older.

Do yourself a favor and get ahead of this curve.

2. Start saving

I know, I know! You’ve probably heard this too many times to count but the fact that you’re here, clearly still trying to get your life together, means you likely didn’t listen to this advice the first time around.

Savings makes a difference. Even just the emotional security, knowing that you’ll be aight if something goes sideways, is worth it.

And it’s easier to start than you think.

I honestly just have the Mint app withdraw a monthly sum. Set it and forget it.

That way I don’t even have to think about it, but I’m saving regularly. Most banks have apps that you can do the same thing (I use Mint for other things as well).

But, you know, just do it, as Nike would say. Do it. You’ll feel better. You’ll have more to fall back on, because unexpected shit happens all the time.

3. Exercise and find a form you actually like

Human bodies are meant to move and work. I’m not telling you to work out to get buff or trim or whatever.

I want you to exercise so when you’re 50, you’re not bitching about how bad your back hurts or how you can’t stand up to watch your child/sibling/cousin do that really impressive thing they’re super proud of.

Plus, exercise is linked to all sorts of good things like better sex (heyoooo), a more elevated mood, regulated hormones, reduced stress, and a bang-worthy body.

Who wouldn’t want all of that?

But for real, your body doesn’t just stay how it is forever. You need to work it and strengthen your heart and muscles so you can enjoy a better quality of life when you’re old.

Yeah, shit will get rough when you’re like 70+ anyways, but 40, 50, 60? You can enjoy those years in full if you get into a habit of working out now.

But it’s also important to find a form of exercise you enjoy.

If you hate it, you won’t do it. It’s really that simple but since your health relies on it, and not hating yourself when you’re old also relies on it, finding a form you like matters.

And there’s more to working out than just lifting weights or running.

Here are some alternatives to the common forms of exercising:

  • Zumba
  • Spin classes
  • Pole dancing classes (will get you RIPPED)
  • Yoga (though you should also do a form of more intense cardio)
  • Hip hop dancing (can be in your living room with a Youtube video!)
  • Crossfit
  • Swimming
  • Rock climbing
  • Sex (heyoooo)
  • Biking
  • Tennis / other court sports

4. Learn to stop giving a shit

About what other people think, that is. Because ultimately, you should care even more about what’s important.

So this section should be called, “Learn when to care.”

It does matter. Think about the times you’ve seen an older person (often gray-and-wrinkly-aged) who was engaging in behavior that made you laugh because you couldn’t stop thinking about what other people must be thinking about them.

Because that’s what you were thinking.

But the thing is…those people have gone through life to learn a very important lesson:

Giving a shit about what people think is nearly pointless.

Specifically when it’s people you don’t know or who don’t have much to do with you and your life.

So learning to not care can help you live a much happier life while doing things you fully enjoy.

And on the flip side, you should focus on caring more about what you say you care about. Family? Friends? Your health?

Saying you care and actually caring is the difference between being a child and a real adult. If you say you care about your family, then make sure you do and are prioritizing them in your life.

Lean into your values more, which becomes so much easier when you stop giving a shit about what random people think.

5. Water your damn plants

And give to whatever else you need to.

This can be literal or metaphorical. Literal for me because I get lazy occasionally and let my very-easy-to-maintain house plants die :/


But it can also be metaphorical in the sense that you should feed and give to what needs it for you in order to keep you alive, vibrant, and happy.

And that’s not the same as just doing things you like because let’s be real: not many people like to get up at the asscrack of dawn and hit the gym, but your body needs movement as a human being and therefore, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

6. Do creative things

Adults who suck have no imagination or creativity. In essence, they’ve lost their childlike wonder and outlook.

Those are not “real” adults.

Those are vessels who have been filled with societal expectations and have been drained of what makes them joyful and really, happy.

No matter your personality type, humans need creativity in some form. Even if you’re the most logical person in the world, void of imagination or a creative bone in your body, you need some form of expression.

Because that’s what creativity is, after all. It’s expression.

In school, I loved science. I was fascinated by how it worked and learning about what make our body or the world tick. Which is great, and it meant I took a ton of science classes.

What I didn’t take, were art classes. Until my senior year, that is.

I only needed a few more credits to meet graduation requirements in order to graduate a semester early, and in true senioritis fashion, I took the easiest ones I could think of: art classes.

I wish I had taken more. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so miserable in high school if I had that form of expression, of an outlet.

My point in this is to maintain some sort of childish creativity in your life. It helps deal with all the “real adultness” of your life, making it a hell of a lot more fun.

7. Nurture your relationships

Look. I’m not saying you have to mend all bridges with people in your life but you do have to maintain bridges that are already in place if you don’t want them to fall apart too.

Here are some relationships to think about keeping in great shape:

  • Your family relationships
  • Your friends
  • Your coworkers
  • Relationships with people you see often (think doctor, etc.)

I’ll be honest here: I haven’t been the best person when it comes to maintaining relationships, but I’m learning.

I’m the type of person who doesn’t feel like I have to “keep up” with people daily in order to be close to them. However, other people aren’t like that.

And that’s something to think about.

In relationships, you have to think about the other person’s perception too.

Just because I feel fine with my friendships going weeks without checking in with them doesn’t mean they’re feeling good or okay. Plus, it’s important to just check in to make sure everything is okay with them.

So make an effort, make goals if you have to! I have a goal to check in with two of my sisters I’m not very close with at least once a week. At least.

Just to show them I care. Because I do, and you should think about how you can show others you care about that you do too.

8. Buy some vegetables

Spend more time in the produce section of the grocery store.

I know you don’t want a lecture on eating better because you’ve probably been blasted with that message for…ever.


It’s important. And your future you will thank you for it, just like they will for exercising, no matter how much you hate it.

The truth is that we (especially Americans) have horrible diets filled with preservatives and junk. But if you stick with the produce section and just commit to going to the store once a week (or getting grocery delivery!), you’ll be better off.

Not only will you eat better overall, but opening your fridge to colorful, real food will even be motivating, not to mention the impact it’ll have on other people just visiting.

The more you buy real foods, the more of a real adult you’ll be…instead of a preserved adult.

These are by no means the only ways in which you can be a “real” adult. These are just what I’ve found as a 25-year-old that have led me to have a happier adult life.

What are some tips you have for people looking to be a “real” adult?

How to get your life together and be a real adult: the untold truth