When you feel like you'll never accomplish anything

It was Sunday evening and I was eating dinner and spending time with my family when somebody mentioned my 20th birthday coming up soon, and I basically started crying and opening up about feeling like a fraud and a failure because I still haven't accomplished anything meaningful.

Sure, graduating high school was neat. Okay, getting into film school as one of forty chosen out of six hundred who applied was pretty cool. Yeah, writing a novel before the age of sixteen was something I used to be really proud of. Yup, I have traveled quite a lot these past two years and it's been amazing how much it's made me grow as a person. And having a thousand followers on instagram isn't something all people have, either. Alright, parents, I see your point.

I feel like I've done nothing, but when you make it into a list like that, it does kinda prove me wrong.

Still, many tears were shed that day. I'd had hidden frustration building up inside me for quite a while, and apparently my time of the month decided for me that it was the perfect time to tackle all that secret worry, insecurity and doubt in these artistic endeavours I call my life.

I spent an hour crying to my parents about long lost friends I miss and want to reconnect with, unexplored ideas I've been putting off because I'm afraid that the time I've been given isn't sufficient, doubts I have about my abilities as a creator and worries of not being helpful enough in this world that's clearly shouting out for more magic, love and inspiration.

I know what the world needs from me, but I'm not sure if I'm good enough. What if I give my all and work until I can't do more, and it still doesn't change anything. What if I'm stupid for trying to do something that hasn't been done before.

Wouldn't I be better off settling for a little bit less? Wouldn't it be easier to do what's already been done and not waste my time fighting my brains out for something that may never work out?

Thoughts like these are scarse in my life these days, but that doesn't make them any less scary, or the doubts any less real. We can be going in the right direction and still wonder if it's wrong.

I had my first age crisis when I was twelve years old. I've always known what I want from my life and who I want to be. It's changed a lot as I've grown older, but I've always had a clear vision.

It's an advantage, because life decisions are pretty easy. But it's also a curse, because I'm always judging and comparing myself to that vision. Why am I not there yet? Why have I spent four years rewriting this book when my plans were to have it published before the age of eighteen?

I had it all planned out. On paper. Seriously, when I was fifteen years old and about to start high school, I made a detailed plan of the next fifteen years of my life. Books I would publish, films I would make, trips I would go on, people I'd date, when I'd get married, where I would live... Everything was written on paper, because I've always believed in the power of the written word.

If you write something into the world, it comes back to you.

So why am I still rewriting, stressing about my existence and struggling with speaking to people?

It's because no matter how good our intentions are, our purpose is always to first and foremost learn, and then maybe find success on the way. That means that with every difficult day we get closer to that fairy tale ending, but the hard days will still keep coming.

Fight for the fairy tale, but trust in the right timing.

If I'd felt like my novel was good enough, then I would've published it at eighteen. But that would have been a mistake, because it didn't feel right. I wasn't ready to step into the publishing world because I didn't know enough about the business, and I definitely didn't have enough life experience to survive that process.

Mistakes are good for you, but when something doesn't feel right, you save yourself a lot of pain down the road if you follow your intuition instead of some goal you wrote when you were fifteen.

I don't know if anyone can actually relate to this, because I was a pretty crazy, very intense fifteen-year-old, but we all feel at some point like life is just passing by and we're just here, trying to survive and not being what we wish we'd be. The clocks are ticking everywhere around us, and no matter how hard we try to be everything we dreamed of, we can't see ourselves getting anywhere.

It's a bumpy road, and we won't be dancing every step of the way. But we still keep moving forward. Tears drying on our cheeks or mud staining our knees. Sometimes it helps to glance back and realise just how far we've walked, despite not seeing the destination ahead. But then we keep doing what we need to be doing in order to some day get there.

And a little bit of progress every day will get you there. That's just a fact.

Lord of the Rings took Tolkien twelve years to write, and he's called a genius. Nobody cares that it took that long. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was written in ten years, and again, nobody cares. Michael Crichton researched and wrote Jurassic Park in eight years.

Compared to those, my four years isn't bad at all. I still have eight more years if I want to reach the level of excellence JRR Tolkien had. With every word, I'm learning, I'm growing, my story is evolving.

I've scrapped that 15-year plan now, because it serves me no purpose other than making me feel bad. And if I want to be published by 25, I really don't have time for feeling bad.

Just kidding.

Don't put time limits on your journey. Just love every step of the way and know that when you're ready, when you've worked hard and learned a lot and trusted the right timing, you'll realise all that struggling and pushing forward has already taken you there without you even noticing.

That's how I overcame my horrible social anxiety. I just kept going forward and learned to love the process of being scared and overcoming that fear. And now I'm here, knowing that if I repeat the same steps for my creative work, I'll get there.

Remember, slow progress always wins no progress.

Just always be dancing in your heart, trust the right timing and find your own brilliance. Fill your days with what you love doing most, and that timing and all the brilliance will find you too.

Love, Em.

A lack of good books? (Review of Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young)

I don't really do book reviews because I don't enjoy writing them, but here's an almost book review by yours truly :)

“I was the ice on the river. The snow clinging onto the mountainside.” 
- Sky in the Deep, Adrienne Young

I picked this up in a book shop in Stockholm because of the gorgeous cover, but then I read the first page and I had to buy it despite never buying hard backs because they're so expensive.

I also tend to stay away from YA books these days. I'm just not a teen anymore, and while I can relate to teenager problems, it's kind of tedious to keep reading about struggles I'm already done with. Do you get what I mean?

There's just an overflow of sucky YA and I've only gotten through five books this year because I'm in that weird phase where I hate young adult, but most adult books bore me to death. Which is horrible for someone who tries to be an author, you know... I just dislike most books these days and it's so sad.

While this book certainly had its flaws, it wasn't a disappointment. I almost read it all in one sitting because it kept me so immersed and engaged in the story. I wasn't facepalming at the stupid characters all the time or throwing the book on the floor or rolling my eyes at clunky/silly/immature prose because I just couldn't handle the childishness.

On the contrary, this book actually helped me regain some of my faith in books again, and inspired me to be writing more on my own book. These characters were neat. The dialogue felt real. It was a good book.

It would've been cool if the love interest actually had a reason to love the protagonist, but this is young adult, and you really can't expect that much of teens... xD

They say that if you can't find a book you like, it's a sign that you need to write your own. And for the past year it's felt like the signs are slapping me in the face, yelling: "Write it! WRITE IT!"

So I try, harder than ever, and hope that my book will finally satisfy my desire for a great story.

Sometimes the best things are born from a sense of lack. So maybe it's a good thing that I can't find books I love, because it's forcing me to be the creator of something better.

It's also making me seriously doubt my writing capabilities... But one step at a time, right?  

What's the best book you've read recently?

Social media with purpose

If you're not lds, also known as mormons, you won't know this, but there's been a lot of talk in our community lately about social media and its effects on us. Our wonderful prophet Russell M. Nelson challenged all of us to participate in a seven-day social media detox. The purpose was to find out how social media affects us personally and plays a part in our day to day lives and also essentially our spiritual lives.

I believe that taking a break from all this is a great thing. We live in the middle of an information overload and it's clear that having the whole world at our fingertips has changed how our brains work. Humankind is amazing at adapting to things, but sometimes I wonder if we're too good at it.

See, when we have so much, we start taking things for granted, and then we only seek more and more. The end result is shorter attention spans, likelihood to fall into depression, decrease in productivity, literal death of social skills and messed up value systems, among many other not so very nice things.

This isn't new. We're bombarded with these negatives all the time. About the world. About ourselves. About social media.

Because the negativity is all over social media.

So I get it. It's great to take a step back and rest from it all.

But there's a reason I haven't quit social media yet. The reason is: social media gives my life meaning and my days purpose.

Sounds totally wrong, I know. But there's no denying that it's true. Trust me, I've tried to deny the fact that it makes my life better. I'm someone who hates attention, who loves to spend time alone and who would happily be completely invisible a couple days a week. I don't like the fact that I could do one weird or funny thing online and in a few days the whole world could be seeing it. It terrifies me.

If it was about me, I'd let all of my social media accounts be private and only visible to my three closest friends and some family members.

It's not about me, though, so that's not going to happen.

We live in a time when we truly have the entire world at our fingertips, a whole network of people, videos, articles, music, photos, information... that fits in the palm of our hand.

Think about that. You really should think about that more often. You should marvel at the fact that you can say "Hi!" to someone on the other side of the world and they'll be receiving your message in under a second. That used to take weeks, months or even years!

I love social media because it helps me help people. I receive messages, questions and suggestions for blog post/video topics almost every day and it's incredible to be in touch with so many wonderfully talented, creative people.

I'm vulnerable and brutally honest at my own expense because I've seen how it affects people, and because of that I can't just quit because it scares me.

I try my best to be the sunshine in somebody's day--seriously, it's one of the first things I pray about every morning--and the internet is the best tool I could ask for.

We can share quotes, inspirational messages, motivating stories or even just funny cat gifs to make each other smile. The purpose of social media is just that: to smile.

My rule with my social media usage is simple. If it doesn't make me happy, I get rid of it. If it causes me to stress, become anxious, compare myself to others or feel in any way inferior, I know it's not good.

Our purpose with social media should be just like our purpose with anything else. To feel loved, share love and be loving.

There's really nothing else to it.

Taking a break can help us see what part social media plays in our lives, and better see how our days would be without it. The average person spends about two hours on social media every day. That's two hours that could be spent bettering yourself or learning something new. Maybe all you need is to become more aware of your social media habits so that you can use social media better as a tool to do those things.

To better make yourself and others smile.

I am going to try a short social media detox soon, and I can't wait to get so much extra time to work on my passions and follow my dreams. I recommend you try it too.

Virtual hugs :*

3 easy habits to make your life easier

We all know life isn't easy, but there are things you can do to make it a little easier for yourself.

Here are three daily habits that are easy to do, but which I could not live without:

1. Make your bed each morning

As a kid, I was never taught to make my bed. That's just not a thing my family ever did. When I grew older, I noticed my younger sister making her bed and paying much attention to how her room looked, but I just couldn't care less.

Now that I'm at that age where you live in your own place and call yourself an adult (whatever that means??), I can see the appeal.

I mean, it looks much nicer and cleaner when the pillows aren't on the edge of falling to the floor and the blankets aren't in messy heaps all over the place.

But the main reason I make my bed is because it's a nice routine. If I have to get out of bed to make my bed look pretty in the morning, that's going to take both physical and mental effort.

There's a Swedish proverb that goes: "Som man bäddar får man ligga", which basically is the equivalent of "What goes around comes around".

But if you translate it word by word, it means "As you make your bed, you will lie in it".

I believe it's like that with most things in our lives. If we put in minimal effort, we get minimal results. If we work hard, good things will come.

If I start my day by making my bed instead of scrolling through messages I've received during the night or getting lost on social media feeds, my entire day will be much more productive.

2. Spend half an hour in the woods every day

It's a scientific fact that spending time out in nature affects our brain in so many positive ways. It improves our memory and ability to focus; helps fight stress, depression and anxiety, but also aids in keeping us physically healthy by boosting our immune system; and makes us feel lighter, happier and more fresh immediately.

To me, forests are magical places where there is only me, the nature and nothing else. Sometimes I bring out some snacks or a book with me so that I can just sit there in my own fantasy world and let go of everything else.

Now this is a difficult one to do if you live nowhere near a forest, but if that's the case, I suggest you to pop in a calm ambient playlist and go for a walk around the block. That fresh air and those soothing sounds will work as your own, personal little forest trip.

3. Write morning pages

You may have heard about this already, but it's in late years become very common for creators or online entrepreneurs to swear by something called 'morning pages'.

What they morning pages are depends on the person, because morning pages can be absolutely anything. The only rule is to write two or three pages every morning as a part of your daily waking up routine.

Our brains rest during the night, but they also never stop working. When you're sleeping, you are actually sorting through all the day's events and making connections between things, and in the morning we can often feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done.

Morning pages have helped me immensely in emptying my mind and clearing my thoughts after a night of dreaming about stressful situations and reacting to the weirdest things my brain could ever create.

So to declutter your head, write it all out in a stream of consciousness manner, and you'll feel so much less stressed or overwhelmed in the mornings. And even if you just end up ranting about food, movies or some other current phenomenon, it's a great way to start your day by just getting it all out there. Begin each day with an empty slate!

Remember to smile and try your best. Don't make these habits sources of stress in your life, but instead see them as necessary breaks from your daily shenanigans.

Love life and life will love you :)


12 science-backed reasons to spend more time outdoors

Defining your dream life

The city life is exciting and all, but this morning I spent some time painting with my mind, traveling into the far future and discovered some things:

1. I'll be living in a cozy farmhouse or a little cottage somewhere even more North than I already am right now.

2. Two cats, a dog (bjelkier or alaskan malamute named something russian, sami or inuit. Don't make me decide on a name yet or I'll be adopting a puppy tomorrow), at least three chickens and maybe some quails will keep me company on those bright summer nights and sunless, cold winter days.

3. Maybe I also have a cow, because cows are so close to my heart. And you really get used to the smell so fast. Seriously, city air is much worse. Cows are the whales of our meadows, and you know just how much I adore whales.

4. If I'm not actually living in Iceland, I'll make it an important thing to travel there at least once every year. I'm not sure what this weird attachment is that I have to Iceland, but I've got viking blood so let's just pretend it's my home.

5. All my days will be spent out in nature with my animals and my family, doing work around the house (because if it's an old one, it's going to take a lot of work. Wonderful, but hard, work), writing my fantasy books, making little movies here and there, and selling paintings and other works of art to pay for my adventures.

The more I let my mind wander, the more specific the image became. Now it's like a film clip I can play in my mind whenever I'm not sure what to do or how to act. I've always got an idea of what I wanted, but now it's a roadmap.

I want sunsets among the reeds. I want snowflakes in my hair and to smell like smoke after having pancakes in the woods. I want to stand on a cliff and feel the ancient spirit voices of my ancestors singing to me through the wind. I want the breeze to tug at my hair and water drops to prickle my cheeks when rain pours down.

Cow bells. Midsummer celebrations. Night swims. Sauna songs.

The scrape of skates against ice. A steaming cup of hot chocolate while buried in snow. Layers upon layers of sweaters and frozen eyelashes.

And I'll get none of it unless I work for my dreams. So get to work.

Imagine. Daydream. Write a list.

But when you have a list, don't stay so focused on the end goal that you forget about the process. Sure, it's great to think about what your life is going to look like in five, ten, twenty years. It's necessary. But even more necessary is putting in the hours to actually make it happen.

Write your book. Become financially independent and self sufficient. Learn the skills. Gain knowledge. Prepare. 

Work. Work. Work.

Dreams don't work unless we do. But if we truly put in all we have into our desires, then we'll get everything we think we deserve.

Define your success, then get there.