If there’s one thing I’ve come to appreciate while traveling, it's crossing paths with other travelers. I’ve been able to connect with amazing people during phases of personal growth both shared and individually. And, for many of those people, that connection exists outside of time and distance. Carolyn Proteau is one such person.
I met Carolyn during my first and most memorable model trip to New York City. It was the first NYC fashion week for both of us. I’m very happy to have her input on ‘Project Wake-Up’ because her exciting energy has left a lasting impression on my own life.
In the intro (link here) I put forward some ideas about what contributes to confidence. Experience. Calm. Motivation. I’ve asked Carolyn if any of these in particular resonated with her own view on confidence:
“Without my experiences modeling, and those times in NYC, I wouldn’t be who I am now. I thought I was myself. I’m still the same person, I was just too afraid to speak up and assert my input. In those moments it feels like you’re not that far from where you were. Looking back - wow. I’m so much happier now and I’m in a better place.
"When other people tell you who you should be or who you should be like… it’s difficult to avoid being influenced by that. It was honestly a real struggle for me because, by nature, I’m a people pleaser. So when they say 'you have a big nose' or 'your forehead is too big' or 'we wish you were blonde', just know that you can’t please everyone. The way you perceive yourself is not always the way others perceive you. Once I learned that I was much more at one with myself."
Models might be asked by agents or clients to undergo 'makeovers' to create excitement over a new, marketable image. The blonde mention? Not a joke. I wanted to know more about how such an extreme change influenced Carolyn in the days after we parted ways.
"When I came home I had a total melt down. An identity crisis. I came home with a completely different look and my friends were like 'oh my god'. And with the blonde hair - I would look in the mirror and I was looking at a whole other person.
"I also found out around this time that the guy I was seeing had been cheating on me - with my best friend - while I was gone. I started thinking 'am I not good enough?'. I wasn't so upset that he had cheated on me. I was more upset that someone had cheated on me. So yeah, it was a whole thing.
"I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was going to get a nose piercing and I was going to get a tattoo. And thank goodness my friends talked me out of it. I think everyone goes through phases where they’re not sure what they’re doing with their life. When everything piles up at once."
I asked Carolyn for her advice to people when they are in those moments.
"Respect yourself. You're allowed to have off days - but don't allow them to take over your life. I’d also say be comfortable with yourself and don’t be afraid to take risks. Be open to new ideas and 'try everything once'."
Carolyn was able to skype me from Canada between classes and I'm extremely happy to have her input on confidence. She's focusing on psychology and neurological science in university - so I hope to hear more from her later in the project!
And the boy?
"I left him. We go to the same university now. I see him around and he acts like he doesn’t know me. And I’m okay with that. It worked out great because now I have a really nice guy. I'm a believer in everything happening for a reason."
My interview with Carolyn has sparked a lot of thought. What has especially caught my interest has been the talk about overcoming expectations and self-limitations. This is a point where I see my three keys of confidence - experience/calm/motivation - merging.
It takes stressful situations to awaken a clearer confidence. Stress is a sign demanding you to recognize a change in your life. Recognizing the need for change brings the peace of self awareness (calm). Motivation is needed to overcome stress and adapt to the life change.
Carolyn's motto "Try Everything Once" I also think comes two fold. Because a life change can only challenge you until you act on it. Don't let anything challenge you twice xo