THE IMPORTANCE & IMPACT OF THE PEOPLE YOU IDOLIZE

The people and content you consume has an impact on you, like it or not.

Mentors, heroes, career crushes, spirit animals, and/or people you admire on social media. Whatever you want to call them — these are the people you look up to. What do they say about you? As I’ve matured, the people I admire and the reasons I admire them have changed greatly, which I think is pretty normal.

The funny part is, I feel like I’ve been the same person all along but somehow, at one point, I got caught in the trap of idolizing people for their lifestyles, looks and social circles (or at least how those two things appear on social media). Not only did I idolize these people, but I tried to be like them.

It was like I kept trying to shove the glass slipper on my foot but the shoe just never fit right. The more I tried (even when I couldn’t afford to), the more I struggled with my identity and where I was at. I wasn’t happy, and I felt there was a constant battle going on inside me between forcing myself to fit into this ecosystem and being myself.

Little by little, I started putting down those heavy expectations that I had put on myself. I didn’t even realize how much they had been weighing on me and stunting me from my potential. Eventually I threw the glass slipper out the f*cking window and replaced it with a sneaker. I’ll let you extrapolate what that must’ve looked like in my life, but it took a longggggg freaking time y’all.

From time to time I still catch myself carrying some of that weight. I’m only human, and old habits die hard when these types of influences are everywhere. After all, lusting after social status is good for the economy. *COugh* Kardashians *couGH coUgh*

While some of what I’m talking about might seem obvious, it can actually be really hard to admit to yourself that the stuff you are consuming has an impact on you. Here’s an example: I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but I love watching Youtube videos. Last week I un-subscribed from no less than 20 channels. I finally realized that the lives of the people I watch on Youtube look nothing like my own, which is totally fine and people are entitled to do them, but I hit a point where I had to ask myself “why the HELL am I watching a vlog where someone talks about their $100 face cream in great detail?” Yet, for some reason I’ve mindlessly watched her videos for years.

If I don’t aspire to live like her — what’s the point? 

If you are taking in something that makes you feel less-than for whatever reason, shut that sh*t down. Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat — WHATEVER. Hold it at arms length and ask if it’s serving you to be looking at it.

The most important part of the transition, for me, was seeking out and finding new people to look up to that are living life authentically, passionately and with self-love. Who are unafraid of being different and working on themselves unapologetically. Who are making their own rules, or saying screw the rules altogether. Who are living the example and being brave in their own lives. Who are growing and changing constantly (just like me) and aren’t afraid to admit it. People I can relate to. People who accept me as I am.

They are now my friends. My peers. My family. My idols. My spirit animals (yup I’m one of those annoying people that still says that).

Go forth and find your true self in others you look up to. Or maybe a version of yourself you aspire to be (but not in an unhealthy way, yenno?). Don’t be afraid to explore why you admire them and work hard to cultivate that in yourself. Be around people who lift you up and make you proud to be who you are.


Remember: we are the sum, or average, of the five people we surround ourselves with the most. So don’t be afraid to invite someone you admire out to get a coffee.

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A LOVE LETTER TO ANYONE WHO STRUGGLES WITH SELF LOVE

I know how hard it is to have a lack of self-love, and I love you for it. I want you to love yourself for it too.

I bought a book a few years ago called ‘Unworthy: how to stop hating yourself’. The cover posed the question what would you do today if you didn’t despise yourself? I remember hiding the book from people when I would read it in public.

“If you’ve felt so unworthy, so unlovable, so alone for a long time, then to realize that maybe you can feel a different way about yourself actually makes some people incredibly sad. It feels like coming home — but coming home can unleash a great deal of sorrow. It’s a ‘missed-you-so-much, where-have-you-been’ situation.”

Anneli Rufus

My counsellor at the time told me she thought people might be surprised if they knew how I really felt about myself. I mean, it’s not like you can wear a lapel pin that says “I am full of shame, and I feel like a horrible person.”

To explain, I spent most of my life hating myself. I think the interchangeable saying would be saying I have very low self-esteem, but when I was looking for the book I found above, I Googled how to stop hating yourself.

If I had to describe what it’s like to have a total lack of self-esteem, I would say it’s like sentencing yourself to live in a cave — it’s all out there to experience, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it. You don’t deserve to see sunlight. You convince yourself this is where you belong, and that the world out there isn’t for you. Maybe you’ve gone out before and it made you want to never do it again. You hide yourself, horrified people will see how ugly you really are. You are both the jailor and the prisoner.

What does a lack of self-love look like?

A lack of worthiness can show itself so many different ways. Many of them might look like personality flaws, odd behaviours, or quirks on the surface.

  • Saying sorry too much, because you really are sorry you exist
  • Saying yes to everything, because you are afraid of what will happen if you say no
  • Avoiding choice and leaving your fate in the hands of others
  • Stunting your own growth and blunting your feelings, even the good ones
  • Struggling with vulnerability
  • Replaying the past and letting it dictate your present feelings
  • Driving your life into the ground with self destructive behaviour
  • Deflecting praise
  • Internalizing failure, shame, guilt and error
  • Staying in situations that are unhealthy or don’t make you happy (this also can look like being loyal to a fault)
  • Letting other people’s opinions dictate how you feel about yourself
  • Lashing out or closing down because of shame
  • Wanting things but denying yourself them
  • Getting mad at yourself for not liking yourself, and so forth

Any of these sound familiar?

First things first — these things are not your fault. These behaviours are learned from life experience. I don’t care what anybody says, if you’ve ever felt the pain of feeling worthless, that shit is horrible and equivalent to getting a tooth pulled with no freezing. We adapt to those pains. We act in response to that pain. Sometimes we’d do just about anything to avoid that pain (some of them are a protective mechanism to avoid further pain).

For people reading this who don’t know what this is like, it’s the difference between forgetting someone special’s birthday and thinking “oh shoot, I feel bad, I’ll make sure to send that person flowers and write it my calendar for next year,” and “I’m a shitty friend who isn’t there for the people I care about, I’m going to call them and apologize profusely for forgetting and try hard for the next month to make it up to them.”

Lol true story on my part, but yeah. You get the idea.

Now that I have hindsight, I look back at the things I did as a result of that pain I was causing myself, and I’m not terribly surprised I did them.

Awareness is half the battle. Once you can start recognizing these behaviours and how they impact your life, change comes next. I highly recommend you call in the big guns for change: a counsellor/therapist/psychologist will definitely help get you there faster if your resources will allow for it (work with whichever works best for you).

Even now that my life and feelings toward myself have changed drastically, and I have a very high level of awareness of my self-hatred habits, I haven’t been able to kick them all the way out just yet. And that’s ok. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work.

But we’ll get there.

These thoughts and actions aren’t YOU

It doesn’t matter how we get in the cave, or how deep we are in. Everyone has their own challenges and experiences that drive us in there. I am telling you that no matter what has happened to you, or what you have done, or what has been done to you, you don’t deserve to be in there.

This is going to sound really weird, but every time I feel myself retreating back into the cave, I ask “have I robbed someone lately? hit a pedestrian? lit a house on fire?” Sometimes we feel the need to back in for the smallest of things, but these phrases help put things in perspective sometimes when I think I’ve done something I feel like I’ll  never forgive myself for.

This whole blog is about the moment you step out of the cave into the blinding sun and it’s so beautiful it brings you to your knees.

I remember the moment I realized I could feel differently about myself. I sobbed uncontrollably, not only because I was mourning all the years I’ve spent “in the cave” but also because I had never had hope like that before.

Just because society screams at you to be thinner, smarter, manlier, anything-er doesn’t mean you can’t come out of the cave as you are. It actually means you NEED to come out the cave as you are.

I want to share something I read in that book I mentioned earlier.

“Our true selves are the selves we were before we twisted, bent, and beat ourselves into the shapes we had to take in order to please others: the shapes that we hate. Our true selves are the selves we would have been had no one tried to break or shame or change us. Our true selves are what those who actually love us see in us. Our true selves are who we have always been, even if they have been in hiding all this time. Our true selves are who we will, in that sheer blue zone above self-loathing, always be.”
Anneli Rufus, Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself

The true you is in there somewhere. When you do come out, you be a force to be reckoned with. In the meantime, don’t hate yourself more for it. You’ll get there.

Accepting your experiences

The time you spent hating on yourself? You’ll never get it back. But it taught you a lot, created some really special traits within you, and made your goals and purpose so much stronger. It is not lost time.

Once you realize that you’re worth fighting for, you’ll never be able to un-realize it. The journey from there is a long game full of rediscovery, mistakes and triumphs. Back sliding into the old habits that are well worn grooves in our brains. Charging forward and standing up for ourselves in small ways.

Everything I’ve talked about doing in this blog — finding hobbies, making new friends, learning lessons, letting myself feel sad and so much more — have all been part of my process of coming out of that cave. It has literally been life saving, in every way. Even this blog has been an act of self-love in the face of raging self-doubt.

Just by having a blog, I have become vulnerable. It is terrifying and worth it. Every time I post something, I remind myself that this is for me — as much as it’s for the internet to read.

What have you done for yourself like this? Hold it tight. Appreciate it. Celebrate it. Don’t let anyone take it from you or make you feel differently about it.

What will you start doing? Something to ponder on for your new years resolutions.

Learning to knit won’t undo years of trauma or f*cked up shit, but these things subconsciously say to your brain, “it’s time to start rebuilding regardless of those things.” Every time you try something new you show yourself that anything is possible.

Being good as a result of feeling bad, and asking for a hand up

You can grow positive traits as a result of being someone who hasn’t always felt good about themselves. You might become more compassionate and empathetic, never take a moment of joy for granted, be introspective and maybe “a little too deep/intense” for some people (and that’s ok) and so many other good things.

I am not claiming to be on the other side of self-hatred. More like, I have come out of the cave, cried in happiness a bunch, stumbled around and wondered what the hell to do, and now I’m slowly starting the process of hiking away. It does pull me back from time to time, but the more tools, lessons and tricks I have up my sleeve the better shape I’m in to run further away.

While the war is fought inside your head, having people there is crucial. They can’t fight it for you, but they can be a huge influence on your mindset.

People who can see this struggle to improve in you, and can appreciate it, are worth keeping around.

People who are empathetic and will be vulnerable in return are worth keeping around.

People who hold you accountable to the person you want to be and don’t let you talk shit about yourself or about others are worth keeping around.

People who make you want to love yourself more are worth keeping around.

There is so much self-love in going through the process of rebuilding your self-esteem, even if it doesn’t feel that way. There is love in realizing and acknowledging things need to change. There is love in every small and defiant act of vulnerability. There is so much love in self-compassion and care.

And you deserve it all.


While this post was based on the literature I’ve read and my personal experience, I recognize that everyone’s experiences and situations are very different and I have privilege in being able to afford a counsellor, books and so forth. I wish you all the best on your personal journey, whatever it may look like.

I hope that one day you’ll be able to look back at old journal entries and realize how much you’ve changed. It’s an amazing feeling.

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HOW I’M REPLACING SERIAL MONOGAMY WITH SELF-LOVE

After too many relationships in a row, I decided to stop dating for a year as a new years resolution. Then I talked about it on national radio. (Originally posted Jan. 2018)

Did I ever, in a million years, think I would be writing a piece like this for the internet to read?

Hell to the NO. Hard no. Absolutely not.

I do my best to be vulnerable when I write blog posts. I believe the most relatable and real writing is a byproduct of having the courage to be seen in an authentic way.

With that being said, that doesn’t mean it isn’t scary. While my words seem confident on the screen, that doesn’t mean my hands don’t shake when I write them. Fear still crashes over me in waves, I just try not to let it carry me away.

But nothing could have prepared me for the vulnerability hangover I had after my interview on CBC’s Now or Never.

Ify & Raegan 2
Ify Chiwetelu! And me! At CBC Manitoba! AM I DREAMING?!

Let’s rewind to January 1, 2018.

I wrote down a bunch SMART goals for 2018 in my journal, but there were really only two that stuck out to me as resolutions:

  1. Do as much dangerous stuff as humanly possible (too bad I can’t go BASE jumping in Winnipeg).
  2. Don’t date.

The first resolution I shared with people who asked me if I had any resolutions because I thought it was funny. The second one I only shared with a few friends and family, and when I did, I got a lot of mixed reactions which made me nervous.

I never had the intention of getting on a national radio show and telling my story, but here I am. Telling you to listen to my interview with the amazing Ify Chiwetelu, still absolutely terrified.

//www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=1157120067599

My BFF (who is a producer at CBC), told Trevor and Ify about my blog and my resolution. My immediate reaction was heck ya! Cool! This is an opportunity to be vulnerable in a new format!

Then the dread set in.

I know from experience that if there’s something people have strong opinions about — it’s dating. And love. And sex. It’s also something I’ve historically had a lot of trouble with. For me, there’s generally been a lot of pain, struggle and embarrassment around the topic.

A lot of, “what kind of person can’t be alone for longer than four months?”

As much as the interview is about abstaining from dating, to me, the entire resolution is really about what I’m choosing to do with this opportunity to be alone.

To be clear, I have no regrets about anything that has happened up until this point. I’m just taking stock of where I stand and deciding where I want to go from here.

I have no hard and fast rules around this whole thing (other than staying off dating apps) and that really seems to bother people. Rules, and labels, are often created or used so others can feel more comfortable. For once in my life, I’ve given myself full permission to not give a flying fudge about what anyone thinks about this particular adventure I’m embarking on.

Everyone’s gotta make decisions based on where they’re at and what they’ve gone through — I’m just doing me. Please don’t leave comments describing hypothetical situations asking what I’d do. First of all, my mom has probably already asked. Second, I’ll say the same thing I said to her: “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”

When it comes to dating and how I see myself, I’ve carried enough shame in my life to sink a ship. That shit is heavy. I’m ready to put it down.

You can read the blog post I wrote for the CBC blog  here.


I don’t really know how to end this, so I’ll just say that this song says it all.

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WHAT I LEARNED FROM GOING SOBER FOR TWO MONTHS

I have nothing against drinking. In fact, I get why people do it. This was 100% my choice and it wasn’t brought on by a bunch of binge drinking. Actually…quite the opposite.

The whole point was to shift my thinking so much that I’d never see it the same way again, and I think I was successful. Some of this stuff I already knew, and other things just became really apparent as the weeks went on.

Drinking after a hard day isn’t a given

“I had a rough day/week/month and I deserve this,” is something I definitely used to tell myself.

It’s SO socially normalized to feel entitled to binge drink when things are shitty because we want to forget about whatever’s causing the feeling. All we’re doing is using alcohol to take a break from whatever feelings are consuming us. In my case, I would then wake up hungover and usually more depressed than I originally was. It’s like hitting the pause button on life, HOWEVER, the movie’s still gonna be there for when you come back. Being dry forced me to work through some of my pent-up end of the week negative self-talk in a constructive way. I would go to yoga, put on a guided meditation, cook or bake, go for an insanely long walk outside in the cold, get food with a friend or hit a workout class. Laughing honestly helped more than anything.

I also rage-consumed an entire medium pizza to myself one night, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

Self-confidence doesn’t need to come from alcohol

If I was as confident as I am after five drinks in everyday life, pretty sure I’d own Google or Dominos Pizza by now. I didn’t realize how much I used alcohol to boost my self-esteem and quiet the negative self-talk in my head until I had to go out and meet people over and over again without that crutch.

Buzzed Raegan values herself, calls you on your bullshit and knows she looks good in that outfit, whereas sober Raegan seems to act and think like she’s a homely pile of bricks with nothing to offer.

I figured out I was using the drinks as an excuse to feel confident — almost like it wasn’t ok if I just felt that way about myself in everyday life?? Which is dumb??? Wow someone who likes themselves..how radical and different!!! Not allowed!!!!!!!!

But seriously though, it made me come to terms with the fact that I’m allowed to be ok with myself as I am, as weird as that sounds. I don’t need to hide it or blame it on the booze.

Aiming for mental/emotional sobriety is actually what matters

This basically means not just avoiding drinking, but any behaviour that numbs. For me, I found myself eating junk food to feel better instead of drinking. For some people, it might be shopping or swiping on Tinder. Being sober is about stepping away from those behaviours and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and feel what you’re feeling.

This might sound harsh, but If you’re feeling like ass it’s actually better to just accept it. Numbing is what we do when we can’t accept our bad feelings, or we want to feel only good stuff. We’ve gotta stop telling ourselves we are wrong for feeling sad, angry or heartbroken because these feelings are part of being human.  Forcing those things down or away is sort of like looking at inspirational quotes when you’re not in the mood — it makes your brain want to vomit.

We can’t be happy or feel great all the time. It’s literally just not how life works.

You have one body. Show it all the love you can. ❤️📸: @fierceclarity | #TeamSELF

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Weekends are awesome when your stomach doesn’t feel like a dumpster fire

I have IBS, which basically means that if I have over three drinks it’s going to feel like there’s a colony of seasick fire ants living in my stomach the whole next day. The first Saturday after I broke my dry spell I woke up and was immediately reminded of how shitty it is to be incapacitated by a stomach ache like that for an entire day. I know hangovers aren’t that intense for everyone, but even just the fact that I sleep like shit when I drink is enough to make me a grumpy bitch.

Drinking is way women are “supposed to” bond

I already knew this already from watching a CBC Documentary in 2016 called Girls Night Out but it was good to take a step back and think critically about alcohol and it’s larger function. Critical thinking and questioning usually isn’t best done after having a pint, which is arguably why we have the pint in the first place. Because if we really thought about certain things there would be a big ol’ well of #rage underneath.

Reality television, memes, alcohol advertising, Buzzfeed articles, innocent social media posts (like the Cosmo one above) and more all tell women that it’s ok to use drinks to let down our walls, bond, have a wild night, free ourselves of our hangups and tell each other crazy shit we’d never say sober. It’s literally engrained in us socially. Is it fun sometimes? Hell ya. But it’s truly not necessary if you’re friendships are built on mutual values, trust and girl power *insert sparkle emoji here.*

Drinking doesn’t need to be used to make a chill night even chill-er

Ok don’t stab me, but if you’re having a relaxing night in a glass of wine doesn’t really need to be involved. That’s literally just years of marketing and magazines telling you those two things are correlated.

Remember: just because you’re willingly staying home on a weekend doesn’t make you a grandma or mean you don’t like fun. I hate phrases like that after doing this 60-days-sober thing. I just fucking love sleep, ok? That doesn’t mean I’m 90.

When I would stay home and taking a bubble bath, I had to tell myself wine really isn’t necessary. In some cases, it’s ornamental (a.k.a a carefully balanced glass of wine on the edge of the tub in a hot-dogs-or-legs-style bath pic). In other cases, I was finding it really hard to unwind. The main thing I learned — that I already knew, but needed reminding of — is that sleep is amazing and restorative and has the ability to change your mood and improve your life more than a face mask and a glass of merlot. But the economy doesn’t make money off me getting nine hours of shuteye sooOOoooOOoo ya.


Just know that I’m not coming from a holier-than-thou place where I’m saying I’ll never drink again. In fact, I did miss good ol’ beer and wine during January and February, but I now fully understand the role alcohol plays in my life and that seriously outweighs my love of a good rosé.

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