Lauren was bullied growing up, sexually assaulted when she was 16, and fought an eating disorder through her high school and college years. Her road to self-acceptance has been long and hard, but now she is dedicated to helping others pave their own road.
Lauren is the entrepreneur behind the WhatIsPerfection blog, a self-improvement blog for “the imperfect girl everywhere.” Her mission is to help women find happiness, feel beautiful, and be confident in who they are. “We all deserve to be happy, and we all deserve to be the best version of us. And we are truly capable of getting there. Because Perfection is Impossible. Happiness isn’t.”
Let’s start with some background. Where are you from? What was your favorite thing to do as a kid?
Hi! I am Lauren Eliz, of the What is Perfection Blog. I grew up in Long Island with my two sisters and larger than life Italian parents. Growing up was definitely an adventure for me. I lived on a block with a bunch of kids my age. Most of us, including me, went to Catholic School. Our classes were really small and I was basically with the same group of 50 kids from kindergarten through eighth grade. I was bullied a lot and didn’t really have a solid group of close friends. Then in high school I went to an even bigger Catholic school — and had over an hour long bus ride each day! I didn’t really like going to a private school. I hated wearing a uniform and learning about morality in a way that tried to make everyone be the same, act the same, and have little unique opinions about life. There weren’t many outlets for being creative or expressing your individuality. And being a creative person, that was really tough. I loved performing and spent much of my teenage free time performing in small theater shows around Long Island. And writing. I was always always writing: Music, Songs, Poems, Short stories – Anything and Everything. I guess my childhood is really what made creativity so important to me. It was what made me ME and allowed me to stand out in a world where everything was supposed to be plain and simple.
Take me through your typical day.
My Typical Day has changed over the last few months since starting the What is Perfecton blog. The five years before What is Perfection launched, I was a television producer for CBS News, and my typical day was chasing national stories, editing video all over the world and spending late nights getting important stories on television. But as exciting as that sounds, my typical day now is even more exciting! I get started working on blog projects from the minute I wake up till I head off to bed. I fill my days with photography shoots, brainstorming new ideas for stories and connecting with amazing women all over the world. I am still telling stories that matter, but with these stories, I somehow feel like I am making more of a difference in the world. My typical day is now spent being creative, expressive and allowing myself to be vulnerable. And I love that.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’m pretty sure I always knew I wanted a creative life… and I am almost certain I always dreamed of being a writer. It was just in my soul from the moment I started living. Then when I got older and went to high school, I was set on being Broadway star. I used to take classes in Manhattan every weekend to perfect my singing voice and auditioned for colleges across the country. But then once I got there, it didn’t feel right to me. I grew up, and realized I didn’t want to just recite someone else’s writing… I wanted to tell my own stories.
On your site, you talk about going from feeling like you were never good enough to embracing your imperfections. Tell me a little bit about that journey. Was it a gradual ‘awakening’? Or did you just wake up one day and say “OK, that’s enough of that!” Were/Are there any rituals or mantras or habits you have gotten into to help you get from where you were to where you are?
There was no specific Ah-ha moment for me…. no time in my life where the lightbulb turned on and I was like.. OH NO I AM LIVING WRONG! But looking back at my life I can definitely pinpoint the moments where my journey took serious turns off course to bring me where I am today. For those of you who don’t know my imperfection story, I can sum it up for you: I was lost in insecurity my whole life. I was bullied growing up, and became obsessed with my body image. I suffered an eating disorder, sexual assault, a suicide attempt and a few other traumatizing things that really shaped my low self image. But my life has completely changed since then. I have found an amazing happiness and self confidence I never thought possible. I guess the big turning point for me was when I got divorced and lost my whole “perfect” life that I thought I finally had. That was really what pushed me over the edge and really forced me to do some serious soul searching. The three years after that I adapted some new habits that really turned my life around. I started reading self help books and tried to educate myself about all the emotional qualities I was missing in my life. I realized that no one else can shape my destiny but me. And if I didn’t start loving myself, I would never be confident enough to live a happy life being true to who I was and accepting myself for me. Journaling was really the ritual that allowed me to grow. I got really into it during my moments of self discovery. I’d ask myself things like, “What does the perfect life look like to me?” and “What is Happiness?” Writing all of those things out really forced me to look deeply at what I wanted, who I was, and where I wanted my life to take me. I also found means of meditation — like running, and coloring therapy. Those things really helped too.
Who is your favorite Power Ranger? Or Disney Princess? Or character?
I wasn’t ever really into power rangers.. And Disney princesses were cool and all, don’t get me wrong. But I was definitely a “different” kid. I was Mighty Mouse one year for Halloween.. and Beast from Beauty and the Beast another year. My favorite character though was always Simba. I guess I liked the idea of transforming your identity and finding happiness – even at a young age.
What was the best piece of advice you have received? What was the worst?
The best piece of advice I ever got was to always be true to myself. No matter what. The worst piece of advice? Well… I’ve been told to just trying a fit in, or to just let go of the past, or things like, “stop being so dramatic.” Those are bad things to tell anyone. You should never try to be someone for someone else… or just try to please other people. And that advice can make for some serious pretend living that is just incredibly unhealthy. I am me. No one should ever try and change that.
You get into a packed elevator. Which way do you face?
If I ever got stuck in a elevator with a group of people, I’d probably be the one organizing some fun game to pass the time. So I would make everyone sit in a circle and share their deep dark secrets so we could all become best friends.
What is your ideal state? (In a perfect world, what are you doing? Where are you living? Who is surrounding you?) How will you get there?
This is my perfect ideal state. I am living my dream, I am surrounded by people who love me. Where I am living doesn’t matter. I am happy. And that is the only thing I need.
What is the best song to sing in the shower?
What is your definition of beauty?
Beauty is something internal. It is not how you look or what you wear. To me, beautiful is something that happens when you connect with who you are and live true to yourself every single day. It shines through you. It radiates. You live life treasuring yourself and the people you love.. and that makes beauty.
All images from WhatIsPerfection.com (edits my own)
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