Full-time Graduate Student, Part-time Influencer
If there's an "overdue" blog post of mine, it's definitely this one. The main question I get from those that follow me on Instagram is, "How do you balance being a student and running your Instagram?" So, I'll cover that below, along with a few other questions related to the topic that some of you have asked me. I have just started my fourth year in a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program (out of a total of 5 years) at California School of Professional Psychology here in Los Angeles. None of it has been easy, but all of it has been so worth it. Here are some questions you all have sent over for me to answer, related to both my school and social media life:
When did you start your Instagram, why did you start it and how did it grow?
I started my Instagram the exact same time that I started my program as I had just moved from San Diego to Los Angeles, without knowing a single person in this city. I became a certified yoga instructor and really wanted friends that shared the same interests with me or that I could go to yoga classes with. So, I created my Instagram with the hope to find those friends. I started off doing a couple of "yoga challenges" and just wanted to record the beginnings of my yoga practice. I originally went to college for a degree in photojournalism, as I loved both photography and writing, but since I changed directions, I was happy to find myself narrating my yoga progress through Instagram using these skills. It truly became a hobby for me and I found friends almost immediately. I had no intention of growing a "following," but if I could pinpoint why it grew, I would say it had to do with those two skills, photography and writing. I used my eye to create photos that inspired me, which turned out to inspire others, but at the same time I opened up and wrote captions that were vulnerable and that others connected with. Due to the growth of my career in Psychology, I obviously am unable to be as vulnerable and open about myself as I used to be, so I now focus on incorporating my passion for mindfulness, yoga and meditation to promote wellness.
How did you choose your Psychology program and what was the process like?
When I was in undergrad, I knew I wanted to go for my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, specifically at California School of Professional Psychology because most of the psychologists I spoke with and worked with at the time graduated from there. So, I knew right away this was the path I wanted to take and I only applied to this program, grateful to have been accepted. Specifically, I chose the Ph.D. because I wanted to expand in my learning and potential opportunities as I definitely knew I wanted to be a practicing psychologist/clinician, but wanted the option to do research and teach as well.
How do you incorporate mindfulness, yoga and meditation into your schooling/psychotherapy?
Being a yoga and meditation instructor on the side while learning how to be a psychologist has been such a wonderful experience. I was immediately drawn to the topic of mindfulness as I felt it was parallel to how I wanted to provide therapy to clients. There is a specific therapy known as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy that has a mindfulness aspect to it and out of all the various types of therapies, I would say this one most defines my approach in the therapy room. What really intrigues me about this therapy is it's belief that human suffering or "psychological inflexibility" is a result of experiential avoidance. In other words, the more we avoid a specific emotion, the stronger it is. I really connect with the "acceptance" and "self as context" processes as they basically encourage individuals to have a willingness to experience the specific emotion that they are trying to avoid and then having an awareness or mindfulness of the emotion and be able to separate or detach themselves from it.
Do you have any advice for staying motivated in school?
The biggest piece of advice, as cliche as it may be is, be sure that you LOVE what you do. It's that simple. I see my education as an investment in creating the life I want to live, a life of helping others and supporting others in their growth through difficult times. After a year of seeing clients, I am still motivated because I know that everything I am learning is just contributing to making me a better therapist for my future clients. Trust me, being a psychologist is not a career to enter into if you like money, but it's everything if you want to contribute even a small bit toward changing people's lives for the better.
What does a typical day in your life look like and how do you balance it all?
HAH. You know, this is a tricky one. First off, I am in no way perfectly "balanced."And I truly think this just goes hand in hand with the previous question of how I stay motivated. I love learning and seeing clients and then also being able share my thoughts through social media, while also creating amazing content and collaborating with brands. At the moment I'm pretty much in school or at my practicum site seeing clients 3 days a week all day and the other days I am seeing clients for a psych assistantship, creating content for Instagram, getting in a good fitness class or spending time with my husband, dog and friends. Honestly, everything else comes first before my social media piece of my life, so I've learned to create boundaries. For example, I don't let myself respond to every single DM or email that comes through because that's time that's being taken away from my loved ones and my schooling. I absolutely read all of them, but unfortunately, it's just not doable to respond to all of them as much as I would love to. Instead, I aim to answer them as I am doing so here. Also, I am okay with "falling behind" on social media and on this blog because it just means that I am doing other big things. The same goes for letting go of being perfect at really anything. I have to spread my time and energy in so many different areas of my life and I choose wisely where I do.
So, that's it! Have any more questions? Feel free to email them to me or comment below. XO