Rupi Kaur is an inspirational poet, artist, and author of the very successful, self-published Milk and Honey. In her new fourth book, Healing Through Words, Rupi hopes to motivate others to implement writing in their self-care practices, as writing has been a very crucial part of her life and has had effects on her own mental and physical health. On the cusp of turning 30, Rupi brings her own positive and negative experiences of being in her 20s in hopes of empowering others to take care of themselves while pursuing their goals.
Rupi’s 3 Takeaways From Her 20s
1. Dealing with Imposter Syndrome
After creating Milk and Honey from her college dorm room at the age of 21, which was a rave hit, Rupi experienced imposter syndrome — a persistent fear that one isn’t good enough and a doubt in an individual’s skills or accomplishments — when it came to being an official author. It wasn’t until she published her second book, The Sun and Her Flowers, when her brain could finally accept her profession and writing talent for what it is. Whether it was her own way of thinking or hearing things from others, her early 20s success brought debilitating pressure to continue the initial magic, which she nearly lost. Rupi spent much of her time convincing herself that her best work was not behind her, a haunting thought ever since she was first published. Now, she’s more comfortable than ever to share her work and is excited to meet the future woman she will become. By saying “It doesn’t feel like life is dragging me, I’m kind of in control,” she wants to spread the message to other young people just starting in their careers that they too can find the confidence in feeling powerful in the work they create. She emphasizes how important it is to live for the future instead of dwelling on the past.
2. Work Ethic
With the success of being a New York Times bestseller, Rupi was offered a two book deal contract in October 2016, with her second book on track to release in February 2017. The realization of having a manuscript due soon hit in January of that year, leading to Rupi working in a self-punishing way. She’d lock herself in her San Diego room, writing at her desk for 8-12 hours on end, the opposite of the more fun, creative way she worked on the first book. Like she was, she stresses how important it is to be surrounded by friends and family who support the work you’re doing, as it brings an energy you need to keep pushing forward. These types of interactions are such a big part of being a college student — which Rupi credits for how natural her poetry came to her — and it’s important to take full advantage of this situation and enjoy the time while it lasts. Favored methods of working are different for everyone, which is an important step to learn. Strapping herself to her desk and forcing herself to work was not the way to go for Rupi, causing both mental and physical stress that caused actual sickness, and she wants people to recognize their work limits in order to properly take care of themselves. The second book completely sucked the life from her, causing a deep depression and suicidal thoughts because of how much she was holding onto success. From her experience, it’s crucial to learn healthy ways of working that may be unique to the individual, and not to put your health on the backburner at its expense.
3. Stop & Take Time to Focus on the Present
Much like many 20-somethings, Rupi had an intense decade (described by her like a “tornado, hurricane mess”) of constant problem solving and planning for the future, driven by fear. There’s many learning curves to go through, not just with your career, but finding your true self as an individual. Rupi is raw and honest in sharing how confusing of a time it was for her, and in the midst of everyone seemingly having a fun good time, she felt like the only person who wasn’t enjoying it. Just like she finds it very helpful when other people discuss similar experiences, she wants to share how much of a mess it was for her in order to connect with her audience. Today, she has more of a hang on grounding herself and making decisions based on what she actually wants instead of being timid and scared. She urges others to also try meditation, which she’s currently working on getting back into after heavily relying on it during COVID. Additionally, finding a therapist you have good chemistry and feel comfortable with is so important, as well as exercising and just doing things that feel good for your body. Instead of focusing so much on being hypercritical on yourself, take time to relax and value your peace of mind, which Rupi says is “way too priceless to give up over work.”
To hear more about Rupi’s journey, listen to the full podcast episode!
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