Everyone, meet Valerie Nies and Regina Soto, the two hilarious women behind the weekly podcast Help Wanted, where they interview experts on self-help topics. From first listen, their funny and heartfelt exploration of each subject stands out. They truly want to learn more about living differently, and they bring listeners along for the journey.
Tell me about yourself and what you do:
Valerie - I write marketing communications during the day. My evenings are filled with creative projects: writing, performing, and watching comedy (I host a regular stand-up showcase at The Institution Theater) and producing and co-hosting Help Wanted.
Regina - I'm an improviser and a podcaster living in Austin, Texas. I work for the wonderful state of Texas for my day job and enjoy being a part of the thriving Austin improv community at night along with recording Help Wanted. I have two of the sweetest dogs anyone could ask for and I cook a mean steak.
What motivates you to do what you do?
V - Validation, usually in the form of laughter, from other people.
R - I enjoy making people laugh, I have since I was a kid. Improv and podcasting allows me to do that and collaborate with some amazingly talented people at the same time. My end goal is to leave the world better than I found it. My hope with our podcast, Help Wanted, is that people will be able to relate to our honesty and ourselves and get some helpful life tips at the same time.
Tell me about a moment when you felt truly awesome:
V - I felt truly awesome when I first published a piece in McSweeney's -- a humor website I've loved since college but didn't have the guts to submit anything until over a decade later. That lasted about a day. In the 6th grade I took first place in the school-wide geography bee, which surprised even me. The prize was a book on natural disasters from National Geographic, which is super funny to me. "Congratulations on knowing about European mountain ranges! Now read this book about wind speed destruction during tornadoes!" I think this might in part explain why I enjoy success for about a second before I'm overcome with dread and anxiety.
R - I was a radio DJ many years ago. I had an idea for a half hour talk show. I wanted to talk about self-improvement topics and how to live a better life. I decided to pitch it to the President of the radio station, I so I asked him for an hour of his time, drafted up a plan to pitch to him and summoned every bit of confidence that I could find to tell him my dream. He said, "Yes, do it!" I walked out of there amazed that I had the guts to do it and that I was heard and that I got what I wanted. I felt truly awesome.
How do you get through periods of self-doubt?
V - This is a fascinating question. I experience a lot of self-doubt with writing. The path out of it for me usually involves reveling in it first. I feel doubtful, I procrastinate and distract myself with things of varying degrees of self-destruction. I'll wast time comparing myself to others on social media, binge-watching critically acclaimed comedy, shopping, Tinder, involving myself with someone else's problems, lately I've been into small-batch artisanal ice cream. Eventually something shakes me out of it; I think I get tired of listening to myself and isolating, and I start desiring connection with other people who are doing what I do.
R - Self-doubt is tough. It'll stop you from even trying anything new, because you can talk yourself out of it so easily. I still allow myself to have thoughts of self-doubt, but I push forward and past them. When I was younger, I read a book called, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. It changed my life. It's okay to have doubt and fear, but you have to do things anyway. Oftentimes you have to do them while you're feeling scared. I realized that the more I did things I did think that I could do, the more confidence I gained. Even if I didn't succeed, I learned something either about myself or how to do it the next time I tried.
What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance and self-celebration?
V - Self-acceptance and celebration feel unnatural and challenging to cultivate. I'm super fortunate in that I'm surrounded by an army to remind me to do this: my therapist, friends, strong women mentors, massage therapist and self-help resources... So I think what I want other women to know is that it's our role to help other people remember to accept and celebrate themselves, because no one is going to remember to tell herself that on her own, all the time. Also, Louise Hay has a bunch of books and audio on affirmations, which sound cheesy, but I think help.
R - I want women to know that not accepting yourself as you are is really an attack on your spirit. It makes life harder and sadder and takes joy away from the moments that could be wonderful. Life is hard enough. We don't need to add no accepting ourselves into the mix. Once you accept and celebrate who you are and what you bring to the table, life becomes easier because it's one less thing to obsess about and worry about and be sad about. We're not perfect. Our bodies aren't perfect, but who cares? We need to cherish ourselves and be grateful for what we have and not focus on what we don't have. The older I get, the more I realize how much time I've wasted putting myself down or comparing myself to others. I want to be comfortable with myself because it makes life so much more fun.
See what I mean about honesty and hilarity? I love that Valerie and Regina speak to the struggles with self-doubt. Those feelings and real, and you can also work through them. We can forget that sometimes. It takes effort, but it is possible! I also appreciate the tips of surrounding yourself with supportive people and cherishing ourselves for who we are. So great! If you want to learn more about their work, you can check out Help Wanted here.
If you want to learn new ways to accept yourself, check out my offering for therapy boot camp. In five sessions, you will walk away with a new sense of self-acceptance and new ways to fight your self-doubt.