Slo Mo: A Podcast with Mo Gawdat

Elina St-Onge - Surviving as a Young Woman in the Modern World

July 19, 2020 Episode 27
Slo Mo: A Podcast with Mo Gawdat
Elina St-Onge - Surviving as a Young Woman in the Modern World
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Slo Mo: A Podcast with Mo Gawdat
Elina St-Onge - Surviving as a Young Woman in the Modern World
Jul 19, 2020 Episode 27

I came across Elina St-Onge after seeing a video she created on Facebook called "An Uplifting Perspective In These Chaotic Times" that featured clips of me speaking. I started following her vlog that documented her attempt at 100 days of meditation. Her vulnerability, or in other words "realness", captivated me. She invited me to speak on her team's podcast at The Uplifted Life, and I wanted her on Slo Mo. The result is something very special, an authentic document on what it's like to grow up as a young woman in this generation.

Elina is a self-taught video editor, graphic designer, copywriter, photographer, singer and songwriter who works as the content creator for Uplifted Life, a company dedicated to help individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses to thrive from the inside out. 

While she may have found her gifts and place in the world today, her childhood and time in school was plagued with rejection from peers and a chronic sense of not belonging, of being "dumb" for not measuring up academically, and of teachers recommending Ritalin as early as her first year of elementary school.

Listen as we discuss:

  • Her journey of unlearning the heavy burden of self-hatred and feeling broken from a system that seemed to highlight her weaknesses rather than her strengths
  • How she is finally learning to love herself, know her worth and work with the way she is wired as opposed to fighting against it
  • Her goal of becoming her "own best friend"
  • How attempting 100 days of meditation, and not finishing, taught her that goals can often defeat their own purpose
  • Looking for her tribe and the lonely millennial struggle of looking for belonging
  • The sobering realization that she is not broken and the true battle of "Me vs. Me"
  • Looking for love in all the wrong places
  • ADHD and what we think it actually is
  • The difference between "Bye, bye, childhood" and "Bye, bye, childhood traumas"
  • Women in comedy
  • Squirrels

Instagram: @mo_gawdat
Facebook: @mo.gawdat.official
Twitter: @mgawdat
LinkedIn: /in/mogawdat

Connect with Elina St. Onge on Instagram @elinastonge and YouTube
Find her work on Facebook at UpliftedLife

Don't forget to subscribe to Slo Mo for new episodes every Monday and Thursday. Only with your help can we reach One Billion Happy #onebillionhappy.

Show Notes Transcript

I came across Elina St-Onge after seeing a video she created on Facebook called "An Uplifting Perspective In These Chaotic Times" that featured clips of me speaking. I started following her vlog that documented her attempt at 100 days of meditation. Her vulnerability, or in other words "realness", captivated me. She invited me to speak on her team's podcast at The Uplifted Life, and I wanted her on Slo Mo. The result is something very special, an authentic document on what it's like to grow up as a young woman in this generation.

Elina is a self-taught video editor, graphic designer, copywriter, photographer, singer and songwriter who works as the content creator for Uplifted Life, a company dedicated to help individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses to thrive from the inside out. 

While she may have found her gifts and place in the world today, her childhood and time in school was plagued with rejection from peers and a chronic sense of not belonging, of being "dumb" for not measuring up academically, and of teachers recommending Ritalin as early as her first year of elementary school.

Listen as we discuss:

  • Her journey of unlearning the heavy burden of self-hatred and feeling broken from a system that seemed to highlight her weaknesses rather than her strengths
  • How she is finally learning to love herself, know her worth and work with the way she is wired as opposed to fighting against it
  • Her goal of becoming her "own best friend"
  • How attempting 100 days of meditation, and not finishing, taught her that goals can often defeat their own purpose
  • Looking for her tribe and the lonely millennial struggle of looking for belonging
  • The sobering realization that she is not broken and the true battle of "Me vs. Me"
  • Looking for love in all the wrong places
  • ADHD and what we think it actually is
  • The difference between "Bye, bye, childhood" and "Bye, bye, childhood traumas"
  • Women in comedy
  • Squirrels

Instagram: @mo_gawdat
Facebook: @mo.gawdat.official
Twitter: @mgawdat
LinkedIn: /in/mogawdat

Connect with Elina St. Onge on Instagram @elinastonge and YouTube
Find her work on Facebook at UpliftedLife

Don't forget to subscribe to Slo Mo for new episodes every Monday and Thursday. Only with your help can we reach One Billion Happy #onebillionhappy.

Mo Gawdat :

I am so glad you could join us. I'm your host Mo Gawdat. This podcast is nothing more than a conversation between two good friends sharing inspiring life stories and perhaps some nuggets of wisdom along the way. This is your invitation to slow down with us. Welcome to Slo Mo. My guest today is Elina St-Onge. I only got to know Elina around a month ago when she sent me a message about a video she created that went viral on the internet, which had some clips from my existing videos online. She asked me to be on her podcast, The Uplifters, and so I first took a look at her profile, and on her profile, I realized that she was a self-taught video editor, a graphics designer, a copywriter, a photographer, a singer-songwriter, and that she worked to create content for a company that was dedicated to help individuals and entrepreneurs and businesses to thrive from the inside out. To me, that was quite eye-opening for such a young lady to have put in so much effort behind my own mission of spreading happiness and compassion, and to help people find themselves. However, I then stumbled upon her video blogs about 100 days of meditation. Those were sort of commitment videos from her side, to give herself a reason to continue with her commitment of 100 days of meditation to improve herself. Those videos, however, were really eye-opening because they included so much vulnerability and so much openness about what a young lady in her 20s would go through that I texted her and I said, "Actually, you should be on my podcast." Elina, in my view, is going through what most of our young generation is going through. And perhaps what she had to learn might be beneficial for all of us. Elina so good to see you. Thank you for joining me today.

Elina St-Onge :

Thank you so much for inviting me.

Mo Gawdat :

I only got to know you a little over the last month. But I got to know you a lot through your videos, which I have to admit for my generation, they're quite open. They're quite expressive. Let's use the word expressive, right. And the first time you sent me that message, I looked at your profile and I watched the hundred days of meditation.

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah, you're like my only viewer of this series.

Mo Gawdat :

Is that true?

Elina St-Onge :

But I mean, it wasn't meant to impress anyone. It was just me trying to stay accountable to myself with this meditation practice. I was like, "You know what, I'm gonna record it - a little bit of added pressure of you know, my friends will see it."

Mo Gawdat :

Yes.

Elina St-Onge :

But turns out that vulnerability paid off because here I am, with you, talking to one of my favorite person.

Mo Gawdat :

Oh my god. So I actually... when I looked at it, I felt you're one of my favorite persons because -

Elina St-Onge :

Oh my God.

Mo Gawdat :

- from a vu;nerability point of view, you were so open. And I'm actually going to ask you about each and every one of them. As we talk about other things.

Elina St-Onge :

Hopefully I remember.

Mo Gawdat :

Exactly.

Elina St-Onge :

It's been a while.

Mo Gawdat :

Because there is a record people can go back and compare notes.

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah. But you know, the funny joke: I didn't finish. It stops at week six and seven. And then I just disappeared.

Mo Gawdat :

You didn't finish the meditation? The 100 days of meditation?

Elina St-Onge :

No, but it turned out that it wasn't about the goal. That's what I learned.

Mo Gawdat :

What was it about then?

Elina St-Onge :

Now it's funny because it's just now in my life that I'm starting to realize: every time I would approach a goal, it was because I was trying to fix myself from a standpoint of "I'm broken", I need to fix this brain, I need to fix myself. So I'm going to do this hundred days of meditation so I can be finally okay at the other side of it. And I've also... I learned throughout the whole hundred - not that I finished it - but I learned through the process, that even going at it with this intention, it's already so rigid, it stops being playful. Now it becomes a task that you have to do. Because your "why" is kind of like to impress yourself, to finally approve of yourself. But that's not right. I mean, if I go back to really, why is it that I want to do this? It's to simply improve my experience of being a human alive on earth. And what would be a lighter experience for me? It would be one where I don't beat myself up for every failed accomplishment. Where I don't berate myself or try to be perfect or try to execute things perfectly. Like these are the things that I seek to quiet through the meditation practice. But if I go and create a goal, and it's really, what's hiding underneath is a belief that I'm broken and I I have to fix myself, it's just not from the right relationship with yourself. So to put it simply, even though I didn't finish and I kind of even abandoned the vlogging, and to be quite honest, like the months and maybe, I don't know, has it been a year now with these videos?

Mo Gawdat :

It was like 2019 or something. Yeah.

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah, I've totally drifted. Like, I had these realizations, but I still drifted because there are still parts of me that felt that I will be okay with myself in my life when something happens or when I finally succeed at this or that, or when I find that perfect friendship or relationship. And as long as your "why" is to feel a certain way about yourself from the outside in, then you will always shoot yourself in the foot. And I'm realizing this now today, which is amazing that I get to talk with you. And finally kind of be myself. Right before you asked me to be on the podcast, I just had a little aha moment with myself of: one of my great intentions for my life is I just want to find my tribe, my people, the people that I just feel free and myself with because to be honest, my social life, other than my amazing job and my amazing team, which are really like family, they're all older than me. And I don't have a group of peers to share the same stage of my life with. So that has always been like, you know what I would love for that to happen.

Mo Gawdat :

Isn't this really the norm of people in their 20s today? So Aya, my daughter, also tells me quite often that it's rare to find someone you can really, really relate to at a spiritual level, at an intellectual level and so on. Is that true?

Elina St-Onge :

I don't know if I'm like the example that everybody can relate with. But I think that sense of loneliness and not having your tribe, absolutely. Like I talk with people who are lucky to have kept friends from high school and you know, they've always had friends. But I've talked to some who said, "Yeah, but we're not that close. You know, I can't fully be myself. I am with them because that's who's in my life." And that hasn't been my journey. I've been hopping from groups to groups, to even groups of like, spiritual cliques and we can go into that maybe later of learning through the maze of what I call the New Age entertainment industry.

Mo Gawdat :

Oh yeah. Oh, totally. Oh, totally.

Elina St-Onge :

If you know what I mean right away, like, yeah, we could talk. Yeah, my whole journey has been trying to find where I fit. And I've always had a spiritual side of me of asking myself questions like, why am I here? What's the purpose? Meaning was always so important to me. And that made me a really serious seeker - seeker of maybe this teacher, maybe that personal development figure, maybe this, that, maybe that group of friends... it has also led me to very toxic individuals that take advantage of people who are maybe not so solid in themselves and in their relationship with themselves and seek some clarity and some guidance and then I've been through it all, though I don't regret it because through this pain and this heading straight for a while and seeing that it doesn't work that way, then you are forced to look back at you and say, wait a minute, what is my relationship with myself? What is my own inner guidance, this - you're forced to face yourself and befriend yourself instead of always looking at other groups and other people. And now I'm in a space where you know what, at least now, even though I haven't found them yet, well, I mean, I could argue that I'm talking with you right now. And it's pretty awesome. Like, the people that are already coming into my life, but I want everything that I end up creating my life, for the relationships I end up making, to come from me being so cool with myself and already all right with my life as it is.

Mo Gawdat :

It's very, very, very unusual for a woman in her 20s to say being so cool with myself, be okay with me -

Elina St-Onge :

End of her 20s yeah...

Mo Gawdat :

Still, I mean, it's the idea of "I'm not broken, I don't need to be fixed." These are all realizations we get eventually in life when we realize that if I'm broken than everyone else is, and if I need to be fixed, then bring in the crew because everyone needs a lot of work. And I think that kind of realization is something that I look at the younger generation and I find many seekers, but many who are completely lost. And I find that this is quite interesting because in our world, people really didn't have access to what you guys have access to. So you know, so much information. When you say you can't find your tribe, even though you're a master of being on YouTube and Instagram and so on and so forth. How does that work? I mean, openly tell me if I told you what are the three top challenges for someone in their 20s? What would you think those would be?

Elina St-Onge :

My God. Well, number one challenge I'd say I think I'm beyond that by now. But if the only thing you're exposed to is Instagram feeds and superstars and supermodels, and you know that whole notion that it's about getting the most followers and being an influencer, you have to realize that this is empty.

Mo Gawdat :

Totally.

Elina St-Onge :

What is your influence? The term "influencer", but nobody asks themselves: What is your influence? It's funny.

Mo Gawdat :

Yeah. So they influence a lot of people on nothing.

Elina St-Onge :

Basically. What, on what clothes to wear? That's nice. But that's not what's gonna make anybody happy. And I'm sure you know, I think I listened to your other podcast. I can't remember her name, but that supermodel who was -

Mo Gawdat :

Anne Therese. Yeah. Amazing conversation, yeah.

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah, yeah, yeah, no exactly. And most of those people that are caught up in trying to gain the likes and followers and views, they are not happy. And many of them are realizing that and are starting to speak out. And yet we have a whole social media system that it's all about ranking up those likes and those followers but we're not having a clear aim so I think as much as for our personal lives or for the world of social media or for society as a whole, we have to define what is our aim, what is our "why"?

Mo Gawdat :

But there is a ton of good stuff on social media. I have a lot to learn from social media, and I follow many people that really are influencers, but that doesn't seem to be the case for everyone. So a lot of people are just swiping through social media, as you said, to get information about how to apply a lipstick, or how to do this, or following stories is or gossip and so on and so forth, which I would have to say is just an exaggeration of the media we were used to. It's our old media on steroids. And it's quite confusing if you ask me. I mean, I get sucked into that every now and then.

Elina St-Onge :

Oh my God, yeah, I don't envy kids today. Having a strong family with a strong set of values to kind of help your child navigate through this maze of social media, I think is key. Because as a kid, you just absorb whatever comes to you and you take cues from other people of how to be and if you're Instagram feed is by default - I do not want to judge anybody - but, like, the Kardashians and all of this sort of stuff, then that's tricky.

Mo Gawdat :

Yeah. How would you overcome that?

Elina St-Onge :

Well, you know, if I think of myself before I had any self awareness whatsoever, I've been victim to that too. When I was a kid before I learned to wear makeup, like I have a diploma as a makeup artist because I'm very creative, artistic, so that was my first thought of what am I going to be when I grew up? Oh, maybe makeup. But where did that come from? My passion for makeup too is it I thought I was gross. I hated myself. Absolutely hated myself.

Mo Gawdat :

No way!

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah!

Mo Gawdat :

What did that come from? Are you blind?

Elina St-Onge :

Oh my God! Where did that come from? I mean, if I look at my childhood before I started caring, I was just this happy-go-lucky child with no self-concept of I needed to look a certain way or be a certain way. And sometimes when you go to school and kids can be mean, I had an experience, specifically first year of high school where I was completely socially ostracized. And to be honest, I don't even remember the details. That's probably how... it was a kind of a traumatic experience where I became a shell of myself, I had absolutely no friends, I was eating at a... the computer room so I didn't have to be alone at the cafeteria. Just a full year where I didn't even share what I was going through to my wonderful mom, she would have been totally ready to help me out. But somehow I had a belief within myself that I couldn't share what I was going through. So that was an experience that was very impactful for me, and I remember ever since I was like, I'm never going to feel that way again. But then I was like, being my myself wasn't good enough, and therefore, I'm never going to feel that way again. So I'm going to have to reinvent myself and be somebody else and start wearing the makeup and start, you know, all of a sudden you... I started getting attention from guys or having friends off of this new persona. Sure, it was more fun to have friends, but I never had let go of this fear. Like, if ever people are going to know me for who I truly am, it might happen again.

Mo Gawdat :

Oh wow!

Elina St-Onge :

I might get that rejection again. Yeah, yeah, yeah! we spoke when you were on our podcast about trauma, and how I agree with you that dwelling on your trauma over and over again will just reinforce it. But for me, I had to kind of go back and be aware of the very formative years and how they impacted me so that when I have those thoughts try to poison me again saying "Hey, maybe Mo will think you're stupid!" or "Maybe his listeners will think you're stupid!" or "Oh, what if you get rejected?" Like, I can be aware of - oh! this is based on what happened when I was around a bunch of mean 12 year olds. Am I going to let that run my adult life?

Mo Gawdat :

I love that comment. So one of my favorite books, I don't actually recall which book, but they were talking exactly about that topic that most of the time, our traumas are in a very different context. You know, you were 12 years old, the kids were annoying. If you look at yourself today, this would never happen again. And yet you take it with you to work and you take it with you to your social life. And you believe that this is the norm of who you are.

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah, that's why it's important to know where they come from. Same thing, relationships. I mean, I've had a... my relationship with my dad was pretty much absent. And I still idolized the guy, and I still love him so much, but it's just the way that it was, it got me used to a certain type of love where it's not constant. It's very, it's like you're trying to seek their attention and you have just a little bit for a little bit of time, and then it's gone. So what kind of relationships did I have? People that were so not right for me, that there was no consistency and I felt I always had to adapt and so on and so on. And then at some point, you realize, why do I try to get attention from these kinds of people that are just not available? Oh! Okay, that's how I learned how to relate with a male figure in my life. Am I gonna let all my future relationships be determined by one type of person? Out of billions of men on earth? Is it possible that there's such a thing as a good man that will love me for who I am and be there for me? Yeah, you have to debunk, you have to prove to your brain that this is not a threat anymore.

Mo Gawdat :

Yeah.

Elina St-Onge :

You have to be smart with your brain, you have to outsmart it basically.

Mo Gawdat :

Yeah, only I will say I mean, I'm sure you know this, but for my listeners, only when you believe that this is the case. So one of the big challenges that I see with relationships is that we tend to attract the person that is interested in who we think we are, right? So if you think or if you pretend to be a certain kind, you're going to display that to the world and someone will go like, "Whoops! That's what I'm looking for." Right?

Elina St-Onge :

Yes. I've never thought of it that way. But yes.

Mo Gawdat :

One of your comments that really, really was refreshingly vulnerable and open for me is when you said "To fix myself, I was looking for love in all the wrong places."

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah.

Mo Gawdat :

Tell me more.

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah. Because my core belief about myself is that I was somehow broken, or had been rejected when I was simply being me, then it made it so that there's something wrong about me. It's never about the other person that maybe they're trouble with themselves, and they can't accept someone else. I don't think about those variables. I always put the dagger on me, but it's me doing that. It's me adopting that belief, even though if someone said something mean to me - yeah, it's not cool. But it's you who takes that, puts it in your brain, and starts believing it. So I had to understand that it's not about me. So that if it's not about me, then now it's between me and me. What do I think about myself? What is my relationship - and that's hard! Oh my God, the tears that came through these realizations and seeing how much I had abandoned myself. People can say "Oh, my dad abandoned me, that my - these people abandon me!" Maybe. But do you have to abandon yourself?

Mo Gawdat :

That's so wise. I mean, if you can't love you, why do you expect someone else to love you?

Elina St-Onge :

Exactly. I remember thinking, like, when I was going through this process, I was like, "Oh my god, I need some positive reinforcement now." I felt like such crap about myself for so long. I was asking friends, like, "What do you like about me? What, like, what makes me good? Like, I want to change that belief system." And actually Kosta, you met on the podcast, he was saying, "Did you know that just the fact you're a good person with a good heart who wouldn't go out and try to purposely harm other people? Do you know that that's amazing and rare? How 'bout you build that self-esteem on that? Basically, you are a good person." So that was a good one, too. It's like, yeah, I mean, would I go around and tell perfectly fine and good and well-intended people "You're not good enough"?

Mo Gawdat :

Yeah.

Elina St-Onge :

No. Why would I do that to myself in my own brain?

Mo Gawdat :

Yeah. So when was the turning point?

Elina St-Onge :

I feel like I'm in it now!

Mo Gawdat :

That's great! That's like fantastic!

Elina St-Onge :

It's so interesting! Yeah. Maybe like a few months ago, I mentioned also about, I know you don't like the term ADHD and I don't, either. But that's when I was wondering why?

Mo Gawdat :

I don't.

Elina St-Onge :

I know. But I'll explain why it was important for me to at least be aware of the concept. I used to be like, oh, it doesn't exist. It's just people are just creative and different, which I also agree with that. But I have struggled so much, even within my own craft, and passion and purpose in talents, like why do I have such a hard time being consistent and showing up and doing the work I need to do and just learning a bit about the concept that sometimes your brain is an environment too, with chemicals and stuff.

Mo Gawdat :

Correct.

Elina St-Onge :

And that can affect, to just have that understanding, though, not taking the label and saying now my brain is diseased and this is an illness, mental illness.

Mo Gawdat :

That's what I don't agree with.

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah. Same. And there are many perspectives too, and they still use the word ADHD because that's what people recognize but then they go and say, it's divergent thinking; you're just not a neurotypical type, you know, they change it a bit to say ADHD people are very "creative".

Mo Gawdat :

Exactly. On my next book, "That Little Voice in Your Head", I speak clearly about the association with attention deficit. So you would find that people who have post traumatic disorder or people who have depression, people who have substance abuse and so on so forth, there is actually a reasonable correlation to attention deficit, but I don't look at attention deficit as a disease. I look at attention deficit as two things: one, as an opportunity to train your brain through meditation and through other cycles because deliberate attention is an incredibly valuable asset in terms of focus - this is what we learn through meditation and focus - by definition, shuts down our incessant thoughts, and accordingly makes us happier, but also I look at attention deficit in all honesty, people who are able to wander, to mind-wander, to go across to different places, are very creative. These are the people that are not linearly looking at one problem from one side, they're people who are visionary, people who are openly imagining things that others who are very linear don't imagine. So, while my view is that we need, of course, we need to cultivate our ability to pay deliberate attention, because this is really mind training and what mind training is all about. It's also not to be seen as a negative, I find that a lot of creative people again, including my wonderful daughter, who is incredibly talented, incredibly talented, because she wanders because she would be on one part of the painting, and then suddenly, she would get inspired, then do a totally different painting. And that is a very strong asset in my view.

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah. And isn't it crazy? If I look at myself now, I feel very lucky to have the creative talents that I have, you know, I do a lot of different things. But my experience in school, I was the problematic kid. I was the kid that was quite honestly dumb. Just because in math, I had a hard time. I could get emotional just talking about it - man! The fact that all of my school years, I felt like I was just nothing. But again, school might be great for people who are meant to be academics or to learn in that way. But yeah, for me, I spent so long just feeling like nothing, like I had zero ambition. I didn't even know what I could do. I didn't know my skills and I just felt like I was always the problem kid and then coming out of school and slowly but surely realizing, oh my God, maybe I suck at... I can't do mental calculation in my own brain for shit. But I can edit a video! Like, like I impressed myself sometimes, the skills that I didn't even know I had. So, yeah, I keep thinking of all the kids out there that probably feel broken right now for no good reason.

Mo Gawdat :

Yeah. Believe it or not, this hurts my heart. Because in reality, every single one of us is, in an interesting way, super talented in one thing. And by definition, if you're super talented at football, you're not going to be very good at calculus, because you're not putting in the time for calculus. It's just the way life is. Unfortunately, we don't have enough brain capacity to be Einstein's of everything, right? And even the definition of intelligence to be associated with Einstein only, is actually wrong. Because, you know, he had one form of intelligence - or, a couple of them; he's definitely one of my favorite examples - because I love physics. But if you talk about philosophy, for example, there could be a different person, if you talk about art, there could be a third person, and so on and so forth. Now, here's the trick, though. There are, I would promise you, millions out there that are suffering from the same exact "boxing". You're not good enough. You're not keeping up. You're not what I call the perfect representation of the mold that we want to graduate out of school so that we put through the grinder and we create more accountants and more engineers. What would you tell those people?

Elina St-Onge :

Don't be fooled thinking that because you don't fit in a certain system, it says anything's wrong with you. You just haven't found your lane. And the positive thing too, nowadays, is that with social media and all those online courses, and all those people trying to help each other out and teach each other what they're learning, whether it's skills or wisdom or their own experiences, like you'll see there's so much more to life, trying to pick a pre-determined career. Like, maybe you'll create a new type of career. I haven't studied for what I'm doing today. I just figured it out after, by trying things. I keep thinking like, when I was a young kid, if I were to think of the perfect start to the education system, it would be: you take kids and you put them in a room with a whole bunch of booths and there's one booth that's about creative types - editing, kind of simple Photoshop program for kids. And then you have a booth that's engineering and building or sculpting - whatever. And then you just let kids see what they stick to. And you'll get a really serious hint of what they're good at. Because I remember when I was a kid. You remember the program "Paint"?

Mo Gawdat :

Oh, yeah. Of course, yeah.

Elina St-Onge :

On I think it was Microsoft. Oh, I did stuff on paint, man. That was a clue right there. There was another game called Magic Artist Studio, it was a Disney game.

Mo Gawdat :

I remember that! I got that for my kids.

Elina St-Onge :

Oh, you know that game?

Mo Gawdat :

Of course! Yes.

Elina St-Onge :

And you can do little, like, clips of stories and put your characters and put music and I would make, like, movies with that. I spent hours!

Mo Gawdat :

You know what? If you really want to fix this, the reasons behind this are one - economic, because they can't make money in education or they can't cover their expenses in education by having a teacher for every child. It doesn't scale that way. But believe it or not, it's our parents. And if you're a parent listening to us, Elina had clues. She showed aptitude for us. It's like, hey guys, that's actually not very hidden. It's like, she doesn't have to do math, she can be in art. And I think what our parents and every parent does is they want to give their children the best chance in life. And so what they do is they, they sort of say, okay, you know what, you want to do art, do that on the side, but do the stuff that matters. You know, start with math and science and so on. And then when you grow up, go into business and economics and all of this stuff that I call the insurance policy, the stuff that will give you a job, make you miserable all your life - we don't care about that, but at least you will have food to eat and a roof on top of your head.

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah, but what's the point of that if you're not happy?

Mo Gawdat :

Exactly! Surprise, surprise!

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah, surprise, surprise. So it's again, it's the "why". Why? Is it just to make ends meet? To be rich? How do you expect that to make you feel?

Mo Gawdat :

Why, do you think?

Elina St-Onge :

Well, we are sold that we're going to be happy then; we're going to be fulfilled then. And these are all like, of course, you want to be happy and fulfilled. But it's just we've been bamboozled to think that it was going to be something out there, some really shallow stuff and being looked at by a sexy guy a certain way - that's going to give you the sustained sense of happiness ever. No, it's a spike of dopamine in your brain and then you crash back down like this is not happiness.

Mo Gawdat :

It's so true. Yeah. Tell me one thing. So what is your "why" now? What is your ambition now? What would you like life to be today and in five years time?

Elina St-Onge :

Well, my "why" now, first and foremost, I hope I never forget, is to just be my own best friend, because that will last forever. You're... the only person you have forever is you and I hope that this relationship stays good. And I don't have to be perfect, but that I keep supporting myself and I don't make the mistake again of thinking there's something wrong with me. Look, we're not supposed to be perfect. I'm not saying all of a sudden I love myself and everything's perfect and I accomplish tasks and I don't struggle. I mean, I still struggle. I have bad days and I'm no stranger to health issues either. That's been another part of my journey that has taught me so much about self-acceptance. But speaking of that, like, I've been inspired by, I don't know if you've ever heard of Claire Wineland? She was this girl with cystic fibrosis, which is a really tough thing to deal with. And basically, it shortens your life. Like, it's a terminal illness. She lived an epic life. She did talks, she inspired people not to feel like just because you are sick, you know, that defines the type of impact and the type of life you can live. And I'm here complaining because my stomach hurts a little bit? Like, no! But yeah, so my "why" is to just, number one, be my own best friend, and number two, hopefully share that energy with the world to help somebody else. Because they're all that's just you that's benefiting. So I would say those two together. It's a pretty good recipe for a happy life, like you say, right? You try to teach people to be happy. And then you ask them teach one or two people. And that feels good, too. That will make you happy too. You know, it's not just an altruistic thing that you do to be a good person. I think that's what feels good is to uplift somebody else.

Mo Gawdat :

Ok. I have a very interesting question, but I'm not shy to ask it because you speak about it so openly on your vlog. I don't remember which episode that was. And you said -

Elina St-Onge :

Did you watch them all?

Mo Gawdat :

I do my homework.

Elina St-Onge :

Oh my god. Okay.

Mo Gawdat :

And I was really intrigued. I have to tell you it was refreshing to see this kind of openness. So this one started with: "I don't want to start this video talking about my PMS, but I will."

Elina St-Onge :

(Laughs)

Mo Gawdat :

Right?

Elina St-Onge :

Yup.

Mo Gawdat :

And you did.

Elina St-Onge :

Yep. Hey, was part of what I was learning.

Mo Gawdat :

Absolutely. It is to every woman listening to us here. Why is this topic not being discussed? I would have to tell you openly. I would not have survived a day as a woman. I mean, if I have my current makeup of being all you know, so manly and beard and stuff. I'm so fragile for what you guys go through.

Elina St-Onge :

Is that really how you are, Mo?

Mo Gawdat :

Um, yeah, I have a heart but I don't show it that often. No, but the truth is, it's really, really, really an interesting topic. And it's rarely ever discussed and in communities even among the younger generation, which starts a lot earlier, it's rarely ever discussed. And it is too how many other topics are not discussed. Now I want to talk about the angle of you being a woman. And how many challenges does a woman face in her 20s? And what do I do to change that? What does every woman need to know to change that?

Elina St-Onge :

I've never really thought of my journey and put emphasis on my gender, interestingly enough.

Mo Gawdat :

Interesting.

Elina St-Onge :

But I'm not the type to join goddess groups. It irks me. I don't know, maybe it's an issue with my femininity, I don't know. But part of it was probably before. I've also, you know, when I was in the process of accepting myself and loving myself, I've had to also love the fact that I'm a woman, and just leave it at that. Like, it's being a woman and it's amazing. It's not, you know, it's great to have a relationship but you don't need a man to make you feel better about yourself. It's just be... I don't know. But I can't speak to that so much. Because again, the main thing for me is that gender... I haven't experienced sexism. I've been lucky, I guess, to not feel so defined by my gender. Other than I remember when I was a kid, I was like, man, sometimes as a girl, when I try to make really crude jokes, it's like, it's funny when it's a guy making the joke, but not when it's me because I'm a girl. I remember that was the only, when I look back to what maybe, you know, there was that perspective of like, being a girl, you have to be a certain way, you have to be pretty, you have to be cute, you have to be this or that. So maybe a little bit of that. But you know what, I'm not letting that at least not anymore...

Mo Gawdat :

Believe it or not. I had that issue, I admit openly. And now two of my favorite three comedians on the planet, my top three, two of which are women. And it's really quite interesting when you think about it, that we are, I believe, and it's really interesting, that we also get conditioned to a certain type of comedy. And when you start to open up to a different type of comedy - because feminine comedy is different than masculine comedy in many ways - and when you open up to that kind of comedy, you start to laugh your head off. I think that's really what it's all about. Before I close with a very interesting question, I want to remind the listeners that if you're here, then you've enjoyed this, then help me spread the message. Please submit a review if you're on Apple podcasts, so that others know that this is worth their time. Share this on social media, tell people what you've learned, and make them hopefully find the path to their own happiness and their own finding themselves and loving themselves is the topic of our conversation today. These are all small steps on your side, but they really, really go a long way. So please be an active member of our community. Elina, one of your last videos said "bye-bye childhood", and when I looked at that, of course, you know, I'm a big believer that play is a big part of happiness, that we should never grow up, that we should always stay children. But then when I started listening to you, it was all about bye-bye childhood trauma: bye-bye childhood, mixed in that I'm not good enough. Is it completely "bye-bye," do you believe?

Elina St-Onge :

In a way, yeah. Bye-bye in terms of, it's in the past. It doesn't have to be you anymore. And I actually think that by letting go of that, because these are the stuff that took you out of your childhood state, your childlike state.

Mo Gawdat :

Interesting...

Elina St-Onge :

Those traumas, if anything, they're the things that made you all of a sudden more serious, more self-protected, pretending to be something you're not, growing up the wrong way, really. So no, I say bye-bye childhood, bye-bye feeling like a victim of what happened in the past. Know who you are, regardless of what you've been through and who you can be. And focus on that. And respect the child you've been and respect the hurt you've been through. That made you stronger, if anything. If you choose to learn from it and not let it drag you down, then you're a badass! You're awesome. And I think, if anything, that I'm getting back my childlike self. I'm such a kid. I love being around in nature looking at bugs and butterflies and playing with - I talk to squirrels every time I see a squirrel.

Mo Gawdat :

They are super cute, those guys.

Elina St-Onge :

Oh my god, they're my favorite thing in the world. I love squirrels. One day - I keep sending that intention to the universe - I will have a squirrel. I will stumble upon an abandoned squirrel. And he'll be my baby and we'll see if the law of attraction works.

Mo Gawdat :

This is probably every squirrel's wish. It's like, "One day I will have an Elina!"

Elina St-Onge :

They already spreading the word around me because I talked to them so much and they're so weirded out by me that I'm sure the word is being spread.

Mo Gawdat :

"There she is, the weird one. She's gonna stop and talk to us again today, guys."

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah!

Mo Gawdat :

It's actually true. I think some people keep them as pets. But I actually want to go back to a serious note. I have never thought of it this way. This is so eye-opening when you say that it's those traumas that make us stop being children. So the fact that we get conditioned to be serious, we get conditioned to be grumpy. All of these are actually not the childhood. They were the covers that took away our childhood, and when you take them out, you go back to being a child. It's not "bye-bye childhood", it's "bye-bye childhood obstacles", sort of.

Elina St-Onge :

Yeah. Hurts, wounds, pains. Yeah.

Mo Gawdat :

Well, I will tell you, because I know you asked me about this before the podcast, you are a one impressive, wise young woman. And I absolutely believe that this will reach a lot of people and I am so grateful for your openness.

Elina St-Onge :

Thank you.

Mo Gawdat :

For your ability to look inside and find what needs to be worked on and your dedication to do the work. And I am so so grateful that you came to join me today to share with others because I am absolutely certain there are so many in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, still going through what you are going.

Elina St-Onge :

Mm-hmm. It's tough. Feels like there's a world against you sometimes. But hey, if there's so many people feeling that way then let's support each other in not being that way and just letting our true selves come out.

Mo Gawdat :

Totally. Thank you.

Elina St-Onge :

Thank you so much.

Mo Gawdat :

And for all of you who joined us, thank you so much for listening. Be sure to follow me on social media, search for Mo Gawdat, Slo Mo, Solve For Happy, or One Billion Happy. I know you've got a lot going on. But remember, there is always time to slow down. Until next time, stay happy. Transcribed by https://otter.ai