Episode #16: Business Advice For Our Younger Selves

Hi everyone! We’re nothing if not emo and reflective for our past. In this episode, we are giving advice that we wish we had heard earlier in our career. We hope you enjoy it! If you have any questions, we’d love to hear them!

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Elsie 1: Learn to tune out what other people are doing.

The Imagineering StoryA miniseries on Disney+. It shows the Disney parks being built and is very inspiring! Perhaps a good palette cleanser for those of you who watch a lot of news like we do in our home.

Emma 1: Don’t be too narrow in your focus. Don’t be afraid to change your mind.

On Changing Dreams – a post where Emma talks about wanting to be an actor and failing

-Do you want to hear an episode about our conservative upbringing? We’ve been considering it. Emma really wants to do an episode on it, and I understand that it IS an interesting subject. That said, I’m not sure because anytime I bring it up online people try to evangelize me and I’ve always been very private about my faith and religious “journey,” so the thought of opening up the subject kind of scares the &%#@ out of me. Would love to hear your opinion on that!

-Should we start a TikTok? It looks like fun but I am afraid I’ll spend SO MUCH time on it.

Elsie 2: Follow the money.

Maybe this tip will sound money hungry to some, but the truth is, it is very expensive to run a business. If you want to make X income you probably actually need to make double that to cover taxes, costs of running a business, retirement, etc. Money is NOT my favorite subject, but choosing a career with a higher earning potential is one way to ensure more room to grow.

Emma 2: Pay attention to what you are good at and what others value in you, not what you wish you were good at or what you value in others.

Elsie 3: Keep at least one hobby that is JUST for fun.

A creative outlet is a gift—not everything you love or are good at needs to be monetized.

-LOL who wants Emma to make a mini-golf course? I DO! And here’s Meow Wolf if you’ve never heard of it

Emma 3: Success is a process, not a destination. Failure is inevitable, it’s just how we learn.

-You can also check out Emma’s Career Advice I’d Give My 20-Year-Old Self and her advice on How to Be Decisive

Happy Monday, everyone!!

Miss an episode? Get caught up!

Episode 16 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess Podcast. Over the years, through a combination of luck and hard work we’ve carved out a career that we love. We have learned a lot on the way and we decided to dedicate this episode to advice that we would give our younger selves if we had a time machine. And at the end of this episode, I’m going to share an embarrassing story.

Elsie: So we’re each gonna share three things that we would tell our younger selves if we could. I think this is gonna be a good episode because when I was younger, I was an idiot.

Emma: (laughs) I think everyone is, right? I mean, I hope whoever was really smart when they were younger. Good for you. But that was not me either. I also think some of my advice, at least, I don’t know about yours, Elsie, but it could apply to lots of different ages. Cause I kind of love it when people start a second career in their 40s or 50s or, you know. I think it’s awesome and super inspiring.

Elsie: Our mom did that.

Emma: Yeah she did.

Elsie: And you know what Nancy Sinatra says, “you only live twice”.

Emma: Oh, that’s a good quote, I love that.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: Gonna put that on my pin board.

Elsie: I want to have a late in life career change. I think that that’s. Yeah. Very inspiring. So anyway, this is advice we would give to our younger self or maybe let’s put it as ourself when we were just starting off. All right. My first piece of advice is learn to tune out what other people are doing. This is the hardest piece of advice on my list, at least. And it’s something I still struggle with because you guys know I’m the Enneagram 7. And everywhere I look is something exciting and new. You know, should I do this? Should I try this? And I have a lot of FOMO and it’s hard for me to stay focused. So learning how to kind of tune out what other people are doing and just stay focused on the path that I’ve chosen. Has been like a very big thing that I’ve had to at least get closer to.

Emma: So is this like, because when you were younger, we didn’t have Instagram yet. Would you just kind of see other people online or like in real life?

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: …and feel the FOMO?

Emma: Yeah, absolutely anything. Just my whole life since I was a child, every single time I hear something exciting, I want to do it. Like, for example, this week we’re watching that docuseries on Disney Plus called The Imagineering Story or something like that. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s about like buildling the Disney Parks and things like that. And I was like, oh, Jeremy, I’m so glad that I didn’t know this was a career people could have because it could have ruined my life trying to do that. Like, every time I see something cool, I want to do it. I’m insanely jealous. It’s hard for me not to look at other people’s projects and want to take a version of it for myself. Every single time. Oh my gosh.

Emma: Now I’m going to watch that.

Elsie: You have to watch it.

Emma: We should do it.

Elsie: Okay. I will put that in the link on the show notes. It’s definitely one of the best things I’ve watched lately. I was crying through the first episode and you’re gonna love it because of the Disney brothers. They have a lot in common with us.

Emma: Oh, I didn’t even know it was brothers. Well, that’s how little I know about Disney.

Elsie: One of them was one of them was more of a supporting character. But he did a lot.

Emma: That is like us. Hahaha. Okay. That’s cool. And I’m excited to watch that. OK. So my first one — first tip — is if I could go back and tell young Emma, you know, 20 year old Emma some advice, what I would tell her is: don’t be too narrow in your focus. And on the same note, don’t be afraid to change your mind, especially when you’re first exploring. Which was Emma 20, which I’m now 34, just F.Y.I. And so I feel like I have to explain a little bit. Back then when I was about 17 or 18, I decided I wanted to pursue acting and I wanted to do TV and film acting specifically. And I had hadn’t really even done that much theatre. I really wasn’t a theater kid. This could be a real long story. So I’m trying to like think of how to keep it short, but basically…I grew up…

Elsie: It’s okay.

Emma: Yeah, I grew up very conservative. Christian, went to a Southern Baptist church. And that’s, you know, something maybe we’ll talk about in a different episode someday, I don’t know. But at any rate, I had this idea in my head that I shouldn’t be any kind of performer, that that was like a selfish.

Elsie: Whoa.

Emma: Yeah. Not very Christian or not very like, not something God would be pleased with, was the idea I had in my head back then. But I remember being a kid and there was this church play. And I got the lead role and I turned it down because I was afraid that it would make me selfish or like a bad person if I wanted all that attention. So anyway, so by the time I was like 17 or 18 years old, my ideas about church and my ideas about God were changing. I would say they were broadening. But at any rate, they were changing. And so that kind of opened me up to, “oh, there’s this thing I’ve kind of like wanted to explore. I’ll make that my career”. And so I kind of decided that. And so for the next few years, I did go to college. My parents really wanted me to. So that was the only reason I went. I went to college. But the whole time I was taking acting classes a little bit at college, but mostly outside of college, because, again, my college didn’t really have like…I’m from Missouri. It didn’t have like TV and film acting head just theater and theater is awesome. But I was more interested in TV and film and I do think that style of acting is a little bit different. Kind of. It depends. But at any rate, I was taking a lot of classes outside of college and I was also working a lot and saving up a lot of money because I wanted to move to Los Angeles. So I did that. I graduated college in three years instead of four, basically because I wanted to move on with my life with the thing I really wanted to do, which was pursue acting. So I did and I moved out there. And so part of the issue with this for me is I think I was just being way too narrow in my focus. I think it was cool that I was passionate about something and pursuing something. I think that’s a rad way to be. But I think I was just way too narrow and I didn’t notice that along the way, there are a lot of other things that I ended up loving. I ended up majoring in philosophy in college, which has nothing to do with acting really. But I just loved it. I was super, super into it and it kind of made me think about law school a little bit because I was like, oh, I’m you know, I really enjoy this. And this is kind of a path I could go down. And then I also at that time, Elsie I had kind of worked for you a little bit. You were moving from kind of a scrapbooking career into like Etsy prints and selling a lot of artwork online. And I was helping you with some of that. And I really kind of enjoyed that, too. So I don’t know. I think I just didn’t — I was just way too narrow in my focus. I was way too like, oh, I want to be a regular on some TV series. And, you know, in Oscar someday. That’s it. That’s exactly what I wanted. Yeah. And it’s like, well, that’s a cool goal, but it’s it’s very narrow because there’s just not, you know, that many…I mean, there’s a lot of acting jobs. I think there’s even more now because of streaming. But there’s you know, it’s a pretty narrow mindset. And I think if I had been a little more open to other things, not even just other career paths, but even like starting a YouTube channel or different things like that, I think that probably would have been a little bit better. So that’s a little bit of a long story about specifically what I was doing. And the two things I really want to share from that is, one, I realized along the way that although I think acting is rad and I still love TV and film to watch, I don’t really love that much attention. And I think because I had decided to have such a narrow focus for a couple years, I kind of knew acting wasn’t for me. But I was too embarrassed to tell people that I was changing my mind because I had been so narrow in what I wanted. And so I had to get over that a little bit for myself. Just be like, I’m not going to pursue this anymore. And it’s OK for me to say that I’ve changed my mind. So that and then the second thing is I really think it’s a good idea when you’re young. And frankly, any age, to have a very broad list of heroes. You know, I often talk about, yeah. The people I put on my vision board or — which is more of like a something I have on my computer. I don’t really have like a board, although I’ve thought about making one. I think it’s really cool to be passionate about lots of different areas. And in some ways this is like the opposite piece of advice for what you just said, Elsie. But for me, I wish I had broadened.

Elsie: I don’t think it is…

Emma: Well, I wish I had broadened my ideas more about, you know, having a creative job or just having an interesting job that I would find fulfilling, because I think I thought, oh, to be creative, I have to, you know, do this one narrow path. And really there’s so many different things you can do and different ways you can pursue it. And so I just wish I had made a much broader list of heroes and people that I wanted to be like.

Elsie: I think finding more people to look up to and more things to be proud of and not just staying stuck on one thing or one version of success is extremely important. And I think if that’s probably going to be a theme of this episode is keeping your options open, keeping your eyes open for, you know, different kinds of opportunities. I still feel today like one of the most important things we can do is keep our options open for new opportunities.

Emma: Yeah, I agree, I’m always trying to stay open, that’s why I’m like, “Elsie, should we start a TikTok?” And you’re like, “I don’t really know.”

Elsie: I want to do TikTok so bad. I just know how much time I spend on things like that.

Emma: I know it’s so hard to balance that kind of thing. What’s your second thing?

Elsie: My second tip — this I feel like I really learned from Emma — is follow the money. So our whole career, I’ve always had a lot of ideas of what I wanted to do. And a lot of them are fun. A lot of them make me feel something in my heart. But the best steps we ever took were sort of like seeing what was working and building off of that. If that makes sense. So, you know, when we did our first app, that was very life changing. And now we have a company and you know, we’ve almost launched something like ten apps, you know.

Emma: Something like that.

Elsie: You know, real crazy. And I love apps, but like, I could get very distracted on product lines in retail and other things. But one of the things that’s kept me focused moving forward on apps is that we make profit there. And sometimes we have other things where, you know, it’s this big passion in my heart and makes me feel something. But then in the end, it turns almost like poisonous when I can’t make money from it. And it isn’t sustainable. It’s, you know, sad. It becomes like really, really sad. So I try to focus on that. Just, you know, find projects that have a sustainable a way to make money. And then I know that I can always get more excited about a project and think of more ideas within a category. But if I get into a category where I’m not set up to I don’t know, I want to say set up to fail, but do you know what I mean? Like, if you choose something where there’s just not as much potential, it’s a really frustrating situation to be in.

Emma: I do think so often people really kind of downplay the role of hobbies and side projects in our life, because if you love something, you should be doing it no matter if it makes money or not. But so often people are like, “oh, my passion. I want to follow my passion. And it also has to make money.” And it’s like, you know what? Some things that we love doing don’t make money. Like it’s you know, we just love doing them. Maybe you’re not going to be good at it on the level that you’d have to be good at it to make money at it. Or maybe it’s just a thing that doesn’t really have revenue potential. That’s just, you know, like — I’ll give an easy example and then I’ll shut up so you can say the rest or your point, Elsie. But this last Halloween, I created this like, you know, in our house, a haunted house for the neighborhood kids.

Elsie: It was incredible.

Emma: And we did end up we did end up having a sponsored post kind of around that, but it could have been about a lot of different things, like it wasn’t specifically just because we did that haunted house, but I loved doing that. It was so fun. I hope I get to do it again. I really want to do it every year. And I don’t care that it doesn’t make money. I couldn’t care less. I just think it’s really fun and really weird and it’s just like kind of a passion. And it’s awesome that I have a weird job where I can blog about it in a roundabout way. I kind of make a little bit of money from it. But as far as like, what really makes money in our business, Emma doing the haunted house isn’t it. It’s not a big thing for the year, really, but I still love it. And it’s exciting and fun for me. And I just think, you know, you have to find ways in your life to do things you love. And they don’t all have to be your job.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: It doesn’t have to be.

Elsie: I’m glad it’s your hobby. I loved that haunted house.

Emma: It was Fun. A little too spooky for Novi, I guess.

Elsie: Oh, it’s okay. I am excited to keep building on it next year. Ok, well, the last thing I want to say about the follow the money point is just that I don’t think we would even have a blog today if we didn’t use it to survive at a certain point. There was a point when we had our first cute little vintage store, which was adorable. I still have dreams about it. It was so cute, but it wasn’t really making much money at all. And we were having little banner ads on the side of our blog and those were consistent each month and each month we were earning an income from them and it was growing and it made us realize at a certain point that we should be putting more time and energy into that part of our business — the online part of our business — and not the local part of our business. So I don’t know it’s pretty life changing actually how following things that were working helped us to develop a bigger and better career. So, yeah, I hope that that’s encouraging. And I’m not saying that if something isn’t making money, it means you should give up. But yeah, like Emma was saying, maybe sometimes it’s good to consider some things a hobby and consider other things your career.

Emma: My second thing that I would tell young Emma is to pay attention to what you are good at, what you are actually good at, and what others value in you. Not just what you wish you were good at or what you value in others. And my point isn’t to say don’t grow in your skills or don’t grow in a different area. I am a big believer in lifelong learning, and that you can get better and better at things over time and you should. So I’m not saying don’t grow, but my point is more I think so often, maybe this is kind of your first point, Elsie. I will look at others and think, oh, it’s so cool that they X, Y, Z and it’s like, that’s awesome. But I’m not them. I’m Emma Chapman. And what is Emma Chapman good at? What are the things that I, you know, and like…helpful and bring value to projects and how can I expand on those things instead of basically wishing to be a different person?

Elsie: That’s great. You know a good way to tell what that is, is what questions people ask you over and over again. I feel like that’s how you can tell.

Emma: Oh, what do you mean?

Elsie: Well, that’s how I always tell people — you can tell what’s interesting about you or what people want to know more about is like what are the questions that you’re getting over and over again?

Emma: Oh, yeah. People keep asking like, how did you do this or whatever?

Elsie: You might not care at all about your skin care or whatever or never think you’re going to talk about it. But if people keep asking you over and over and over, then, you know, it means it’s interesting. And people want to know and it means it’s something that people notice about you that you’re good at. I guess good as it sounds weird about skin care, but you know what I mean.

Emma: Yeah, it’s an area of interest, an area that you could, like, see yourself growing in in some way. Yeah, no, I agree. I think too going back to my first point with a. Don’t be too narrow in your focus and kind of try a lot of different things, get interested in different communities. I would say as you’re doing that, pay attention to when you have successes. So anytime that you’ve been praised at a previous job or in school, if you’re young and you haven’t had a lot of jobs yet, whatever, whatever areas you’ve gotten involved in, hopefully there’s something that you’ve had success that maybe you were really good at running the children’s program at your church. I don’t know. Like whatever you’ve been up to. And if you’re not up to anything, then there’s your first problem. You need to try some other stuff (laughs). But, you know, notice like what it is you’re good at and what you bring value to and not just what you kind of wish you could do or what. Because I think so often we just look at a job and we think, oh, that looks so fun. I bet I would love that. And it’s like, you don’t really know until you do it. And because, you know, Elsie and I with our little retail store, we used to have a sweet shop and I used to bake all the baked goods for the sweet shop because I thought baking was really cool and that’s something I wanted to try out. And what I learned from doing that kind of part time was that I don’t really want to be a baker. I love cooking and I love baking, but I don’t really enjoy making the same thing over and over again. And I didn’t really realize that until I tried it out in a small capacity. And then I was like, oh, this isn’t for me. I find this, one: kind of stressful. The profit margins are very small and it’s a lot of hard work and it’s hard work that I don’t really enjoy because I love hard work.

Elsie: We ate SO many cupcakes.

Emma: Oh, yeah. And also not a great lifestyle (laughs), but I feel like you could probably just work on that. I’m sure there’s bakers out there. They’re like, yeah, don’t eat all of your baked goods. I’ll be outside. Good point. Smart. Yeah. I just think, you know, it takes a little bit to realize what you’re good at and just try not to… don’t, you know, it’s good to have heroes and to look up to people and it’s good to grow, but also pay attention to what you are actually good at and what people value in you because you’re important. You already are bringing something special to school or your work or some organization you volunteer at. And so expanding on those gifts, those skills is a good place to start.

Elsie: I love that. I think that’s great advice.

Emma: Cool. What’s your third thing?

Elsie: Keep at least one creative outlet outside of work. So this is something that took me a long time to realize because as a, I guess as an influencer, I don’t even still feel normal saying the word ‘influencer’ about myself, but I guess it’s accurate. Anyway, as an influencer. I always have had the tendency that if I am really into something, I want to talk about it and share about it. At certain times, I want it to become a part of our brand in a bigger way. Like, you know, you get really into cooking and all of a sudden, like, I used to be super into bartending, for fun at home. And I wanted to have a bar so bad for years. That was like a thing that I wanted to do as a career path. And I think that over time I learned that it’s important to kind of have things that are just for fun. When we adopted Nova, quite a few people were asking, do you think you’ll do like a children’s line or a children’s product or, you know, and my answer’s “no”. Honestly, I don’t think I’m going to do any kind of little kids clothing line or toys or anything like that, at least not right now. Just because this is like a passion in my life that’s personal and it’s for us. And I think that if I were to try to make it into my business right now, at least it would really…kind of ruined the this side, fun part of it, if that makes sense. Maybe I shouldn’t have used my own child as the example. But I also feel that way about fitness, like I really love fitness and I have my own little private ‘gram, you know. I feel like if I posted about all the time, it would kind of ruin it for me, like ruin the fun part, because I know I’d have to have people’s opinions and, you know, certain people who are just there for that, certain people who didn’t want to see it at all…I don’t know. I think that the best thing you can do for yourself to gift for yourself if you have a creative career is to keep some things just fun in your life.

Emma: Yeah. Or at least not relying on the income that they bring. So then you be like, keep it just passionate. You don’t have to follow the money. You’re just like it makes money and cool. “If it doesn’t make money, don’t care”, you know, because sometimes things are random and you never know. But yeah, I think once you make it a career path, you do kind of have to follow the money and sometimes that can change the creative side of it.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: And that’s not a bad thing. I think you should follow the money. I think you should do that and you still get to do a creative job. So that’s cool. But it might mean that you don’t get to do it exactly the way you you wanted to. And that’s sometimes kind of a little bit of a bummer or I don’t know. That’s the drawback

Elsie: Yeah. Recently I’ve just been feeling like I could really use a creative outlet, you know, like I put on Instagram last week, “What kind of creative projects should I do?” Just for fun. And most of the answers I got were like crafting things. And I was like, no, I don’t want any crafts.

Emma: “I don’t wanna craft.”

Elsie: I have crafts. Yeah, like I mean, our blog is it’s a DIY blog…decorating and crafts and, you know, anything we do for the business. It is genuinely a big passion in my life. But yeah, I’ve kind of been feeling like I need something that’s just different. I guess I don’t know or just, you know, the kind of thing that just makes you excited to do it every day. But it’s just for you. Do you have anything like that?

Emma: At the moment, writing’s kind of like that, but here is like a random dream I’ve been thinking about lately: I’d really love to design and build, actually be a part of the building too, a mini golf course because —

Elsie: I love it!

Emma: Because mini golf will sometimes be like, it’ll have like a dragon and you have to hit the ball into the dragon’s mouth and, you know, whatever. I just love that. I also think I would love to design a parade float. I don’t know, like…

Elsie: You want your own Salvation Mountain project.

Emma: Basically. Yeah, I want my own Salvation Mountain. Basically. Yeah, I’m just, I don’t know, weird stuff like that or like there’s this place I really want to go visit in Santa Fe called Meow Wolf and we’ll link it. It’s hard to explain. There’s a documentary about it if. But it’s just this big like art project. It’s kind of like a museum, but it’s just like an experience like as you walk through it. I haven’t been I’ve just I follow them on Instagram. I really want to go. But I just haven’t gotten, you know, the time and money to do that yet. I mean, I just haven’t made the time and money anyway. But I’m like, oh, I would love to build something like that here. You know, and I sometimes and I don’t even care if it makes money. It’s more just like I just like the idea of building something weird that people can see and just experience. And, you know,.

Elsie: I love that. Well you have to do it!

Emma: Yeah. I kind of view it as like, I bet you this will happen at the moment. I view the haunted house thing as kind of my version of that, building an experience for people, but I really would love to do something like that someday. And again, it be rad if it made money, but I don’t really care. I plan to keep my job. I just want to do this too because it’s fun…anyway.

Elsie: Say your third one.

Emma: My third one. So. And this is advice for young Emma, and it is also advice for current Emma. And that is, that success is a process. It’s not a destination. And that failure is inevitable. It’s just how we learn. I really wish someone had told me that back then, because I think I had it in my mind that, you know, anyone on my vision board or anyone I thought was cool, they just somehow arrived at this place where they, you know, for acting, they’re standing on that stage and they get their Oscar. And it’s like, that’s a rad moment. But what about everything else along the way? They probably had lots of like weird jobs or moments where they’re like, what am I even doing? You know, and I just think so often we kind of forget that part. And I just really want to…that’s most of it. That’s like ninety five percent of your life, it’s not the moment where you’re standing on the stage getting the Oscar or it’s not the moment where you’re, you know, having this big success feeling. Most of it is just this like weird process of figuring things out and trying things. And something doesn’t work. Or it used to work and now it doesn’t anymore. And you have to figure it out again. Like that’s most of it. And I think you have to learn to embrace that and learn to love that and enjoy it as much as you can. There still is like…failure kind of sucks. It is how we learn. But it it’s emotional. It’s like UGH. This is frustrating because I need my team to be on track or oh, I feel bad about myself because I had this great idea and it turns out it was a terrible idea. You know, so it’s like this this process of always getting out of the cocoon and it feels not great, but it’s like, you know, that’s how the butterfly gets out. So you have to be doing that part. You have to, like always be growing in your career, growing in the things that you love. And also just enjoying the process of failure and of, you know, trying things, because that’s gonna be the majority of your career and of your life. That’s beautiful. And so true. Yeah.

Emma: Yeah. It can’t be just waiting for like the successful moments because then your life would be so depressing. Most of the time.

Emma: Yeah. Yeah. Even if you’re a very successful person, you’re not going to have that many of those moments. So you really have to embrace all of it. Otherwise, you’re just not going to find happiness. And I think, you know, sometimes we don’t talk about happiness when we’re talking about business or we’re talking about careers. And I think we absolutely should. Because you’re gonna spend 40 plus hours every week of your life on your career and your work, probably a lot more than that during certain seasons. And so if you don’t enjoy it, I mean, that sucks. And I think so often people think, oh, that I need a job that’s fun. And it’s like, yes, but also you need to make your job fun. You need to choose to have a happy life. It’s kind of up to you every single day, like you make your own happiness. So I think that’s empowering. But it can also be kind of demoralizing some days. But I do think it’s really empowering advice. And the more I embrace it in my own life, the happier I am. Yeah.

Elsie: Yeah. I feel like I can do stuff like that when I break it up into little things, little actions that would make my day happier. But when I just try to think about it in a big picture, it’s kind of overwhelming.

Emma: Yeah, definitely. I agree. Yeah. For me, I try to like take a minute to just like sit in the happiness whenever I like, you know, is anything just…I turned in something this morning before we started recording and I did a great job. I’m not going to say what it is. It’s something that’s gonna be on Instagram and it’s with a sponsor who I’ve wanted to work with for years. I finally get to and I mean, I haven’t gotten the feedback yet, so they may want me to change it or who knows? But I’m really proud of what I turned in this morning. And I really was trying to take a minute to just be like. I made this weird little food thing for Instagram, but it’s for a sponsor I’ve been so excited to work with and I did a great job. I love how it turned out. I’m really happy with it. And you know, just have that little moment because it’s so easy to just, like, turn something in or just finish something and then be like, okay, on to the next thing. Now we’ve gotta blah blah blah you know, it’s like, that’s great. It’s great. But, you know, just take those minutes because I think you’re creating your own joy and happiness by like sitting in it for a minute and being like, I did a great job or I’m happy this thing happened or whatever.

Elsie: I totally agree. I love it. All right. So I see here that you want to tell an embarrassing story.

Emma: Yes. So if you’re not familiar, this segment is just when Elsie and I kind of make fun of ourselves for a second. And I thought this one would fit well on this episode because it has a little bit to do with acting. And as I mentioned earlier, that was a career path that I was pursuing for a while. So anyway, here’s the story: So in early college, I started doing a lot of local theater because I wanted to get more involved in that scene because I was trying to pursue acting. And so I just wanted to have more experiences. So me and a good friend of mine, Andy, (I won’t say her last name because I didn’t ask her) but she…nothing embarrassing happens to her. But anyway, my friend Andy and I were in quite a few plays together at our local community theater called Springfield Little Theater. And this play happened to be a Christmas play. And it was kind of just a one we decided to do. I can’t remember if we decided together, but it was like it had children in the play and it had adults. It really wasn’t like a serious acting thing. It was just more like, Oh, I love Christmas and this will be fun. And, you know, it was just a fun little play. So because it had children and adults in the play, there were certain parts that basically adults had to do because there were so few of us, and because of our size, like for costumes and things. So one part that I had during the play was there was this song that would happen. And in the background, there was kind of like a scene of angels. And I was one of the angels. It was just like a silhouette, basically. But I’d have to run backstage downstairs, put these giant wings on, and then kind of walk like sideways through the hallway with these big, heavy wings on, get up on the stage, get behind the little scrim curtain, which is like a see-through curtain, and wait for the lights to turn on. And then it would be like blinding because the lights would be completely off. You’d climb up to your spot and then the lights would be like just blinding. So it was a silhouette. And I’d wait for the song to be over and then I’d climb off the stage and go get the wings taken off and go back to the next scene. So that’s how it worked. And this particular night, I think the previous scene had taken just a tiny bit longer. So I was backstage rushing, getting my wings on and trying to just hurry because the song happens. And if you’re not in your spot, it kind of ruins the feeling because you can clearly see that the the the look that’s not supposed to be moving is moving. So I was like trying not to be the person who ruined it. So I’m rushing, rushing, have these giant wings on, and it’s completely dark. And there’s a couple steps up to the area I have to stand on. And I take a step and I just miss it completely miss the step. And I fall sideways with these big wings into this kind of scrim curtain. And right at that moment is when the lights went on and I was just like falling over completely. And I had this moment where I was like, should I stand up and get in my spot or should I just stay down? And I think I just stayed down. (laughs) Until the song was over and I climbed back off the stage. This is a falling story again, I have a lot of good falling stories. But I just, I didn’t fall off the stage into the audience, but I really fell on the stage in front of everyone. And it was pretty awesome.

Elsie: Oh poor Sister.

Emma: Yeah, I should’ve known then acting wasn’t the career for me, but there you have it.

Elsie: Nah I’m sure everyone falls off a stage.

Emma: I was really like maybe no one really saw. Maybe people just thought I didn’t, like, get to my spot in time and I just wasn’t there. But then when I got backstage, a lot of people were like, “Are you okay?!” And I was like “aw man, they all saw it. Dang!” And that’s the story of Emma falling when she tried to be in a play. So a lot of falling.

Elsie: Thank you so much for listening to the A Beautiful Mess Podcast. If you guys have a moment this week and you wouldn’t mind, we would love for you to leave us a review.

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  • This podcast episode really spoke to me on another level. I’m 27 and in the midst of a career slump and trying to think about exploring other ideas. I’ve changed my mind so many times and then finally settled into one for the last 5 years but now I’m not so sure it’s for me. For many reasons (political, personal, financial etc), the career I wanted to have isn’t going to work out, and now I’m stuck in a related field but it isn’t the one I initially set out to do… (I can definitely relate with Emma about having too narrow of a focus) and now I’m realizing that I need to be in a more creative field.
    So this really helped me kind of grasp my head on a few things I need to figure out!

    Also, I would love to hear about your upbringing. I grew up in a conservative household, only to realize when I grew older that my parents aren’t as conservative as they claim to be, just maybe too stubborn to realize it? So it would be interesting to hear your take on this!

    Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  • Hi Elsie and Emma!

    Will echo everyone above me, would love to hear more about your upbringing…but Elsie I saw your explanation on why you’re hesitant to share on your stories. I think that’s very valid, and even if you see a demand for this -you should do what feels best and safe to you!

    Like Erin I’d love to hear more about the bar and what’s going on with it 🙂

    Lovely episode as always! Keep up the good work xx

  • I get not wanting to talk about your religious upbringing. It’s hard and if I were on a public platform and got ‘witnessed’ to every time I tried to talk about my experiences, I would be scared as shit too. I’m sorry you go through that, Elsie. Solidarity from one survivor of conservative christianity to another, lol .

    For anyone who WANTS a podcast about religion, I recommend Good Christian Fun! It’s a comedy podcast about Christian pop culture from the 90s/early 2000s. They have a different guest on every week and spend half the episode talking to them about their experiences growing up religious (I always like this part because it’s really smart and they ask great and thoughtful questions!). Then the second half is devoted to talking about whichever pop culture topic they’ve chosen for the week (movies, music, books, etc). I can’t recommend it enough! It’s incredibly smart and funny (I find myself laughing out loud listening to it on the bus lol), and it’s NOT preachy or actually religious at all (their big thing is ‘we aren’t bashing religion, but we aren’t here to get you to go to church’ — they handle that balance incredibly well, IMO).. Also — how fun would it be to have Emma (and maybe Elsie too, if she feels comfortable) as a guest on that show?

  • So cool to hear y’all talk about Meow Wolf! My sister lives in Las Vegas, NM and she is a HUGE Meow Wolf fan, she talks about it all the time and sends me pictures. Super cool to see it get some airtime!

  • I’ve loved hearing about your experiences with the brick and mortar store. Elsie’s comments about her onetime desire to own a bar had me wondering – does Emma still own (or partially own) a cocktail bar? I’d love to hear about that experience.

  • Thanks for the chuckle, Emma! I needed that today:) I am a local so I could totally picture what happened on stage…lol

  • Another vote for the conservative upbringing story!
    Although, I do relate with your hesitation to share. I grew up as a pastor’s kid in an ULTRA-conservative fundamentalist culture and lost my entire community when I decided it wasn’t for me anymore. I definitely don’t regret my decision to leave, but I did grieve the loss for several years.

  • My favorite part of this podcast is the way Elsie responds to the things Emma says. All the “oh Emma’s” and “oohs” and “ahhs” are so poignant. The mutual respect you two have for one another shines. Keep it up!

    • awe thanks- when I listen back I always feel like I’m cutting into her talking way too much. So I’m glad it’s not annoying!

  • Meow Wolf ABSOLUTELY needs to be on both of your travel bucket lists! Another fantastic episode! ????

  • As an academic in Religious Studies, I’d love to hear more about your religious lives!

  • Yes, please! I would love a podcast about your upbringing. I’m so interested in the ways we all choose what to keep and what to let go from our childhood.

  • As a bleeding heart liberal heathen, who has loved your blog since the very beginning, I would LOVE an episode about your conservative upbringing and/or religious/spiritual journeys! For one thing, I love hearing about the two of you as sisters and your shared stories. For another, at a time when things are so fractured in our country, I think it would be really refreshing to hear a more conservative tale from two badass ladies. Could provide a really interesting and unique perspective!

  • half the podcasts i listen to already have a religious bent, so i say go for it! everyone’s got a different story but it’s also so uplifting to hear someone else’s experience when it mimics your own. suddenly you’re not as alone anymore 🙂

  • As a person who also experienced a conservative upbringing I am keenly interested in this topic! Particularly from those who are from different parts of the country or world than I am and especially as it relates to forming their views on spending money, making money, and if money even matters to them or if they consider themselves “beyond” that material concern, spiritually beyond it I guess. Whether they are still involved in the community/lifestyle or have extracted themselves is not my concern – unless they invite me to have an opinion on their life I won’t waste time forming one.. and even then it’s generally a pass 🙂

  • I would love to hear about your upbringing! Elsie also once made a comment about being fascinated by Mormons, and as an LDS person myself I am all kinds of curious about what she finds so interesting hahah!

  • Elsie!! Imagineering is SO good…I think 4 or 5 of the episodes made me cry ???? the whole thing is so fascinating to me…we are going to Disney next month and it made me look at it in a whole different light

  • When someone shares his/her story with me – ANY part of it – I feel like I just know them better and I appreciate them more. Like… it’s such an honor that someone would open up about the unseen parts of his/her life. Conversely, when someone has been willing to listen to my story, I always feel more known by them, more seen, more understood. I would love to hear about your upbringing! I also feel like there’s potential for the two of you to discover some little, “Whoa! I didn’t see it that way at all!” moments that could surprise you. How fun!

    This 42yro had to google what TikTok is. Obviously I realize that intersecting with your TikTok would be optional, but… FWIW: that seems like a little slice of Hell to me. :::old:::

  • As a former evangelical who is in the midst of deconstruction, I love hearing those types of stories! Hearing people talk about their thoughts make others feel like they aren’t alone.

    As for ‘evangelizing’, I try to ignore it. Rather than feeling attacked or condescended to, I typically feel a little bit of sadness (people are in real fear for themselves and others, and that must be a terrible place to exist). I channel that into spreading more love through my words and actions.

    Have you heard of the Liturgists podcast? They are currently doing a series called ‘Black History is American History’ and I’m excited to decolonize a lot of the history I was taught (I’m Canadian but this definitely applies here as well).

    I have been following the blog EVERYDAY since 2009 and love the podcast. Your team is super inspiring and whenever I need a pick-me-up I know where to go 🙂

  • ah the conservative upbringing, boy can i relate. i grew up in iowa, moved to michigan, then to toronto canada, then to south florida where i’ve lived for the past 14 years. needless to say i’ve experienced several very different lifestyles and thoughts then my family who are all still in the midwest. tho it would be super interesting to hear about your upbringing, unless you can take advice number one that you would’ve given to youyounger elsie, i say make that a one on one conversation. religion and faith brings out the wacky in people. and the intensity! but i’m saying this as a 43 year old mom who kind of feel protective of you two. 😉

  • I would love to hear an episode about your faith! I find hearing other peoples’ journeys so fascinating. We all come into our faith our own way! 🙂

  • Great topic! Can’t wait to give the episode a listen! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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