I’m starting with some #TBT to Summer 2016. This is me on a sailboat on a week-long vacation with my family. I look relaxed, happy. And I am.
But what you don’t see is that I’d spent the previous three days in tears, sleepless, tired beyond measure.
I won’t get into the details but will say it has to do with #momlife and a sick child who refused to sleep…for months. It all snowballed on that trip, and I almost missed this sailboat ride because I wanted to go home early. #vacationfail
What’s my point?
What we see on social media is misleading. And it can often make us feel like sh*t.
This is nothing new, but I met someone who’s doing something about it!
Larissa (Larz) May, founder of #HALFTHESTORY and LivinlikeLarz, is on a mission “to shed light on hidden human talents, passions, or beliefs that connect us on a deeper level.” She’s helping people reveal more than half the story on social media.
Larz is only 22, but has accomplished more than most despite dealing with burnout and other challenges that occur when you’re young and ambitious. How did she get here? And what inspired her to build this platform?
Meet Larz, and learn how being mission-driven and developing true grit can lead to big things.
Give us some background. Where are you from, and where did you grow up?
I’m from Chicago! I’ve been creating for as long as I can remember.
I was an actor and musician in my younger years, and by the time I was 14 I was in 18 musicals.
When I was 10 years old I was too young to be a babysitter so I made business cards stating that I was a “mother’s helper.” My value proposition was that I would bring a different craft for every visit.
My other ventures included self-produced tap dance shows, a headband business, and “camp watermelon.” I’ve pretty much been an entrepreneur since day one.
It’s incredible that you experimented with so many jobs at such a young age. Can you tell us what your mission is now, the work you want to do?
My life goal is to “help cool people do cool things.” I truly believe there is positive power in social media, and we have to embrace it. It’s all about giving people a voice and a place to express their hidden passions, struggles, aspirations— the other #HALFTHESTORY
Tell us more about #HALFTHESTORY. What is it, and what experiences led you to it?
I started blogging my freshman year at Vanderbilt. I moved to Los Angeles without knowing a soul or even having a car. I wanted my blog to be a creative outlet and a means to meet like-minded individuals.
When I started blogging, and I wanted to work in the fashion industry, I would spend every waking moment sending emails, grabbing coffee, and making phone-calls to learn more about how to “break in.”
Almost every conversation I had began with the phrase, “Larz, my life isn’t really what it looks like,” or “Here’s the behind the scenes of what it took to get where I am.”
I always had that in the back of my mind, but I fell into the trap of the social media paradox.
During my senior year, I was at fashion week when I had my “aha” moment.
I was exhausted, hadn’t slept in days, couldn’t remember my last meal, and I was depleted. However, I made it look REALLY easy on Instagram to uphold my #superwoman aesthetic.
I scrolled through my feed and realized something was missing…Nobody could understand the 17-hour workdays, Skype sessions into class, mission deadlines, and debilitating anxiety. I was only telling #HALFTHESTORY.
Shortly after, I launched @halfthestory, a platform to share a part of our identity that is not regularly revealed through social channels. #HALFTHESTORY, unlike other movements, aims to shed lights on hidden human talents, passions, or beliefs that connect us on a deeper level, in addition to the struggles that we face.
Our passions are at the core of our being, and these are what connect us, so let’s share them.
Did you struggle to identify the work you want to do?
I think I’ve always known my mission, but I struggled with the background noise of opinions and societal norms.
A lot of people made fun of my blog and Instagram. I actually remember a few instances where people would mock me and make posts with the caption “livinlikelarz.”
I’m happy I was able to push through the negativity because it’s been SO worth it. I can finally laugh at the times where I felt super low and hopeless.
That’s called true grit! What has been the result of doing mission-driven work?
#HALFTHESTORY has allowed me to connect with individuals of all genders, races, professions, and languages. I finally feel like I’ve created a platform to help others share another piece of their life and use social media as a means to truly connect. The beautiful moments and memories this project has created in my life bring me to tears.
What’s the biggest challenge you face, especially when it comes to doing mission-driven work. How do you overcome it?
Hearing “NO” is even more difficult when you are purpose-driven. It’s like your crush rejecting you.
I usually try to adapt my idea before I quit, or I listen to “White Tiger” on repeat to bring back the good juju.
For a while, I was too emotionally attached to what I was doing, to the point where I could let one thing ruin my day. Now instead of focusing on the “losses” I try to make a list of my “wins.” You have to celebrate the little victories. – Tweet It!
Many 20 to 30-somethings are still struggling to get clear on the work they want to do. What advice do you have for them?
If you want to figure out what you love, find something you think you may love and spend a day doing it without anyone you know. This can be a conference, workshop, seminar, meetup, or act of service. Give yourself the opportunity to connect with like-minded people in the purpose driven environment. If it feels right…go with your gut and GO FOR IT.
What’s your biggest takeaway from meeting Larz? How can you be more mission-driven and develop more grit especially when big challenges are thrown your way? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.