2019 is the year of Leveling Up. As cliche as that might sound, 2018 taught me that when you’re not operating in the fullness that God called you to operate in, you’ll never reach the potential you know you have, and the only way to reach that potential is to…Level Up.
Despite professional successes and being seemingly productive, I felt really stagnant in my growth as an artist and a human being last year. For starters, I wrote one blog post in 2018. One. In that post I detailed my struggle with anxiety attacks and frustrations with my health. It makes sense that it was the only post I was able to complete, because that anxiety was rooted in an unwillingness to change in order to grow and move forward. Understanding that I was my own worst enemy last year was a hard pill to swallow, because on the surface it seemed like I was doing everything right. But going through the motions and actually changing are two completely different things. What do I mean by that? Let’s start with my health.
I’ve been super transparent about my journey with eczema, from the beginning of Topical Steroid Withdrawal, to Moisture Withdrawal, to the Dr. Aron Regimen. I posted my last Dr. Aron Method update on September 5, 2017. I haven’t posted any updates since then, because I haven’t made any progress. I haven’t made any progress, because I’ve been using the same methods but hoping for different results.
I’ve known in my gut for quite some time that I need to switch to a completely alkaline vegan diet in order to heal my body; not just eczema, but sinus issues, chronic congestion, and fatigue. I’ve read the books, I’ve watched the videos, and I’ve seen people’s testimonies. I’ve always known that what I’m putting into my body is the root cause of my illness, which is why I don’t like medication. None of the medications I’ve ever tried for eczema have brought me lasting results. They’ve been a bandaid over symptoms that are being caused by a bigger issue. Despite knowing all of this, I LOVE FOOD! You mean to tell me I cut out gluten and dairy and that’s not enough? I need to cut out alcohol and sugar too? Wait….that’s still not enough?!? You mean to tell me having a treat every now and then is going to make my eczema FLARE UP?!?!? It’s infuriating and changing your diet is EXTREMELY isolating. What do people want to do the first time they meet? Go out for a drink. How do we celebrate every holiday and birthday? Food and desserts. Food in our culture is so closely tied to community and fellowship that when you can’t participate you feel like an outsider, and that’s the last thing I wanted to feel like.
Even so, I began the transition to an alkaline vegan diet in the summer of 2017. I didn’t give myself a time frame, because in my experience jumping into a diet cold turkey never works. I gave myself grace to slowly transition, but by February 2018 I was fully equipped to make it official. I had the cookbooks, the Instagram pages with quick recipes, and the knowledge, but I didn’t have the discipline. I was following Dr. Sebi’s guidelines, which don’t allow any hybrid foods. Click this link if you want to know more about Dr. Sebi’s guidelines and ideologies. The list of approved foods is very limiting and eliminates some of my favorite foods in the world like chocolate, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams…did I say potatoes? So basically, to stick to it I would’ve needed to meal prep every week and not eat out. Remember how I said I lacked discipline? It just wasn’t happening. My desire to eat what I wanted to eat and be able to grab food conveniently or go out to eat with friends outweighed my desire to be healthy. It was really that simple. So I was stuck in limbo of not wanting to get a stronger prescription of my medication, and not wanting to stick to an alkaline vegan diet. The things that once worked to clear up my eczema weren’t working anymore, but I kept hanging onto old methods hoping they would bring new results. I needed to Level Up, but my mentality was holding me back.
This mentality carried over into my professional, artistic and personal life. Without realizing it, I had set invisible boundaries for myself, and was living life within those confines, but expecting to reap the benefits of someone who had no limitations. This past year taught me that I’m not the Lauren of four years ago; even one year ago. However, when I looked in the mirror I still saw the insecure, incredibly shy middle schooler who didn’t believe she was beautiful, didn’t understand why she never landed a principle role in the school plays, and thought she was never going to get her first kiss, let alone a boyfriend and someday a husband (because clearly that’s the ultimate goal for every 12 year old). I was continuously self-sabotaging by saying things like, “I’ll be single forever. I never book straight plays or roles like that. They don’t see me like that. It’s too hard to stick to a healing diet. Etc etc…” I preach so much about having a positive mentality and the power of words, and here I was keeping myself in a box with my own words. I was beginning to internalize all of these statements even though I said them jokingly. These words became my truth and I didn’t really believe that I was worthy of the desires of my heart. Of course I thought that I thought I was worthy, but my actions told a different story.
In relationships: I kept dating guys that I wasn’t seriously interested in and that I knew weren’t right for me. Just to clarify, this has been a pattern in my life for a while, not just 2018. To make myself feel better I constantly used the excuse of boredom or needing attention and affection, blah, blah, blah. But every time, it ended the same way (badly), because I was settling for less than I deserved. I was internalizing my “I’ll be single forever” jokes and deep down believed that a healthy romantic relationship was not going to happen in my lifetime. So I settled, because I didn’t see anything better for my future. I was leveling down…hardcore.
Artistically: I kept setting goals and deadlines for the blog, short sketches and other scripts I wanted to write but never followed through. I’ve always struggled with follow through when it comes to personal projects, but this past year took it to a new level. I kept letting myself down and had a notebook full of ideas and unfinished projects as proof. My health and the anxiety attacks definitely played a part in this. I was completely unmotivated to do the work and couldn’t figure out why. Me setting all those goals and not following through conditioned me to not trust myself, because I was essentially lying to myself about what I was going to accomplish. Each time I didn’t follow through, it made the next time I set a goal feel like a monumental mountain that was nearly impossible to climb over.
Professionally: I was frustrated that I wasn’t being seen the way I wanted to be seen. I didn’t get a lot of the roles I went out for, which is just a part of the business, but still disheartening. I continued to work, but I often felt like I wasn’t being challenged, which is probably why I’ve been itching to do a play. I love musical theatre, but the text of a play just has more depth than that of a musical. I’ve been craving to dive into some juicy text to help me grow as an artist. Beyond preparing for auditions, I didn’t put in any work toward the goal. I could’ve done so much more like contacting new theaters, getting an acting coach, learning new monologues, and creating challenging work for myself.
Reaching a new level requires more out of you than you’ve ever given before. For most of 2018 I wasn’t ready to give that. I had internalized all of the negative thoughts I was feeding myself and began to believe I was unworthy of the desires of my heart. When you continue to feed yourself lies, you operate as if they’re true. Instead of leveling up, I continued to operate the same way and complained about the results. As I said before, this was the root of my anxiety last year. I knew I needed to make changes in order to move forward and accomplish my goals, but I had convinced myself that I would be fine living the way I always had. Again, I was lying to myself. Then I began judging my worth based on my current circumstances and everything I didn’t have. I was stuck in a self deprecating cycle and couldn’t figure out why I was so frustrated and why I was dealing with the same road blocks I thought I had conquered years ago. I was made so uncomfortable with myself and my circumstances that now I KNOW I have no choice but to level up. The options are simple: live with the discomfort of staying the same, or experience temporary discomfort in order to reach my goals. Everything I want is right on the other side of that discomfort, and in 2019 I’m getting to the other side!
Changing is hard, because you’re moving into unknown territory, but in order to get what you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done before. So I’m attacking 2019 with an I AM WORTHY mindset, and going after what I want full heartedly. It’s going to take more out of me than I’ve ever given before, but I’m ready. I am worthy of being healed, I am worthy of being loved, and I am worthy of doing the type of work that fulfills me. Instead of waiting for all of these things to come to me, I’m going after them unapologetically.
I encourage you to approach 2019 with the same mindset. Remind yourself daily that you are worthy and you are capable of accomplishing your goals. There’s no time for negative self talk in 2019. God wouldn’t have given us these dreams if we weren’t able to obtain them. It’s going to be uncomfortable, it’s going to be hard, and it’s probably going to be scary, but like I always say, do it afraid! The best things in life scare us a little, but that’s how we know they’re worth going after. If you have a goal, write it down, make a plan, and stick to it. I challenge you to do something new this year toward reaching your goals. You’d be surprised at the results of stepping outside of your comfort zone. It’s only January 14, but already I’ve been sticking to a completely Dr. Sebi approved fruit and vegetable fast. I plan to keep on going and share more details about the process in my next post. Let’s get out of our own way and Level Up in 2019.
I'm Lauren, aka Just Du Pree, and I want to thank you for reading. This is a space where I share my very personal journey healing from eczema and topical steroid withdrawal (among other things), life lessons I've learned along the way, and occasionally the thoughts of an awkward Black girl (no Issa Rae). I'm a performer and filmmaker, so if you feel so inclined, pop over here to see what goes on in my mind on the regular. If you like what you see, you can stay up to date with my work here. Much love, friends!