She's currently working out to Justin Bieber's "The Feeling," but we have seriously good feeling about Katherine Schwarzenegger. Yes, of that family with the unmistakable last name who is making moves in the blog world with her eponymous site. What's also unmistakable is that the USC grad, twice published author is not resting on her laurels. From food and fitness advice to fashion and inspiration, her lifestyle game is strong.
We chatted with Katherine about giving in to fear, the power in vulnerability, and asking herself: WWBD? What Would Beyoncé Do? Make sure to check her out at Create & Cultivate Dallas this January when she talks about defining your personal brand and voice.
In your book, “I Just Graduated…Now What?” Honest Answers from Those Who Have Been There,” John Legend is quoted as saying, “It’s not wrong to be afraid.” Why do you think we are so determined to always appear brave and bold?
I think people don't really value fear as much as they should. So much is learned when you're afraid to do something. When somebody graduates college, there's so much pressure from everyone and society to come out of school brave and ready to go into the world with confidence and having a concrete plan. For most people this isn't the case. I felt very unconfident post-college and I felt like those four years were supposed to prepare me for everything I would experience in the real world and the reality was, I felt very under prepared. We should really give people a break and applaud them for being afraid, especially when they're able to express their fear openly. This humanizes us and allows us to know that it's OK to not always have everything together, because that's impossible. At the end of the day this pressure to be brave and bold all the time just puts an unnecessary amount of pressure on everyone to always be perfect and never show their flaws. I have found when I show my flaws, amazing and beautiful things happen and I actually end up learning so much about myself and about life, that should be encouraged more often.
To that point, there is also a degree “putting your best face forward.” When is it OK in life to be vulnerable?
I don't think there's enough emphasis put on the idea of being vulnerable. Being vulnerable is definitely a really scary thing, you never know what's gonna happen, how people might react, what life will hand you, etc. But it's almost always guaranteed to be a huge learning experience for you. I think most of us wait to be vulnerable when were in a really safe place because that's when it feels most comfortable, but I think we should try to be more real more often. I'm not saying to pour your heart out all the time, but pay attention to your feelings and express them. You don't always have to have it together around your friends and family, and chances are when you decide to let your walls down and be vulnerable, you will be humanized and allow others to also feel their feelings. What I've learned is that when you allow yourself to be vulnerable is when you allow yourself to really feel and then to grow.
What to you do when you don’t have “the answer?”
The first thing I always try to do when I'm searching for the answer to something is to look at how I feel in my gut. I know a lot of people always say to trust your gut but sometimes it's easier said than done. A lot of times I overthink things so when I need that extra reassurance. I always like to pay attention to how I really feel in a situation and go with that. If that doesn't work, I always ask myself "what would Beyoncé do?"
How can vulnerability be powerful?
I think vulnerability overall is incredibly powerful thing because you're at your most honest with yourself and with those around you. So that right there is a powerful thing. Vulnerability humanizes us and allows our flaws to be exposed and that's a big risk.
When has your fear had a positive effect?
Fear can protect you which is a positive thing. If you are in a relationship and you're afraid then you know to get out. Fear can also block you. It can prevent you from doing a lot of great things and really living. So while fear is inevitable, it should hopefully be something you don't allow to control your life.
We’re always asking those older than us for life advice. But what is a memorable piece of advice you received from someone much younger than you?
I get a lot of great advice from people younger than me because I have a big family and at a certain point age doesn't matter – we all hang out together. I think one of the best pieces of advice that I got from my youngest brother, Christopher, was in reference to a person I was dealing with who wasn't giving me what I wanted or needed in a relationship. I was venting to him (my family is very close) and he said to me that not everyone knows HOW to love and live the way we do. You need to accept people for they are and love them for their great parts, but also love their flaws. Half the time I think he is a prophet because the things he says at his age are insanely brilliant and this talk I had with him was life changing. It helped change the way I look at people and what I am able to expect from them as well.
You published your first book as a twenty-year-old at USC. Which goes to show that it’s never too early to jumpstart a career-- and many feel like they have to have it figured out before graduating. What would you say to those struggling with college/work balance?
It's normal. Don't think that anyone isn't struggling with the college and work balance because everybody is. I think where we get messed up is when we think we have to have it all figured out. The reality is you never have it all figured out and you are constantly learning for the rest of your life about how to balance. So definitely don't think that you have to have it figured out before or after graduating because even if you think that you do, it will change 1 million times. We all struggle with that balance, but I think the best you can do is do what feels right for you. It's definitely important to be able to work hard and take your career seriously but also to put a huge amount of focus and attention on your friends and your family and things that make you happy. When I was writing my first book, one of the best pieces of advice I received was from my mom – she said that you will work hard and spend time on your career but at the end of the day your job won't be holding your hand or wiping tears or helping you up, that comes from relationships, whatever kind that might be. So put focus on your career but also on your friends, family and partner.
What are some small, daily ways we can use our voices for positive change?
The smallest and easiest way we can actually make a big change every day is simply by treating people with kindness. You would be surprised how different your life could be and the lives of people you interact with could be if we could just be kind to one another. Life is hard, people are struggling and hurting, so just by being kinder to others you will make yourself happier and change the course of another persons day.
What’s one small change you’ve made that’s had a huge impact on your life and career?
Definitely cutting out the negativity has had an overall huge impact on my life and career. Your '20s are for learning all the messy things: how you want to live your life, what kind of people you want around you, what's important to you as an adult, etc.. When I made the decision to remove a lot of the negativity in my life-- whether that was people or situations, everything improved so much. It's a hard thing to do but it's the best thing that you can do.
Another big change that I made in my life was to try to remove all judgment. I think we judge people's decisions so much and we don't pay attention to our own life. We criticize and judge people's every move instead of just letting people do what they want-- it begins to consume our lives. The moment you let people do what they want and choose to love them instead of judging them you will be a freer and happier person.
What’s your go-to outfit? The one you’d throw on every day if you could get away with it?
Probably black skinny jeans, black ballet flats, and a black t-shirt. That's my easiest go to outfit that requires zero thinking. I make sure to have my favorite pieces of jewelry on 24/7 so it makes the outfit look more put together even if I just throw it on. I never take off my jewelry so that always helps with basic easy outfits like this one.
Best piece of advice you’ve received from your mom?
That's a tough one because she gives me so much great advice. One that I can think of off the top of my head would be the importance of a handwritten thank you note. I used to hate doing it when I was younger but I now write all my notes on stationary. It’s timeless. I would say the biggest peace of advice my mom taught me that changed the way I view people and interact with people is the importance of treating everyone with kindness because you never know what someone's life is like at home. Whenever someone is rude or mean for no reason, have compassion for them and give them a smile because you don't know what they are going through. They could have a dying parent, a sick child, a bad marriage, recently let go a work, heartbroken, etc. Life is HARD, we are all human and we struggle, so if someone behaves badly to you for no reason or doesn't treat you kindly, know it probably isn't about you and about something worse that is causing them pain. Have compassion always and send love.
A woman you admire:
My mother (and Beyoncé).
If you could tell your generation one thing it would be:
Change is a good thing. A lot of people in generations older than ours look at the fact that we change passions, change careers, change locations etc as unstable and I think we should look at it as exciting and a good thing in life. Our generation can have several different jobs by the time they are 30 and that's okay. I think it gives us the chance to try a lot of things and hopefully find what we are passionate about and be able to have a career around that. It can be discouraging as well and hard to get the acceptance of other generations but just do you, it's all a process that will hopefully lead to a bigger and better version of who you are.