Recently, I’ve decided to start a new monthly series called “Friday Friend Features” where I basically choose a blogger, Instagrammer, YouTuber and/or anyone I’ve befriended via social media and the Internet to interview and feature on my blog! The series covers a wide variety of topics that are related to health, fitness, food, lifestyle, female and male empowerment, body image, college and basically so much more.
I cannot even begin to describe how thrilled I was when one of my biggest social media inspirations, Claire Michelle, agreed to initiate the series. With a gorgeously structured Instagram feed, loads of well-edited YouTube videos, philosophical captions with words of wisdom, a stunning e-book, a free-spirited mind and a big heart, Claire Michelle has changed so many lives (including mine) by spreading the powerful messages of veganism, challenging your doubts, embracing the unexpected and following your dreams. Oh yeah, and she’s even younger than me.
Check out the interview below!
- How would you introduce yourself to a new viewer/follower who’s discovered your profile for the first time?
Hey there, my name is Claire Michelle. I’ve been traveling through California for the past three months. All my stuff is currently residing in a single backpack. I’ve come to a lot of realizations lately, and the most important one is that you don’t need much to be happy. Good vegan food, kind people, moments…this is all that matters in life. I’m gradually becoming less and less attached to the materialistic ideals I used to place so much value in, I’m finding my flow. Creating beauty and art through photos and videos, spreading a message bigger than myself…this is what keeps me going. Reaching forward. That’s what I want to document along my journey. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoy the wave.
- There are literally hundreds of thousands of vegan Instagrammers and YouTubers, but one reason you particularly stood out to me is because you radiate so much positive energy. What invigorates you to remain so cheerful?
Thank you, I appreciate that. Becoming vegan changed my life, in just about every single aspect. I felt as if I had found this hidden gem, this answer to almost everything…and I wanted to share that magic with the world. The fact that people were interested in letting that magic flow through them, the fact that there were other people out there who were passionate about peace and love and compassion, made me super happy. I felt as if I had found my tribe, in a sense. I was connected to something bigger. But I really believe my happiness has amplified in recent months through realizing the power of the law of attraction, and just how much goodness and love there is in this world. Coming out here, literally not knowing anyone, and being immediately wrapped up in this blanket of familiarity and love shifted my perspective entirely. This world is full of love. You just have to be open to it. Your perception creates your reality. Perceive the positives in life, and you will inevitably manifest more of that into your life. I know this may sound like a bunch of rubbish to someone who hasn’t experienced this in their own life, but trust me. It’s real. Everything is energy, we are all connected.
- Aside from having a generally positive platform, you’ve also shared your most vulnerable parts of your life, notably your battle with an eating disorder (which millions of people can relate to). How did you heal your relationship with yourself and such a self-destructive part of your past?
I realized that there was something out there that mattered more than myself and my all-consuming quest to be as skinny and beautiful as possible. Veganism was a huge wake up call for me. Through shifting my focus from my appearance and pouring my energy into this movement, through loving beings beyond me, I learned to love myself again. It’s not an easy process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Self-love is still something I’m working on, even writing this today. But each day I move closer to full detachment from my appearance defining my self-worth. It’s a steady journey.
- Okay, now here’s a much lighter, superficial question: describe your PERFECT day, plus what you would do and what you’d eat during that day.
Wake up on the beach in a tangle of warmth and familiarity just as the sun is melting into the sky and lighting the glassy water on fire. Breathe in the salty air laced with light. Pure and simple. Lay out on the sand for a while, walk barefoot along the shore. Let the moment crawl under my skin. Surf for hours, carve out the waves until my stomach is aching and hollow. Walk to a local smoothie shop and get an acai bowl with coconut and peanut butter and mango on top and pile into a van and drive for hours along the coastline, fingertips drumming on the steering wheel, a hand carving out the golden air pouring in through the open windows. Eat local beach tacos for lunch and explore every inch of the island, until my skin is the color of dust and my feet are torn up and my eyes are sparkling. Buy Thai takeout and eat it on the beach when there’s a perfectly fine restaurant just a few blocks away. Drift off to sleep beneath an icy blanket of stars, listening to the gentle lullaby of waves kissing the sand beneath my spine. Collect stories, clouds of whispers. Late at night, just as sand buries itself into the corners of your eyes and the holes in your pockets. I’m not sure where one day begins and another ends. The concept of time dissolves into a wave of tangible moments floating through our minds. Our souls are saturated with light, and we let it melt into the hands of anyone we cross paths with along out journey. Our hearts beat as one. Our relentless spirits crave the inconsistency of this nomadic lifestyle. It quenches our thirst for the unknown. We are free.
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While social media can be a powerful platform for spreading a message, or cultivating connections with likeminded individuals, it is incredibly easy to construct an illusive ideal of others you follow on social media, whether you intend to or not. I strive to be as vulnerable as possible, but you still perceive very small aspects of my life. I show mostly positive moments, in order to inspire others to live happier, fulfilled lives. While my life overflows with infinite love fueled by my passion and the beautiful people I surround myself with, I am human. Just like you. I mess up, often. I have days where I feel incredibly lost, and insecurities tear away at my spirit. I'm not "better" than you simply because I have a presence on social media. Caitlin @frommybowl tagged me in a post a few days ago to list ten real + raw facts about myself below. I tag every single one of you beautiful humans to do this as well. 1. My biggest fear is that I will fall short, and fail to live up to my full potential. 💭 2. I am always late. Literally. Everywhere. Anywhere. I cannot remember the last time I was on time…let alone five minutes early? Forget it. 🙊 3. I am a total introvert. Spending time with others drains my energy. I would much rather spend hours alone…drawing, listening to music, creating videos, hiking in the mountains… just being. Stillness. 🌿 4. I am a mess. My car, my room, my mind…everything is chaos. 🙈 5. I am a giraffe. Literally. 5' 10" + lanky af. 💃🏽 6. 99% of my meals are NOT ig worthy. (But they are hella delicious so honestly who even cares? 😉) 7. When I first started driving, I drove through my garage door because I got mixed up between the gas and the brake pedal. Yes. That happened. 🚙💨 8. I am a free spirit. This causes me to be completely illogical and totally naive at times, but it makes for some incredible adventures along the way. 👣 9. Chance The Rapper makes me infinitely happy. 🌞 10. I may act like I know what I'm doing, but the truth is, I have no idea. (Does anyone really?) However, I'm open to wherever my journey may guide me in the future. This is the beauty of life. 🌎✨
- Your social media has inspired so many people–including myself–to look into veganism and make the switch! What advice would you give to those who would like to become vegan but don’t really know where to start?
Educate yourself. Watch as many vegan documentaries and read as many books you can get your hands on. The more you know, the less you’ll be tempted to go back to eating animal products again. Remind yourself why you are truly doing this. Once you make the connection, it’s impossible to go back.
- Unlike many other individuals your age, you made the brave decision to move to Los Angeles and pursue online health coaching and YouTube rather than attend a university. Why did you choose such a daring route and how did you build social support for your endeavors?
So often we get that idea, you know the ones I’m talking about. They crawl into your mind late at night and bury themselves into your thoughts, pull you in directions you’d never think of straying to. We usually brush off these thoughts, suffocate them by our doubts and fear and the “what if’s” clouding up our minds. I always wanted to do this. I always possessed the relentless urge to travel, to experience this world, meet beautiful, like minded souls. I believe that happiness created through reconnecting with your intuition and aligning your actions with your deepest sense of self, not through blindly follow the societal constructed model of what “success” is defined as today. I realized that fear will always be there, telling me “I can’t” or that “I shouldn’t” or that “I’m not good enough”…it’s human nature to limit our potential through giving our power away to external circumstances so that we never have to take responsibility for our lives. The ego craves stagnancy of your current state of being. It doesn’t want you to grow or change. Once I let go of fear, I realized that everything I ever needed was already within. I just had to let go. So I leapt. I still had fear within me. It was running through my veins at this point. I came to Los Angeles not knowing a single soul. Everything I owned in a single backpack. It sounds crazy, but it doesn’t feel crazy. Not in the slightest. Everything has aligned nearly effortlessly since I’ve come here. I’ve been drawn to strangers that have become my family. I feel as if I’m in my flow, and love and goodness and beauty just continues to manifest within my life. It doesn’t feel real. I let go, and fell. And somehow, a net appeared. And it’s still holding me.
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step one: drown out the whispers echoing through your mind. that they told you so. that you should know by now. it’s not your fault for grasping so tightly onto flickers of light in billowing clouds. for collapsing into hurricanes disguised as open arms. for building homes with threads of vacant hearts. for carving out love letters with your tender lips, lighting fire beneath their skin. aching and cold. abandoned moments and temporary people. do not answer when they call. when it’s convenient for them to slip back into your life. stop allowing footsteps to effortlessly trace in and out of your bones, exchanging grace for toxic company. giving and giving and giving. it's ok to take sometimes, too. take a moment. a pint of strawberry ice cream. some cozy blankets. cry and cry and cry. allow the swallowed up emotions you attempted to bottle up for so long to spill out all the sheets. threadbare and speckled with salt and regret. these constellations will fade and heal in time, as you will. breathe. -how to heal a broken heart // continued in my book (nearly finished.)
- Something that we have in common is that we are both somewhat introverted people. However, you’ve been featuring more friends in your vlogs and Instagram photos! What has inspired you to step out of your comfort zone in terms of expanding your social circle?
Through finding my tribe, my community here, I felt accepted and loved. That safe space allows one to become more comfortable with their sense of self, and become immensely more confident in sharing their ideas and connecting with likeminded people. Everyone I’ve stumbled upon along my journey has been incredibly compassionate and nonjudgmental, which fueled my desire to meet more people like this, and get over my fear of speaking my heart and mind.
- Recently, you published a beautifully structured and eloquently-written e-book (that I cannot recommend enough to every one of you) that sums up your life journey thus far and includes information on veganism, super easy recipes and even really compelling pieces of poetry! Do you plan on taking your passion for writing anywhere else, and if so, what do you see yourself doing with it?
Thank you, I really appreciate that. Writing is, and will always be, my first love. It’s what started this entire journey from the start. I poured so much love and purpose into my captions on Instagram, and I really believe that I manifested this through that meditation in a sense. I want to write more books, poems, anything. I want to create beauty with words that makes people feel, cry, laugh, love….anything. Writing is powerful because people can interpret the same string of words in entirely different ways, it’s completely relative. That’s why I love it.
- I cannot forget to congratulate you on your growing fan base (+60K on YouTube and +76K on Instagram)! How do you plan on preventing fame cloud your ability to maintain relatively personal relationships with so many people?
Social media has the tendency to suck you down into it, and lose sight of yourself in the process. I often pour and pour and pour myself out into it until I’m empty. But if I decide to take a moment and breathe, re-center my focus, I’ll drop it altogether. I crave extremes and honestly, I’m still searching for that balance. I never want to lose touch with who I am in sharing so much myself online. This is something I’ve been thinking about and processing a lot lately. I’ve recently experienced this shift; I can’t even really describe it. Recently, I met a group of people that made me stop and reevaluate what I’m even doing here. Being surrounded by that wave of acceptance and love, seeing how much they cared for each other, it just kind of hit me that I feel as if sometimes I’m missing out on life, real moments and experiences, because I’m sharing so much of mine. It’s tough to process because I wouldn’t be here today without social media, but sometimes I feel I have the tendency to get so pulled into it that I lose sight of how much more is happening beyond this little bubble. There is so much more to this world than social media. But since it’s technically my job, it’s easy to shut myself off to life beyond it. I’m not sure if this is making any sense, I haven’t even really talked to anyone about this until you and I want to share these thoughts with everyone…I’ve just been thinking a lot about a lot of things lately. I’m not sure what I want my next step to be, but I want to do more. Something different.
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“Work the shit job, pick up extra shifts, go without expensive clothes, or a brand new car, stay home and cook, save as much money as possible. Because while your watching the sunset on the other side of the world, meeting new friends that feel like home, tasting new foods, experiencing new culture, and smells, late nights and early mornings, seeing places that you can’t justify in a photo, and making the best memories of your life… The expensive clothes, brand new car, and expensive dinners, don’t seem as important. And even when you get home and do it all again, it’s never the same. Because something inside you changes. So there for I choose experience, I choose to travel not to escape, but to experience. To spend my long shifts and hard work and create memories, and friends that last a life time. If there’s one piece of advice I could give anyone, would be to travel. Travel as much as possible, you will never regret it, because one day you will wake up and it will be too late.” –Savanna Rae ✨
- Lastly, what are the main messages that you want your readers/viewers to take away from your platform (social media, e-book, etc.)?
I want them to let go of living an apathetic, passive life. I want them to feel alive, not merely exist. I don’t want to be put up on a pedestal for what I have and will achieve, I want people to seek out inspiration from it, and pursue that in their own lives. I want them to become alright with being vulnerable, with creating their own art, whatever that may look like in their own lives. I want them to be free.
Once again, I cannot thank Claire enough for such well-written and heartfelt responses as well as her generosity for this interview. Please check out her social media links below as well as her e-book all linked underneath here, and I look forward to featuring my next guest in December!
YouTube: Claire Michelle