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How a Hashtag Helped Write a Book (Inspire Forward: Colette from The #ican Project)

April 17, 2014

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Colette and I met years ago while we were both still writing about video games for a living. I’m always inspired by the thoughtful articles and commentary she posts, and the chance to interview her for Inspire Forward perfectly coincided with her launch of The #ican Project, which promotes self-love, encouragement and positivity. — Robin Yang

Robin: So you’ve been working on The #ican Project — where did this idea come from?

Colette: About three months ago, a girlfriend of mine came to work and she was wearing a plain white t-shirt and it said “So Worth Loving” on it, and I was like “Wow, what an amazingly positive statement to wear on your body. Where did you get that shirt?”

A lot of things in my own life have been really challenging because that voice is really in my head somewhere, saying “You really can’t.”

[So Worth Loving] are these positivity pioneers. They use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and they have a clothing line, but the clothing line is a small part of this encouragement for self-love and positivity. Every single day, they post some amazingly positive statement or picture and I just love that they have this tenacity to keep going.

Then the other thing was that at work, I noticed how much HLN readers enjoyed getting in on things and weighing in with a hashtag. And I thought, I wonder if there’s a really cool way to put those things together.

I also grew up in a household with a really anxiety-ridden parent – my grandmother, and she would say “I can’t” about a lot of things. I’d say “I want to do this” or “I hope one day I’ll do this” and she’d say “Oh, you can’t do that”.

I feel like when you’re trying to do something that goes against the grain, that’s where you get the most resistance.

A lot of things in my own life have been really challenging because that voice is really in my head somewhere, saying “You really can’t.”

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And we hear it all around us too, it’s not just from specific people.

Have you ever heard the story of Walt Disney pitching Mickey Mouse? People said “No one wants to see a talking mouse.” And you have to laugh at that. I feel like when you’re trying to do something that goes against the grain, that’s where you get the most resistance.

I love the idea of reinforcing that message in my own mind, so I’m going to do this 30 day #ICan experiment and see what happens.

And now it’s grown into its own Tumblr account and people post their own #ICan posts all the time now.

I never felt as if it was going to grow on its own. It was simply a thing that I did because it made me feel good. As it went on, I found that I really did experience this significant self-esteem boost, feeling a lot of really natural confidence and I’ve done all kinds of things since I started this: I started one book, I finished another book — the first children’s book i’ve done. All this stuff happened just because I kind of maybe I reprogrammed myself, or put myself in a habit for 30 days.

Those are the most challenging days, but I felt like those were the most important days to do it.

Today’s actually supposed to be the last day, but I kind of don’t want to stop! Especially since people are starting to write to me and say “Thank you, I did this because I was feeling/thinking about #ICan” and I’m like “Oh my god, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

When you write it down on the piece of paper, you actually feel really uncomfortable. And those are the most challenging days, but I felt like those were the most important days to do it.

It must be awesome to have that energy feed back into your own.

The idea of me being able to use that energy is great, but the idea of passing it on, that’s the best thing — I like helping other people, and I think that’s one of the things that So Worth Loving does that inspires me. So I think I’m just going to keep going!

Part 2, about being vulnerable (and why that’s good!), is coming next week. Stay tuned!