Today, I am beyond privileged to bring you an interview with Kristen Perino, author of #Selfie to Selfless: Living the Life You Were Created For. A few months ago, when I decided to tackle the giant of selfishness in my life, I stumbled upon Kristen’s Instagram. I sent her a quick email thanking her for beginning the #selfietoselfless movement. I was thrilled when she agreed to do an interview for my blog. I hope she will inspire you just as much as she has inspired me!
You call yourself a “recovering self-aholic.” What made you realize that you were obsessed with yourself? What was the reason you decided to change?
I used to think of selfishness as “This is my last bite of cookie, and I am not going to share, so therefore, I’m selfish.” Suddenly, I realized that selfishness was not just the small confine of refusing to share, but I was living a selfish lifestyle that invaded nearly every area of my life. I was living entirely based on MY feelings, MY time, MY money, MY perspective, MY view. Unknowingly, I was obsessed with myself. Not just my reflection, but it was a mentality that was poisoning the way I lived life and interacted with other people.
I would not say that I am “changed”, because I am still a naturally selfish person, and I am still human, so that’s where grace kicks in. This is about a journey. It’s a process, not perfection. I am striving to live better, but many days I fall short. It’s not an excuse for any mishaps, it’s grace. I would say that instead of “changing”, it’s an awakening. I don’t want anyone to sell all their belongings and become “radically changed”. I am just encouraging them to be AWARE of someone or something other than themselves. It’s an ongoing process that will likely take me until the end of my days to work on, but every day, I am up for the challenge to live a little more selflessly than the last.
If there was one thing you could tell a younger self-aholic, what would it be?
Oh girl, there are SO MANY THINGS that I would love to tell a younger self-aholic. But I’ll narrow it down. First and foremost, I would say you were created with purpose, a plan and have incredible potential. There is more to life than what you see in the here and now. Secondly, you are BEAUTIFUL, so my lovely one, “selfie” until your heart is content because God created a stunningly beautiful human when He made you, but do not put your self-worth in that selfie. The tiny lens on your phone cannot capture the true beauty that you have inside you, nor does your “following” define your future.
How old were you when you began writing? Was it challenging being a young author?
I’ve always loved writing. I cannot do math to save my life, but I’ve always loved reading and writing. Writing just made sense to me. I am a grammar and spelling NERD.
(I love you for calling me young. I know I’m not old, but some days don’t feel so “young” any more)
When all this began, I knew God was whispering to my heart, “I need your voice. I need your voice.” And I thought, MY VOICE?!? What the heck? Why would he need my voice? Instantly, my lack of qualifications flashed through my mind, one being my age, and I was so hesitant to write S2S for that reason. In addition to my age, my real insecurity stemmed from not being married (or anywhere close to it), and not having any children. I am personally genuinely OK with my stage in life, but in the writing world, I thought that a husband and kids gave you a rite of passage to suddenly be wise; as if people would listen to me more if I had those “credentials”. There IS so much wisdom that comes from being a mother and wife, but what if you don’t have those? Are your experiences discounted? I wanted people to take me seriously. But then I was completely convicted. God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called. I had asked God to be used, so why was I pressing back when He was trying to use me? And then it became very clear to me that I am overly qualified at living selfishly, period. It doesn’t matter WHAT stage of life I could be in, the fact is: I was living selfishly. I have seen so many married couples that live selfishly. Sadly, I have witnessed singles, and mothers alike, act extremely selfish. This is a topic that crosses any age, any marital status, any income, or background. I personally, am an ordinary, very selfish, twenty-nine year-old, and I needed to write about it.
What is your favorite thing about writing?
I feel passionate about reminding others that they are not alone. If I can share any experience through writing, and it would speak to someone’s heart, then my job is done. We are stronger together. It’s when people feel alone, isolated, or they’re the only person going through a situation or circumstance, is when darkness creeps in. When are not meant to live in the dark, we are meant to spread light. How we spread that light is writing and speaking about the truth, encouraging one another, coming alongside our brothers and sisters, and whispering, “Hey, I’ve been there. You are not alone.”
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
KEEP WRITING, KEEP READING, KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN! I am obsessed with watching other women (and men!) who have come before me. I love and admire fierce, intelligent writers and speakers like, Lisa Bevere, Bianca Olthoff, Christine Caine, Jen Hattmaker, Carl Lentz, Rick and Kay Warren, and Havilah Cunnington. It’s so important to keep yourself inspired, but also to remind yourself that you are not them. You have your own story to tell. It is by no accident that you have the life and experiences that you have. You are meant to share through your lens. All of the above authors have kids and a family of their own. I don’t. I am single, living in Los Angeles, working in Fashion PR. My story will not look the same as theirs, but I respect and admire so much what they’ve done.
How can we get involved in the #selfietoselfless movement?
Well, I would be honored if people purchased the book! You can do so at www.SelfieToSelfless.com or on Amazon. It is also carried at smaller bookstores.
But on a larger scale, the best way to get involved with the movement is to sincerely look within, write down what selflessness looks like to you in your everyday life, and how you can start weaving it into your schedule, your home life, your weekends. We need to make being selfless part of our routine. At first it takes discipline, because being selfless doesn’t come naturally to most. But then after practice, it will start flowing naturally.
I talk about it in the book, but selfless acts can be anything; taking a friends phone call when you know they’re hurting, and all you want to do is go to bed. Or maybe it looks like taking your neighbors kids to school if that single mom is struggling. Or maybe you could buy Starbucks for the person in line behind you, while ordering your own coffee.
Being selfless is not a one-size-fits-all model. It won’t look the same for everyone. But I encourage you to start sacrificing what is most precious to you first. Example, if you value your time above all else, then start with selflessly sacrificing your time, whether that’s with an organized charity, or small acts with neighbors, family, or strangers on the street corner. If you value your money the most, then start by selflessly investing your money in pouring into others. You could buy gift cards to Starbucks, McDonald’s or Subway, and keep them in your car to give out to homeless people you drive by on the street corner. Everyone deserves food. If you value your wardrobe the most, then start by clearing it out, and donating to an organization in your community or city that gives back to a cause that resonates with you.
The possibilities are endless. We are such a capable generation. The sky is limit to how you give back. My most urgent question is; the world is hurting, so why are you waiting? It’s time to get in the game. We cannot wait for politicians, the church, or the government to intercede. Change starts with US, in our everyday lives.
THANK YOU, Kristen, for helping us as we seek to live selflessly. I cannot wait to read the book.