On the Road
Today, Susan Vernicek’s mission is to help women discover their capacity for self-acceptance, self-appreciation, and achievement. At 25, she was lost. She’d just spent the summer living in London, where she worked odd jobs to finance trips to exciting locales. “I realized in that summer I wanted a life of passion,” she explains. Eventually, though, her debt forced her to move back to America. She moved home, where she worked an office job as a graphic designer for a medical company. “Talk about going from one extreme to the other,” she reflects wryly.
At the medical company, Susan manipulated people’s faces in Photoshop to show what they could look like if they got elective surgery. She didn’t do this for upcoming patients, though—This was to showcase what surgery could do for anyone. Soon she was asked to manipulate her own face for work.
At this time, she was depressed, sixty-five pounds heavier than when she was traveling, and struggling with alcohol abuse. “I was throwing myself a pity party and blaming the world for everything,” she says. She would look at herself in the mirror, compare herself to the face she made on Photoshop, and feel miserable.
One day as Susan was sitting at her desk, manipulating her face, she was struck by a thought: What am I doing?
“In that moment I remember feeling this clarity of acceptance, of responsibility,” she explains. “I said to myself, ‘You’re throwing yourself a pity party, but you have to accept responsibility. You are where you are because of the choices you’ve been making.” She joined a gym, started making a plan for her life, and began her passion project: Identity Magazine. What began as a creative outlet became a digital publication that offers thoughtful insights on nutrition, emotional and physical health, career, and self-help.
Trusting the Process
Susan attributes the success of her magazine to her mental endurance. “I just showed up every single day, and when you show up every single day, even if it’s a small, small step, that compounds, and then you turn around and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh.’”
She also allowed herself to take the terrifying plunge into a new career. When she realized she could turn her online magazine into a book, she did. When she realized she could turn her book into a book tour, she did that, too. Though the tour didn’t earn her any money, the experience allowed her to craft a signature workshop. In one workshop in Arizona, she worked with a woman who happened to need a speaker for her own career. This allowed her to enter yet another chapter as a speaker and coach. From this experience, Susan learned to trust both her own skills and the journey of life as a whole. She came to realize that life would take her where she was meant to go.
Today, the goal of Susan’s work is threefold: First, she wants to give women the opportunity to create a lifetime of healthy internal dialogue; Second, she wants to teach women how to be their #1 cheerleader; Third, she wants to give them tools to keep them inspired on their journey. The key to breaking out of unhealthy, self-deprecating patterns, Susan says, is to accept responsibility. “Accepting responsibility is our biggest resistance,” she says. Still, she warns against self-flagellation. “Let go. Accept where you are now, find the appreciation, the lessons learned, and breakthrough so that you can continue to achieve.”
One way Susan accepts responsibility for herself today is to anchor herself in her successes. At the end of the day, she looks back and lists everything she accomplished for the day. In terms of what she counts as “accomplishments,” she says, “Getting out of bed is big. Taking care of kids is big. Being vulnerable is big. Being brave is big. Loving, communicating, it’s all big, and those are all things that you have to celebrate.”
Get to know Susan!
Susan is a mindset mentor, identity energizer, author, and speaker. Her mission is to help women discover their capacity for self-acceptance, self-appreciation, and achievement.
She is the author of Identity Magazine: Discover Your Power of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation and Personal Achievement and Get All A's in the Game of Life: Insights Along The Way. The latter book is also available in a special Mother's Edition.