Stefany Banda’s new book, The Next You, tackles a problem that so many women of all ages and circumstances struggle with–insecurity. It’s insecurity that causes so many of us to live a life that looks different than the life of our dreams. That’s at the root of playing small and that results in putting things off.

In today’s Author Hour, Stefany shares her own struggles with insecurity and talks frankly about what insecurity looks like, how it holds us back, and how we can overcome it. I’m so happy to welcome Stefany to the show today.

Nikki Van Noy: Stefany, I am so excited to talk to you about your new book, The Next You, today. We’re recording actually on March 24th and today is officially your publication day.

Stefany Banda: Thank you so much, Nikki, I’m so excited to talk about it, we’re in the thick of it right now. I have adrenaline pumping as we speak. I’m so excited to talk about it.

Nikki Van Noy: I am sure. Let me start off by asking how you’re doing right now?

Stefany Banda: I am doing fabulous, it’s been a really fun day just connecting with the girls in my community. Some girls have received their books already, so seeing the actual book in other people’s hands is surreal. It’s been such an exciting day and I’ve been stalking Amazon, it’s been doing well, it’s a good day and I’m really happy that it’s finally here.

It was a long time coming but we made it.

Nikki Van Noy: Yeah. I mean, it’s really difficult to convey to people who have not written a book, how much goes into it. Time and resources but also, it tends to be a really emotional process in a way that a lot of people don’t anticipate going in.

Stefany Banda: My gosh, yes, especially this kind of book. I’ve told my readers, this was the book that I needed at so many stages of my life. It was really emotional for me digging, opening up some wounds, but also getting through it, it was therapeutic, it was all the things. I was feeling so many feelings but I’m excited for everyone else to feel those feelings now.

The Book You Need

Nikki Van Noy: Yes. The book is The Next You: How to Crush Your Insecurities and Unveil Your True Self. Let’s give listeners an idea of what this book is generally about.

Stefany Banda: Yeah, as I said, this was the book that I needed when I was 8, 14, 18, 22, 24 and the book that I sometimes even need now at 27. Everyone always kind of saw me as a confident person but I think just females in general, we always have these insecurities, we all do.

They weigh on us and for the longest time, I let them hold me back. I let them hold me back from going after career goals, my relationship with myself and my body. I hid behind these insecurities and that’s actually what every single chapter is, each chapter is an insecurity that I had to push through. That I still have to work through. Things like, “I’m not pretty enough.” Or, “I’m afraid to fail,” or “I don’t deserve it,” or “I’m scared they’re judging me.” All these things that were limiting me.

I’m here today, I’m 27 like I said, I’m still working through some of them but it’s how I got to the other side and how I am living a fulfilled, confident, healthy, happy life. I want what I have, the relationship with myself, my family, my career, I want that for this community and for other women because life’s too short to not live a fulfilled, confident life.

That’s what this book is all about, just getting from point A to point B because we’ve all been at point A and we can all get to point B.

Nikki Van Noy: I want to dig a little more into your personal story but before we do that, while we’re sort of introducing this idea of insecurities, the question that comes to mind for me is, in your experience, do you think most people recognize insecurities for what they are in the moment, or is it more in retrospect that they’re able to identify them?

Stefany Banda: I think we all have them. I think that we hide behind them and we use a lot of them as an excuse and we think, it’s just the way we are, there’s no way around it, and we don’t realize that you can do the work to get over these insecurities. I think they’re sitting in them and I think there’s no way out and that’s kind of what this book is all about, it’s how to get out of those. I think females everywhere are going to be able to relate to this, no matter what walk of life you’re in. Because, if you’re 18 or you’re 50, we all are working through things as we are in them.

Nikki Van Noy: You know, it’s funny that we’re having this conversation today. I have a daughter who is two and a half years old and we were chatting and out of nowhere, she told me “I like me,” referring to herself. It just really struck me as such a beautiful thing and then I mean, it kind of landed in my head and has been playing around there all day and I thought, “How sad, I think I’m getting to a point in my early 40s where I can say that to myself,” right? I don’t know many women that would say that. It struck me as both sad and beautiful that it’s built into her. I was thinking, “I have to keep that there, I have to figure out how to preserve that.”

Stefany Banda: My god, what a beautiful moment. Yeah, I mean, I have moments like that that stuck out to me too. I’ve been in locker rooms like at the gym and I hear like little girls talking to their moms negatively about the way they look, and it just breaks my heart.  We don’t even know how early it starts and how long it can keep going if we don’t do the work and just lighten up on ourselves, you know?

Nikki Van Noy: What do you think that’s all about and why women specifically?

Stefany Banda: I think honestly, it is a little bit in our DNA because I live with a 30-year-old guy and he’s always telling me I’m overthinking and all this stuff and he just doesn’t have that mindset and those issues. I think it’s a little bit in our hormones, in our DNA. But I also think it’s just the age we live in, we’ve heard it a million times, we’re in the age of the highlight reel, and that’s something that I really pride myself on and work really hard to avoid in my social media and my content.

I am all about showing people when I burn dinner, when I have pimple cream on, my retainers, for me, that’s what we need more of. I think these insecurities we develop they root from seeing the perfect nine squares on Instagram and not the work that went into it, or how we’re really feeling. Social media is a double-edged sword and I just do my best to bring realness and light to it because that pressure can get heavy really quick.

Nikki Van Noy: You know, this is obviously a very scary and uncertain time around the world but we are effectively only about a week into this as we record and I’ve been struck that one of the things that I’m seeing, almost immediately is this Pinterest-y way of presenting ourselves was obliterated overnight. It’s so cool.

Stefany Banda: Totally, everyone is real and raw and this is what we’ve been missing, you know? All it takes is people to be locked in their homes. It’s a crazy time right now for sure.

Nikki Van Noy: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s get into your story a little bit, tell me about when things sort of came to a head for you?

Stefany Banda: This is who my book is for really, the younger version of me that’s kind of the demo, the avatar. That was the girl who went through life and checked all the life boxes, you know, that we’re told to check, graduate high school, be involved in extracurriculars, get good grades, get into a good college, join the sorority. I held leadership roles, I graduated, I got the degree, I got an internship, I got a full-time job. I went through all the steps that I thought I was supposed to and that was partially to make other people happy and proud of me for my own confidence and also because I didn’t know anything else, that’s what I thought I had to do and that’s why I did it.

I remember, my first day, I was 22 at my first real girl job, or big girl job, in a nine to five and I came home–I have two parents who worked in corporate America–I came home and I remember I kicked off my heels. I was living with my mom at the time, I was moving out in a few months, and I was like, “This is what I’m supposed to do for the next however many years?” I just sobbed.

I said, “I know that a lot of people say they don’t like their work and they live for the weekends, but I am made for so much more and I have a pull that’s so strong somewhere else.”

I knew that first day that it was not going to fly with me.

From there, I worked so hard on the side to figure out what my passion was because I had so many passions, but I couldn’t pinpoint which one I wanted to make a life out of. Through trial and error, I’ve tried so many things, but the one thing that stayed consistent through all the things I’ve tried–I tried personal training fitness, I tried YouTube videos, I tried so many things–the common denominator in all of those things was inspiring and helping people. That’s where I got my fulfillment.

Even back in high school, I always was in leadership positions because I loved helping people and seeing them overcome challenges and making them smile. I’ve always loved writing and I always knew there was a book in me.

I worked hard on the side while I continued to work that nine to five job. I made a crazy move to Nashville where I didn’t know anyone and I was paying more than I was making in rent, it was brutal. But I did it to find myself and push myself to an uncomfortable place. Living in Nashville on my own was a really big turning point for me because it was just me. I couldn’t really hide behind an excuse because I didn’t have a lot of distractions, I didn’t know anyone. That was a really big girl time for me.

I just kept working, working on the side while I was working a nine to five job until things kind of just fell into place, the right opportunities caught. It was years of working in the dark and working in the silence, that kind of brought it all to fruition. So now, I create content for women online, I’ve built this amazing community for women, I guess you can say there’s a blogging side of my career, there’s a content creation side of my career, I’ve hosted live events with women to get them pumped up about life.

I just wanted to help as many women as possible and the fact that I can do that now and this book is going to help me do that, it’s incredible and sometimes it feels like I’m living in a dream.

Saying No

Nikki Van Noy: I love that. I mean, I understand that this took time but from 22 to 27 that is a pretty incredible leap in that period of time.

Stefany Banda: Yeah, it seems like it was forever, but when you say it like that I’m like, “I guess you’re right” you know? But it was just a lot of saying “No” to things that didn’t serve my dream and that didn’t lead me to the life I wanted, which sometimes that is not easy, saying no to people you love or things you love or things you want to do. The more things you can say “No” to that aren’t going to lead you to your dream, the faster you are going to get there. That was kind of my trick of the trade.

Nikki Van Noy: So I am curious, you discuss a number of different insecurities in this book. If you had to pick one that has been the most pervasive for you, or the most difficult to overcome, what would that be and what can you say to people about working your way through that?

Stefany Banda: It’s a tie between two I would say. I’ll pick one to elaborate on, but one is chapter three, which is “I Am Not Pretty Enough.” That talks all about body image and just kind of the physical aspect of confidence. I let that hold me back for a long time. I didn’t hold my head high because I didn’t think that I was pretty enough or thin enough. So, overcoming that was huge and I think that is something that a lot of women deal with.

I think the one that kind of propelled me to where I am now is getting over the fear or the insecurity that I am disappointing everyone and that really, really hit hard when I moved to Nashville. I come from a really close-knit family. No one leaves the nest if you do you are moving a few miles down the road. It was really weird to leave, and it was really hard for my family. I remember going to Nashville telling people right off the bat, “I am going to be back in a year,” because I didn’t want to disappoint them.

It turned me into this people pleaser and I always like to call people-pleasers liars because you are lying to yourself. You are living your life for other people–how do you even know what you really want anymore? So, it’s hard because you love the ones you love and you don’t want to disappoint them, but I shortened my list of people whose opinions I care about. I think making that list shorter and looking at the people who support you no matter what and sticking with those people and just realizing that you have one life and you can’t let other people make you smaller or hold you back. Once I got over that, that’s when I really saw tremendous growth. So yeah, I would say that insecurity is a toughie but once you can get past that, you’re living your life for you again.

Nikki Van Noy: Yeah, I am glad you brought both of those up. I think that they are so common. By the way, listeners, if you are looking at the cover of Stefany’s book, you can see that you are absolutely gorgeous, which you are, but I mean I know so many women who struggle with that, you know, and it is a tough thing.

Stefany Banda: Too many of us, yeah.

Nikki Van Noy: Too many. As for the people-pleasing and not wanting to disappoint people, I am so glad that you bought that up because I mean I think every insecurity you are talking about in this book is common but that is a really insidious one. It seems to me like it’s particularly complex because it feels like there is some altruism in it. So, it’s difficult sometimes to even recognize it as an insecurity in the first place. Also, I know for me it’s been such a hurdle to really drive into my own head that I am not responsible for how other people feel.

Stefany Banda: Yeah, that’s what’s hard too. I would find myself in conversations when I was coming home for a weekend when I lived in Nashville, and really exciting things were happening for me and then I would come back to my small-town bubble. I would diminish and make my achievements and the exciting things going on in my life really small or I was almost embarrassed to talk about them because I knew the person I was talking to wasn’t super happy with their own life. We can’t do that. You know, you have to be proud of the things you are seeing and feeling and achieving and that’s how I found out that I was surrounding myself with the wrong people.

Nikki Van Noy: Yeah, again, so common but I think that if you can break out of that it seems to me like what you are actually doing is, first of all, identifying the people you want around you as you said but also offering as a source of inspiration for other people.

Stefany Banda: Totally, yeah, I talk about this in my book but I got this exercise from a Brene Brown book. She said that you should be able to fit everyone whose opinion matters to you on a sticky note. You shouldn’t be writing really tiny and that’s how it should be. I write in my book that before I did the work to get over this insecurity, I needed a highway billboard to fit all the people who I thought that their opinions mattered. So, it is just about shifting that mindset.

Nikki Van Noy: I love that. I would love you to just quickly go through the insecurities that you’re covering in this book because again I feel like so many of them are relatable. I would love listeners to know what these insecurities that really hold us back look like.

Stefany Banda: Absolutely, so the first one is “I Am Not Ready,” and I talk about that just in the sense of really anything. For me, it was moving to Nashville and just making a move in general. I did not feel ready at all, but you just have to jump before you do it.

Another one is “Afraid to Fail,” so that also can be applied to literally anything.

“I Am Not Pretty Enough,” that one really touches on body image and the relationships we have with our body and ourselves.

“I Can’t Juggle It All,” so time management, thinking that you’re too busy to fit anything in, which is more of an excuse than an insecurity, but it is one that we all use so much, whether it is getting to the gym, or opening the Etsy shop, or starting your own business, that is a huge one we hide behind.

“I Am Disappointing Them,” and “They Are Judging Me,” those two go hand-in-hand. I call those sister chapters. I don’t know how I leaned on that forever. “Well I am not going to do that because I don’t know how to,” and I never knew how much those words “I don’t know how,” were limiting me until I actually just made the time to learn instead of just using that again as an excuse.

Another one I talk about is “I Don’t Have Help,” which I think a lot of us starting out in our careers face thinking you don’t have help so you can’t do it.

“I Don’t Deserve It,” which is one that I am still working through now. I think my life looks pretty different than a lot of other 27-year-old’s, and even just my friends, and sometimes it’s hard seeing them not like their jobs or being strapped to the roller chair–their nine to five. I feel like I am living my dream life and sometimes imposter syndrome creeps in. So, “I Don’t Deserve It” is definitely one that I am working through.

But yeah, all across the board insecurities also double as excuses. They’re all possible to work through.

Take Action

Nikki Van Noy: Is there any advice you can give to listeners that they can start to put into practice right away, like even one small thing that can start to shift this sense of insecurity?

Stefany Banda: Yeah, absolutely. I think the one thing, and I say this in the last page of my book, is we lean on these Pinterest quotes, validation from our moms and our sisters and all of this, I call it “band-aid inspiration,” and we’ll pin all of the inspirational quotes. We will talk about doing the workout plan, we will secure the domain name for our website, but we never actually get around to doing it. I say on the last page of my book, “I’ve been here.”

I’ve been on the last page of an inspirational book and I am all amped up, I am ready to go, I close it, nothing happens. So, I think my biggest piece of advice for every single insecurity is to just do it. You have to act, and you have to be realistic about it. I say in the chapter about body image, look I am not here to tell you that you are beautiful and that you are enough because that is a temporary inspiration, it doesn’t fix problems.

The only thing that can fix a problem is taking action.

I know that sounds kind of broad, but it is simple to get out of all of these things–you have to just start. You have to do it, and that is the work that I list in each chapter, the tactical step-by-step things that I did to get over those insecurities.

Nikki Van Noy: I love that that’s the thing and I especially love that that’s the thing right now. So many of us actually have time on our hands to do the thing.

Stefany Banda: We do. That is what’s crazy about this time and you know the time of this book coming out, we actually have time to slow down and we don’t have all of these obligations pulling us into a million different directions. So, it is weird because it is a really sad time, but I think this all happened for me at this time for a reason, you know?

Nikki Van Noy: Yeah, I agree, and I know a lot of people who feel that way, actually it is interesting. Stefany, thank you so much for joining us today. This is really interesting stuff. I love that you are putting this out there as a woman. I think it is a really important topic.

Stefany Banda: Thank you so much. It was great talking to you. It is nice talking to another gal about this kind of stuff.

Nikki Van Noy: Absolutely, let’s talk about how else people can find you outside of the book.

Stefany Banda: Yeah, of course, so my website is Stefany–Stefany is spelled weird, my mom said my dad messed it up in my birth certificate. I grew up my entire life having my name spelled wrong, but it is Stefany, spelled as it sounds. It is, same with social media, Stefany Banda, across the board. I am getting married this May, or I am supposed to get married this May, that’s still on standby. So, I will be Stefany Bare, but I will keep everything the same on social media. So, all across the board Stefany Banda. I would love to have you.

Nikki Van Noy: Beautiful, good luck with the book, good luck with the wedding, good luck with all of it.

Stefany Banda: Thank you so much, Nikki.