How to Grow Up & Get Your Shit Together But Keep Your Wild Side
I could not be more excited for today’s post featuring Zara Barrie. It’s no surprise the title of her new book immediately caught my eye. What’s the title you ask?
Girl, Stop Passing Out In Your Makeup: The Bad Girl’s Guide To Getting Your Sh*t Together.
Zara has been a huge supporter of The Skinny Confidential & has applied so much hustle into writing her book. After seeing all that hustle & her unique perspective, I knew you guys would love a q& a with her on the blog.
The cool thing about this post is it’s for the bad girls. The girls who beat to their own drum. The girls who are kind of a mess ( aren’t we all? ) but ready to get their shit together. This post will help you embrace the messy side of yourself- like, you can have a wild side but still be a responsible adult, ya know? Plus, Zara gets into the process of writing her book & her favorite words of wisdom.
Ultimately, this platform & community is just amazing. To be surrounding by so many women who are killing the game & being able to feature them here is truly such a treat.
With that, let’s welcome author, entrepreneur & badass Zara Barrie.
♡ Introduce yourself & tell us your whole journey. The more detail & context the better!
Zara Barrie: Hii Skinny Confidential community! My name is Zara Barrie & I’m the author of Girl, Stop Passing Out In Your Makeup: The Bad Girl’s Guide To Getting Your Sh*t Together.
Let’s start from the top. As a teenager, I was practically bursting at the seams of my Frankie B ultra low-rise jeans with boundless energy & creativity. I channeled those fiery flames into my “LiveJournal.” For you youngins,’ LiveJournal.com was one of the original forms of social media. It was basically an open journal where teenagers wrote about their haphazard lives & posted it on the internet for all of their friends to read. This was the early aughts, pre-Myspace & pre-Facebook, & no one’s parents knew how to use the internet back then so it was all very raw & uncensored.
Every single day I published epic diary entries about everything from my turbulent teen relationships, to my partying mishaps, to my girl crushes, to the boys I dated & the demons that haunted me late at night. ( You have so much great content swirling inside of you when you’re a wild sixteen-year-old with raging hormones, trapped in suburbia ).
My LiveJournal seemed to resonate with my peers & before I knew it, I had developed a sort of cult-like following of wonderfully angst-ridden teens all across the world. However, I was a terrible student so I never believed I could be a professional writer — even though I wrote poems in my sleep & inhaled books like air! I wanted to be an actress. The minute I graduated high school I moved by myself to LA & threw myself into the world of auditions, acting classes, short films & theater.
Until I found myself heartbroken. The beautiful thing about heartbreak is that it cracks you wide open & forces you to confront the truth. And the truth was that I was overmedicated, drinking myself to the point of blackout regularly, & doing whatever I could to numb the longing I felt. I knew it was getting dark & I also knew this self-destructive behavior — it wasn’t me.
So I gazed at my puffy, mascara-stained reflection in the mirror & asked myself: “Zara, what did you do before you discovered drinking & drugs? What were your outlets?” It hit me like a fist: I wrote. That very day I started a blog. Within six months of dedicated blogging & writing for dozens of publications for free, I landed a full-time job as a Staff Writer at the popular millennial website Elite Daily. I quickly worked my way up to the position of Senior Sex & Dating Writer, starred in & co-wrote a viral video series, & was given my own Facebook Live talk show. It was a dream come true.
After almost three incredible years at Elite Daily, I left to serve as the Executive Editor of GO Magazine, a fabulous lesbian print & digital magazine based in New York. While I loved editing & curating content, my calling is to write. So I transitioned back into the role of being a writer, signed with the literary department at CAA, & completed a book proposal. The book proposal got rejected 32 times by top editors at every major publishing house. I was crushed! But in the end I knew. Rejection is redirection. So I picked myself up off the floor, locked my ego away in the kitchen cupboard & churned out a new book proposal in two weeks. This is how Girl, Stop Passing Out In Your Makeup came to be.
♡ Did you actually pass out in your makeup? What’s the story there?
ZB: Confession #1: I still fall asleep in my makeup sometimes. Confession #2: I don’t give a shit if you sleep in your makeup either. I get it. Life is hard, man. Sometimes you have to put yourself straight to bed before you send that unhinged tweet or text that toxic lover. And while I’m most definitely a beauty junkie who adheres heaps of mascara onto my lashes every single day — my book has nothing to do with makeup.
So the title…let me explain. One day I found myself on a plane, bored-to-tears, when I remembered I had a gifted copy of Rachel Hollis’ book Girl, Wash Your Face tucked away in my tattered tote bag. Even though I knew it was a bestseller, I hadn’t read it because I thought it was a book about skincare. To my delight it most definitely was not. The phrase “girl, wash your face” was a metaphor. To me it meant, girl, take control of your life. That’s when a tingly rush of inspiration flooded my body.
While I loved Hollis’ book, I longed for a book like that for girls I knew. Single, millennial girls reared in the age of social media & Adderall prescriptions & leaked sex tapes. Party girls who burn beautiful & bright, but are in danger of having their gorgeous light snuffed out by the energy vampires that lurk beneath the surface of the dance-floor. I wanted a book for the girl who not only needs to exfoliate her face clean, but for the girl who is afraid to confront the naked reality of her life.
So when I say “girl, stop passing out in your makeup” what I’m *really* saying is this: Let’s strip away the layers of bullshit & discover who we are without a filter slapped over our lives. Let’s take off the gauze so the wound can breathe & heal. And if the wound has been so neglected that it leaves a giant scar, well, let’s find the beauty in that too.
So I decided to follow the advice of the late Toni Morrison who once famously said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
♡ Do you live a sober lifestyle now? If so, talk to us about the pros & cons. If not, would love to hear about how you found wellness after everything you’ve been through.
ZB: While I no longer touch drugs, I do enjoy my celebratory champagne. There are times where I have to ask myself, “Zara. Are you drinking for fun? Or are you drinking to numb?” And I always know the answer. If I’m using the booze to escape my reality, I put the champagne flute down for awhile. I call my therapist & say “The champagne is turning into chamPAIN. Let’s confront this shit.”
When it comes to my mental health I’ve found a system that works for me. I gave her ( my mental health ) a name: Layla. I think of Layla as this wild, creative kid with stars in her eyes & skinned knee-caps. A sensitive but adventurous girl who wants to try everything, but can easily get swept up into the arms of danger. So while I want to encourage Layla to take risks, I also have to keep a watchful eye on her. Or she’ll fly off a swing-set & end up with a black eye.
So here’s what I do to stay healthy: Talk-therapy, journaling, moving, exposing myself to sunlight, 20 mgs of Prozac, immersing myself in art & music. My number one tip? I let myself have sad days. My wife will find me tucked into our bed with candles lit at 2 p.m., wrapped up in a dramatic pink silk robe, sobbing to videos on YouTube. It’s so therapeutic.
The next day I feel light, like I’ve been on the master cleanse! People say you shouldn’t glamorize sadness, but I sorely disagree — I think sadness needs a rebrand. Sadness is a beautiful & necessary emotion, so let’s not make her this frumpy thing we dread coming into contact with. Throw some red lipstick on her & indulge her. Take her to lunch at The Beverly Hills Hotel, or she’s nothing to be ashamed of.
And like every fabulous woman, she doesn’t take kindly to be ignored, either.
♡ What are some tangible takeaways from your book?
ZB: #1. Feelings can’t, kill you. Running from them can.
I used to think feelings were monsters that could kill me in my sleep. When in fact, feelings are badass guardian angels there to guide you into the right direction! Anxiety & despair are not things we should ever run away from. They are wise indicators that something is wrong. It’s your intuition saying “Don’t trust that guy, he’ll hurt you.” “This job is out of alignment with who you are.” “You’ve got some demons to confront, let’s get you in therapy.”
#2. LOVE YOUR FUCKING SELF.
If you keep trying to live a life that is not your own, if you don’t honor your natural rhythms, if you keep slathering foundation over the scars, if you don’t worship at the altar of your fierce eccentricities, you’ll never love the girl who stares back at you in the mirror. And when you don’t love that girl, you end up destroying that girl. She’s far too extraordinary & brilliant & beautiful & creative to destroy.
#3. Channel your wild creativity into wild productivity.
It’s easy to get lost in the party girl glitter. I’ve been so lost in the glitter I thought I’d never see my way out. Take that sparkle & channel it into something that will light up the world.
♡ From a selfish perspective, I would love to know how you went about writing your book. What did your morning, day & night look like when it came to getting stuff done?
ZB: Over the years I’ve developed a strong discipline. All of my years in digital media have been akin to writing bootcamp! But this book was different. I wanted to push myself to a new level. I wanted to write it quickly too. ( I wrote my 90,000-word manuscript in five weeks ). So I set up a strict routine. Every single morning, without fail, I would start writing at 5 a.m., before my coffee. I found that I do my best writing early in the morning. Maybe it’s because I’m so tired & groggy that I don’t intellectualize myself out of my raw emotions, & I don’t have the wherewithal to over-analyze & self-edit. I go with my gut when I’m exhausted — & my gut never fails me.
I would write until about 10 a.m., in my pajamas on the couch. Then, I would put my laptop away, take a freezing cold shower, have some bullet-coffee, get dressed up & walk from my apartment to The Wing in Soho ( The Wing is a badass women’s-only workspace & social club ). It was about a three-mile walk & I would blast a playlist I made specifically for my book the whole way ( which you can find on my Spotify ). Once I got to The Wing I would have lunch & people-watch for a while.
The women at The Wing are bosses. It’s really fun & inspiring to watch high-energy Manhattan women, in their baggy prairie dresses & chunky sneakers ( New York girls don’t dress for men ) take over the world. Then, from about 1:30-4:30 p.m., I would do a deep edit on all that I had written in the morning. At about 5:30 p.m. I would have a cup of tea & a snack with my best friend Dayna ( also a writer ) who works out of The Wing too. Then I’d order a glass of sauv blanc & read the whole book thus far, objectively as if I was a reader.
At about 7 p.m. I would walk over to the Meatpacking District to meet up with my wife who would drive us home ( she’s a power lesbian who drives in Manhattan ). Once we got home I made sure to only watch things that had a similar tone to my book. At the time it was Euphoria on HBO. At about 10 p.m. I would crawl in bed & read The Right To Write by Julia Cameron for about thirty minutes. When I slept I would dream of my book. I never stopped. I had no social life. I was immersed solely in my creativity. It was the happiest I’ve ever been.
♡ In your book you help people not feel ashamed about the messy side of themselves. What are your top 3 tips for this?
ZB: #1. Be real about your mess.
According to the Zara Barrie School Of Intensive Shame Spiral Research, here’s what I’ve learned in my studies: everyone is a mess! & hiding the mess is what makes you feel ashamed of the mess. Once you get honest with the people around you & say “I’m struggling! I feel out of control!” you’ll feel like a million weights have been lifted from your limbs. Being real about your shit will connect you to people on a deeper level, inspire your friends to open up to you, & make you realize we’re all in this whirlwind together.
#2. Remember: There is so much beauty in breaking down!
If you’re having a breakdown I want you to get down on your knees & thank the beautiful universe. Because you’re actually in a really powerful place when you’re in the thick of a meltdown. It means things are moving around. Growth is happening. If you don’t break down you’ll never piece yourself back together.
#3. Think of the mess as content for your juicy memoir.
Fact: Messy people are interesting. Messy people have colorful, glittery minds. Messy people are multifaceted. Messy people are extra. Messy people are the people whose stories you want to hear.
Who wants to read about a perfect person who’s never had one drink too many, or said the wrong thing at the wrong time, or had sex with the wrong person for the wrong reasons, or hasn’t taken an embarrassing fall? I certainly don’t. When I’m really spiraling down the rabbit hole, I take a moment & smirk & think to myself “well at least I have interesting content for my memoir!”
♡ At what point should someone stop embracing their wild side & actually get their shit together?
ZB: This is a tough question because I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive. I think you can be wild AND have your shit together at the same time. One of the greatest lessons I’ve unearthed in my journey is that you don’t have to lose yourself in order to better yourself. You can still be the sequin-scaled party girl who loves to loudly gab about her sex life, but still be a responsible, hard-working woman with her shit together.
However. There is a stark difference between being wild & being destructive. To me, to be wild is to be free. But sometimes people use the word “wild” to glamorize destructive behavior. If you’re hurting yourself & those around you, that’s not wild. That’s heartbreaking. If you’re drinking to the point of blackout, that’s not wild. That’s dangerous. If you’re addicted to a person who treats you like garbage, that’s not wild. That’s toxic. In fact, destructive behavior is the opposite of wild. Wild is healthy & energetic & teeming with life. Drugs & blackouts & toxic relationships drain you of your health & your energy & keep your spirit imprisoned.
I don’t care if you’re twenty or fifty, it’s never too early or too late to rewrite the script. You’re the executive producer & senior writer of your life. Pick up the pen & let’s write a new scene.
♡ What is the number one thing you would say to a millennial who needs to get their shit together?
ZB: Think of your life as a small ( but very chic ) studio apartment. If there is an ugly massive couch in the center of your only room, you don’t have space for anything else. In fact, your eyes will likely adjust to that ugly-ass couch & you’ll get used to it being there. You’ll start to think that ugly-ass couch is the only couch in the world. But once you get the guts to drive that ugly-ass couch to junkyard, you just might find on your drive home, this gorgeous velveteen chaise lounge that you never even knew you wanted! & finally you’ll have room for it. You’ll drag it up the stairs & relish in its beauty. & since you are now living with something that is beautiful & feels like you, you’ll start to notice other shit in your studio you don’t care for. & you’ll toss it out. & new, amazing things will find you.
♡ What are your favorite pieces of wisdom you like to share with people?
ZB: My mother who is a fabulous, outrageous English bombshell of a woman, always swirls her champagne in her glass & says “Celebrate yourself, darling!” I think that’s the wisest piece of advice ever! It’s so simple yet so goddamn true.
Celebrate yourself, bitch. Celebrate your strengths, celebrate your flaws, celebrate your mistakes, & celebrate your unique beauty. Be expressive. Be bold. Dress up. Dress down. Take up space. Add fuel to your flame. I mean, what’s the point of life if it’s not a wild celebration of all that you are?
♡ Pimp yourself out! Where can everyone find you?
ZB: Girl, Stop Passing Out In Your Makeup is available now! You can find her on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Bookshop & a plethora of other bookstores.
Follow me on Instagram: @ZaraBarrie, on Facebook, & Twitter @factorygrrl. I write two essays a week for GO Magazine & have launched my own publication: thecrazysadbabesclub.com, a wellness site for bad girls. Hit me up if you want to contribute!
Hope you guys loved this post & have had a good weekend- whether you chilled or worked or made it super productive.
Be sure to checkout Zara on Instagram @ZaraBarrie & her new book. You guys will LOVE.
+ how to take your side hustle to the next level.
++ the 7 c’s of success.