In a world where the loudest, boldest gestures reign supreme and attract likes, revenue, and re-posts; some of us crave peace more than popularity.

After earning degrees, accolades, and attention that comes with worldly success, why do so many of us still feel empty? Why isn’t the noise enough?

I discovered the truth about popularity after years of subscribing to the norms that cause depression, loneliness, and performance anxiety. Being obsessed with being liked is the most clever curse. A curse that some of us will never recognize or abandon. It’s just easier to be accepted. And guess what it takes to be accepted? Living a life that everyone agrees with even if being who they want you to be costs your joy. That’s what popularity is- being a character in exchange for applause and approval.

I woke up on my 30th birthday, canceled my birthday party, and decided I was going to spend the rest of my life figuring out who I am and what matters to me. Guess what isn’t on that list? Being liked.

The journey into myself was comfortable and cliche’ at first. I lit candles, took limpias and a few selfies of myself being deep (for IG). I read a dozen self-help books. None of it worked. None of it liberated me.


There was no point in begging God to set me free from the people and habits that kept me in bondage, because I kept running back to all of them and apologizing for evolving.

I made a merry-go-round of memories that kept me captive. I revisited every mistake, every relationship, every failed friendship at least once a day. Instagram made it easy to feel like everybody was living their best lives, meditating longer, and being more profound.

I found a way to crave popularity, even on my journey to authenticity. I wanted someone to tap me on the shoulder and say “good job” even though I isolated myself to escape the need to be liked. It was exhausting. It took two years, of extreme and agonizing silence, to accept what I now carry as a mantra.

The goal isn’t to be relevant. The goal isn’t to be impressive.

The goal is to serve, teach, and encourage others by offering them the wisdom that changed my life. Being addicted to pleasing people is a curse. I didn’t learn or accept that reality overnight. I deleted social media accounts that promote oversharing and project perfection. I redefined home. I stopped showing up to spaces where my strength was an insult, treated as a threat rather than a gift. Privilege and opportunity gave me the resources to find and define home for myself in a new place, far away from the worst of my memories. Then, I threw my entire identity in a furnace. My prayer was: Lord singe and burn away anything and anyone that is preventing me from being myself.

The aftermath was catastrophic. Imagine a fire, burning freely through the hills without regard for the homes and lives it destroyed. That’s what happened in my soul. I thought there’d be a few remnants of my old life left. I didn’t realize that the prayer intended to refresh my life would force me to design a new life.

I spent months re-reading every book that ever inspired me. I added new titles to the list. I leaned in to talks that are celebrated around the world for encouraging vulnerability and curiosity. I prayed for opportunities to grow and evolve. Then, it happened.

I became the woman I am today. Proud, bold, and unapologetic about protecting her sanity and herself above all else.


  • Natasha Nichole Lake

    Author + Mental Health Enthusiast

    I’ve studied communication, business, and behavioral patterns that increase joy and strengthen mental health. I define success as having the resources and energy to serve others. I hope to spend the rest of my life contributing to communities committed to inclusivity and compassion. I write books and articles about mental health which is a topic that is pertinent and personal to me. I believe my life's purpose is to encourage people to be authentic + unapologetic about who they are and what they're here to do.