Meet Cheyenne - A lionhearted writer with a story of transformation and an authenticity that has brought new success.
You speak publicly about the transformation in your mentality over the past couple of
years. Walk us through the drastic changes you've made since changing how you think!
They say your attitude is everything. I constantly heard this growing up from elders all of kinds—usually people I idolized and respected, although not always. It was a piece of wisdom I carelessly, and naively, threw to the wayside. Little did I know this simple adage would shape my life and personal philosophy more than any other shred of advice.
Before I became an author, editor, and content strategist, I was a freelance model. Before I was a freelance model, I was a young mother in the service industry completely confused with herself and the world. I was ridden with daily anxiety and crippling depression. I appeared happy on the outside, taking solace in social interactions with friends; on the inside, I was lost. More so, I was angry. My resentment for past tribulations and trauma consumed my mind and fogged any ability to move forward.
I was my own worst enemy.
Last year, on September 1st of 2016, I decided to go to therapy. I was sitting in the therapist’s office, hands clammy from nerves and body limp with shame. So embarrassing, I thought to myself. I sat in silence with the therapist for a few minutes, neither of us initiating the conversation that would start my recovery process. I kept my eyes down to my hands, which were blocks of ice from being a bundle of nerves. Finally, the therapist broke the ice with a simple question.
“Cheyenne, why are you here today?”
I looked up from my clammy fingers, choosing to rest my gaze on his relaxed, yet concerned face.
“... Because I don’t think I am going to make it to tomorrow,” I breathed.
And so, over the course of a few months void of social media and unhealthy habits, I slowly
started to repair the mess I had made for myself. I started studying yoga from my dear friend, an
inspiration with her calm earthiness and reassuring wisdom on Eastern philosophy. I started meditating, a practice I would employ both in and out of that therapist’s room. I began to tell
myself I had the power to control my emotions; no longer did I want to be a prisoner of my own
mind. I had to be accountable for my feelings—I had to be honest. It was ego-bruising enough to
admit I needed help in the first place, let alone developing a plan of action to combat the eternal
sadness that plagued me for so many years. I had to learn how to forgive others for their
transgressions against me, and in turn, forgive myself for being the victim. I vowed to climb out of
the blackhole of victimhood. That state of mind was toxic and counterproductive to my success,
and I poured every ounce of effort into changing it. It was only until I started putting in the effort to change who I was, that I started to build the foundation of the person I would become.
After an entire year of stumbling around, I have accomplished much in a short amount of time. I
built a freelance model empire and acquired a little following on social media in a mere six
months. I used my modeling network to shake hands with people I wanted to meet. I learned how
to be confident with who I was on the inside, even though my career was built from an external
appearance. I started writing in the spring as a way to express myself during a heartbreak. I had
no idea that writing would later go from a vessel of venting to a flourishing career. Writing has not only provided me the ability to build a name within the startup, entrepreneurship, and design
strategy spaces, but it has become my identity. Separating the author from authorship becomes
nearly impossible at this point, and for that, I am forever thankful. It takes a lot to change. It takes a lot to want to change. I really believe that the key to changing lies within the first step of recognizing what is wrong, seeing a need for change, and then acting to fill that need. Lao Tzu famously wrote, “What I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” We cannot move forward and live to our fullest potential if we do not rid ourselves of the past. It is a choice, a journey. I took my first step last year.
What is your advice to someone who is hoping to build their career as a writer?
Write. Write as often and as unabashedly as you can. Pay no mind to the people you think you will offend, because you will. Pay no mind to the little voice in your head trying to slow you down,
because it will. Recognize the forces working against you and plow through them. Once you get
over caring about what everyone else thinks, you will create works of art. You will create something beautiful for the world to cherish forever.
Now, after you create those masterpieces, I advise anyone hoping to build a writing career to
build relationships with the people you want to befriend. Remember the classic phrase “You are
the average of the five people you associate most with.” Tim Ferriss wasn’t lying; you are a
product of your environment. I believe the hidden gems in this world are found through knowing
the right person, at the right time. The only way to gain exposure is by putting your work out
there for the world. Start a blog and also start a Medium. Build your name in a community of people you want to be like or know. Be your best cheerleader, your greatest advocate. Drop the
ego and shyness at the door and share your work among minds you respect. Practice your craft
and keep writing, keep promoting, and keep growing that network. This is how you build your
How have you built an authentic digital presence that corresponds with your branding?
I feel like I am going all Gary Vee when I say I learned to be myself, but really though, I learned to be myself. In the beginning of my modeling career, I really tried to stand out. I did stand out, but I was curating content that did not accurately reflect who I really was, but what I wanted to be like. I believe we all have social media personas, but I yearned for a more authentic approach. How could I grow an organic brand from scratch? The answer lied within my content and my audience.
I started noticing people resonated with certain pieces of digital content more than others. I started picking up on the patterns of my own original content, not the stuff I would post to engage people’s minds from outside sources. Turns out, people liked what I wrote, what I said, the images I provided and produced myself. I started making some noise from people who cared alone, who smashed that Follow button, to keep in the loop with my activities and progress. I built a loyal following. I found my voice online, and I used that presence to build a powerhouse brand that drips real, raw, and unapologetic truth. I enjoy learning from the stance of a student, and providing help from the stance of a teacher. Excellent branding goes hand-in-hand with an excellent digital presence. I don’t believe you can have one without the other these days, as both as symbiotic to each other’s success.