I alway's knew I would be meeting Britt in person one day. I have crazy visions like that sometimes. So I reached out to her and asked her if she'd be interested in being a part of my mission here at FL&B by answering a few questions and getting her makeup done by me for a photo session, in a very natural way. I wanted to "strip-it-all-down" and get real with life, while finding the beauty within. My goal and mission here has always been to shine light on what true beauty should mean, rooted in truth, knowing that while makeup and getting glammed-up can be fun, we dont rely on outer beauty perfection to makeup up our identity. I think it all starts with getting the inside right first, for the outside to fall into place. Centered in God's love, and choosing to do our best to live a clean, non-toxic lifestyle as in what we feed our bodies AND our minds for a true #beautyinsideout. So I decided to start a hashtag campaign, inviting some of my friends whom I beleieve to be beautiful in many ways, asking them to share where they found beauty within their story. Please join us reading about our first interviewee; Britt Nilsson where she shares #thisismybeauty...
We hope you find her honesty to be inspiring. Love + Blessings! Xo Gina
SO good having you…
Can we get to the most important part first? I think we can all enjoy learning weird/ funny facts about each other ? Please do share if any…
So I have a few weird facts about me. I don't like cheese, which no one understands. I just love things that are spicy or crunchy and cheese is so mellow and soft, but I feel like I lose a bit of my humanity because I'm not in the cheese lovers club. Another one: I was born with spinal meningitis, and so I almost didn't make it. I had to have a surgery on my spine as an infant and there was a 50% chance of paralyzing me by going through with it, but here I am! Praise God! Another one: I really do only take showers once a week. I guess that is weird, but for me it keeps my hair and face from feeling dried out and overwashed. I just have always done it that way! Another one: I love love love spicy food! I put hot sauce on most things. And I love love love outdoor movies, and I love love love taking pictures of flowers (me and my dad send them back and forth all the time, from la to Michigan). Anyway, there's tons of weird things about all of us, but those are a few off the top of my head!
HA! Now we can get started.
First off, CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement!! I watched your posted video telling your proposal story and it was so sweet and endearing. I also read your blog “Ring Thing” after my friend Jane suggested that I did, she was so touched by it, and after reading it myself- I was in tears! I related to your message in a deep way. I’ve spent some time with you during our first meet on our FL&B photoshoot for this interview and I LOVED how real your were since then. Thank you for baring it all! I can’t see many women stripping-it- down with so much honesty on Social Media. I see incredible strength and beauty in that. You got my text and know the love I have for you! For those who haven’t read it yet, you can find it on her blog: www.brittnilsson.com
Can you share with us why you decided to go so deep and post, and how have people responded to it?
First of all, thank you!! That is so sweet! It touches my heart that you cried. That's gonna make ME cry! And I guess that, in a way, answers the question. I like (well, "like" is a relative term...I should say I feel compelled) to post things that are vulnerable because we are all, in essence, so similar. At first, and for most of my life, I would keep most things to myself. I felt that being private was honorable. But I also found that the resulting loneliness and turmoil was unbearable. It took me about 25 years of privatizing my life before I finally just had had too much of being in my own head about my problems and starts sharing! It was basically out of desperation at first, but I found that the deeper I let people in, the more they opened up to me, and the more healing we both experienced. There was no shame in being human. The lie that there is exists mostly in our heads! I used to always feel like the second people saw the real me, they would run, but this hasn't been the case. We're all facing the same struggles, just in different packages. Most humans, I have found, are going through some variation of whatever you yourself are going through. And there's great comfort in that. And there's great power in telling the stories out loud that the lies in your head tell you to keep secret. And that gets into the second last of your question, which deals with the reaction to posts like that. They have been overwhelming and such a blessing! I was convinced more than ever of the power of vulnerability, as email after email of men and women poured in saying they feel all the same feelings. I felt connected and bonded to stranger after stranger, until all of the sudden I felt like we were all just friends who hadn't met each other yet! That's the best feeling in the world. My private struggles had turned from secret shame to public connection and encouragement and comeraderie with people all over the country. I just love that. It feels like a little preview of what heaven will be, when every tear is wiped away and we see that all along we were lovable and united.
Many people may know you as a former contestant on Chris Soules’ season 19 of “The Bachelor”. I always knew you stood out btw, I never drank the “kool-aid”, working in the entertainment business myself for many years I know a good edit when I see one. HA!
What would you like people to know you by?
You're right! That's how most people know me now...if I had to make a wish for how people would know me in about 5/10 years, I would say I want them to have heard me speak about something that encouraged them. I have a heart for speaking life into people, probably because for so long I struggled with speaking death and failure over myself. I have had such a long and hard fight with addictions and eating disorders and self esteem issues, I would love to be known for sharing light and love and hope and peace to people going through those same dark moments. I want to be known for making people feel like they are not alone, they are not unseen, and they are not unloveable or too broken to be mended! There is a light just around the corner!
If you were told today that there was one thing you could do and not fail, what would that be?
Keep posting blogs and YouTube videos and sharing myself openly! I get stuck in my head sometimes and wonder if I'm wasting my time, because other women have a billion followers or better bodies or better makeup or have more content or are more famous or seem more interesting...and on and on, but if I knew I couldn't fail, I would do what I feel called to do and what I love to do, which is just share my trials and victories and try to connect with people! It's so very simple, and yet, somehow so very hard too!
When we encounter fear, doubt, trials or heartbreak, I always say we have two choices: we either run from it or we face it, sometimes even wrestling with it for sometime. I also think our God is never too small with any big questions we may have in the midst of our trials and tests. I think thats where he wants us, always asking, searching, sometimes with our hands up in the air and knees on the ground with confusion. Thats when we find Him and get to see His great works, breaking barriers, creating miracles, answering prayers, exactly when we need it, not exactly when we wanted it. Our Faith, like a muscle needs to gets stretched, and thats when we grow and become prepared for the next big step. Have you ever experienced either or both? Do you have a story that you may feel in your heart to share? And how did you find the beauty?
When I read that question, it makes me think of my journey to fall in love. Most people know me from a small part of that journey, so it also seems appropriate to address. I have shared in our YouTube video about how we met, that Jeremy (my now-fiancé) was a man I met years ago. At that time, before we even met up for our first date, I felt that I was going to marry him. This knowledge made me excited, scared, and hopeful all at the same time. I met him, and fell in love. We broke up, however, because the timing was not right. This break-up began a season of my life that was very hard for me, emotionally. I knew we were meant to be together, but over the years every time we would meet up, I could tell he did not love me back. This broke my heart. The feelings of rejection and heartache and confusion were so strong. I dated other people, but never was able to shake the feeling that God had told me Jeremy was going to be my husband. It made every time he didn't choose me unbearable. I finally had to cut him out of my life altogether (I actually wrote him a very dramatic letter and gave it to him during this season, we still have it!). I had to completely surrender to God and say, "I don't get this, this hurts, this makes me feel like I am crazy, but I trust you!" And let it go! I went on the show and Jeremy even got engaged. God had a lot of things to teach us both. I got into recovery for a lot of issues I really needed to deal with before marriage and Jer had to deal with his own issues as well. We both started ministries we would never have started alone and learned things we needed to sort out as individuals before marriage as well. Looking back, I see a thousand puzzle pieces that fell into place in that time, in my life and in his during our time apart. God knew the perfect timing, and He always does. But yes, to answer your question, I think I've done ALL of the above in those years. I ran from God and tried to force our relationship on my own, which lead to heartache and dissapojtmebt and rejection because we were not meant to be together yet. I also ran TO God and found peace, even in the confusion. I leaned into Him and leaned more about myself through those times than in any others. I learned to let go of trying to control the outcome, and I learned to let God be God. I learned that He isn't afraid of my questions or my concerns and that He doesn't leave when I get scared or upset. I handled some of those painful years very well, in ways that will benefit me and my husband for the rest of our lives, praise God! And I handled some of those years very selfishly and poorly, and created some extra pain for myself before I rerouted back to Gods way. And the most beautiful thing about it all is that He loved me the same no matter how well I was handling it at that moment. I got to learn that I am His child, and I'll be taken care of either way. I also learned that His promises are true. I learned that there IS beauty in the timing of Gods plans. Looking back, I wouldn't change the timeline by one single second. Even though it made no sense at the time to my human mind, I can now see the gorgeous things God was working out in our lives, making us perfectly prepared for our relationship and now our marriage. God cares about the big things (like who I was going to marry) and He also cares about the small things (like how I was feeling when that person wasn't ready and I wasn't ready, but I felt unlovable because of it!). He never left my side. He was personally invested, magnificently present, and unconditionally loving me every single moment of the whole journey, and He still is! I feel so grateful! So don't worry if you haven't handled everything perfectly, God is weaving a beautiful tapestry out of your life: heartaches, trials, successes, failures and all!
I personally no longer subscribe to what others may define as “success” . I mean what is ‘success’. High dollar amounts in my bank account? A million followers on Instagram? I relate best to the underdogs, the ones on the sidelines. As I have always seen myself as that. I’ve always stuck out like a sore thumb, never really fitting in. I’m ok with that now. I honor those who work relentlessly and unnoticed with the needy, the sick, the poor or people with down syndrome. They tirelessly work at helping others without looking for applause. Those are my real heroes. Not a lot of us know how to win, but we’ve all lost. All having a common ground sharing stories filled with hope, peace and joy within places it shouldn’t exist. After reading your blog and learning how you were once feeling so down and out. Looking back, just coming off the show and being talked about so falsely and some perhaps even labeling you as a villan, did you see yourself as unsuccesful? Fast forward to now, define success.
completely agree!! I believe there are gonna be some mansions in heaven for the underdogs! I have so much respect for the people working in the shadows to love the unseen. That's exactly what Jesus did. I couldn't agree more! As for me, yes, I think I felt unsuccessful as the show played out on television. I felt disheartened and confused. I felt like a failure, and I honestly felt abused in many ways. I remember thinking the show would be fun to watch, as it had been very fun to film for the most part. I remember telling my parents after filming that this would be the most boring season ever, since there was no drama! Ha! I was so wrong. And this is largely because most of the drama was regarding me, and was happening when I was out of the room. I was rudely snapped out of my oblivious state into a very harsh reality as the show began to air. I was not privy to any of the mean comments being made about me for the entirety of the filming (until the very last day), so I had no idea what was coming. I remember being proud of myself for not saying anything mean about anyone or starting any fights or even being involved in any of the drama in the house. I just had no idea that the other women did not follow the same rules. I understand there is a lot of pressure to say things and I have actually forgiven everyone from my season who accused me of things that were untrue, but it has taken me a long time to get to peace. I watched in horror as things I said with all honesty were edited into lies and narrated into a character that I didn't recognize. I was overcome with a sense of doom as moments I recalled as being sweet and enjoyable were shown with the "villain" music and accompanied by people saying unkind things. It was very hard to deal with. Not only was I unprepared for seeing my character destroyed by women I regarded as friends but it was happening on national television and I wasn't allowed to defend myself because of contracts and liability from the show. I digress!! To answer your question, yes, I felt like a total failure. A total and complete mess. I felt betrayed and misunderstood and angry and alone. I cried day after day as episodes aired. My friends were great support and so were fans who could tell what was going on, but it was still extremely painful. I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of bullying by magazines, radio, and social media. I had to stop reading anything to do with the show and even my own platforms because of the hate. The hardest part was feeling like God had brought me there. I couldn't understand it. So I just read the psalms and cried out. And little by little it got better. And little by little people figured out that I hadn't ever actually done anything. And little by little I forgave and let go. And I also found that I had a new wealth of experience now to minister to women and men who have been bullied, outcast, unfairly accused and so much more! I could relate to people and cheer them up. I could really resonate with the experiences of our young people and they listened to me because I had lived it too! I could go on tour with fame from the show and talk about people who need help and link up fans and charities. It all started working out. And the biggest part of the failure turning into success came when I got to address the women who hurt me and forgive them and make amends. That, finding the beauty in the pain, feels like success. That feels like success that will last and last and last. Letting God turn what seemed like a failure into a huge, beautiful, life changing jump forward in my relationship with Him (as I leaned into Him when no one else was there), with myself (as I learned where real confidence and strength comes from when the world turns against you), and with other people (as hundreds of people who were bullied and ostracized asked me how to deal with it and I got to share the love of God with them) feels like success to me!! So that is how I define it now! Success is that which makes you stronger, that which builds character, and that which makes you a better person on the inside, even if it's hard and even if it's not glamorous. Now, looking back, I wouldn't change one thing at all. :)
Part 2 to be continued...