We often hear the phrase, “just be yourself.” But in real life, it is difficult to navigate what it means to stay true to ourselves. Shelby Applebaum is a singer, performer, and model, and she has travelled around the country to pursue her dreams. We sat down with Shelby, and she told us about her story, her love for healing, and the challenges she faces, as well as about rediscovering your authentic inner child and being true to who you are.

Tell me about your move to LA and how that influenced what you are doing now. 

I’m from a small town in Long Island called Atlantic Beach. I grew up in a middle class Jewish family, and my life was pretty smooth up until I was about 16. My mom and siblings moved down to North Carolina to give my brother the chance of playing college football, and I decided to stay up here with my dad because I had friends, a stable school life, and my vocal coach in the city. Living with my dad alone was pretty rocky but taught me so much about myself and the power of my independence. 

When I graduated, I went to school for two years, then took the rockstar route, dropped out and moved to LA to try to pursue my singing career. I was out there for two years, but the timing wasn’t right for me, and I ended up moving back home this past November. My background influences what I do now tremendously because my path has seemed to veer away from singing for a while. When I got back from LA, I decided to do some serious inner work to decide if singing was still what I wanted to do. This has forced me to not just look into myself, but also into my background and how primary influences have shaped my life. 

“We all have something so powerful and unique to contribute in this world, never stop searching for that.”

What is your life like now and tell me your passion about healing. 

I am currently navigating life. I know that sounds funny, but I don’t have any major projects at the moment. I’m not the CEO of some amazing company. I don’t have any major breakthrough ideas (well I might, but they’re still in mental storage). I’m just a 23 year old woman trying to figure out what sets me on fire, so I can move forward completely in that direction. I think this time is among the most important in my life so far. It’s a time where things aren’t physically materializing for me just yet, but I have faith in the forces that are at work for me beyond physical comprehension. 

Since I’ve gotten back, I’ve discovered a deep love for healing. All kinds of healing, but energetic healing in particular. I recently got certified in Reiki, which is a healing technique that removes energetic blockages from the body using your hands. It’s super powerful! Seeing the reactions from people I do it on has been nothing short of amazing. I’m continuing that but also have hopes to one day have my own healing practice, where I can incorporate different techniques beyond Reiki. I want to have a toolbox of things that I can use after evaluating what a person might need because everyone is so unique.

What are some of the challenges you have faced?

Wooooo, have I faced some challenges! Los Angeles was the pinnacle of my challenges. When I moved there, I felt this need to conform, to be exactly what everyone wanted me to be. I needed to fit in a box in order to be accepted. I moved out there when I was 19, so I had a very poor sense of self. I didn’t believe in myself fully, and it really showed. I got lost in that life when I was there, trying to constantly find that next best thing that was going to make me a star. I always remember thinking, “Once I get that big break, then I can truly be myself. Once the right person sees me, then I can be happy.” The mental foundations I had for myself caused so much disappointment and grief. 

It wasn’t until the last few months of being in California that I realized until I tore down these foundations and built new ones, I was going to continue operating in this loop and get nowhere.

Deciding to move back was one of the biggest challenges in itself, but I don’t regret a single choice that I have made because, ultimately, they have all brought me closer to a truer version of myself.

Any word of advice to all the young creatives out there? 

Death and rebirth are two sides of the same coin. Do not be afraid of death, in fact embrace it! This sounds grim, but let me explain. As young children, we are connected to a force within us that is among the most powerful. It is authentic and true and has this sense of awe and wonderment about everything in the world. It is also the primary source of our creativity, because it is connected to our imagination. As we get older and learn acceptable ways to be in society, we become programmed and veer further and further away from that authentic inner child.

“To me, power is the courage to be exactly who you are in every moment of your life.”

The creation process requires you to be connected to something much deeper than those programs. That is, if you want to be authentic. I’ve seen in myself so many versions that have had to die in order for me to make space for something more true. The inner child never dies, but the falsehood in you can. And when you create space for that inner child to emerge once again, you’re rebirthing a more powerful, truer version of who you always have been. We all have something so powerful and unique to contribute in this world, never stop searching for that. 

How do you define power, and what makes you powerful?

To me, power is the courage to be exactly who you are in every moment of your life. As a society, we have cultivated this silly idea that in order to share your story and be considered successful, you must appear perfect and have everything together. This couldn’t be farther from the truth (my truth at least)! 

Power lies in the transparency of the truth. If you can show up to the world in the fullness of who you are and just say, “Hey, this is me. I have nothing really together but I’m trying and learning and getting better every day.” You leave no room for anything to be used against you, because you’re okay where your feet stand at this very moment. I always think of the 8mile movie rap battle at the end when it comes to power. Eminem was first and came out and said everything about himself that his opponent was going to use against him. At that point, what did his opponent have? Nothing that Eminem didn’t know or embrace about himself already. Transparency is powerful, but awareness might be even more powerful. Awareness is the knowing of yourself and where you would like to see change occur in your own life. Without awareness, there is no change. 

Is there something you love and use frequently that gives you power? 

I have this jacket. I’m not sure the brand but I call it my lucky jacket. I saw it in a thrift store, and when I saw it I actually screamed. It’s a timeless jacket that I feel like defines my essence in a piece of clothing. It’s a bright orange, colorful plaid jacket, and I can’t wait to wear it every fall/winter. 

Check out Shelby’s Instagram here.