WOMEN MAKING WAVES: Taylor Nolan

Women Making Waves is a bi-monthly series by The Women Wave that spotlights badass women who are playing active roles in making waves in their communities.

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If we were giving out roses, our next badass woman to be featured for Women Making Waves would definitely get ours.

You may remember Taylor Nolan from ABC’s The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise -- but it is her passion for mental health, animals, and plants (and how she uses her platform to raise awareness about those things) that we admire most about her.

As a mental health counselor based in Seattle, Taylor is focused on spreading awareness on taboo topics that people typically have a hard time talking about.  She received her Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University and practices as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Washington state.  She also has her own podcast, Let’s Talk About I‎t, which aims to reduce stigma on topics that make us feel uncomfortable...as those are usually the most important topics to discuss! Each episode serves as an example for listeners on how to lean in to these taboo topics and have conversations that are authentic, lead to deeper understanding and connection, and that they can have in their everyday life. You already know we’re all about that here at The Women Wave.  

Taylor continues these important conversations from the podcast on her Instagram, where she is open and authentic with her followers on topics ranging from how to live a sober lifestyle to reducing stigma around female masturbation. When Taylor isn't recording episodes for Let's Talk About It or seeing clients, she is working in her garden, hanging out with her cat, or traveling. Taylor is a total plant and farm nerd and is passionate about living a plant based sustainable diet. She is also an unapologetic crazy cat lady who has rescued and fostered over 50 cats and kittens while living in Baltimore, MD and is a major advocate of #adoptdontshop.

We had the privilege of chatting with Taylor over the phone and our conversation about The Bachelor, mental health, and the importance of intentional social media use was as refreshing as it was eye-opening. Take a look below!

What’s something people wouldn’t have learned about you by watching The Bachelor? What was your takeaway from being on the show?

Oh my goodness, yes, there are a lot of takeaways. There are a lot of things that I think people wouldn’t know about me from the show. Two of those really big things would be that I’m a huge animal lover and am really big in rescue. I lived in Baltimore for about eight years and was very heavily involved in doing cat rescue and some dog rescue as well - with helping manage and reduce the feral cat population in the inner city and in West Baltimore and fostering the many, many cats, kittens, and dogs as well. I’m so passionate about “Adopt Don’t Shop”and spay and neuter. Animals are everything and I’m an unapologetic crazy cat lady. It really should have been at the forefront of what they showed for me because it’s really a package deal – if you don’t get along with my cat, it’s just not going to work. Animals are so life changing and you learn so much about yourself, you learn so much about life.

The second thing that I would say that I’m super passionate about that people wouldn’t have learned about me from the show is not only am I crazy cat lady but I’m also a crazy plant lady. I’m very intense when it comes to gardening and one of my favorite things to do is go visit a local farm and get a tour of how they’re growing their vegetables and how they take care of their animals. I’m always so impressed and blown away by all the hard work that goes into agriculture and the beautiful process of how we literally grow things out of the ground that nourish and feed our bodies and our minds. I’m mostly plant-based and just trying to always educate myself and learn and be connected with my community. Every Sunday I go to my farmers market and it’s very important to me. You gotta like cats and you gotta like food and farms!

As far as takeaways from the show, a major one is just that you’re never going to please everyone. It sounds very cheesy but at the end of the day, you really need to show up and be your authentic self. When you try to be something that you’re not - or one side of yourself gets shown - and then you receive negative feedback, it feels very hurtful and frustrating because you don’t feel like it was truly you. If all you do is show up as you, and granted something like The Bachelor you don’t have control over if that’s shown or not, and in life in general – when you do show up as your full authentic self, then it’s like, “I don’t give a f*ck if you like me or not,” and people can disagree and that’s OK. You can’t please everyone, so at the end of the day you have to trust yourself and be OK with being your authentic self.

What's one piece of advice that you would give to someone who looks up to you?

The biggest piece of advice I’d give to someone that looks up to me would be to take care of themselves. Oftentimes we think of “self care” as either a selfish act or we think of it as a very self-indulgent act. I think sometimes people might look up to me because they see that I’m nurturing and that I’m a caretaker and that I’m in the helping field, but even with being a “helper,” the most important thing is that you fill up your cup and that you do things to take care of yourself. That time is not selfish when you’re focused on your own wellbeing. Don’t forget to take care of you.

What is something you think people misunderstand about mental health?

A lot. I think people think it’s just in your head or that you’re having a bad day and you can just “get over it.” I did a live podcast in Ontario almost a year ago now  and interviewed Michael Landsberg, who does a lot of sports broadcasting in Canada and has a saying, “Fuck The Walk,” where people will suggest to you, “Oh yeah, maybe you just need to go for a walk,” and how people try to be helpful in that sense, but it’s actually just so insensitive because it implies that if you just go for a walk, you’ll be fixed, you’ll be totally cured, your mood will be a thousand times better and everything will go away. So he says, “fuck the walk,” which I agree with. People who have it can feel shame about it or that it’s their fault, and it’s really not. Having self compassion when it comes to mental health is so important. It can be really hard because it requires empathy, which I think is sometimes lacking because we’re scared to really understand what that is because it can make us vulnerable. When you hear that someone is struggling with mental health, I think we can put that at arm's length. People often don’t know this, but sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is just be there, just physically share that space and know that you’re not there to fix anything. They don’t need you fix anything. Most of the time, people don’t need you to do anything except just be there and share that space.

Here at The Women Wave, we’re big proponents of fully embracing being a “work in progress.” What does that look like for you?

I’m trying to think of the most put together way I can answer this question, but I guess the same part with even what the question is that sometimes there isn’t just a perfect thing – that it is all a work in progress… even figuring out the sentence that’s literally going to come out of my mouth. Some days it looks like I’m in my crazy cat lady robe and I’ve got my crazy cat lady hair going and I’m snuggling with my cats and watering my plants and drinking my tea and eating healthy food. Sitting with where I’m at that day. Other days it looks like I’m hustling and I barely ate anything and I’m go-go-go the whole day and I’m exhausted. One thing I recently just reflected on this past weekend, is that it’s been three years since I graduated with my Masters. There’s so much that I thought I would’ve done by now and that every year post-graduation I sit with, “Where am I at?,” “Where did I think I was going to be?” – professionally and personally. It’s so important that I practice self-compassion and be empathetic with myself because we can all be so hard on ourselves. For me, I thought I was going to be fully licensed at 25 and thought I’d be fully established – and now I’m just starting to get my hours. Just knowing that there’s nothing wrong with that and there’s nothing wrong with any of the paths that I’ve taken. Even if it doesn’t look pretty and it look what other people would think or it doesn’t look like what I thought it would look like… that that’s okay and it is literally all a work in progress. It’s so cheesy to be like, “It’s about the journey, not the destination,” but it’s so true! It’s not always about the goal that you get to, but it’s about the process and finding ways to embrace the chaos, the ups and downs, and learning from all the challenges and obstacles of that process of getting to where you think you maybe want to be.

What’s your advice for taking care of your mental health in this world of social media and comparison?

This is something I definitely struggle with myself – even more so sometimes because it’s a part of my work, which can be really frustrating at times. One thing that I’ve had to take serious note of are the people that I follow. Just because a lot of people follow one person, doesn’t mean that you also need to follow them. There were several times that I would notice that I would be scrolling and would look and I’d be like: What value is this bringing to my life? Is this creating any sort of joy or inspiration in my life? Does this make me feel connected to this person? Or is it, “Oh wow, this person is so beautiful,” “Oh, they really get to travel,” “Why don’t my pictures look like that?,” “Ugh, her outfit is so cute and I’m here in my sweatpants.” Does it go down this rabbit hole of negative thoughts? Go through and unfollow those people.

Another thing I think is really important when it comes to Instagram and social media in terms of how it can impact your mental health, especially for people of color – a lot of what is popular on Instagram are white, blonde women. Those are the women that are “successful” on Instagram. It’s great to follow other people that don’t necessarily look like you because you can learn a lot from them, but at the same time – being a minority and being a woman of color – I realized I actually don’t follow a lot of people that look like me and that I can relate to. As I scrolled through and I noticed, “This doesn’t look like me, I don’t relate to this” – I had to make a deliberate decision to go through and find people that, you know, also struggle with having curly hair, or other therapists that are locals and share what they struggle with, see how they handle things. Overall, be cautious and intentional about who you follow and how much time you spend on social media in and of itself. I think we all can tell when we’re going down that rabbit hole, and we’ve been on it for so long that our eyes are zoned in and you lose sense or thought of anything else. When that starts to happen, and you become aware of it, snap yourself out of it and look up at anything else around you. Put it down and realizeyou don’t need to look at this right now.

Ask yourself: Are they bringing light to anything? Are they using their platform in any kind of way that’s speaking to me or topics that I am passionate about?

When it comes to the fact that it’s your work, there are many days that I don’t engage on social media at all – I just go on to post what I need to post and then I get off. Even then, I’ll be very intentional about taking the next hour to comment back and engage with the people that follow me. Then after this hour, I’m going to put it down and get back to emails.

You can follow along with Taylor on Instagram and her podcast Let’s Talk About It!

Xo,

Sterling & Tricia