Katie Horwitch is a writer, speaker, artist, and activist. She is the founder of WANT: Women Against Negative Talk, a platform that gives women tips, tools, motivation, and inspiration to move forward in their lives by shifting their negative self-talk patterns.
She brings to the table over a decade of experience in the wellness lifestyle editorial space, and almost two decades in public speaking and performance. She has spoken across the country - from SXSW to body-positive pageants – about self-confidence and self image, and is the host of the WANTcast: The Women Against Negative Talk Podcast, where she interviews visionary women about moving forward fearlessly and taking a pragmatic, proactive approach to positivity.
Katie was a founding editor of The Chalkboard Mag, and has been featured in publications such as mindbodygreen, Darling Magazine, xoJane, and more. As an actress, singer, and host, she's been seen on TLC, Entertainment Tonight, and Fox Business Channel, as well as in feature films and on stages both regional and Off-Broadway. She has been teaching group fitness for over a decade, and is currently a trainer on Aaptiv, the #1 audio fitness app, where she reaches over one million users per month with her unique brand of positive, proactive coaching. She holds a BA in Drama from University of California, Irvine, where she also studied sociocultural anthropology and creative writing.
Currently, Katie is living in New York City with her husband Jeremy and spends her energy on shifting the cultural self-talk paradigm, producing engaging new content for women both online and off, advising creatives and entrepreneurs on how use their unique strengths to make the biggest impact possible, and singing loudly while she runs. Her middle name is joy. Literally.
Here’s the deal: for most of my life, I had a crap-tastic self image.
Self confidence? Loads of it. But the lens I VIEWED that confidence through – the opinions I formed around it, the things I did to “keep myself in check,” the image of myself I saw in my internal mirror –was all scratchy and blurry, and made me believe that self-confidence was synonymous with narcissism and vanity.
Negative talk was the norm in my life when it came to the women around me. I thought it was normal to bash your body, downplay your intelligence, and tuck your talents far, far away. And even though it felt vaguely wrong, I joinined in just to connect – just to fit in. I wanted to change the world but would never admit it. That was way too ambitious, and ambition wasn’t relatable. I just wanted to relate. How else would I find my people?
But I wasn’t a cynic and I didn’t loathe myself. I just felt like my brightness was blinding to others. So I stored it away. That way, other people could turn my brightness and off at their own will - whenever THEY needed it (and me) most.
When I was a kid, I told myself that I was the “loyal” friend, the one who you could fall back on when the other kids weren’t available (or were just being plain cruel). As I got older, I developed a Hero complex that made me OBSESSED with saving the day. If I could just rescue someone, anyone, from sadness or trouble, I’d be in. The cost was my confidence. I studied musical theatre in high school and college; I’d go to my singing lessons and cry half the time, because being alone with my voice was one of the only times I felt completely full, confident, and fearless. Then I’d leave the room and it was back to being the Katie who downplayed her strengths so that no one would feel uncomfortable or threatened.
It’s ironic that the more I bonded with others over negativity - the more I beat myself down with the “selfless” goal of lifting someone else up by showing them I really wasn’t all that great - the more alone I felt. I was fab at faking a smile and winning people over with my generosity, but ended up feeling even lonelier than before when I gave everyone my all, tried to be like them, spoke their language….and still faded into the background. What was wrong with me?
My self image, internal and external, fluctuated up and down throughout my teens, hitting an all-time low in college when I developed Orthorexia – a form of disordered eating and lifestyle in which a hyper-focus on extreme “health” before all else overtakes your life and dictates your every decision. When I look back on it now, I know I was just doing what I thought was right: being the person who had her shit together like “real” adults do, while simultaneously taking control of my unbridled ambition and fire so that who I WAS wouldn’t get in the way of who others WANTED me to be.
Usually when you hit this point in someone’s self-written bio, it’s when you get the Oprah-style A-HA moment. But my “story” isn’t about one rock-bottom moment (even though I had a lot) and it’s not about a clearly defined before-and-after shot (those never tell the whole story, anyway). It IS about continuously choosing to be proactive over being reactive, over and over again. And in order to do that, I needed to come squeaky-clean with myself about the language I was thinking and speaking, to myself and with others. I needed to find a way to break out of the cage I’d put myself in…without forgetting about the other people who were still behind bars. I needed to lean into my hyper sensitivity and eerily spot-on self awareness WITHOUT judging others or isolating myself in the process.
My “story” includes such chapters as:
The Actor Who Was Getting Everything She Wanted, Then Realized She Wanted None Of It
All I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Teaching Spin Classes
Stolen, Broken, Swindled: How The Universe Spent Half A Decade Trying To Teach Me A Lesson Via My Car
Wake Up Girl, Your Body Is Not Your Masterpiece
Saving Others Won’t Save Yourself (Nope, Not This Time Either)
…and so much more!
People always ask me what “negative self-talk looks like.” And I get where it comes from… But it’s the wrong question to be asking. It’s not about what it looks like that matters most: it’s about what it FEELS like. Because negative self-talk starts out as a feeling. A STRONG feeling. So strong we don’t have words, and so we attach the words that seem like a good fit. And those words are usually the heaviest, nastiest ones we can think of. Hate. Ugly. Stupid. Terrible. Used over and over again, they become the language we teach ourselves that we never intended to learn.
Self-talk isn’t good or bad: it’s information. It’s not inherently positive or negative: it’s proactive or reactive. And in order to shift our self-talk in a real, lasting way, we MUST be brave enough to dive in, dig deep, and move forward fearlessly no matter what we find out about ourselves along the way. To be fearless isn’t the lack of fear, it’s when the fear is less than the faith. And we’ve got to have faith that once we sift through the harmful patterns and misaligned words, we’ll uncover the person we know in our core we’re meant to be.
I used to be obsessed with being the hero. Now I’m obsessed with the idea that we can all be our own heroes. I used to dream about changing the world. Now I know that changing the world can only begin when you change YOUR world.