Born a twin, Cyn and I were given a lot of attention based on how we looked. As kids, people would stare at us and stop to ask us questions. "There's two of you? Are you two twins?" Our mom finally got us a t-shirt that read, "Yes, we are twins." We became a novelty in our home town. We weren't separate beings. We were the "Daniel Twins" of Gainesville, Florida. We entered fashion shows, commercials, modeling gigs, and auditioned for tv and film roles as a unit.
I grew up believing my beauty was the superpower that gave me strength. I later learned that this was untrue. Yes, beauty can, at times, help to get what you want, influence others, and give you a false sense of confidence, but it never gave me the inner strength I needed and craved.
At 18 years old Cyn and I moved to LA to begin filming our dream tv roles of Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield on Sweet Valley High. We grew up in an acting career where your power, and therefore, value is based on how pretty and perfect you appeared. Our physical appearances impacted how often we booked jobs.
Cyn left acting after Sweet Valley High wrapped to become a professional photographer, and I set out to create a solo career in acting. Without my twin sis by my side, I knew I needed to find a way to stand out. I did this by becoming very fit and finding my nitch as a comedic actress. I found my value through my work, my beauty, and physical strength. Still, I was lacking internal strength. Secretly, inside, I never felt that I was enough. I knew I was talented, but I also knew I was a small fish in a big city.
After receiving my cancer diagnosis, in 2011, I lost my home, my job, my hair, my physical strength, my health, and ultimately, my long term relationship.
I learned that my beauty and power lie not in my physical appearance but in my strength and deeper values of compassion, kindness, connection, humility, vulnerability, determination, and joy.
Here are a few of my daily practices that help ignite my internal strength.
My Daily Practice to Help Build Inner Strength:
1. Practice vulnerability every day by telling your family how much you love them, be honest with a friend that hurt your feelings, or at your weekly work meeting speak up and take the risk to express your confusion around a topic. I promise you aren't the only person in the room that may not fully get it.
2. Practice gratitude at the start or end of your day by writing about ten things that you feel grateful for. It doesn't have to be anything huge. It can be I'm thankful my husband made me a cup of coffee this morning. I'm always happy for that.
3. Practice asking for help by delegating jobs at work and at home. We don't have to do it all on our own.
4. Practice honoring the present moment. If something throws off your day like a flat tire or missing a flight, practice staying present, and look for ways you can make the best of the moment. Better yet, see if you can learn from it. There are always hidden lessons.
5. Speak your truth. No white lies, be honest with yourself and with other people in your lives. White lies are a way to avoid a possible uncomfortable moment. In the south, we call this sugar coating. Try being honest and see how empowering that feels. Remember you're not responsible for how other people react to your honestly. You're only responsible for how you deliver it. So be kind, but be honest.
6. Practice yoga to help build a balance of both inner and outer strength.
7. Meditate 20 minutes a day to help get out of your head and into your heart and body. Here is where we can connect with source energy and where dreams manifest.
The truth is I'm a girl from the south, and I'm an actress. I will always love getting dolled up and looking my best. But through adversity, therapy, life experience, and the steps listed above, I've finally learned that my value comes from within. My core capabilities far surpass my exterior beauty. I hope this inspires you to connect with your beautiful inner strength too.
Sweet Collection xo By Brittany + Cynthia Daniel