Hello Carmen! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. First off, can you tell us about you and your blog? How did you get started and what are your passions?
My name is Carmen Applegate and I am a seventeen year old high school junior from the United States. I love to read on my Kindle, go hiking at my local state park and binge way too many Netflix series. I’m a sucker for romantic comedies and absolutely fall in love with fictional characters. I also host a podcast called The Girly Girl Podcast where I share personal stories and my best advice for teen girls. I am in love with podcasting but my blog will always be my little baby.
I started my blog, Cara A Carmen, in June this year. I was beginning to get sick of quarantine and found that I couldn’t do what I had planned over the summer such as a study abroad trip to Spain, community service at an adult care centre and participating in my school’s volleyball team. I needed to find an activity that I could do at home and would be likely to enjoy. That lead me to search the internet for hours looking for “activities to do by yourself at home.” That was when I stumbled upon starting a blog. I absolutely fell in love with the idea of creating something all on my own and being able to share it to the world. If I’m being honest, I had quite a rocky start and still aren’t sure If I’ve got the hang of it. Blogging has definitely been a learning experience but it is so worth it!
What is your philosophy on life and why?
I believe that everyone has the ability to succeed and make themselves satisfied with the life they have lived. For me, life is about doing what I love while also being able to share it with hundreds of people. My mom always tells me to “be my best self,” a motto which also happens to be from my childhood summer camp. I am constantly striving to do better and to become the best version of myself. I think that we need to be successful in our own ways. This doesn’t mean you need to have millions of Instagram followers or own a law firm. It could just be that you want to exercise every day, share your story or help others. Success is different for everyone so it shouldn’t be categorised into one thing.
Life is not worth living if it isn’t enjoyable. As the cliche phrase goes “you only have one life to live so live it to its fullest.” I believe that we aren’t mean to just go with the flow or let opportunities pass us by. We need to do what we enjoy, spend time with the people we love, and live a life we can be proud of. Imagine sitting with your grandchildren years down the road- wouldn’t you love to be able to share stories that are worth telling?
What does your creative process look like?
Wow, I love this question! As an organized, proactive, perfectionistic type person, I can often struggle with letting go. I must have a plan and know exactly what I’m doing. This is super helpful for keeping to a posting schedule and being consistent but can hinder my creativity.
With my blog, I like to sit down every few weeks and do a brain dump. This is where I jot down all my ideas for posts, email newsletters or anything I want to change about my blog. I find that frequent brain dumps ensure I never run out of new and creative ideas when I’m in a rut. I would say that my creative process relating to my blog is pretty cut and dry. I do a brain dump, outline a post, write it, create Pinterest pins, and schedule it. There is not much creativity going on.
With my Instagram however, I can be much more creative. I love creating Instagram posts to fit with my feed. I tend to make multiple posts based on the same concept and then see how it evolves. Social media is so interesting because you can see what posts do well and what don’t.
My podcast also allows me to be creative since the topics I discuss are more chatty and personal. I love coming up with episode ideas and trying to figure out how I can make my content the best it can possibly be.
Where do you live and what is the best thing about your hometown?
I live in Lexington, Kentucky. My hometown and I have had an interesting relationship. I have gone from being embarrassed by being from Kentucky to owning it. My mom is from Connecticut and always talks about how much she misses the North and how she hates Kentucky. This, of course, is hard to deal with, but I have grown to love my state and the city I live in. I’m proud to be a Kentuckian and will happily use y’all instead of you all.
My favourite part about Lexington is the energy it possesses. The city is accepting of all people, it gives off the cosiest vibes and can make you stop dead in your tracks when looking out along the countryside. In the heart of the city, there is the cutest downtown area that is filled with shops and restaurants. When you move to the outskirts, you find the rolling hills of the Bluegrass and it is truly gorgeous. Lexington is known for the Kentucky Derby and its horse farms. I’m proud to call my small city home and couldn’t imagine a better place to grow up.
What habits have you adopted that encourage confidence and self-growth?
Again, another great question! I have found that what has impacted my confidence and self-growth the most has been positive self-talk and avoiding the “what ifs”. I have always been someone who would talk down on myself and see myself as not as good as everyone else. I used to feel (and still do at times) like there was nothing special about me and that I was fairly average. This mindset led me to stop striving to be better or do things that I loved. I had given up and fell into a bad place. It took me a while to realise what had happened but when I did, I knew immediately that I had to pick myself up again.
That was when I actively made an effort to be kinder and more forgiving to myself. I decided to spend time focusing on how I was feeling and why. I stopped telling myself I was average and told myself that I could do whatever I set my mind to. As a constant overthinker and perfectionist, it was hard to let go. It was hard to stop myself from saying “what if”. This kept holding me back so I had to do something that I was absolutely terrified of: I had to let go. Once I did, I started my blog and a few months later began a podcast.
Self-doubt holds all of us back more than we’d think or like to admit and it is essential to realise this and start getting back on track. I challenge you to let go and try something new. As daunting as this might seem, I believe in you. Hell, if I did it, you can too!
What do you believe sets you apart from other lifestyle bloggers? What are your strengths?
Hmmm, well, I would say that I bring a relatability aspect to the community that I don’t see in as many lifestyle bloggers. As a teen blogger, I am able to create firm connections with my ideal audience. I believe that I do a good job of posting about topics I am knowledgeable about or interested in such as menstrual care, self-care and high school tips. While I do have a few basic fashion posts, I think that my content is unique and particularly tailored to teen girls.
How would you describe the dynamic of living with a twin sister? What are the upsides and downsides? Do you struggle with individuality?
Aw, I love this! My sister is my everything and my absolute favourite person in the world. She goes to boarding school so I don’t see her much during the year except during summer and breaks. When she is home, we are constantly around each other and love to make Tik Toks, go driving, and just hang out. If I’m being honest, I tend to be the more touchy-feely sibling. She can find me annoying because she tries to hide her affection and is less direct about it. I absolutely love being a twin but at times it can be difficult.
Throughout the years, we have always been grouped together: we had the same friends, classes, and many thought we had the same personality. With Hadley at boarding school, this has gotten better and we have each been able to become more like ourselves. I love going to different schools and think we both needed it after going to the same school up until eighth grade.
I think we both unconsciously compete with each other about who can have the best grades, be the prettiest, funniest, whatever. This competition can create a lack of self-confidence and is something we have both struggled with.
I have struggled with finding my individuality because, at times, I didn’t know who I was without her. She had always been such a large part of my life, so when she left for boarding school freshman year, I was lost. I had to figure everything out pretty quickly, but I’m here now and that’s all that matters.
You’ve mentioned that you’d like to major in psychology at college. What drew you to this field?
Yes! I would love to major in psychology! I have always been told by friends that I give really good advice and have received similar comments from my podcast. I love helping people solve their problems and enjoy listening to others. I also think the reasons why we act in certain ways are fascinating.
Being an ambivert, what are your favorite activities? How do you maintain a healthy balance of social and solo time?
I have recently been struggling with finding a balance between social and solo time. Since I am currently in online school, it is super challenging to make time for friends. I tend to get lost in my thoughts and will forget that I need to interact with others. Of course, I try my best to reach out and create balance, but it can be difficult. I don’t want to make myself seem perfect and like I have everything figured out because I don’t. Just like you, I’m still trying to figure it out along the way.
Some of my favorite activities are reading, being outside, going hiking with my friends, going out to dinner and hanging out at the park. I love nature and being outside so much. It fills me with so much energy which is why I love to spend as much time as I can with friends outside.
What realisations have you come to throughout your mental health and acne journey? Do you have any words of wisdom for those who may be struggling?
I have come to know myself much better by learning my mental strengths and weaknesses. By becoming more aware of what plagues my mind, I am able to be a better version of myself and grow into who I want to be. I have found that I often have judgemental or harsh thoughts towards myself and others, which I am working on getting better at. I think a strength of mine would be looking out for my friends and caring for my family. While there might not be many people I’m extremely close to, the ones I am close with are some of my favorite people in the entire world.
Relating to my acne journey, I have become more aware that what matters on the inside is more important than the outside. I have often fallen victim to basing my self-worth on my appearance or how many pimples I had that day. After having gone on Accutane for ten months in middle school due to severe hormonal acne, and struggle with mild acne throughout middle school, I have gone through a lot with my mental health.
I hate to admit it, but my skin does affect the way I see myself. I could be up here lying to all of you saying it doesn’t, but it does. I know that no one notices a few pimples because I don’t notice anyone else’s, but it can still hurt.
For anyone who is struggling with their mental health or acne, please know that I am here. I understand what you are going through and know how hard it can be to get up every morning knowing that you have to look in the mirror. I understand. Please know that it’ll get better and don’t put so much stress on yourself to get better right away. Your mental state takes time to heal and so does your skin. It’s a process and it’s not an easy one. But just know that I am right there along with you.