Authenticity is more than posting the unedited, unfiltered photos on our feed. Sarah Herron is a self-proclaimed authenticity advocate who believes sharing her truth, even talking about the tough stuff out loud, can help other women feel like they aren’t alone. Sarah was the first contestant on ABC’s The Bachelor with a physical disability, and although it didn’t end in her winning the final rose, she turned the sometimes tumultuous Bachelor experience into a new positive life purpose — empowering other women with her authenticity and introducing people to the transformative nature of adventure through her nonprofit, SheLift.
Sarah was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, but it hasn’t stopped her from climbing mountains, skiing double black diamonds and even searching for love on television. It was the outreach of young women who watched and related to Sarah on the show that inspired her to start the nonprofit, SheLift. Sarah’s believes in her strong message, that finding love is possible, and it starts with loving yourself.
Get ready for Sarah Herron, because this chat gets real and raw about her time on the show and how it was a catalyst for starting her nonprofit. This girl is THE example of finding positivity and purpose in challenging times.
She was a 20-something working in advertising and living in Los Angeles at the time a friend nominated her for Season 17 of The Bachelor with Sean Lowe. Sarah was struggling to put herself out there and date, and she had low self esteem. Sarah made it onto the show and was part of the cast of girls vying for Sean’s final rose until about halfway through the season. She explained in our interview that she felt she was sent home because she still had a lot of work to do on herself, that she was still struggling with the same self-esteem issues that she had when she landed a spot on the show.
“The reason I wasn’t able to find love or be fully in it, was because I needed to focus on finding love and acceptance within myself first.” After returning home from her Bachelor experience, she really started to dig into her own self love and acceptance. Sarah spent time outside and got involved in the outdoor community, and she realized that the more she immersed herself in adventure outdoors, the greater her confidence grew. Her growing confidence amidst all the messages from women with their own physical differences that saw her on the Bachelor, she had an aha! moment. Sarah knew if she benefited so greatly from her time outdoors, other women would, too. She founded a non-profit called SheLift to bring women on retreats around the globe to experience the transformative power of nature and outdoor adventure.
Stop Looking for Validation
After leaving the show and in the process of starting her nonprofit, Sarah had a huge platform and a louder voice than ever before. These women from around the globe looked to her for answers even though she didn’t feel qualified to lead them. Sarah still felt full of limiting thoughts and self-doubt, but the universe kept stepping in to tell her this was the path she was meant to take. Sarah knew she had to create something even though it wouldn’t be perfect. “The biggest gift I had to give people was transparency that I didn’t have the answers and I didn’t have it figured out, but I could help.”
Sarah learned through the process of founding SheLift that women often have the same limiting thought that they’re not “qualified enough yet” to create something. “If we are always looking for one more validation to make us seem credible, we might not ever get there. The best thing to do it just dive in messy and let people know that you’re figuring it out, too.”
Going Through a Growth Spurt
I asked Sarah about how she grew from before The Bachelor to now, and what that change looked like in her life. I loved her response: “I’m still growing, and particularly right now I feel like I’m going through another big growth spurt.” Phase one of founding SheLift involved leaving her very comfortable, stable job in advertising to move home and start a job all over again at age 30. The decision to take the leap was a massive period of growth for her — she learned humility, how to better save money, and how to ask for help. Phase two of SheLift will bring a whole new period of growth, and she’s excited to keep learning and taking in as much information as possible in the process.
Sarah is willing to sacrifice comfort and control to build and support the things she believes in. So many of us want big things for ourselves but we aren’t willing to make the changes or sacrifice the things we have to reach our biggest dreams. Taking that leap is terrifying, but how bad do you want it? Sometimes a radical change is necessary to achieve that big dream you are working towards. Will your dream require a pay cut? Like Sarah, are you willing to move home with your parents at 30 to build your dream? Those sacrifices will seem small compared to your biggest dream coming true.
Owning Your Story
Does your inner dialog sound like this: I don’t think my story is important. I have a story, but no one will care. Sound familiar? Sarah wants to end this kind of mindset. She said in our interview, “There’s always somebody that needs to hear exactly what you’re going through right now, because they’re probably going through it, too, and they think they’re alone.” Sarah encourages women who aren’t comfortable sharing their story on a big public platform yet to start writing about it, even if it’s just in a journal or a small personal blog, just getting your thoughts onto paper and discovering that piece of magic that you could share with other people.
Sarah also recommends listening to audiobooks and reading the blogs of women who are openly sharing their stories. Identify some ways that you can start to share your own. A particular part of someone else’s story may prompt something inside of you, or remind you of a similar experience in your life that you can start to write about. You story doesn’t need to be huge and monumental to be worth sharing. Often times, people connect more with the stuff we might think is “boring”.
Sarah’s Three Steps to Authenticity
First off, identify something that you’ve always want to do but haven’t and ask yourself WHY? Wrestle with your fears and determine why you haven’t gone after the thing you’ve always wanted to do. Step two… Go do the thing you’ve always wanted to do. And three, after you’ve accomplished the thing, talk about how it made you feel. Share that pride with the world and own your accomplishments. Being authentic doesn’t always mean sharing a super vulnerable photo of yourself with your flaws on display, it’s owning the things you’re proud of, too.
More from This Episode
Was she portrayed accurately on The Bachelor? Did she get used to having the cameras around? Plus, the eye opening exercise Sarah’s life coach encouraged her to tackle and how to challenge your “inner mean girl” to find your confidence. Hear all of these moments and more in the full episode, just press play on the player above.