760. Fashion Career Fuels Her EQ Mental Health App
“I think one of the problems is that you have to make life choices while you are still developing and you have no idea who you are and what you really like. You know, I took more or less 12 years off to travel the world, to dip my toes in different cultures, in different jobs, practicing and trying out whatever. You don’t really have that connection to your true self until it is often too late, and by then your true self is half dead….”
Silja Litvin was born in Germany, but moved to southern California early in her life. Exposed to many diverse cultures, she developed an insatiable curiosity for the human condition, leading to her pursuing a degree in psychology. During her 17 years of international modeling, she began work on her master’s degree at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, graduating in clinical psychology and systemic family therapy in 2013. In 2015, she began work on her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. She’s now venturing into the world of artificial intelligence, gamification, and chatbots to find a way to be able to help people help themselves launching her app, EQ: The Emotional Fitness game.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“As a child, I was a bit of a late bloomer. I was all over the place, not very interested in school or anything in particular. I learned to read very late. The big change came when I was 13. I started focusing on a certain dream. It was when my sister got a book for her birthday about body language. It completely blew my mind to learn that there was actually a science that could help people understand the behavior of other people, as well as understand my own emotions and behavior. Ever since that date, I have wanted to be a psychologist.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
Silja was well into a successful modeling career, working closely with a photographer for five years, lining up photo shoots around the world that often paid her thousands of Euros a day. “I was at the Cannes film festival around 2006 or 2007, sitting on a yacht. I was wearing an extremely expensive dress for a party afterwards, drinking champagne. The sun was shining and famous people were milling about. I looked around, and I thought, I’m not happy. I don’t feel fulfilled. I bet these other people aren’t happy either, everyone chasing the next gig, the next party or next girlfriend. It felt hollow, unsatisfying and unhealthy. So, I thought to myself, ‘I need to make a decision. I need to get out of this and do something else with my life!’”
The Most Powerful Lesson Learned?
“Two important lessons. One, work on your personal development. If you can afford it, go to therapy, even if you haven’t had trauma in your life. It helps you develop a sense of yourself and grow your agency, and just become. It’s like vitamins for your psyche. Number two, you need wide exposure to life. Go out there and see as much as you can. Go to conventions that have nothing to do with your business. Speak to people, do internships, go to work fairs. Do all these kinds of things, because the more you’re exposed to, the more that little spark can happen.”
Steps to Success from Silja Litvin
1. Always keep friends and loved ones in your life who can give you perspective. Often, these will be people outside your field of work.
2. Follow the interests and passions that help you make sense of your life, that let you see how life fits together. In my case, it’s psychology. Yours will be uniquely yours.
3. Look for opportunities to learn from others, both through internships and collaborations you discover within your own world.
4. Create space in your life to learn to listen to your true self. Most people are swept along by the expectations of others, without pausing to learn who they uniquely are.
On Her Bookshelf
The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self, by Alice Miller.
Connecting With Silja Litvin
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