Following your true nature: when living the dream becomes toxic, with Sophie Montminy

photo Sophie Montminy

Sophie Montminy is one of Quebec’s digital pioneers. She was the one to launch fashion magazine Clin d’œil’s web and social media presence. She also lived through the rise of influencer marketing, signing her fair share of brand collaborations and racking up subscribers. Until it all became too much.

What do you do when your passion turns poisonous?

It’s Christmas. The vibe is festive, the house is buzzing with life, and Sophie is observing her son. “How can it be that I’m so unhappy, but my son is perfectly happy?”

In that moment, something clicked – like her inner voice was waking up for the first time in a long time. “Fashion, glamour, sharing content on social media … you get small doses of love every day. Each ‘like’ is a jolt of validation. I look cute, I have important things to say, my opinion is worth something. It’s incredible, until it becomes unhealthy.”

That Christmas, Sophie received an unexpected gift: the realization that she was seriously addicted to the internet.

“Every year, my husband and I set dreams and goals instead of resolutions. This year, I couldn’t do it. I realized I barely knew myself anymore. I was in a deep depression. I went on a social media detox and worked on myself – it’s a personal journey that’s still ongoing.”

Since then, Sophie’s life has completely changed. She left the fashion industry behind to focus on her writing full-time.

Social pressure and the search for perfection

“Living your true nature means being on an endless path of self-discovery. There’s no need to worry if you drift away, if you get caught up in glamour, jealousy, or success. Experimenting with something that isn’t 100% true to our nature but we identify with for a moment is okay. You can’t become a perfect version of yourself without having lived a little.”

The problem according to Sophie is that lots of people (and especially women) try to build their careers in a toxic environment. “What do you do when the industry you’re passionate about, when the job you love, comes with a toxic environment? That’s the question I explore in my first novel, Imparfaite. I wanted to show people, in the form of a fun book, what happens when you progress in an environment that doesn’t align with your values.”

“My book and my podcast were somewhat selfish ways of healing myself. I wanted to take a step back and think. And many people told me this allowed them to do the same.”

In her creative projects Sophie highlights different aspects of women who cross her path. She denounces what’s problematic and celebrates their wins. “As a feminist, I’ve always wanted to advance women’s causes. I’m not one of those women who takes to the streets, even though I admire them. My strength lies in bringing people together. I want to inspire collaboration and shine a spotlight. So many women need encouragement, and they don’t always get it. I want to give them a boost.”

Her podcast, Femmes de fer, is the definition of women uplifting women. She introduces us to a range of female entrepreneurs who move mountains behind the scenes.

Seeking validation from within

What was the realization that led Sophie down the road to recovery? “I needed to learn to find validation within myself. And I had to accept that I wasn’t perfect – hence the title of my novel.” “Sharing your life on social media means finding validation through other people’s eyes. But doing online research, reading blogs about wellness, that’s also external validation. How you feel, and why you feel that way. These are points to reflect on, but they aren’t the answer. To get better, you have no choice but to look at yourself up close: what’s wrong?”

“We have so many blind spots that it takes a lifetime to truly know ourselves. And if we don’t take a step back every day to observe ourselves, the blind spots pile up. I got to a point where it was so painful, I had no choice but to ask myself questions.”

Accepting yourself with open arms

For Sophie, accepting her imperfections – and other’s imperfections – takes the pressure off. “I’m not capable, I’m not sure, someone else would probably do a better job than me… in reality, nobody else knows any more than you do. Everyone is going in blind. The most beautiful thing is to trust the universe.”

“The more we accept our imperfections, the more capable we are of doing great things and rising again.” This is what Sophie gleaned from her experience. “I never thought I could write an entire novel. But I had done so much visualization before writing that nothing could have stopped me.”

“The image of ‘perfection’ we create for ourselves is just a shell. In reality, there’s no armour stronger than personal visualization.” For Sophie, being able to see her strengths and weaknesses, and knowing how to project herself into achieving her goals, is the very definition of confidence.

“When we know where we stand, our values, and our strengths, people’s opinions matter less. We can observe, understand, and take action without losing self-control.”

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