The Derek Zoolander Guide to Finding Yourself

on April 30, 2012 | in Featured, Life in General | by

On the night of my junior prom, I  rode in a limo with the hottest, most popular guy at school dragged my dateless ass to the movie theater with a girlfriend.

Luckily for me, that movie was Zoolander, so my night ended up being waaay better than going to prom with some douche, anyhow.

I mean, best movie of the decade, because Derek Zoolander is pretty much as awesome as it gets. Not only is he an amazing eugooglizer, but he ends up marrying Matilda, becoming a loving father to Derek Junior, and founding “The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too.”


Today, I present to you an article you probably never thought you’d see: What Derek Zoolander, male model, can teach you about finding yourself.


Believe it or not, Derek Zoolander did not find his way into awesomeness overnight. He didn’t just shoot out of bed one day and morph into Awesome Derek in all his gloriousness.

No. Way.

Before Derek found his way, he had to first undergo an intense and sucky period of questioning.

“Who am I?” he lamented in a mud puddle after losing the “Male Model of the Year” award to stupid Hansel.

He left home to search for his roots, venturing deep into the coal mines and catching the black lung.

He was disowned by his father and brothers for being a merman.

His dear friends died in a freak gasoline fight accident.

He didn’t know how to turn left.

And to top it all off, he was the target of Mugatu’s plan to assassinate the Prime Minister of Micronesia (and you thought YOU had it bad!).

So what’s the point?

If we want to become who we truly are, we, too must go through this period of losing ourselves, of feeling utterly and completely lost and confused, of having all of the questions and none of the answers.

In order to find ourselves, we must first lose ourselves.

The forgetting is a part of the remembering.

The difficulty is a part of the process.

Did you catch that?

The difficulty is a necessary part of the process.

Which is why, if you’re feeling lost and confused right now, I’m actually going to CONGRATULATE you.


You, my friend, are right on track.

Not knowing who you are– asking questions– feeling lost– like it or not, these are the perfect signs that you’re well on your way.

“The great loneliness– like the loneliness a caterpillar endures when she wraps herself in a silky shroud and begins the long transformation from chrysalis to butterfly. It seems we too must go through such a time, when life as we know it is over– when being a caterpillar feels somehow false and yet we don’t know who we are supposed to become. All we know is that something bigger is calling us to change. And though we must make the journey alone, and even if suffering is our only companion, soon enough we will become a butterfly, and soon enough we will taste the rapture of being alive.”

– Elizabeth Lesser


Following the easy path, the default path—living up to someone else’s standards—that’s what’s easy.

Failing to ask the hard questions—failing to take a good, hard look at your reflection in the mud puddle and ask, “Who am I?”—that’s what’s easy.

For me, it was easy to stay in my cubicle and in my normal little life. It was easy to hide behind my mask, to shrink and hide from the world instead of opening. It was easy for me not to write this blog.

This is precisely why most people stay in the “easy zone.”

Easy schmeezy. 

You & I— WE AREN’T MOST PEOPLE. We are restless. We aren’t satisfied with the default life. Like Derek, we know there’s so much more to life than being really really ridiculously good looking, and we’re hell bent on (re)discovering, and on living, that depth.

No one ever said it would be easy— they only said it would be worth it.

It is a strange gift, this birthright gift of self. Accepting it turns out to be even more demanding than attempting to become someone else.

– Parker Palmer

Worth it.

Worth it. 

W O R T H .

I T .

So have faith. Have patience.

Know that feeling lost is a part of the process, and that it often takes time. In fact, I’m convinced that we never fully arrive, and that’s OK.

Patience. Patience. Patience, my dear friend.

Patience is the companion of wisdom.

– St. Augustine

You may feel lost in the questions, but you are much, much, MUCH farther along than you give yourself credit for.

The suckiness, the questions– whether you know it or not, they’re leading you home as we speak.

Soon enough, you’ll discover the Magnum that’s been resting within you all along.

# # #

[Photo by nickb_rock]


related posts

  • Therese,
    This post could not have come at a perfect time, on a more perfect day.
    This one shoots deep down into my soul.
    Thank you. Thank you.

    • So glad… it’s what I needed to hear myself today, too :)

  • Love the article but take one exception. It is not easy to “walk someone else’s path” or “become someone else’s version of you.” That is the source of many people’s pain. They are trying to be someone they are not. Staying in this pain is the source of much depression in today’s world. Having the courage to reject the “shoulds”, step out of your comfort zone, and become the person you are meant to be–the one that resonates through your being–is hard, but worth it.

    • True, Laurie– it’s deeply painful to live someone else’s version of you– by “easy,” I meant that it usually happens by default and that it’s the “path of least resistance.” It’s “easy” if, as many people do, you can distract yourself enough to notice that you aren’t walking your own path. It is NOT easy in that it’s painful once you come to this realization. Well said.

  • Jeremy or IHeartTravel

    Only you can take something so awesome/crazy like Zoolander, and turn it into a in depth look of finding ourselves.

    Therese I cannot praise your greatness enough, so I send send you my digital reaction to how crazy awesome you and this post are

    (Stands up facing Ms Therese and Bows in Respect)

    : )

  • Pop…I think I have the black lung, pop…*uhh* *uhh* *coughing*

    Best. Movie. Ever. Whoa, I haven’t seen that epicness in a while. Thanks for the reminder. And the way you tied the movie together with your core message..good stuff, Therese, good stuff!

    • TOTALLY the best movie ever! (And I hear there’s a sequel in the works!)

  • Shr

    The fact that a lovely young lady such as yourself did not have an equally attractive man to take you to the prom is surely a sign of everything that’s wrong in the world

    • Lol… well thank you, but seriously… Zoolander was WAY better (and way less expensive, too ;-)

  • Diana

    once again totally on par with my life. thanks for the thoughts, they always seem ever so helpful :)

    • Diana,

      You’re on the road to…

      somewhere you need to be,

      we just don’t know exactly where yet ;-)

  • Hi Therese,

    This post is AWESOME…

    I can’t remember how long it has been since I started to feel lost and confused and, guess what, many folks do not understand. They think what’s the big deal about getting a job that suits one’s qualifications and just getting on with life, buying a house and car and having a couple of kids. At least, I have had a couple of people in my circle of family and friends that said so.

    This post gives voice and support to souls like us. Keep up the good work, girl! I now think life is about the journey, not the destination.

    • Yes!

      And to each his own. YOU live your life, and others can worry about their own. Whether they understand or not ultimately makes no difference, although it can make the journey feel a bit more lonely…


  • No one said it would be easy, but no one said it’d be this hard — Sheryl Crow

  • Kelitasmith

    Thanks for the non-sucky advice Therese! U are awesome! U always manage to hit the nail right on the head. You have managed to put words that eluded me for years to my troubling thoughts and emotions, and not only voice them but offer solutions. I now feel… special because I just CANNOT be satisfied with the default life. That makes me unique and I like that…I can live with that. I just LOVE that spin!

    Thanks for the words of wisdom, the encouragement and affirmation. You have no idea how much you have impacted my life in the few short weeks since i happened upon your blog. You make my Mondays! U ROCK!


    • Kelita,

      WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS IS MORE PEOPLE LIKE YOU! We need people who question the default life… we need a world where people come alive and become their TRUEST SELVES.


      p.p.s. THANK YOU SO MUCH for your words! It means the WORLD to me to know how you feel. THE WORLD! (OK, so maybe I wasn’t *totally* sorry about all the caps…)

  • Restless — yeah. Such an awesome, timely post for me. That fog of not knowing and being lost is hard to push through. I feel like I’ll be walking in it forever. Seeing people who have done it and are making a difference doing what they truly love is inspiring (thanks!).

    • “The fog of not knowing”– perfect way to put it, Erin. It DOES seem like it’ll never end. Trust me; I KNOW the feeling! It sucks, but maybe it’s OK to be here in the fog right now. And maybe one day you’ll wake up and, without even realizing it, you’ll have “lived” your way out of the fog and into the clear blue sky.

      Life’s a process.

      Trust it.

      Trust it no matter what, even when you can’t.


      • Thanks for your encouragement, Therese. I can tell you’ve been there! I’m working through the fog…enjoying it as much as I can. Even the moments of frustration. Because hey, that’s where you grow, right? The dissatisfaction pushes you forward :)

  • Awesome post! This is just what I need. Thank you, Therese :D

  • Really dig the post Therese! I’ve been there and back, and I think finding yourself is an ongoing process as you change with time as well. The one thing I always tell myself, similar to your heading about it not being easy, is from one of my favorite movies as a kid, A League of Their Own.

    Tom Hanks says to Geena Davis, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard . . . is what makes it great.”

    Right on, absolutely worth it, thanks for the awesome post.

    • It is ABSOLUTELY an ongoing process, J.R. Absolutely absolutely! Good insight and great quote, too :-)

  • Pingback: Ferris Bueller, You’re Still My Hero. | dan oshinsky dot com()

  • Divya Sawant

    i got tears in my eyes just reading this! Bang on girl!! God bless u!!

  • Absolutely loved reading this article…personal growth takes time, anything worth having is damn sure worth working hard to get it. God Bless!

  • jazz

    Hello Beautiful People. I think the whole reason we are so confused about why we are here because the private federal reserve has formed a system in which we feel a constant lack, therefore a constant need to consume , therefore a constant distraction from our true path our our true purpose- which is to live not in competition but in cooperation, not to frown on differences but to celebrate them, and not to be on a linear system with predictable outcomes, but to flow like water since we are made of the stuff. We are all the same person- we are one family- and we are here to feel and see the dream that is around us- we are not here to compete to get to the top- but instead to feel free to be uniquely ourselves and encourage others to do so . Everyday is Halloween. Everyday is Christmas. Money isn’t the answer. Energy should be free. We have to build a new system— the old one is severly outdated . No wonder America is so addicted to anti-depressants- they want to become numb to their truths.

  • keobski

    I was lost when I was a teenager….then I did the usual thing….partner, career, kid….and now I hit 50…and I wake up one day and think…”what the fuck am I doing?” It is like my “self” disappeared for 30 years!!! And now I am lost again, my relationship is breaking up, I feel trapped, alone and helpless….and your site is an absolute inspiration….thank you so much!!!!!

    • I’m glad you’re here, and I hope this can be a place of community that can help support you and help you to feel less alone on this journey of life we’re all traveling together…


  • Mike

    This article was amazing to read, I just hope it’s correct. I’m completely lost and it’s terrifying.

  • How To Stop A Divorce And Save Your Marriage?

    My name is Nakita Shelton,am from California in USA.i want to use this opportunity to thank my great doctor who really made my life a pleasurable one today. This great man Dr.Brave brought my husband back to me, i had three lovely kids for my husband, about four years ago i and my husband has been into one qaurrel or the other until he finally left me for one lady. i felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be stronge just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, until one day i met a good friend of mine that was also in a situation like me but her problem was her ex-boyfriend who she had an unwanted pregnancy for and he refused to take responsibility and dumped her. she told me that mine was a small case and that i should not worry about it at all, so i asked her what was the solution to my problems and she gave me this great man email address. i was doubting if this man was the solution, so i contacted this great man and he told me what to do and i deed them all, he told me to wait for just two day and that my husband will come crawlling on his kneels just for forgiveness so i faithfully deed what this great man asked me to do and for sure after two days i heard a knock on the door, in a great suprise i saw him on his kneels and i was speechless, when he saw me, all he did was crying and asking me for forgiveness, from that day, all the pains and sorrows in my heart flew away,since then i and my husband and our lovely kids are happy.thats why i want to say a big thank you to Dr.Brave. This great man made me to understand that there is no problem on earth that has no solution so please if you know that you have this same problem or any problem that is similar, i will advise you to come straight to this great man. you can email him CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS.

« »