Elaine Welteroth Wants You to Chase Your Dreams

We believe in the power of routines and finding meaning in the ways we sew comfort into our everyday surroundings. Drop Ins is a series that explores just that, taking a dressed-down look at the lives of people who inspire us.

Elaine Welteroth has made a career out of making her own career. Lucky for you, she’s more than willing to share how she did it (her Masterclass on designing your career just dropped!). She cut her teeth in the famously fast paced world of New York media, becoming the youngest person to hold the title of Editor-in-Chief in Condé Nast history when she received the top position at Teen Vogue. There she stewarded important conversations by expanding coverage of social justice and political issues. All the while, her infectious fervor for honesty, openness, and downright fun led to a formidable personal brand that paved the way for her next career moves. 

With a successful first book under her belt, these days she spends her time in front of a few different screens, as a judge on Project Runway, and co-hosting The Talk. By this point, you might have gotten the sense that Elaine manages to do a lot with her time. We caught up with her at her Los Angeles home to chat more about how she balances a hectic schedule while still finding time to prioritize the things that are important to her: Family, community, and connection. 

You’ve taken some leaps of faith in your career. Does that come with moments of uncertainty, and if so what has been something surprising or powerful that you’ve learned along the way?

Most definitely. Fear and uncertainty are a natural part of growth. But I find that uncertainty lessens the more time you spend with your dreams—envisioning them, mapping out a game plan to reach them, and surrounding yourself with people who are living theirs. Day by day, you can start to replace doubt with a sense of possibility. 

You’ve spent a lot of time in your career paving new ways for young people to express themselves and make their voice heard. What are you optimistic about for the youth right now?

I am optimistic about how the next generation approaches issues that matter to them. They wear it all on their sleeve—literally and figuratively. They aren’t afraid to make a stand. They were put here to disrupt the status quo in every measurable way—and they don’t shy away from that mission. There is a self-directed, self-assuredness with how they approach the impact they want to make, and that really inspires me. 

Fear and uncertainty are a natural part of growth. But I find that uncertainty lessens the more time you spend with your dreams...
The pandemic and lockdown forced a lot of people to adjust the pace of their life. You've touched on how reentry means letting go of a bit of that solace gained in order to dive back into frenzied schedules. Are there any lessons from that time that you'll carry into this new phase?

As a writer, I had an interesting relationship to the concept of a lockdown because I had spent several months prior in what looked a lot like a personal quarantine of sorts while I worked on my book. I was still juggling other projects, but the stillness that writing requires keeps you in your pajamas at home in your own little cocoon a LOT (lol). It’s pretty much a solo mission and a lot of it is self-directed. Then, once a book is out in the world, you shoot out of a canon like a rocket. Suddenly you’re everywhere and you’re always on, promoting the book, flying from this city to the next. It becomes a blur. So when the actual lockdown hit, on some level I think I was desperately craving a return to stillness. But this time, everyone was being called to slow down at once. As scary and as humbling and as traumatic as it was, there was something unifying about that experience of collective stillness.

The intimacy within my immediate circle got much deeper, as did the conversations we were having about our lives and the world—which seemed to be crumbling around us. I appreciated having a real sense of community and the time to reflect on the meaning of what was going on—personally and more broadly. I reconnected with family and my oldest friends on FT much more often. There was a yearning for connection in spite of the physical isolation. We prioritized reaching out and spending time in the ways we could. I don’t want that to end just because our calendars are packed again and we are all back out in the world. I don’t want to lose sight of my actual priorities. Life is too precious to let time slip away from what actually matters most.

How do you balance a busy schedule that pulls you in so many directions with making time for yourself? Are there any sacred daily or weekly rituals you have that are non negotiable?

I try to remember to read my devotional before I reach for my phone in the mornings. It’s a practice I’ve been pretty committed to since my childhood. My mom used to call me and my brother from her desk at work to wake us up and read us a passage from this devotional called “The Daily Word.” It centers and grounds you before the chaos of the day ensues. I also try to have one day a week where I disconnect from my phone and consciously reconnect with my body.

I don’t want to lose sight of my actual priorities. Life is too precious to let time slip away from what actually matters most.
And how are you finding ways to stay grounded?

Now that I live in Los Angeles, I spend more time outside in the sunlight and in nature, which is really grounding. I live so much of my life in my head so I’ve learned that I have to be really intentional about being in my body. Sometimes I need help slowing down my thoughts, especially after being “on” for hours, thinking on my feet on live television, strategizing off-camera, navigating new professional environments. It’s a lot. I’ve recently discovered CBD and specifically Feals’ CBD mints as a really effective tool that I reach for after a long day when I want to slow down and come back to myself. It also helps me be more present in social situations, which still feel new and a little foreign after pretty much seeing the same handful of people every single day for 18 months!

I’ve recently discovered CBD and specifically Feals’ CBD mints as a really effective tool that I reach for after a long day when I want to slow down and come back to myself.

Elaine Welteroth was photographed by Isabella Behravan at her home in Los Angeles on July 28, 2021. Follow Elaine on Instagram here.

Chelsea JonesChelsea Jones LA-based copywriter and social strategist.

Likes: Half-baked thoughts, rice pudding, nostalgia.
Dislikes: Papaya, bugs.