Kristen Perino is a Hawaii-born, California-raised youngest of three, and very proud Auntie. Working in the Fashion Industry for over a decade, God instilled a passion and mission field in her own backyard of Los Angeles, CA.

With a heart for leading young women to be all that they were created to be, a longing to spread genuine authenticity in the Christian community, a drive to inject the world with some good-ol’-fashioned LOVE, and fierceness stemming from her Italian background, Kristen penned the book From #Selfie to Selfless: Live the Life that You were Created For. 

Kristen has a degree in visual communications from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. She studied Journalism at California State University, Northridge prior, and admits to later obtaining a PhD in Selfishness.

Continuing her love for Los Angeles, she still resides in her beloved City of Angels, where she is a Young Life leader through Impacting Hearts, a Community Group Leader through Vintage Church, and still happily continues her career in fashion PR. 

MiLLENNiAL caught up with Kristen to learn what it means to live a life of selflessness in the era of the selfies.

Tell us about your book From Selfie to Selflessness. What are some of the key themes or messages you’d like readers to take away?

Unknowingly, selfishness had crept into nearly aspect of my life; how I approached my career, friendships, relationships, time, money, social media, and even volunteering. I was very focused on me; my view of the world, my voice, my reflection, and I was constantly left wondering why I wasn’t more fulfilled.

Then I got the simple awakening I so desperately needed; I was living a selfish lifestyle. I was striving, working hard, having fun, but I was still not living the life I was created for. I discovered the more selfishness I shed, the more perspective, joy and meaning I gained in my everyday life.

The book travels through 10 chapters revealing the different aspects of life where I’ve allowed selfishness to rob me of my true purpose and identity, and I hope that the reader can relate. There are some tough questions asked throughout, and there are plenty of hashtags used (#duh). The book is meant to be an easy-read, yet confront some thought-provoking ideas about the world we currently live in.

My longing is that by the final chapter, the reader’s book is marked up with underlines and highlights of points that resonated with them. It is meant to be conversational, and I would highly suggest that people read it in group settings, even if just groups of two. Going through a selfish-detox is not always the most fun thing to do, especially alone, but if you have a partner to experience the transformation with you, then it can be really enjoyable and encouraging.

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This book isn’t meant to condemn or self-deprecate. I would hope that it’s an awakening. I have not achieved a completely selfish lifestyle (and likely never will), but every day, it’s something I’m aware of, and something I am striving towards. Many days I fall short, and that’s OK. It’s never been about perfectionism, but about purpose. If the reader strives to be “perfectly selfless” from this book, then they’ve missed it (and wasted $14.99). I hope this leaves them striving for their purpose.

A huge desire for this book is that the reader looks at life differently after reading From Selfie to Selfless; whatever that means to them. Being selfless is not a “one-size-fits-all model”. On every life, selflessness will look different. I want the reader to embrace that. And most importantly, I want the reader to feel understood. I hope that they laugh (because I am an extremely ordinary, absurd single lady living in Los Angeles, so my stories and commentary are not always “traditional”), and I hope that the reader doesn’t feel alone in their selfish-detox, but that we are all in this together.

Where did the title come from and what does it mean to you?

For the record, I love a good #Selfie. Some of my most cherished photos are selfies with my nephew and nieces. Or some spectacular occasions, I actually brush my hair and put on makeup, sometimes I need a selfie to document the evidence that I am still very capable of pulling myself together.

This title is not necessarily to be taken literally. I am not suggesting that selfies are evil, social media is to be ashamed of, or that filters can’t be fun (especially the dog-ear filter on Instagram! #MyFavFilter).

This title is to simply call out a generation that has become utterly obsessed with their “Selfies” (AKA- their own reflection, the sound of their own voice, their own selves). The more and more that we look down at our phones, the less and less we are looking around to a world that is SO hurting.

Our neighborhoods, communities, schools, work places, and even homes are so desperate for genuine love and care, but we are too busy “posting” our opinions, rather than getting out there and being the difference. ANYONE can post an inspirational quote, have an opinion about how the world needs to improve, or engage in a debate by pointing fingers, but do you have enough tenacity to actually BE the change?

For a long time, I lacked the tenacity, but that’s when I was shaken from my “selfies”, and my eyes were opened to a world where I actually mattered; where I could make a difference. I might only make a difference to one person, but a life is a life. (Just like the life that is reading the words on these pages; I believe with my entire being that your life matters, and you can make a change.)

What motivated you to write this book and how did you get started?

To be quite blunt, I felt God whisper to my heart, “I need your voice.” I thought to myself, “MY voice?! That is literally insane. He could choose anyone; why me? No way, Jose.” I compare it to the movie, Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner, when he hears that voice echo, “If you build it, they will come”. Kevin Costner’s character answered back eventually by yelling in the field, “What am I supposed to build?”, “Why me?”, “Who is coming?” I did not hear the good Lord audibly to that extent as the character did in the film, but I felt a shift in my heart, and I knew I was being called to something that I didn’t quite understand.

As I prayed and questioned what I was meant to write about, it was eventually revealed that I am an expert on living selfishly. I am not qualified in many things, but being self-absorbed, I am well-practiced in. I was so skilled at living thoughtlessly, that it really didn’t take much time to pump out 160 pages on the topic. I had spent twenty nine years unknowingly “researching” the art of living selfishly, so I had plenty of material to write about. But again, this isn’t about self-deprecation or shame, but about an awakening. And if my experiences can help open up someone else’s life, then this entire process is entirely worth it.

And how did I start writing? With a prayer, a pen, and paper; on my bed, in Los Angeles, one Monday night in April 2016. 

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about “social media” that you are trying to change?

Social media is not bad. It’s actually an incredible device! I know so many people who have been able to launch an entire business from social media. We can instantly share news locally, nationally and globally through social media. If there is a disaster in any capacity, we can locate loved ones, and get instant updates through these platforms. We can use these incredible tools to bring awareness to causes that would otherwise go unnoticed. On a simpler scale, it offers us the luxury to keep in touch with family, friends and loved ones near and far on a regular basis.

But like anything in life, there are two sides to the coin.

Ever wonder why your homepage on social media is referred to as your “feed”? Well, I don’t know the official reasoning, but I do have a theory that it is feeding your mind and soul. What you are watching, who you are following, whoever “likes” your posts or commenting on your comments is unknowingly “feeding” your daily thoughts, perceptions, and identity. Who on your social media are you following, who you are allowing to feed you daily? Are they feeding you healthy, positive, encouraging thoughts, or are they feeding you garbage? And it’s only natural that what goes in our bodies is what comes out, so don’t be alarmed if what comes out of you resembles junk. I encourage you to get to the root of the issue, and decide who or what is feeding you.

Our photos and our followers on social media do not define us. Despite what the world whispers in our ear, every time we scroll through our “feed”, we cannot put our self-worth or purpose into anything that can be so easily taken away, whether that’s money, a significant other, social media, or everything in between.

Anyone remember Myspace? I do. I spent way too many hours on there, specially coordinating my “top pics”, with my page background, to match my page’s song that would play anytime anyone opened my profile. And now it’s gone. Well, Myspace isn’t necessarily gone, but my profile is, along with all my identity & self-worth I put into that website. What was so important to me in that time didn’t last more than a couple of years before the next best thing came along.

I encourage everyone to ENJOY their social media accounts, but if we want to see any change in this world, then truly glance up to REMEMBER the world, not just the world that you see on your screen. You are more than an Instagram name, the amount of followers you have, or some square-sized photos that make up your life. Your life’s story is so much greater than what can be resized and filtered. You are meant to leave a legacy out in the world, and not just post about it on social media.

I always remind myself, “When I am at the end of my life, will I ever look back and reflect, Gosh, I am so happy that I had all those followers on social media?” No. I will look back and think, “What difference did I make? What did I do with my years here on earth? How did I leave this place a little better than how I found it?”

There is more than just the here and now. I am encouraging the reader to think beyond 2018, think beyond 2021. Let’s dream for the world we want to live in decades from now.

How do you define selflessness and what has been a moment in your life that you are incredibly proud to label selfless?

I believe that selflessness is thinking about someone else before oneself. Selfessness has the capability to cross any religion, age, neighborhood, background, skin color; we all have it in us, it just needs to be provoked and encouraged.

One of my most selfless awakenings came during an interesting time, in a very unexpected way. I volunteered with inner city foster youth in Inglewood, CA for about four and a half years. I made the hour-long car commute every Wednesday night from my office, to the youth group we would host for the teens. At first, if I am totally honest, I started volunteering to make myself feel better. My motive was entirely self-serving. Feeling good about giving back is a fantastic bi-product for volunteering, but I quickly found out that it could not maintain as the foundation for which I wanted to build upon when it came to giving. I had been simply craving an antidote to my self-absorbed Fashion career in Los Angeles. I wanted to feel like I was giving back; making a difference.

My breakthrough (or rather, break-down) didn’t happen until I sincerely got to know those kids, and their anguish slowly introduced itself out one by one. I listened to their stories through tears, as they explained the horrific experiences of what had been done to them in the past. I listened to their anger as they tried to express why they got kicked out of school again. I have made trips to the LA County jail to visit a teen that kept getting swept up in gangs.

As I chatted with these kids through glass windows, or wiped off their tears, or sat with them in the car when they had literally nowhere to go, my heart was broken. Volunteering no longer felt good. I wanted my money back on the whole ideal. It was actually awful. I got angry on behalf of these youth. I was mystified at how our system could let these kids down, or how parents would choose drugs over their child’s life.

Very quickly, their problems became my problems, and I was deep in the drenches with them. As much as I would like to say that I felt like a conqueror for these kids, and helped them fight every battle to victory with the brave faith that I had, I actually felt hopeless. And I questioned God; a lot. Some nights, all I could do was hug and console these teens who had endured more life in fewer years than I ever had.

Suddenly, it occurred to me, THIS is what volunteering is. This is what selflessness is; volunteering isn’t about me, or how I feel. Selflessness is about putting someone else before oneself, even when it sucks. Serving selflessly is about these kids. I was there to serve them. They need somebody.

It actually got quite exhausting many times, and more than once I felt like I couldn’t handle it anymore, but those four and a half years I wouldn’t trade for the world. Those kids made a bigger impact on my heart than I ever could have on theirs. I am changed because of them and what they taught me.

Many people stop being selfless or stop volunteering, because their motive is gone; the cameras aren’t flashing, people aren’t applauding them, they don’t “feel like it”, the work they’re doing gets difficult, or they simply decide they don’t have the time. But right when we feel like giving up, THAT is the best time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

The break-through happens right after the break-down. If we are serious about change in this world, then we can’t be afraid of the challenge.

What is your life like outside of being an author? What were or are currently doing professionally and how has that affected your mission?

I am a very ordinary woman, who is just crazy enough to believe that we can be the change in our communities, neighborhoods, workplaces, churches, families, right here and right now. I still love my profession in the fashion industry, a beautifully made leather jacket, my Dodger baseball cap, and I still love a good whiskey cocktail.

We don’t have to change who we are to make an impact. Maybe, exactly who you are is exactly what the world needs! I found that I simply needed to channel my gifts into other things that didn’t just benefit me, but benefitted the well-being of this city, country and world. That’s all it took; a shift in my gaze from inward to upward.

I absolutely LOVE working in Fashion PR and Styling. There is nothing I’d rather do. I’m not quite sure where that passion came from, but I’ve never been able to shake it. I knew that was my calling. After a decade of rolling racks filled with too many clothes, late nights, early mornings, fashion shows, garment bags, appointments, fittings, deadlines, I knew there just had to be more to the legacy I was meant to leave behind.

I knew that my career wasn’t a bad thing, but how could I rattle my heart with an awakening? What if I just started doing my job with a more selfless attitude? What if I treated the fashion community with more selfless love, rather than cave in to the comparing and clawing? What if I glanced around and simply remembered, “Hey! This is NOT about me.” I started to do my job better, I began to look at people differently, and I suddenly didn’t take things so personally or dramatically. When I saw my career through a selfless lens, it all became so much clearer.

What is your #1 goal for the book in 2018 and how can MiLLENNiAL readers help you achieve this goal?

My top goal for this book is that the reader would feel loved, UNDERSTOOD, and feel inspired that THEY have the power to be the change in the world around them. I hope that they grab their friends, and make selflessness more enjoyable than simply taking selfies. Or rather, combine the two; take some #selflessSelfies and tag me at @selfietoselfless on Instagram. I want to hear YOUR stories! Let’s ignite the fire and keep the conversation going of what it looks like to be selfless in our everyday lifestyles.

I also encourage the reader to purchase the book from Amazon. I often run promotions, giveaways, or profits back to a certain charity.

Together, we can sincerely be the change. Let’s get out there and shock the world with some selflessness!