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Ex Social Anxiety Sufferer Interviews Former Model

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Former model Gina has the life many women dream of. She’s in love with her dream man, lives in Bali, and has a great social life. But it wasn’t always like this…

She used to blush when she had to read out loud. Felt weird and didn’t fit in. Then became a plus-size model and got a bit out of her shell. But modeling only got her -as she describes- ” love from the outside”. Which didn’t fulfill her at all.

She went on a journey of finding herself. With travel around the world, a year of celibacy, many coaches and programs, and more.

In this interview she shares

  • Where and how to meet friends when you’re nervous or anxious
  • The unique things she did to create self-worth
  • How a wise lady on a train changed her life…
  • How she casually yet very straightforwardly asks people to get closer
  • How she easily and naturally makes the kind of friends she loves being around
  • What her biggest lesson was from being a plus size model for over a decade
  • How she met her dream man
  • What she did to overcome her blushing during reading


Full Transcript

Sebastiaan: Welcome to Episode 66 of Social Anxiety Solutions: Your Journey to Social Confidence. My name is Sebastiaan van der Schrier and I’m an ex-social anxiety disorder sufferer. Thanks to energy psychology and help from brilliant therapists, I’ve been able to become anxiety-free. So now I’m calm and relaxed in social situations. Now, on this show, I interview experts each week to explore different social anxiety solutions from both western traditional psychology as well as eastern energy psychology. So I say each week, but it’s not each week. It’s more like every month by now. But every episode, we’ll put new tools into your toolkit to enhance your social confidence.

And today I’m interviewing Gina Swire. Am I saying that right, actually?

Gina: Yeah. Perfect.

Sebastiaan: Oh. Good pronunciation. She’s the girlfriend of Eric, who I interviewed last episode. And we met each other also at the start of the year, around the swimming pool, and we got along great from the get-go and we’ve been friends since. And I thought that she would have quite a few interesting things to share because she’s also very social and at ease and she’s also a love coach. And I think this is going to be really fun.

Now, here’s a bit about Gina in her own words. At school, Gina wouldn’t talk to anybody. She had a huge personality, but nobody knew about it. Then she was scouted as a model and half came out of her shell. The other half. Confident on the outside, but going crazy on the inside. It’s only taken three laps of the world, a bunch of courses, retreats, a year of celibacy, trainings, substantial amount of books and coaches to find inner peace, and now utter magic is happening. Alright. So thanks for coming to the show.

Gina: Thanks for having me.

Sebastiaan: Mm-hm. So I thought to kick it off, since you mentioned that you weren’t talking much in school, and since this is for people who suffer from social anxiety, did you experience some social anxiety at some point in your life?

Gina: Yeah, totally. So I don’t think I was aware enough to realize what it was that was going on. I just thought I was weird because it was when I was younger. So in my younger years, so like preschool and nursery school and kind of going up to about maybe seven, I think, I was just like any normal child, like bubbly and happy and calm and no problems. And then around the age of seven, it started because I wasn’t very good at reading and our teacher used to make us read out in class. And as soon as she came to me, because I had this belief that I wasn’t very good at reading, I would just stop and…

Sebastiaan: Freeze.

Gina: … get really red, really hot, really uncomfortable, and just hate it. And that’s where it started, I think, but it just sort of progressed. And then by the time I was like a young teenager and I was at quite a fancy school, which I never really felt like I belonged to it, it wasn’t my thing, I didn’t feel very aligned with it, and by the time I was there, I was just so shy. I was just completely getting embarrassed and it was often around reading. If the teacher would ask me to read, I’d just be like, “I can’t do it.”

Or I try and be like, “Come on. You can do this,” and just stutter and stutter and stop and get really kind of upset on the inside.

Yeah. So I would say a lot of that around my peers at school and then that also transferred into my social life at school. Yeah. So where I was not being very confident in class, I was also not being very confident at the school disco or at break time and I was just feeling really weird. I would say that was social anxiety.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. Yes. Sounds like it. And the whole “I don’t fit in. I’m weird,” that’s also something people with social anxiety can very much relate to, definitely. When you said, “I became really embarrassed,” would you blush as well?

Gina: Yep, definitely. I would go bright red, definitely.

Sebastiaan: People react to that differently. Some people, they go red and it’s like, “Alright. I go red. I don’t like it that much, but it is what it is.” And for other people, it’s like the worst thing ever. And I’m raising my hand here if you’re listening to this in audio. That was the biggest humiliation for me. It’s like, “Oh, no. They can see that I’m feeling weak. They think I’m weak. I’m such a loser.” How was that for you?

Gina: Yeah, that was me. I was definitely feeling like a loser and definitely feeling unintelligent. I think that was the main thing for me. I was trying to be intelligent, but this reading thing was making it very hard for me to seem intelligent, or so I thought.

Sebastiaan: Yeah.

Gina: And at that time being at that school where it was full of high achievers, if you weren’t really a high achiever, you were nobody, or that’s how I felt. And I think the school lends itself to that mentality. But also, my inner world was making that seem very real.

Sebastiaan: Yeah.

Gina: So yeah, I definitely didn’t feel very intelligent at school and didn’t feel like I belonged. But then on the flipside, because I used to be really into horse riding and so I had a lot of friends at home, at my stables, and with them I was really confident. I mean, not 100% confident, but at least like a strong 70% confident.

So it didn’t really affect me with them so much, but I can remember very clearly one day being in a big group of people and something to do with a horse show, someone saying, “Oh, Gina, just read that out to me,” and me going, “Ah! They’re even asking me to read something out here.” But yeah, it was mostly at school.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. Interesting. Yeah, because what actually happens for people listening, just like a quick little lesson in between, so when you then had to read out loud in class to your subconscious, that situation is just like when you were seven and you were called out by the teacher and that was traumatic for you and the emotions got stuck in that memory. And that memory was placed in procedural memory, which is actually active memory. And then when you’re in a similar situation in the future, you relive those feelings from when you were a seven-year-old.

So for a lot of people, when you all of a sudden experience excessive negative emotion that doesn’t make sense, you’re actually reliving trauma.

So yeah. Anyway, another thing you mentioned which I thought was interesting is… That, too. We’re going to cut that out.

Another thing you mentioned that was interesting is like you said, “With horse riding, which I did a lot, I was very confident. There the problem didn’t show up.” Well, it pretty much didn’t show up.

Yeah, because there you’re in your element. You’ve got confidence about this and that other thing doesn’t show up, right? However, when it did show up where you did have to read out loud in class, then the problems would appear.

How I can relate to that is I’m good at soccer, football. And I was confident at soccer because I feel I’m good at this. On the pitch, I’m… I hope nobody of my former teammates is listening. On the pitch, I was the best, so you know. And that gives you a certain confidence, right? However, if it’s after the game has been played and girls came up, the topic of girls, now I would blush and now I would feel insecure, and there my problems internally started to show up. But just on the pitch or training, that was where I felt really free because that way I’m in my element and I’m not talking to anyone. I’m letting my feet do the talking, so to speak.

So yeah. Cool. Alright. So let’s shift gears. You were a plus size model for a long time, right?

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: I wrote down this question which I thought was pretty good. What was the biggest life lesson you took from that?

Gina: Oof. Biggest life lesson I took from plus size modeling. It’s got to be that the only place you can actually get love is from inside. That’s got to be the biggest lesson because… yeah. Or maybe the fact that I was kind of living in two worlds. So in my work life as a plus size model, I was never quite big enough. So my agent, my clients, everyone was trying to make me be a little bit bigger, so they were conditioning me quietly to…

Sebastiaan: Like feeding you donuts and stuff?

Gina: There was that. My clients would just turn up with all brownies and croissants and…

Sebastiaan: Oh, wow.

Gina: All the good things. It sounds great, but it is a little bit strange.

Sebastiaan: Yeah.

Gina: But my agent would always be saying to me, “You know, this client, they would really like to book you for this huge money campaign job, but I think they’re going to go for a bigger girl.” So it was always like, “Oh.” And then in my real life, like with my friends, I was the biggest out of all my friends by far. So all my friends were like tiny, slim, and I was like curvy and much bigger, heavier kind of thing. And so I would live between these two worlds. And also, I grew up with a mum who was a constant dieter, never happy with her body, every Monday on a diet. By Friday, she’d have broken it. Monday, back on it. On the wagon, off the wagon.

And so in my normal life, I was kind of always feeling big and worthless because I was kind of this big girl, but then in my job, I was this small girl that wasn’t big enough. So it was kind of difficult to feel worthy or like I’d fit in in either, which took its toll.

And coming back to your question, the biggest lesson that I learned was that I can’t please everyone and I just have to find my own average, my own medium, and find that peace from within. And other people are going to be unsatisfied with that because it’s not going to make them money, or my friends, if I would say, “Oh, I want to lose weight,” they’d be like, “Oh, you don’t need to because you’re a plus size model. You should gain it.” And then it was just a crazy world. So I would say that was my biggest lesson.

Sebastiaan: Cool. And you said, “I kind of had to find balance within and find my own inner worth.” This might not be a step one, step two, step three kind of thing, but what did you do that was effective?

Gina: Lots of things. So, well, firstly, I took some time for myself. I did a course that was completely irrelevant to my career as a model and something that I’d always wanted to do, which was become more healthy and do a course in nutrition. So by doing that, even though my agent wasn’t happy and I was canceling a few jobs or not booking a few jobs, I took time for myself. I needed some space and I went on a personal development journey really wrapped up in this course of nutrition, but really it was all about health.

So that was the first step. And then it was just kind of realigning with who I really am, like I’m not just a model. I’m not just someone that does what my agent tells me. I am my mother’s daughter, but I’m not a yoyo dieter. I’ve been kind of conditioned into that.

And it was kind of stripping back all these layers. And also, I didn’t mention before, but I used to be a massive party girl, so I’d always be out. And so I took some time away from that. I had a really huge realization around trying to get love from the outside rather than the inside. So I would go on dates three, four, five times a week.

Sebastiaan: Wow.

Gina: I’d be dating all these people and none of them would make me happy because I needed to find that from within.

So I quit all of that. And in my bio, I said I took a year of celibacy. And by celibacy, I don’t just mean what celibacy means. I mean I would completely take myself out of the situation. So I wasn’t texting anyone. I wasn’t dating anyone. I wasn’t kissing anyone. I wasn’t on any intimate relations. I was taking time for myself and going inwards.

So yeah, they were the main things that happened. And in that time of having this space away from my normal life, I had a series of downloads or realizations. And yeah, so it started to come from that.

Sebastiaan: So in other words, you became aware that one of the reasons why you didn’t feel worthy was because you were looking for love in all the wrong places, outside of yourself, and you’re like, “Alright. We’re just going to go on a love diet that comes from the outside for a year,” and then from that, you got inside and that really helped you?

Gina: That’s exactly right. Yeah.

Sebastiaan: Cool.

Gina: So yeah, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. While I was still in the pattern and cycle, I knew there was something going on, but I presumed it was something to do with my parents, which it is, but I realized that I was in a wheel. I was just going round and round and I have this pattern. And when I broke the pattern, that’s when I made all the realizations. So yeah, a love diet. I like that.

Sebastiaan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And did you come up with that yourself? Did you realize that yourself? Did you read some books and it was like, “Oh, yeah. I’m looking for love on the outside,” and “Let’s do this to counter it,” or did you speak to a coach about that? Or how did you get to that?

Gina: Actually, a few things. So I think it had been coming up quite a few times. So I remember I met a woman on a train and she was this wise old woman and I just got chatting to her. She was sat next to me and she knew what was going on. She was just a really wise woman and she just gave me some home truths.

And I was like, “Wow. She’s really cool.” So that was the first thing. And then the second thing, I think I read a few books that she suggested. And it was kind of pointed in that way, but I still hadn’t heard it. I’d been listening, but I hadn’t quite heard it. And then I remember I was in Florida on a modeling job and I got this huge delay, and one of the other girls, she was quite a bit older than me. It was for a catalog and it had this old lady model as well.

And so the two of us were stuck in this airport and we just got talking as you do. And she again was really wise and she told me that when she was younger, she did this whole celibacy thing. She was kind of religious, I think, but she was like, “That’s what I needed to do. It was a message from above,” or whatever. And I was like, “Oh. Maybe I should do that. That sounds like a good idea. Yeah. So I guess that was it. A few things pointed at it, but that was the final…

Sebastiaan: Love how that came about. And also, who doesn’t love any ladies in the train stories, right?

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: That’s good.

Gina: Yeah. Well, I spend most of my life on planes and trains, so most of my information came from people I met.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. It’s a nice way to meet people anyway, by the way. I travelled quite a bit myself and met some good people in plane rides and… yeah. Okay. Cool. The other thing I’m curious about is how is it now when you have to read things out loud, or do you ever find yourself in situations where you do have to read out loud?

Gina: Yeah. Now I do. So as it went on in my modeling career, occasionally I would get asked to do like an acting job or an advert, like a commercial. And in the castings, I would have to read. And so I was like, “Ah! I have to read!” And it never really went that well. I was much better at photographic stuff, not with things where I had to talk. And so it was still a problem. And then I can’t remember what happened, but one day I had to read something out. And now I’m really into yoga and meditation and breath work and I’m much more calm and I’m much more in control of my thoughts and I have all these practices that I do every day.

And I remember I just sat and I just breathed and I was like, “You’ve got this. Breathe. Take it really steady. Just read every word and read it from the heart rather than the head” kind of thing. And I just read. I mean, it wasn’t like an amazing piece. I can’t even remember what it was. It must have been a workshop or something. And I just read it in a really calm way and I read it really beautifully, if I do say so myself. Hope no one at the workshop is listening. And yeah. And I felt I was like, “Yes. I can do this. Yes.”

Sebastiaan: Done.

Gina: And I added it to my vision boards and I was like sort of kind of saying “I’m so glad I got over my personal blocks around reading” and lots of things like that. So yeah, I’ve been visualizing my new self who can do all these things.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. That’s one good thing to do exactly, like start seeing yourself as you want to be. And then I think (I don’t know exactly, of course, but) yoga is very good to do, but especially also the breath work. I’ve been going through that. I think I’ve maybe done it like 10, 12 times now. And I’ve not talked about that on the podcast yet, but that’s also a way to kind of get into trauma and breathe through trauma. And all sorts of other weird stuff start to happen when you start to hyperoxygenate your system. And it’s really a cool transformational process, right?

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: So maybe that helped to release that particular trauma as well, right?

Gina: Yeah. So I’m actually not talking about that kind of breath work.

Sebastiaan: Oh.

Gina: I’ve done that kind of breath work as well, which also may have added into the picture. But the kind of breath work that I’m talking about is like pranayama.

Sebastiaan: Okay.

Gina: So it’s like an Indian style. So it’s part of yoga. It’s one of the styles of yoga really.

Sebastiaan: Okay.

Gina: And it’s just kind of moving energy around the body, but it’s kind of like lots of different types. One works like short exhales and then a long inhale. Yeah. So there’s all different types.

Sebastiaan: Interesting.

Gina: Some of them are really good before bed because they calm you down and it’s like long steady breaths. And then some of them give you lots of energy, so it’s nice in the morning. That kind of thing.

Sebastiaan: Right. But it moves your energy around as well.

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: Very cool. I’ll be interviewing Cyrus pretty soon as well and he’s quite an expert at breath works. He’s got a lot of experience with his breath work practitioner, so we’ll talk more about that then. Okay, so let’s shift gears a bit to kind of social questions.

So I want to see what your beliefs are and expectational sets and mindsets and so on. So I have some questions that I’ve asked a couple of people, including Eric. So let’s see. So here they are. Actually, I first want to do this question. I thought that was good as well.

What do women not know about models than when they know it, they’ll feel better about themselves?

Gina: That it’s really boring. It’s a boring job. What do women not know about models? Well, I mean, I think a lot of women know this now, but they’re usually completely airbrushed. And in my case, we were made to look bigger so we’d sell more clothes to bigger women. So even the model doesn’t look like the model.

Sebastiaan: Mm-hm.

Gina: I would say.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. And I think quite some people would think, “Wow. If I was that pretty, then I would feel supremely confident.”

Gina: Absolutely.

Sebastiaan: How is that? Is that true?

Gina: I actually wrote this yesterday on a blog. I used to be pretty successful, but I never felt pretty or successful. Yeah. So when you are a model, beauty is irrelevant because everyone is there because they’re “beautiful.” And I’m doing the inverted commas sign just in case anyone is not watching. Yeah. So nobody ever mentions beauty really. And you get booked for jobs and they’ll take one look at your pictures, look you up and down, not say anything to you, and then let your agent know if you get the job. So you don’t feel that beautiful or successful then. And then on the job, there might be three, five, ten models and they’re all these incredible beauties.

And if you’re not feeling it inside, you can just be like, “Oh my god. I’m not worthy of being here.” So that was me. I actually used to think, and this sounds ridiculous to say this now, but I always used to think when I got booked for a really good modeling job, “Oh, the prettier girls probably weren’t available and that’s why they booked me.” That’s what I used to think. And obviously, that wasn’t the truth, but at the time, it was the truth for me.

Sebastiaan: Yeah.

Gina: Yeah. So yeah, I think you just don’t feel that good. Beauty is irrelevant. It’s just…

Sebastiaan: Right.

Gina: And the other thing is nobody ever tells you you’re beautiful without taking it back afterwards. So for instance, you can be talking to someone. In my case, I’d usually be in a bar and someone could say, “Oh. What do you do?” “I’m Gina. I’m a model. I live in New York.” They’d be like, “Oh, well, yeah. You’re really beautiful. But you know that because you’re a model. So I don’t need to tell you that because you’re a model.” But sometimes you need to be told that you’re beautiful, and especially models because they actually don’t get told. And even if they do, they don’t believe it.

Sebastiaan: Interesting.

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. Alright. So I said when it comes to expectational sets and beliefs and mindsets regarding socializing, what do you think that other people think of you?

Gina: Good question. What do I think other people think of me? Now I think people think I’m pretty cool. I know my friend actually just said it to me earlier that I should join this thing she’s doing because I’m magnetic and people would want to join it. So yeah, I guess…

Sebastiaan: I think I can answer that for you. I ask you the question and you’re like, “Good question. Hmm,” like it’s not something that’s in the forefront of your mind, right? So you’re just doing and being who it is that you are, and that is not a second thought, which actually leads to being magnetic and being yourself and people wanting to hang out with you because it’s just an unfiltered, raw you-ness, right? Which is a nice one to be around.

Gina: Mm-hm.

Sebastiaan: Cool.

Gina: Oh. So this is actually quite interesting and kind of linked with what you just said. So the other night, I was at a gathering and I was with a group of people and all super interesting. Half of the people I knew and half of the people I’d never met before. And we decided that we’d play hot seat. So it’s kind of like truth or dare but without the dare. It’s just truth, where they ask you questions. It’s on a timer and they can ask you anything and you just respond. And one of the questions that somebody asked me, who I didn’t know, was “What don’t you like about yourself?”

And I blushed. And, well, at first, I was like, “Hmm. What don’t I like about myself?” and then I started to get really weird because I was like, “Oh, God. I should have things that I don’t like about myself,” which is obviously old mindset. And also, when I said, “Five years ago, I could have given you a whole list. Now I’m finding it really difficult, so nothing,” and the girl who asked the question was like, “Nothing? There’s nothing you don’t like about yourself? Alright.” And I was like, “Oh. Okay.”

Sebastiaan: “Should I dislike myself?”

Gina: Yeah. It was just really interesting. It was interesting to observe myself kind of being, “Oh. I should have something I dislike.”

Sebastiaan: Right.

Gina: But then coming back to… no.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. It’s self-acceptance really. And that starts with liking yourself and all parts of yourself, including the parts that aren’t perfect.

Gina: Exactly.

Sebastiaan: Wicked.

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: Alright. So how do you expect people will react to you when you meet them for the first time, and how do you expect that the interaction will go?

Gina: I always think people are going to like me because I like everyone. Usually, when I meet people, there’s a lot of things that I like about them. And even if there’s something that’s a bit off, I can usually bring it back to that I really like them. And when I really like them, they tend to really like me. So usually when I meet people, I make a new friend. Yeah.

Sebastiaan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s so simple, isn’t it? Yeah. Very good breakdown. Okay, so let me see. That’s not relevant. What does it mean to you if someone disapproves of you?

Gina: If someone disapproves of me? I mean, I might be like, “Oh. Okay.” And I like to understand why that is. But I can usually see that it’s their story that’s making them feel negatively towards me. And I’m really like, “Well, not everyone’s going to like me.” So if you don’t like me, that’s fine. You disapprove of what I think and that’s fine.

Sebastiaan: Cool.

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: What about how do you feel about looking foolish or making a dumbass out of yourself?

Gina: Oh, I like it. Yeah. I’m quite good at that. Yeah. I think it’s just part of being a human and, yeah, we all do it and it’s fun. And yeah, when we do say or do something really stupid, it makes us more human and people like that, especially when you’re someone that’s likable and successful or beautiful or all these things and then you go and make a fool out of yourself and you laugh it off and it’s relatable and people are like, “Oh. She’s human.”

Sebastiaan: Yeah, exactly. It makes you more relatable. That’s exactly the word. And it’s like they’re not playing the whole “I’m perfect. Everything I do is correct.”

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: Yeah.

Gina: A few years ago, a different story.

Sebastiaan: Sure.

Gina: Definitely.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. Kind of reminds of being in the Philippines. I lived in the Philippines for a whole bunch of years. My lovely daughter is from the Philippines. And in the Philippines, as opposed to most western countries… like I’m in the Netherlands now. I’m sitting here in the hallway of my mom’s house. As opposed to here in the Netherlands, people take themselves a lot more seriously. When you’re here in the train, you can hear a pin drop. People are not laughing all over the place and it’s just… you know. It’s very clicky.

In the Philippines, like if someone trips here and they trip and they fall or something, they pretend that it didn’t happen and they walk off a bit awkwardly and embarrassed and that kind of stuff. If that happens in the Philippines, that person will laugh his ass off that he tripped. Everyone else will laugh at him and with him at the same time and everyone just has a jolly good time because these people don’t take themselves seriously at all. And as a result, it’s so much more of an open culture, a much more easygoing and much easier to connect with people. And Filipinos themselves, it’s one of these cultures that you’d easily connect with the locals just because they have that kind of attitude. So great.

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. Leading into… Yeah, go ahead.

Gina: Oh, yes. So one tip that someone gave me a while back which I often think about because I have a business and I’ve been a model. I’ve not had like a business before really, so business is like a newer thing to me. But somebody said to me. It’s actually really good to ask really intelligent people really dumb questions.

Sebastiaan: Good.

Gina: And it is. Just get all your dumb questions out there. It’s completely like they’ve got no expectations of you. And then you come in with the more normal questions or the more intelligent questions and they’re like, “Oh.”

Sebastiaan: Interesting.

Gina: You know?

Sebastiaan: Yeah.

Gina: I kind of like it.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. I asked this question to Eric as well. I asked several of these questions to Eric as well and, yeah, I wonder what your take on this. So how do you deal with awkwardness?

Gina: How do I deal with awkwardness? I’m quite giggly. I like to giggle and breathe. Giggle and breathe. That’s what I would say if something is making me feel really awkward. I also like to address it. So I think once… I’m trying to think of an example. Yeah. So we’ve just been to view a house. This woman was kind of showing us around and she was kind of being a little bit weird and it was kind of going on quite a while and it was getting a bit like, “Okay.” So sometimes it’s good to be like, “Oh. This is a bit awkward,” like “Oh. I feel a bit awkward.”

Sebastiaan: Yeah.

Gina: Because it’s okay to feel awkward and to acknowledge the awkwardness. Sorry. Something just pinged. Yeah. To acknowledge the awkwardness sometimes just disperses it.

Sebastiaan: Mm-hm. Exactly. Calling out the elephant.

Gina: Yeah. Have a giggle. Yeah, because they were probably feeling it as well. And then once you say something, they’re like, “Ah.”

Sebastiaan: Good. Good, good, good. Okay. Let’s shift gears to friendships and social life. So we arrived in Bali just roughly at the same time. I think I was there a month prior to you guys or something. So you had to start a social life from scratch as well. When you came to Bali, how did you start creating a new social life?

Gina: To be honest, I did come to Bali thinking it would be nice to make some lovely friends. But I never really thought I need to make friends because as soon as I got here, my favorite place to meet friends is at yoga because generally all yogis, and I know that’s massively generalizing, but as a whole, yogis have the same mentality as in they’re trying to be their best self, they’re trying to learn something, they’re doing something healthy and wholesome, and that’s their values.

So I always pretty much know that I’m going to meet people at yoga. And so I started going to yoga and met loads of people. And yeah. And I always say yes as well. So if someone asks me and says, “Do you have time for a juice after?” even if I’m pushed for time, I’ll be like, “Yes,” or “Yes. I can’t do it now, but I’d love to tomorrow,” because you never know who you’re going to meet.

Sebastiaan: Yeah.

Gina: Yeah. But one thing I will say is that I realized this a few months in. So I had all these new friends, but in England, when I grew up, I had a best friend since birth. We grew up on the same road. Our houses backed onto each other. We’ve always been best friends. And we kind of drifted apart and I moved countries.

And so I didn’t have a best friend other than Eric, my partner, but it’s different to having like a girlfriend. And so when I became aware of that, I added it to my vision board. So I started putting like weekend at the beach with my girlfriend or practicing yoga together or going on trips, just for a bit of variation.

And very, very soon after that, I manifested (or whatever you want to call it) a best friend here. So yeah. And I knew we were all along and I’ve been hanging out with her a bit, but yeah, it just kind of happened because I had that intention.

Sebastiaan: That’s great. Yeah, yeah. And I like your “just say yes to everything” approach. I’ve done that in the past. When I first left The Netherlands, I don’t know, 10, 12 years ago, I actually first went to Bali and I was there for eight weeks. And I still had quite a bit of social anxiety, but I would meet people here and there, but they were mostly Australians, guys that were just travelling. So I would get through all this hassle at the time to make some friends, and three days later, they were gone. So that was quite lonely after about eight weeks.

And then I went to the Philippines and I’m like, “Alright. My main goal is to get a great social life, so I’m going to go there and I’m just going to say yes to every single invite.”

And I come there and I’m invited to go to like the Filipino version of The Amazing Race and we go to that weekend. There I meet people. “Oh, you should meet… You should come have a beer with us there.” You’ll meet some more people. “Oh, you’re invited for this birthday party in the island.” You go there. “We’re going travelling. Do you want to come?” You go there. And I had a social life within weeks. It went really, really fast. So that’s really a great approach. Cool.

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: Yeah.

Gina: Say yes.

Sebastiaan: Mm-hm. Say yes. It’s kind of like that movie, isn’t it? It’s like with Jim Carey, the Yes Man or something. Don’t quote me on that.

So this is a question specifically for you because you’re a woman. How do women meet other women? And is it different from how men meet other men? Because I’ve met…I’ve been out with girlfriends before or just female friends that would then meet other friends and they were usually like, “Oh, I really love your necklace” or blah blah blah. And I’m like, “That’s not something I typically say. Bro, you have great shoes, man.” You know? So is it different or…?

Gina: I don’t know. I think women are obviously much more for complimenting things because they actually care. They actually care what they look like generally and they actually care what other women look like. And they actually do like that bag or those shoes or that haircut or whatever. So yeah, I think that’s just a little opener. But yeah, I think especially here in Ubud, because a lot of people here are very open, but it’s not unheard of for someone to say to you something very, very complimentary, like “I was just listening to what you said and I really relate to it and I really felt your energy.” You know?

Sebastiaan: Yeah. It’s a bit of an odd place.

Gina: Yeah. And yeah, sometimes people get… Yeah. I don’t know. What was the question again? So is it different for women to make friends than men to make friends?

Sebastiaan: Yeah. Or when you meet women, is that different from how you meet men? Friendships.

Gina: Yeah. So I think with women, like if you meet a bunch of women, there might be a couple that you’re interested in connecting with further: something they said or you like the look of them or whatever it is. And yeah, so you can… If I feel like doing something, I’ll be like, “Oh. Hey, you want to do this?” or “Do you want to catch a yoga class?” or “Do you want to go…?” So my new friend, I was like… she said, “Should we hang out?” and I said, “Yeah. Should we go get a pedicure together?”

So we sat and had a pedicure and we chatted. And then after that, she was like, “Oh, I really like hanging out with you. It’s always very real. And I’d love to hang out more.” And I was like, “Great, because I was feeling the same. I’d love to hang out more.” And yeah. But I think with a guy, I think, yeah, it’s more kind of as and when. So if I’m just hanging out with some people and then I’m going for lunch and then there’s someone there and I’m like, “Hey, do you want to go for lunch?” But I wouldn’t, I guess, necessarily be like, “Oh, I really enjoyed hanging out with you. You want to meet up with me again?” kind of thing. So yeah, that will be the…

Sebastiaan: It implies a few other things.

Gina: Exactly.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. Okay.

Gina: But there’s a lot of… I really like hanging out with men. I grew up with an older brother and a lot of male friends. And so yeah, I like hanging out with men because I feel like it’s very real with men. You get straight to the point. You can ask them something and they’ll tell you, which I like. Simple.

Sebastiaan: Okay. And maybe you’ve already answered this, but maybe you didn’t fully say all that there is to be said about answering this question. So the question is how do friendships get formed? How do you experience it happening for you?

Gina: How do friendships get formed? Well, I think like I said about sort of being open and saying “Oh, I really enjoyed hanging out with you,” or “I really enjoyed what you were telling me about,” or “I really value your advice or your wisdom” or whatever it is that you genuinely like about them from the heart and kind of see what you get back. And there’s nothing wrong with being quite forward and saying “I’d love to hang out with you again.”

And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it just kind of pieces off and that’s fine. And not being too attached to the outcome. Just kind of going with the flow with an open heart and seeing what’s made of it really. But yeah, what actually makes friendships formed I think is alignment. So if your values are aligned with them, and your interests or your lifestyle or your beliefs are aligned with them, then it just kind of naturally happens.

But I do think you have to put in a little bit of time, like you would with a boyfriend and girlfriend or a partner of that level. You want to make them feel seen and wanted and all those things as well. And it’s nice to see that back because if someone just meets up with you once and you never really speak to them again in weeks, you’re not really going to be like, “Want to hang out?”

Sebastiaan: Yeah. If it’s one-sided all the time, eventually you’ll stop inviting that person. You’re like, “Okay. He or she is not really that interested, otherwise it would be coming from that direction as well.”

Gina: Yeah. And also, I’m really into like the more the merrier. So if I’m doing something, I’ll be like, “Oh. Want to come?” Text different people. And if you don’t want to come, that’s fine. If you do, that’s great. Or if like I text someone and they’re like, “Oh, I’ve already got plans to see so and so,” I’m like, “Bring them along” because you never know who you’re going to meet and make friends with. And just openness really.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. And if someone is uncomfortable and anxious meeting new people, is there like a tip or something that you have that would make it easier for them?

Gina: The first thing that came to my mind then, which is not my tip, is you know that tip when you’re giving a speech and you’re nervous and you think of everyone naked?

Sebastiaan: That will be something. You’re walking around everywhere and it’s like, “Oh.”

Gina: Is there a tip for people that are more nervous? I think, yeah, I mean, it’s okay to be anxious and nervous. So it would be like, yeah, maybe it’s just a case of saying “Oh, I’d love to meet with more people, but I’m a bit more quiet or a bit more introvert, so bear with me. I’ll get into it, but it takes me a bit” kind of thing. And I think if someone said that to me, I’d appreciate their honesty and give them a bit of space to step forward when they’re ready kind of thing.

Sebastiaan: Mm-hm. Yeah. That’s very nice, very vulnerable, and kind of disarming as well. It’s like, “Hey.” Instead of pretending you’re cool, it’s like, “Hey, I’m a bit nervous, but I’ll warm up in a second.”

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. That’s a lot easier when you actually accept the fact that you have some anxiety or when you have some nerves. However, when that’s a thing that you’re ashamed of, it becomes a bit more difficult.  

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: Would there be like an activity that you could recommend that they would do where it’s easier to meet friends, where there’s maybe like a warm-up period involved or something?

Gina: Yoga. Yeah. Honestly, I think yoga is a brilliant way to meet people.

Sebastiaan: I think so. Yeah.

Gina: Like I said before. Or going to a meditation class or a sound healing, which I introduced you to, didn’t I? But going to something, I mean, those kinds of things that are naturally relaxing and joining energy. And it’s putting you in a nice space to meet people who are also on that vibration, on that sort of frequency.

And also, yogis are very accepting. That’s what they’re working towards: being accepting and being calm and being loving. And so I would say that would be a lovely space for people to meet people. And also the fact that you might kind of…it’s quite social before and after. So you could just sort of say hi.

You don’t have to say much beforehand and make a bit of a connection, do the yoga, and then, like I said before, you could just say to them, “Oh, have you got time to go for a juice?” and then you could say, “I’m not very confident, but I love meeting new people,” or “I’m looking to meet new people.”

Sebastiaan: And most people will then be nice, right? I don’t think “No. Fuck off. I don’t want anything to do with you.” That’s not going to happen in a yoga class, is it?

Gina: No. Not that I’m aware of anyway.

Sebastiaan: Right. And if you come there nervous and then you do an hour and a half of yoga, those nerves are going to be shifted around quite a bit.

Gina: Exactly. And because of the nature of yoga and meditation, which is all about connecting to the bigger picture, there’s something greater than ourselves, that in itself, I would think, would be pretty relaxing because it’s not just about a bubble. It’s about everything.

Sebastiaan: Right.

Gina: So yeah, I think it will be multilevel good for people with social anxiety.

Sebastiaan: Brilliant. Okay, so final question. I asked this to Eric as well. And I asked the question because I think you guys are a really awesome couple and I really enjoy spending time with you guys, and you guys are like clearly in love and it’s not something that happened three months ago. You guys have been together already for two years. So how you guys came together is a pretty cool story. So we heard Eric’s side of the story last time. So what’s your side of the story? How did you guys meet?

Gina: Okay. So a little bit of background info which links to what we’ve said before. I had my sort of year of celibacy, seeing no one, kind of going inwards, learning about myself. Then I went to India to do a yoga course and learned even more and went even deeper. And I got to this place where I remember specifically I sat on a beach, looking out on my own, and just thinking, “Wow. I feel really for the first time in so long, I feel really whole and happy and calm and everything that I’d been working towards.” I unraveled my patterns and I felt really good. And so I did my yoga course. It was a month. And then I was supposed to be going off travelling and something was like, “Don’t go. Do not go. Stay.”

So I listened to that. I felt sick, actually. I remember I was like, “Ugh. I feel sick at the thought of travelling.” And usually I love travelling. So I stayed another month and it kind of killed me, two months solid of yoga. So by the time the end of that month came, I was really ready to get out and see some of India. And so off I went travelling with a girl I’d met there at the yoga course. And it was only a couple of days before we were sat in an orphanage where we were volunteering. And in India, it’s all very calm and everyone is wearing very earth tone colors and everything is very Zen. And out of nowhere, not even through the door of the place we were in, like kind of through the window comes these two loud, wearing bright red kind of loud Americans. And that was Eric.

And I looked at him and I looked away and I carried on my conversation. And he came and sat next to me and I looked. I saw his hands first of all and I was like, “I know those hands,” kind of like as if it’s the hands of a best friend I’ve not seen for 10 years. And I looked at him and I was like, “I recognize those hands.” And I looked at his face and I was like, “I feel like I know this guy. I recognize him,” but I didn’t. And yeah, so from there, it was very much like “Oh. Oh. Right.” So we arranged to meet up and it just flourished from there. And I think part of me was… I knew from the start we were going to be together for a long time. And part of me was kind of like, “No. No. It’s not going to be a thing.” But I knew it was going to be a thing and I just followed that.

Sebastiaan: Nice.

Gina: So yeah, that’s how we met.

Sebastiaan: Nice. That’s a cool story. He said actually that he started talking loud and you were the one that started the conversation.

Gina: Yeah. So he started talking really loud about a cooking class and I was like, “Oh. I wanted to do a cooking class.” Yeah. So I did. I turned around and I heard his call, shall we say.

Sebastiaan: Cool. Nice.

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. Thank you. I think this rounds it up quite nicely. That was very good. Some nice insights from the modeling world and some good perspective on…

Gina: Thank you.

Sebastiaan: Yeah. How easy it is to socialize when you have the right mindset. And also a bit clearer that you didn’t just arrive here all of a sudden. There’s a whole journey that you went through in order to get there.

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: And same for me. It didn’t just happen. “Oh, I had like one EFT session and boom! Gone was my social anxiety.” No. Not in the slightest, right?

Gina: Yeah.

Sebastiaan: So I think that’s very empowering for people to hear. So thank you very much. Gina is also a love coach. So if people want to check out your stuff or want to know more about you, where can they go?

Gina: So my website, first of all, is And the best way to contact me, though, is over Facebook. So I have a group on Facebook called the Infinite Self-Love Society. So if you type in “Infinite Self-Love Society” on Facebook, that will come to the group page and there’s lots of tips and videos and giveaways and things to answer. And there’s lots of people on there all kind of on this journey. It’s a really nice, fun, happy place.

Sebastiaan: Wicked. And Gina Swire is

Gina: Yes, exactly. Yeah.

Sebastiaan: Wicked. Alright. Thanks a lot.

Gina: Perfect.

Sebastiaan: And we’ll be in touch soon.

Gina: Brilliant. Thank you, Seb.

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