Hi, Everyone! I’m Ellen Connell, and I’m going to be writing the “Ask Ellen” column for Her Universe. Ashley and I came up with the idea for this column last July after catching up with each other at Comic Con. I had just graduated with a doctorate in Clinical Psychology, and I was looking for a way to help girls in the fan girl and geek girl communities. Ashley wanted to help girls deal with bullying or other issues they face, so we decided that an advice column would be a great idea!
Ashley and I met in 2005, when the first season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was in pre-production. I was working at the time as a Script and Casting Assistant Production Manager at Lucasfilm Animation, and I was lucky enough to work with Ashley when coordinating the voiceover recording sessions for the show. Although I loved working at Lucasfilm as well as working with all of the talented actors and crew on the Clone Wars, a feeling kept gnawing at me, that I was supposed to be helping people more directly. I had always been interested in Psychology in addition to entertainment, but I started to feel like I really wanted to study more Psychology so that I could help people who are working on feeling better about themselves. In particular, I wanted to help girls who face similar issues to the ones I did growing up.
When I was a kid, I struggled a lot with self-esteem and trying to fit in. I was always interested in different things than most of the other kids in my class were. I loved theater and drama, dressing up in costumes, and acting out stories. I loved to read, and I was obsessed with fantasy. Any story that put me into another world and another dimension was my favorite. I loved the idea that if you just found the right portal, you could slide into another time and place. I was more into fantasy than sci-fi, but I had 3 older brothers who introduced me to Star Wars and Star Trek. One of my brothers was a big Trekkie, so I started watching Star Trek with him. I also loved the show Sliders that aired back in the 80′s. So, I guess I would definitely call myself a geek. Growing up, I was also a bit shy and socially unsure of myself, and I definitely didn’t fit in with the popular kids. I’m happy about that now, because it made me who I am today, but at the time, it hurt to not fit in.
I found that I fit in more and felt more confident as I grew up and was able to choose whom I spent time with. I loved working with other geeky people at places like Lucasfilm and on shows like the Clone Wars. So, leaving Lucasfilm five-and-a-half years ago was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but it turned out to be the right one for me. During my five years of graduate school for psychology, I had internships at different counseling centers where I worked as a therapist. I had a chance to work with people who wanted to feel better or to figure out who they were, and I really loved it. Currently, I work as a psychotherapist, while I work towards becoming licensed as a Psychologist in California. Helping people feel better about themselves has been such a rewarding experience, and I know I have found the right fit for me.
I love working with young adults, adolescents, and particularly girls. I feel like I can relate to girls who are working on figuring out who they are and finding their place in this world. I’m so glad that there’s a community like Her Universe for geek girls and fangirls. Community is so important for happiness. When people find others who are like them, and who are interested in the same things, they feel less alone. They feel like they belong. I’m glad that the social networking opportunities for Her Universe offer a community like that. Sometimes girls need a little extra help to feel good about themselves. They face many challenges as they grow up, such as dealing with bullies, fitting in, navigating friendships, dating, and more. Dealing with parents and siblings can often be challenging too. Sometimes all of these challenges will cause a girl to feel really stressed out, sad, or alone. I remember how that felt, because I went through that too, and I’d like to use my experience to help girls who are facing the same issues.
In my column, I’ll answer several e-mails every few weeks. If there are many e-mails with the same theme, I might combine them. The Ask Ellen column will be a place where I’ll answer questions and post advice about increasing self-esteem, reducing stress or anxiety, dealing with bullies, dealing with friendships and cliques, dating, fitting in, you name it. I really want to help girls feel better about themselves, and I hope this column will be a great place to do so.
All the best,
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