Creator Ariana Proehl

Creator Ariana Proehl


This has been a long time coming, so I'm glad you're here. For the standard low-down on me, you can visit here. For the raw and uncut version, read on.

The seed of Knowledge of Self is Sexy was first planted in 2010 in New York City with a few vlogs here and there, plus a failed Oprah Winfrey Network "Get Your OWN Show" contest bid. At the core, I wanted to get rid of the shame that we tend to carry just from living life and making mistakes. From our trespasses and trespasses against us. And show that self improvement / self care isn't just a hippy-granola thing, but, as Audre Lorde saw it, a revolutionary act. And that knowing yourself and staying true to that, for better and for worse, ugly cries and all, is sexy. And I specifically wanted to share that message with Black women. I thought it was a pretty dope idea. Got a logo designed, shot some videos, gave some talks.

"KSS" then evolved into launching my online talk show Know This! with Ariana at the top of 2011. That summer, I had an epiphany to take the show on a cross-country tour. I had no experience with such a goal, but I was determined to make it happen. So in two months I put together a team, booked the interviews, did a little crowd-funding, charged my credit card and was off! 14 cities and 30+ interviews. Had never been so exhilaratingly exhausted and fulfilled. I was in the flow of my purpose. 

And that's what we're here to do, right? "Awaken to your purpose". "Live your purpose". Find that thing that makes you come alive and use your talents to create it and embody it. And there are mountains of resources—books, talks, gurus, Oprah—to aid in that search. I thought that when I figured out my life’s purpose, that was it. It was on and poppin'! There would still be hard work to do and challenges to navigate, but the universe would open up and be like: “you know your purpose, therefore everything you experience and feel from this day forth shall be purpose-driven!” Yeah, no. Not quite how that went for me.

For a time it was like that. I'd created the show and taken it on tour. I did the college circuit hustle and spoke at some universities. I partnered with groups to put on public events and conversations. But I wasn't really believing in myself. Going after a dream, being happy and fulfilled didn't vibe with my long-held beliefs of feeling unworthy. So instead of believing and charging ahead, I started judging myself. Over-thinking. Doubting. Fearing. And I let those thoughts and feelings lead me. I’d been told about the external haters, but I wasn’t warned about how hardcore my internal hater would go at me when I tried to break free of old patterns. How much the little girl with no self-esteem who got teased and humiliated would yank at my spirit to quiet down and not draw attention. Or how miserable I’d become and how much I’d struggle when I gave into her.

Next thing you know, I'm couch surfing and doing office temp gigs to scrape by.  I felt ashamed and embarrassed to reach out to my network for help. I kept dimming and dimming and dimming my light to the point that I was ready for it to just be dark. And I've sat in that dark, wanting to turn my life off completely on multiple occasions. But if you saw me, you'd never really be able to tell I was struggling that much inside. Cool, calm, collected, strong Black woman, that's me!

Until the inside started reflecting on the outside. Lost 10 pounds I didn't have to lose. Constant anxiety in my gut that reflected in my face, my demeanor. Previously occasional thoughts to end my life became frequent and more detailed. There was no more disguising my rock bottom.  My saving grace was finally starting to take off the armor and being honest with those I trust when they would ask how I was doing: "You know, I'm not ok." I let people in. I let loved ones help me and hold me at my lowest points, when I'd typically just cry with myself and keep it moving. That was the beginning of my healing. Being honest with myself, not being ashamed to show that self to others, and seeing that people weren't running away when I showed them the real, raw me. (Plus a whole lotta yoga, therapy, journaling, and reiki!)

I decided if I was indeed gonna do this thing called life, I have to DO IT. No more just being here so I don't get fined. So that meant not just putting a band-aid on shit this time, and pretending like I hadn't been suffering from depression the past three years. Like I hadn't been in a stream of toxic relationships. Like I hadn't been feeding myself poisonous thoughts for years. This meant real healing. So I started asking some real questions. What thought patterns and habits are holding me back? What traumas do I think I've moved on from, but are still trapped in my body and subconsciously weighing me down? And the plain and simple one: how do I do this? 

So here I am, at the start of this new phase of life. It's nerve-racking. And not free of the dark moments and anxiety, but better. I also realize I've gotten comfortable with my cocoon. Which means it's time for a next move. One of the most interesting things is how full circle things are coming. If there was ever a time to say loud and proud that Knowledge of Self is Sexy... Shoot. All the work I'd started in 2010 is revealing itself again. Letting me know it's not finished with me. Everything on this site has lived in my head or in one of many idea notebooks, and I'm finally bringing it to life, one step at a time. And not as something I think will make me "popular" or "liked"--which my insecure self fell prey to when I first launched Know This!--but as authentic storytelling that reveals our true power. The power in knowing ourselves, healing ourselves, caring for ourselves and sharing our raw, unfiltered light with others. I've had this mission in my heart for a while now. The difference is now, I truly believe in it and in my ability to do something meaningful with it. 

Thank you again for stopping by. I look forward to the fashion statements we'll make and the stories we'll share!

Also, thank you to all the interns and supporters of me, Know This! and KSS throughout the years. This vision is still alive because of you.