She might be on to something.
In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, I wasn’t looking for a dating mentor. I was subsisting on anxiety and too much social media and wanted a distraction more than anything else. Whether swiping on dating apps or scrolling through Instagram, I was desperate to interrupt the stream of bad news that made it hard to think straight. That’s how I ended up on TikTok—where I found my new favorite relationship coach.
To be clear: Katie Florence hasn’t branded herself as a relationship expert. The 24-year-old TikTok star is a registered behavior technician who works with children on the autism spectrum. In her off time, she posts funny TikTok videos on a range of topics like dating, friendships, and the general difficulties involved in trying to thrive right now. One series of videos features something she calls the Kouncil, a group of characters with names like Logic, Lady Parts, Anxiety, Heart, and Brain. She plays every single character herself. Using creative editing and costume changes, Florence’s Kouncil represents the different parts of her psyche. They work together (or against each other) to discuss issues like whether Florence is being ghosted, the ramifications of texting her crush first, and whether or not Florence is single because she likes magic tricks.
“I’ve always thought that maybe I’m just stupid in relationships,” Florence, who goes by MissKat on TikTok, tells SELF. “[But] I’ve learned that I know the proper response in most situations.”
So why are these TikTok videos so inspiring? At first glance, I thought I was merely watching a hilarious person share embarrassing dating stories. I laughed because the content was relatable (it’s no secret I’ve been ghosted, whelmed, and everything in between). But the longer I watched, the more I noticed something else as well. In seeing myself in Florence, there was an opportunity to see my selves (yes, plural). She’s demonstrating the idea that we can observe and coexist with the various aspects of ourselves even when they conflict with each other.
Florence says going to therapy for her “whole life almost” and majoring in psychology have given her a basis to explore self-awareness in her work. Characters like Red Flag prove worthwhile in discerning relationship situations. Confidence, a very dolled-up version of Florence, chimes in to motivate or approve of bold choices. But Lady Parts is a character who gets a lot of attention, Florence says. By giving voice to her libido, she wants people “to get in tune with themselves because it’s very easy for us to have sex with someone and be like ‘Oh, I’m in love.’” Lady Parts helps remind people that craving sex and being unapologetic about pleasure are valid pursuits.
So—the real question is—should we all start talking to ourselves more? “One-hundred percent, you need a council,” Florence explains, adding that there have been points where she’s thought, “I need to have a meeting with the Kouncil off the record—I’m not going to post about it.” Florence suggests you get in front of the mirror and assume different characters, but you can find other ways to communicate openly with yourself if that feels too uncomfortable. In fact, when she’s performing these skits, Florence might be demonstrating (albeit in a humorous way) RAIN, a therapeutic technique we’ve written about that involves recognizing your feelings, allowing them to exist, investigating them with compassion, and not identifying with them too heavily. You can do that in front of a mirror or in your journal.
Ultimately, working with your random and conflicting thoughts without judgment can help you cultivate deeper compassion for yourself. And that’s the crux of it for me: My favorite new relationship coach isn’t really helping us with dating problems—the TikTok star is showing us that it’s safe to accept ourselves. “If all you’re seeing on social media are couple goals, you can feel like you’re not normal because you’re not experiencing that,“ Florence explains. “I wanted to show the ugly side of relationships that no one’s proud of. I’m not afraid to say I’ve gotten ghosted. I’ve had a guy make me cry. I’ve gotten stalkerish over a guy. I’m not afraid to say that because I’ve been through it, and I’m okay.” The irony? In showing that it’s possible to be upfront about all of your traits, Florence gives us even bigger relationship goals to work toward.
Written by Patia Braithwaite
This article originally appeared on Self US.