“It’s inconceivable to me that anyone continues to read your drudge. Vulgar language is confused for wit, a little-girl-lost routine mistaken for relevancy and a column named after a violent gesture that I can only guess you feel is tough love. Do you think you’re setting a good example? I’m here to speak for all those who won’t and tell you you’re not. You’re a very bad example. Bad for businesspeople who take what they do seriously. Bad for anyone who comes looking to learn just to get smacked down. Bad for college students who think you hold some sort of key to success in the real world. Do us a favor and quit while you’re behind. We could use fewer bad examples cluttering up the airways.”
The above is the verbatim text of an email that landed in my inbox on late Saturday evening via my website’s contact form. The email address was, naturally, invalid, but the words very real.
You’re a very bad example.
And so I got to thinking – maybe this person is right. Am I?
Yeah. I am.
What kind of fucked-up realization is that to come to over a weekend? Six different kinds of fucked with a side of bacon, that’s what that is. So I sat down and put together all of the ways I’m a bad example. Apparently, it’s time to clean-up my act.
I’m a bad example of a business owner. In less than two years, I went from being an investor in a startup to dead broke to having multiple contractors and making a six-figure salary. My taxes are current, I hold all of the proper business licenses for my locale and I just hired a payroll company, a new CPA and a bookkeeper. I have no idea why I bother with all of this when it would be so much easier to go back to the way things were, a predictable paycheck every week from a job I don’t enjoy where I get paid less to do what I’m able to do for full-rate.
I’m a bad example of good advertising. Why? Because I don’t do any. If I had the balls to go out and post some ads, maybe I wouldn’t have to rely on the fact that 80% of my business comes from referrals from happy clients and agencies and the other 20% comes from direct inquiry over the contact form on my website.
I’m a bad example of successful relationships. Two divorces, an ex-fiancé and some other relationships that didn’t end with my hair tumbling out of a tower so Prince Charming could climb on up. At 38, it becomes more clear to me each and every day who and what I want and consider myself blessed to have found three men in my life who I wanted to give a go at forever with. And the best gift of my 37th year? Seeing that what I thought was love was a very bad example of it and in its wake, discovering what it truly looks (and feels) like.
I’m a bad example of how to build an audience. Since the launch of RedheadWriting in its first incarnation in 2006, I’ve not only put the blog through massive changes in look, feel and tone, but I’ve found a voice that rings true. When I write, it’s me, not what I think people want to read. My readers call me out on it when I phone it in and there’s no mistaking that this is a place that anyone can voice their opinions. In other words, I’m a really horrible example of what happens when a writer listens to her readers, appreciates what THEY bring to the table and realizes each day that she wouldn’t be able to do what she loves without them.
I’m a bad example of literary prowess. There are legions of people who would never dare eke an f-bomb, and y’know what? I don’t think the f-bomb is funny. I think it IS. It’s a part of who I am, how I speak and sometimes there are times in life where there’s nothing you can really say except “fuck.” It’s like the lame attempt to dub a CeLo Green song into “Forget You.” It just ain’t the same. Some might think it’s lazy, but I know fancy words like philander and fornicate are just pulling punches when you need the bling-bling an f-gem.
I’m a bad example of a good student. I’m what happens to National Honor Society, Who’s Who Among American High School Students and high school and college honor graduates when they don’t get the right job. I piss away a college education, only to become a business owner and (heavy) taxpayer who provides jobs in a challenging economy. That, my friends, is The Suck, and a frightening example of what can happen to a good student.
I’m a bad example of being happy. Everyone knows that in order to be happy, you have to be like everyone else. You have to fit in and do what everyone else is doing. I went astray somewhere and decided that the motion sickness I was getting from riding that train wasn’t worth it. So I got off. Funny thing is, that train I was on wasn’t bound for Happyville. It was bound for someone else’s destination. It sucks to wake up every morning and realize again and again that you’re living your dream. That is, one that YOU were meant to live. I might have days where I am truly a “little girl lost,” but those days are becoming fewer and I always see a way out. Learning to live with them and understanding they are the exception as opposed to the rule? Pretty damn nifty. I guess most people are unhappy since I’m a bad example of happiness.
I’m a bad example of what can happen to you. You should be frightened. Scared out of your drawers, actually. You could end up like me. One day, you could wake up and realize that everything in life you’ve ever wanted is within your grasp. That happiness isn’t dependent on people, things or geography. It’s not about the car you drive or the money in the bank. It’s completely terrifying to think that you’re the one who controls how you journey through life, because it’s easier to blame other people for the shit that rolls down your hill. Life’s pretty shitty when you finally realize that you’re accountable for your actions and when you step up to slap others for their potential missteps, that you’d best have slapped yourself first. Each day, you could commit to compassion and try to help someone new or you could just push along in your every-man-for-himself routine and step on as many as you can on the way to the top.
But here’s the thing: there’s nothing waiting at the top because you’ve pushed everyone else off the ladder.
So, dear Anonymous Reader who said I was a bad example…I think you’re right. Lock up the women and children because I’m here to corrupt this bitch of a thing we call Life. And while I do it, you can get back on the train I got off of years ago. We won’t miss you when the train pulls out, but I hope you’ll stop by every now and again when that train keeps circling back around. We always need reminders of how we don’t measure up to everyone else’s standards (and why we simply don’t care).
Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.