A Very Bad Example

A very bad example “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.

And finally…

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.

~Nolan Bushnell

149 comments
Jack Outhier
Jack Outhier

Erika, I believe this is my first posted comment on your blog though I've penned a number in my mind. Excellent response to reader whose personal preferences control her. I can say that because my personal preferences are very much like hers regarding the profanity. However, I recognized a brilliance to your candor, style, integrity and willingness to share that has caused me to read everything you write. One of my realizations was that if you were to change just to become more palatable to others' sensibilities, you would ultimately become just another panderers of bland drivel that fills the net but profits little. Stay yourself!

Paul
Paul

Red, You've heard of the "Mirror Principle". I believe that email you received is probably a good example of that.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I hear ya. I stopped trying to change people long ago. Thanks for stopping by today!

Pat Koenig
Pat Koenig

Your kind of bad example is what I want to be when I grow up Erica.  That email was obviously someone who hasn't spent any time reading what you write, like beyond the fbombs.

Danny
Danny

Bravo, bravo!  Excellent post Ms Erika Anonymous writer, shut the fuck up and read the journal. Danny

SinnerElla DeVille
SinnerElla DeVille

Your candor is greatly appreciated by many. Your individuality and honesty in your writing is what has people reading your posts. Who is this "Anonymous" to say you're a bad example? I really hope that this person is not a parent, because the very last thing this world needs is more sheeple and robots. Corporate America has produced and drawn in more than we can afford and continues to reshape those that come along to their own gratification and ever expanding wallets. I make sure to have my [skull print] galoshes pretty close at all times to wade through the bullshit that people have to lay in front of me every day. I just hope to be proud enough of myself (and teach my children the same) to see it coming far enough away to put them on before the storm hits, cause no matter how you split it, it still smells. Thank you, corporate robot "Anonymous" for spewing your crap and allowing us to read an entertaining and enlightening response to your "virtual verbal beat down" you are officially awarded the useless email reprimand of the week prize. Asshat.

Angela Morsa
Angela Morsa

LOVE IT. I have gone through what you've gone through (little different - lost my job resulting in brokeness, rather than a bad investment) and the whole thing has made me better and happy. Everything happens for a reason and I never would have started Active Integrated Marketing had that not happen. Fortunately I was open enough to see it right away. It'll be 8 years tomorrow. Bravo for telling Ms. Anonymous where to stick it. She's just jealous she doesn't have the balls to do the same.

PrincessBridal3
PrincessBridal3

I am not Anonymous but I do wish you could use the f-bomb less because I love your writing & would like to share it with my Mother & others who would be offended & couldn't look past that word. I am always intrigued by the things you say & learn, broaden my mind & most of the time totally agree. So I just want to say Thanks for being you! You are a great writer & a lot of times you say what we would like to say but more eloquently.

The Redhead
The Redhead

And let us continue to piss them off together :)

StephanieTeal
StephanieTeal

I love this article. Many successful, happy, people don't fit the mold and they are ostracized because of it. I am a small business owner in a small town, and just piss everyone off because I won't play the political games. I drink every day, I am never having kids, I stare at people in restaurants and love every minute of it. It works because I am confident and smile about it. Thanks for being an inspiration.

Nick Rapson
Nick Rapson

I think people like that should be given typewriters and told to post on-line with them. That would certainly make for "fewer bad examples cluttering up the airways.” wouldn't it? It's refreshing to see somebody so honest and open about themselves. Consider me subscribed to your blog!

Scott Wild
Scott Wild

Wow...if I had something like that directed at me, my first response would have been "damn...when did MOM figure out how to blog?..." I always say "consider the source...then drive on". You gotta love it when the "do-gooders" of the world feel it necessary to dump poison into the water to take care of the problem. React or Respond. Only one requires thought. Loved your response.

Charles Bivona
Charles Bivona

"...really horrible example...a writer listens to her readers [and] appreciates what THEY bring to the table..." YES!!! I may have to send you a fucking hallmark card for this article. What a pleasure to read you!

Ingrid Abboud
Ingrid Abboud

Hey Erika, Ha! I'm kinda grateful to the "IT" (cause it's anonymous) that wrote this email to ya - cause saying how much I loved reading your brilliant reply would still not do it justice. And by the way - thanks for being the BADass example that you are - cause me and everyone else here enjoy reading every fuckin' word of yours. My best guess is that "IT" is still reading your blog. I'm sorry for the "hate" mail. I suppose to each his own - and that's fine too. But just look at all the "love" comments ;). Cheers and keep rockin' it Erika

Adrienne A
Adrienne A

F-bombs are sooooo NOT what's wrong with the world!

Morgan Barnhart
Morgan Barnhart

Crazy how jealous people get at others popularity. Fuck 'em. Love the quote at the end of your post. :) Rock on!

XS
XS

great post! i read your blog because i enjoy your honesty... and reading some of the comments left me with a desperate desire to say fuck! just coz i can.... grown up i know... :)

Aaron54de
Aaron54de

I think you've got a lot to say that a lot of people really need to hear, and I agree that the f-bomb can have great effect. However, I do think you use it too much. Not because it offends me (I use it too much, too), but because in writing, it loses its power if not used sparsely. No matter how righteous your anger, you lose some credibility (and some potential readers who may really need what you have to offer) because it makes you seem out of control. You can rant and help a few fans--a few Yes-men who comment with nothing but blind devotion--or you can rant and help a lot more people. Toning down the swearing without getting rid of it altogether would actually strengthen your viewpoint.

Michelle Mangen
Michelle Mangen

Erika ----- the fact that you can elicit feelings like that out of someone literally makes me smile. When I think of authentic people you are one of the first that immediately comes to mind. And really ---- how boring is it to be everyone'e "cup of tea"? I have no idea what your web traffic is on a monthly basis but I'm guessing it's pretty damn good....we all keep coming back and to those that don't.....F them. (I don't like to swear in writing...yet)

Jodi Henderson
Jodi Henderson

I love this. I will happily follow your "bad" example any day. That is all.

PJ Mullen
PJ Mullen

Yes, you are a bad example - for suits. And SUITS SUCK. So, rock on. That will be all.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Meh - all I can say is to each their own :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Why, thank you, Amanda - welcome to the blog!

The Redhead
The Redhead

D'oh! Oh no you di-int pull out the Dictionary.com reference :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Great to see you, Claire - it's been a bit! Thanks for stopping by - and I concur: I tend to learn the most from people who aren't like me. A treasured find.

Shelly
Shelly

I loved reading this! You're a very, very bad example indeed ;)

Dana Reeves
Dana Reeves

Erika, you are spot on. And Anonymous, really? One of the three definitions dictionary.com uses to describe you is "lacking individuality, unique character, or distinction." My definition of "anonymous"? COWARD.

Jackie Lee
Jackie Lee

WOW. Oh hell yeah, is what was going through my head as I read this. Not that you were giving your anonymous reader the what for, but that YOUR example is exactly what I want for my life. You rock ~ F bombs and all. :) I also love that quote at the end...

The Redhead
The Redhead

The Mini, the dogs, the bikes and The Redhead are headed back to Denver tomorrow after a month in LA :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Sign your name or shut the hell up? I like it, Doyle!

Danny
Danny

Loved it. Keep up the great work.

The Redhead
The Redhead

It wasn't really bait. It made for some good weekend thinking ;)

Wendie Has Thoughts
Wendie Has Thoughts

Ah haha! This is fantastic! Although I find it odd that someone calls a blogger a bad example but leaves out specifics other than HS students might read your blog. When I think of everything on the Internet that can utterly F up young'uns and your blog ends up in Anonymous email accusations as one of them, it made me actually laugh out loud. Most of your blogs, F bomb or not, are so insightful and hilarious and include all sorts of real life sharing that HS students SHOULD read (maybe save them some heartache of their own). And let's face it, most of us adults used the F-bomb more in HS than we do now in our old age. Anyway, my dear, sweet, amazing friend who is currently painting my bathroom since I can't while I'm pregnant - I will take your example any day. Good, bad, ugly, or those days where you simply make everybody uncomfortable with your brash, out-spoken ways that tap dance on the lines of our comfort zones so brazenly I can taste it. And speaking of "comfort zones" - I think Anonymous and "No Thanks" are the same person. Just a guess - but pregnant people are usually psychic, so....

Eileencook1
Eileencook1

FUCK that asshole that wrote that. It's obvious they don't have the balls to even put their own name on the email. pUSSy!! Fucking asshole. Lol I look forward to your writtings. Your life. Your inspirations. Your downs and how you get up every morning after it and continue to breath. You are a strong woman and know who you are. Most of us can't say that and most go through life not knowing what their purpose is. YOU. Mz. RED, keep doing what you do and be who you are. People like Fuck-tard Anonymous only wish to be like you and have the following and support you have!! I LOVE YOU! Xoxoxo

Nothanks
Nothanks

You better update the Internet with your new rules. I'm sure everyone will go along with you if only they knew your preferences.

Nothanks
Nothanks

It's weird how bloggers always go on the attack whenever someone happens to disagree with them. There is always a "rah rah you're the best they's just HATERS!" team in the comments too. It's a whole phenomenon.

MichaelEdits.com
MichaelEdits.com

This is genuinely upsetting, because I have been following your example for months now. Farfle!

Leon Noone
Leon Noone

G'Day Erika, That idiot was absolutely correct. You're about the best example of bad example that I've ever run into. I've met plenty of people who've tried desperately hard to be bad examples. They failed to do it with the panache, polish and unmitigated professionalism that you display. By the way: I absolutely abhor cowards who don't put their name to what they write. What a silly bugger he she or it is. Have they never read oscar Wilde? "My own business always bores me to death. I prefer other people's." Bitch slap away Erika: and don't spare the horses! Regards Leon

Terri Orlowski
Terri Orlowski

I was drawn to you at first because of the way that you write. By the fact that you don't pull any punches and pretend to be or write like someone you are not. So, to the anonymous reader I say that you don't know what you're talking about, and you need to come out from under your shell and enjoy the real world. You might, dear anonymous reader, discover the real you in the process. And thank you, Erica, for being real.

Marian Schembari
Marian Schembari

I love this. I love everything about this effing post and I'm so glad you said something. It drives me crazy pants when people say to "just ignore the haters" because if we all did that we wouldn't get supremely awesome posts like these!!! HIGH FIVE.

PragmaticMom
PragmaticMom

I think it's brave of you to reveal so much of what you are feeling and going through, particularly in terms of your personal relationships ... though sometimes it makes me uncomfortable that you are revealing too much. Not so much for myself, but for you. And in terms of foul language, when it is overused it loses its impact. You could lose some f-bombs. I'm a mom. Children might be reading you.

Sarah
Sarah

What's this about examples, good or bad? I certainly learn a lot from you (and other people too), but I don't want to imitate you or be you! If I'm not myself, who will do the job? :) Whoever Mr. or Ms. Anonymous is, I think it's very sad that he or she is going around looking for an example to reproduce.

Susi Schuele
Susi Schuele

Fantastic. That's all I can say. And as for the love thing - it took me 53 years but I found him. And my dad met the love of his life at 63. As my stepmom says - I'd rather have 10 years with a good man than 50 with a bad one. Rock on girl.

Mike Belasco
Mike Belasco

If you are a bad example I don't want to be good!

cindy
cindy

Thank you for having the brass to say what's on your mind...and ours. Your words often scrape back the goo on my brain to expose the me I used to be. I'm getting back there and IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT! Don't stop!

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