And on the Subject of Being One’s Self…

being yourselfFinding your voice.

Where does it come from? For the better part of my life, the answer to that question was anywhere but from within. I found inspiration and permission externally. Perhaps the word for that is the opposite of within.


I compared my success to that of others. I beat myself up. I lost myself. Hidden by the no, no, no, nos you see in the graphic. Come sterilized. Offend no one.

Everyone else’s conversations were more important than my thoughts and feelings.

Today, I join conversations inspired by my thoughts and feelings. And the damn amazing this is that I seem to have created (maybe cultivated is a better word) a community of people who do the same.

From yesterday’s passion-fueled pittings to and fro on my thoughts surrounding the media hype over Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In to lamentings on LinkedIn etiquette, you’re here.

You stop by. You ponder. You launch. Some of you lurk. You’ve found a conversation worth joining (while some join on occasion to say its worthless). But however you do it, you do it respectfully.

Perhaps we’ve found the great equalizer — online, we’re all equal.

While there are many places online where people wrap themselves tight in a cloak of anonymity and blast forth spew that a septic tank service wouldn’t…service…I get to wake up each day to a place where people agree and differ regularly and respectfully.

I think that’s a byproduct of being myself, as you have permission to be yourself and know that you is appreciated right here.

That’s why today is Fuck Yeah, Friday. Because you let that happen each week.


Close your eyes. Think back to a moment when you were excruciatingly happy.

Where were you? What were you doing?

Take 15 seconds and relish that memory. When you’re done (and it’s okay if it’s longer than 15 second), open your eyes.

Who were you just then?

I’m betting the answer was YOU. In that moment of sheer, unadulterated bliss, you were YOU.

You weren’t male or female (though you might have felt incredibly masculine or feminine — whatever those labels mean to you).

You weren’t impossibly rich or fuck-my-life flavored poor.

You were, however, wealthy — as in that moment of memorable joy (you know, the one that immediately popped to mind as opposed to the moment you had to dig for) you had permission to be yourself.

We don’t have to imagine

When we silo ourselves based on gender, race, religion, geography, profession, sexual orientation, and/or whether or not we get a certain twitchy feeling when we see pictures of Clive Owen — we’re selling ourselves short. We’re cutting ourselves off, quite willfully, from the people who can create the world we want to live in.

You know, the one where you can be you and I can be me.

When we have to imagine a time where we were happy, there’s something wrong with our present, our perspective, and the people in it.

If you’re pissed about where women stand from your viewpoint, stop creating women-only groups. Create masterminds where people, not genders, gather, discuss, and contribute their talents. Why are you recreating the environments that you hated? I’m pretty sure you’d be even more pissed if a group of dudes created the <insert your city here> Men’s <insert sector/interest of choice here> Collective. If you want change, perhaps change your behavior towards including instead of excluding. Speaking of behavior…

If you’re pissed about your weight, change your life. A diet changes your behavior. Real change comes from being willing. We bitch about being ready and know we’re able, but willing is the asshole we invited over for dinner.

If you’re frustrated about not being able to speak your mind, change your environment. That happy moment? You can have that and you sure as hell don’t need my permission to recreate it. Stop viewing being yourself as a luxury reserved for rare moments and find an environment, friends, colleagues, and pursuits that make YOU the rule.

It took me 37 years to find me — my hope is that you can take my glorious fuck ups and learn from them. I’ve screwed up enough for roughly 14 people. I want you to go forth and create new and glorious fuck ups — and I want you to be you when you do it.

This week, Mourning Goats published an interview I’d given and it sparked an appreciation for my “me” once again — much like yesterday’s lively discussion. Interviews like that are possible for me because I turned off my filter and said fuck it.

There’s more power in being me than anything I could imagine. I agreed to the interview because everything that site does features people being themselves. That’s the kind of fuck yeah I want to wake up to every day.

People will never appreciate you until you appreciate you.



Business owner/employee.


We can’t MAKE people appreciate us. It’s something we earn through acceptance, not tolerance. And it’s certainly not something we earn by separating ourselves from the greater of society.

The relationship we have with ourselves is the rule. The foundation. And I ask — if you could do an interview with Mourning Goats, how would you answer?

Would you edit until the cows came home…

or would you lay down what needed laying down, drop the mic and get on with the shit of the shit?

I thank you for trusting me with your you. For affording those who stop by this place, just like you, the respect you’d be comfortable with receiving. For letting this be a place where you shed all those who have at some point, made you feel as if your you isn’t good enough.

Happy Fuck Yeah, Friday. You’re the reason mine’s bright, as whatever I’ve done to bring you here — you can bet your ass I’m going to keep doing it.

14 replies
  1. megcarpen
    megcarpen says:

    Thank you for being inspiring, and amazing, and opening my eyes this morning. I can’t keep living someone else’s ideal life, and it’s past time for me to start being me. I cannot begin to express how inspiring you are, and the only way I can think to thank you is to start, today, now, to be me. Here’s to taking a deep breath, and jumping into the deep end.

  2. Lori M Estep
    Lori M Estep says:

    Thank you for cultivating this amaze-balls community, for giving me inspiration and courage to be ME, and for always having the chesticles to be YOU!

  3. kosmicegg777
    kosmicegg777 says:

    Yes. This.  This morning I was
    scribbling up an entry on the differences between “can’t” and
    “won’t” and owning enough of my own will to carry forward with what I
    believe instead of what others believe about what I’m ready for, and how it is
    going to go. The assumption that one has to leap at every opportunity or maybe
    miss out on life’s juice simply hammers me into nails on a chalk board. It is
    all right with me to breathe and discover what it is that I like about the work
    I do enough so that I can actually discern how it would be to continue. This is
    my goal: to find the sustainable, maintainable, attainable me, and my feeling
    is that it starts by quitting the habit of “can’t” and taking hold of
    “won’t” with gusto. I won’t lean in until I’m good and ready. (And
    yes to all those subgroups causing more separation identity…wtf…this is a
    being limitation to me.) Thanks, as always, Miz Erika for stomping your foot!

  4. kdixon
    kdixon says:

    Okay, so you hit a nerve with this one, but happy to feel the pain! It was a slow wake up for me. Spend 2 years of random bouts of crying that I couldn’t explain, then came the guilt of not appreciating how lucky I had it, followed by a numbness to life so I wouldn’t have to deal any longer with the crying or guilt. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you take it) if you stay this way too long life decides to find ways to smack you in the face until you start to listen. My actions started screaming ‘crazy person’. Walked away from my job, almost walked away from my marriage, thinking it was the only way to find ME. I didn’t trust ANY decision I had EVER made thinking they were all made for someone else. It was a process that was ugly at times, but I am thankful for the darkness because it has brought amazing light into my life. This journey is the reminder for me when I start to lose clarity as it is a place I will NEVER let myself visit again. No more starving myself of ME.

    • kosmicegg777
      kosmicegg777 says:

      kdixon Bravo! Don’t you find yourself “feeling” for those who cannot, will not walk away from the push? Have you found the ME you were looking for? Do you think it possible to teach the children a more direct route without becoming pushers ourselves?

      • kdixon
        kdixon says:

        kosmicegg777 So much so, yes! I have days of relapses but I always come back around and can say I am in love with and unashamed of myself, wholeheartedly! Pink’s song “You’re fucking perfect”…I couldn’t listen to that song for months without crying…so afraid my daughter will fall into the same path I had to go through and it is such a fine line between teacher her and pushing my wants on to her. I get better at it with each conversation.

  5. Straight Up Talk Educ
    Straight Up Talk Educ says:

    Great post. Usually whatever I have to say is strong enough or controversial enough to piss someone off. And you make a wonderful point about just being around those who accept you as you are. Life’s too short to spend with those who want to mold you to their boring, conformist standards.

  6. DebraLloydNGBT
    DebraLloydNGBT says:

    Great stuff here Erika, this post reminded me of a quote from Coco Chanel – “Life becomes so much better when you decide to be someONE instead of someTHING”. I took that to mean things like being defined by labels – wife, daughter, boss, employee, fat, thin or whatever. I wasted too many years trying to please everyone around me and typically with a correlating effort:success ratio that totally sucked. Funny (really, I mean the ha ha variety) they seem to be much more ‘pleased’ once I decided to not give a shit and just be Me – know what, me too. Nice thought provoking reminder though, thanks.


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