The Bitch Slap: The Bullshit of Being a “Work In Progress”

bitch slap work in progressI’m sitting at the Charlotte, NC airport at roughly 7:56AM CT, having boarded a plane in Chicago at 5:43AM.

First, this is bullshit. When you have absurdly early flights, it’s impossible to sleep because you’re freaked about missing your flight. And when you’re flying internationally and have to make connections, you’re straight fucked because you really have no choice but to take the flight that departs when even the world’s most esteemed crack dealers are sound asleep.

Collectively, I’m filing all of this away under B for Bullshit.

As of this morning, I’m one day shy of being two weeks old in Chicago. My belongings arrived (and for the most part, intact). We won’t mention the variable sum I paid for them to arrive in such a fashion, the price changing up until the day prior to arrival. Pins and needles, I tell ya — it was like playing bingo where the only prize was an anal probe. Fewer old people, though.

I digress.

I’m en route to the Dominican Republic to speak at Mind Valley’s AwesomenessFest 2013. This is awesome (see what I did there?) for a few reasons.

  1. I’ve never been to the Caribbean.
  2. I have a lot of downtime and I plan to use it.
  3. It’s 80 degrees there.
  4. There isn’t a single bra in my suitcase.

File all of the above under F for Fuck Yeah.

But let’s talk about some very real bullshit — not the kind of stupid early flights and jacked travel schedules or moving companies that seem to want to charge you for a “shuttle” when they could pull up your fucking destination address when you book and know that there’s no way an 18-wheeler could fit on that street.

No. Not that kind of bullshit.

I mean the bullshit about being a “work in progress.”

I wish there were…

One day. Just one day in my entire adult life where I was done. Where this whole evolutionary process of becoming a better human being were complete and I knew what it felt like to just…have gotten there. ONE DAY. Because let’s face it — this whole living thing (also known as failure, disappointment, success, progress, living, loving, and realizing that one day your pets, friends, parents, family and everything you know and adore will — invariably — die) is fucking hard.

There’s not a single person reading this blog post who’s had it easy.

I can’t help it but to wonder what it would feel like, if only for a gnat’s ass of a moment, to have gotten there.

When life doesn’t go the way we envision or we find ourselves having screwed up (yet again), we ladle the I’m-a-work-in-progress bullshit on anyone who will listen.

And the sad thing is (well, for me at least) that we’ve convinced ourselves that there’s a goal. That there’s some elusive day akin to a good parking space at Whole Foods where we’ll wake up and realize that we’ve made it.

We’ve convinced ourselves that we’re perpetual works in progress and we forget.

What do we forget?

Well, we forget that today’s the fucking day. Today’s the day we wake up surrounded by hedgehogs and hot girls on Harleys. It’s the day where we’ve done itwe’ve gotten there.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve fallen into this chasm filled with self-help crap and convinced myself that there’s no getting there. That I’m such a “work in progress” that for all the progress I make, I can’t have incremental victories. That I’m some sort of martyr to the godforsaken and interminable process of being a work in progress that I’m not actually getting anywhere.

I’ve conditioned myself to think that it’s wrong to wake up, put on a pair of gold lamé leggings, my best roller skates, and a saucy new tube top — leash-up my dogs, flip an Earth, Wind, and Fire CD into my Sony Discman and roll down the streets surrounded by an aura of FUCK YEAH.

Because today, I’ve made it.

Why can’t I do that?

It’s simple. I don’t allow it. And until today, I didn’t allow it.

Which is why…

I’m sitting in the Charlotte, NC airport at 9:25 ET on a Tuesday morning with tears in my eyes.

All I’ve been able to think about since July 9 when I announced my move to Chicago is all the fucking work I have to do. From planning a 1000-mile move to buying a goddamned house to figuring out what my life and business look like in a city I’ve never lived in and where I know few people. To going back to walking my dogs 3 times a day instead of having a yard to living in a home with more than two doors — I’ve been doing a lot of work.

And all I’ve been able to see is all the fucking work I have to do.

I haven’t really given myself any credit for the work I’ve done.

I mean, when I pulled out of Denver and hit publish on this post, I was able to see for a moment all of the strides I’d made over the past five years. A scant five days ago marked three years since Jason was taken from me — from us — and it was the first October 31 where I didn’t spend at least part of the day crying.

And it’s taken until five days later for me to give myself an iota of credit for that.

So today, I’m dolling-up (IN MY HEAD) in my best Roller Girl outfit and giving myself some credit.

Today, I’m celebrating progress. Today, I am not a work in progress. Because being a work in progress is bullshit.

What’s the point of this life, this thing called “business,” the laughter, the love, the tears — what’s the point if we don’t take more than a handful of moments to say:

  1. Goddammit, I DID THAT and IT IS AWESOME LIKE A HEDGEHOG WEARING A SWAROVSKI CRYSTAL-ENCRUSTED HAT. It’s definitely more awesome than a dog that looks like a loaf of bread.
  2. Today, I am not a work in progress. I’ve MADE progress and it is worth celebrating.
  3. I will stop being a martyr to the bullshit, mythical, interminable process of being a “work in progress.” Instead, I will celebrate progress. I make a metric shit ton of progress and it’s about damn time I gave that work its due.
  4. Atta you. Yeah you. And fuck you if you try to interrupt me — I’m having a Me Moment.

Being a “work in progress” — it’s how anyone sells us anything. And there’s nothing wrong with appealing to our desire to become better ____________ << noun of your choice. But here’s something to consider as you launch into your Tuesday (or whatever day you read this):

You deserve more credit than you give yourself.

Stop focusing on the fuck ups and start looking at the come-ups.

Stop for a moment. Quit looking at all the fucking work you have to do and start looking at all the work you’ve done.

In a world filled with sofa walruses content with mediocrity, you’re the goddamned manatee. You’re a beautiful sea cow floating through life’s bays and cays sporting a velvet cape with a Velveteen Rabbit in tow. You defy explanation and dammit, you live a beautiful life.

You live a beautiful life.

And if you keep focusing on being a work in progress, you’re going to miss it. This beautiful life will pass you by and become a checklist waiting your next tick mark. Exciting. Super exciting.

So I’m going to the Dominican Republic. I’m a redheaded, pale-skinned 40-year-old woman going to an all-inclusive beach resort in the Caribbean and I’m going to take a few days to celebrate all of the progress I’ve made. I’m going to burn, peel, and turn a deeper shade of pale. I am going to molt and emerge a slightly more freckled redhead, excited about this life I live each day.

Now, I must pay for my $11 breakfast quesidilla, find my departure gate and an electrical outlet, and wrap up business because there’s not much of it that’s going to get done over the next few days.

There’s an orange wig and tiara in my suitcase. And by god, I’m going to use both of them.

PS: I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long. Thank you for still being here while I moved my life and pulled my head out of my ass.

23 replies
  1. davastewart
    davastewart says:

    Me too. I’m a 100% completed work. I might still learn some stuff and will definitely do some more stuff, but I am complete. Right now. 
    Have fun, and liberally apply the sunscreen.

  2. JoySteele
    JoySteele says:

    Thanks for the reminder that it’s okay to look around and acknowledge the ALREADY made progress. I often forget to do just that because I’m too busy being too busy.
    Have an awesome time, reward yourself with a massage.

  3. KillianMIck
    KillianMIck says:

    Enjoy the DR – it’s a beautiful place with great people. I loved it there.
    And really, thank you for this. This slap is one that I needed more than I realized. I’ve changed so much in the past several years that I barely recognize myself. But while I’m still continually evolving, I have become some things for which I’m really proud. I stand for who I am, now. I no longer hide behind the mask of what other people need to see when they look at me. (Which is really fucking exhausting, by the way. I don’t recommend it.)
    I’ve got more work to do, and I’m good with that. But there are parts of me that are really quite settled and content. We’re constantly barraged with an onslaught of crap telling us to keep struggling, keep reaching, keep striving for more…when did being content become a bad thing? When did liking your life and the person in the mirror become an element of shame? 
    Fuck that. I’m good with the person I see in the glass.

  4. jzine
    jzine says:

    Last week I was deep in the mire and muck, surrounded by things to be done and goals to accomplish and no energy or ideas to help. The next day I was flying high, excited by where and who I am, surrounded by everything I’ve done and gotten.
    What changed? Just me. I caused both of those mindsets, all by myself. It’s my best talent, to be able to create a universe of hope or a world of hurt for myself. Hmmm, maybe I could harness my secret power for good more often??
    Glad to hear you’re more or less settled and off on your wonderful trip.

  5. JeanetteRenae
    JeanetteRenae says:

    *Applause* Awesome! I needed this today! 

    I hope you enjoy your well deserved trip and enjoy the awesomeness of the next few days!

  6. MarcieJacobs
    MarcieJacobs says:

    I love everything you said.  Except please wear some fucking sunscreen for crying out loud!  We will have no burning and peeling Erika!

  7. BigGirlBranding
    BigGirlBranding says:

    Stop focusing on the fuck ups and start looking at the come-ups. – that’s my favorite line. Preach it sister. Needed to hear this today more than you know. Way too easy to focus on all that you need to do or hasn’t been done or hasn’t gone well and disregard all the shite you HAVE accomplished. xo

  8. LindaEsposito
    LindaEsposito says:

    Gawd, how you know how to get inside a person’s head, Erika! All that striving, hoping, guessing, fretting, etc. about “getting there” was thankfully eliminated for me years ago while still a concrete thinker. Some famous person said, and I paraphrase, Life does not necessarily get tied up in a red bow, at any point. 
    It reminds me of the therapy process–it’s rare to go all the way–get over the initial humps of connecting, building trust, and then moving on to the work phase, and finally termination. Many clients drop off well before it’s “time.” It’s all a process. 
    And you’re so right–nobody has it easy. And to expect that is to set yourself up for some colossal bitch slaps on the daily.
    Rock that wig and tiara, girl! You’ve earned it. What a great opportunity for you and them in the DR 🙂

  9. LisaMarieMary
    LisaMarieMary says:

    Oh. My. Gods. This post, these thoughts ..are so awesome! And chockablock full o’ quotables, too. The most important one being “today’s the fucking day” – poster time? Yeah? Oh yeah! 
    My other favorite: “You’re a beautiful sea cow floating through life’s bays and cays sporting a velvet cape with a Velveteen Rabbit in tow. You defy explanation and dammit, you live a beautiful life.” —totally made me tear up, feel happy, feel motivated – all in one!

  10. KatherineOwen01
    KatherineOwen01 says:

    What an awesome post | permission slip. Yay for you! Yay for me! No work-in-progress for these two today. Thank you.

  11. Shalagh Hogan
    Shalagh Hogan says:

    I was asking Where is the There when you Wham! finally came with it once and for all. It’s a process, apparently peopled with crazy critters wearing crystals.And you needed that goal until you don’t anymore.Hallelujah. Sure you will dig the Caribbean.
    Happy for you,

  12. missbritt
    missbritt says:

    I’m still evolving, but I realized recently that if I died tomorrow, I’d be OK with that, because I’ve done everything I could up to this point right now to make my life count. That is everything to me.
    That balance eluded me for a long time.

  13. jillshaul
    jillshaul says:

    I tell my friends all the time to celebrate success and be kind to themselves when evaluating how far they have come. It took this post for meapply that logic to myself. Thank you…and congrats on the move!!!

  14. heyLaurlu
    heyLaurlu says:

    I really loved this as I can totally relate to being consumed by my business to-do list. I’m going to have a glass of wine, put on a good movie and just relax instead of working til 2am. God dammit, I got a lot of shit done today!

    Thanks girl.


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