Hard Truth 221: Normal is a Place in Illinois, Not a Goal


This post originated on my Facebook page (Are you hanging out with us there? It’s a mighty fine group of folks.) — and it deserved to be its own Hard Truth. So I elaborated where necessary and cut shit out that didn’t belong.


On a New Years Eve, I thought I’d share a bit of me…with you.

Over the past eight years of building this brand, I’ve  become the “fuck” girl. If it says fuck, people send it to me. Little did I know that my appreciation for this highly versatile word would bring me…well…the desire to no longer be the “fuck” girl.

I’ve been sent a link to a “sweary coloring book” more times than I can count.

People apparently think I need to read everything that Mark Manson writes. He’s a savvy follow, eloquent as hell, and one of the few blogs I actually subscribe to. Rest assured, I do read what he writes. I just don’t need to be sent a link every time he publishes. I’ve read it, I promise (winky face).

The “enunciate and swear like a fucking lady” t-shirt and mug are at ad nauseam levels in my inbox and Facebook wall.

This poster? Well, I own it. It used to be on my wall. Used to be. It’s a bit too fucky for me these days.

I completely adore the word “fuck,” make no bones about it — but it’s not the only word I know.

And it’s not how I feel about everything.

I used to be someone who said fuck a lot of things. Fuck people who don’t like me, who don’t like what I do, who don’t like what I think, and especially fuck doing things you don’t necessarily like doing.

Y’know. Fuck all those things. Fuck all those people.

But much of that distribution of fucks came from anger. Mostly at myself. I wasn’t living the life that I wanted to be living.

I was doing shit I was GOOD at instead of shit I LOVED and WANTED to be doing. I was doing mostly shit I hated and little I loved.

And I saw people who were doing amazing shit and I thought that shit wasn’t for me.

It made me really angry. It’s the kind of anger you get when you look around your life and think that good only happens to people not named YOU. That no matter how you bust your ass, you’re still going to be standing behind the door when awesome is doled-out. That every day is a fight against an unknown enemy, leaving you the world heavyweight champion of shadowboxing, yet you still feel like you’re suffering a knockout in every round.

Angry. And the bitch about anger is that we usually don’t know it when we’re that kind of angry. So you stay angry and maybe you get to a place like the one I’m in today where you’re able to look back and go, “Jesus on toast — I was super fucking angry.”

So all that anger made me say fuck all those things and fuck all those people.

I understand why I’ve become the “fuck” girl.

Because I was threatened. I was threatened by the simple fact that these people doing all sorts of amazing had a confidence I did not and might never have.

Getting Un-Angry

I stayed angry from roughly 2010 until early 2012 — from when Jason died until I realized I wanted to keep living. When I actively made the choice to stick around on Planet Earth, I realized that I had to lighten my load. I couldn’t keep walking around with everything I’d been carrying.

So, that envy — that jealousy and fear and intimidation I felt towards all of those people doing amazing shit — dissipated. Envy will eat you from the inside out if you keep feeding it. I got a fucking therapist and started dealing with shit.

My crazy, my pain, every thought and feeling I felt I didn’t have permission to feel. Well, every thought and feeling from back then. God knows, I still have a shitload of thoughts and feelings but at least now, I have clearly labeled tupperware bins to put them in.

I was angry at my life. The life I was living was my fault. And it was also my choice.

So, if I had a choice, why not make another one? The next choice. A different choice from the one I’d been making over and over and fucking over and over again…

Instead of telling myself that there was a life I couldn’t have, I turned that statement inside out:

What if there’s a life I could be living instead of the one I wake up to every day?

And I dared to try.

And through my income being cut in a third, moving away from a place I thought I’d always call home, turning down work I don’t want to be doing anymore, and then taking some work I found I enjoyed — I’ve found a path to doing work I love.

Creating. Writing, performing, directing, producing — y’know, doing work that embraces my crazy instead of hating the fact that my life wasn’t normal. Y’know — normal like everyone else’s.

And it’s taught me a lot about all those things and people I used to think can go fuck themselves.

On Doing Shit I Don’t Like, but Need to be Doing (formerly “fuck that shit”)

We all take work we need to be doing when in the pursuit of what it is we want to be doing. It pays for shit like the mortgage and rent and Christmas presents for our families and a squeaky toy for your pup and a little stupid something that puts a smile on your love’s face at the moment they least expect it. Work we need to be doing buys the spontaneous soft serve from McDonald’s on a 90-something degree day when you swore you’d never give them a dime and it also puts money in the bank so you can leave a job you hate when you find one you love that pays a bit more but doesn’t start for 3 more weeks.

Stupid advisors will tell you to stop doing shit in your business cold turkey that pays your light bill. Smart advisors will help you realize what you want to be doing in your business and help you build the business of the future (not the business for tomorrow).

I do what I need to do if and only if it ultimately serves me doing what I love.

On the People Who Hate Me (formerly “fuck those people”)

Since the day I landed on this planet, people have hated me. Most for pretty stupid reasons — but I’ve hated people, too. For equally stupid reasons. It takes a lot of energy to hate and a mind is a rare thing to be changed if it’s not ready.

So it’s nice to know — and accept — I’m not going to change that. People are going to hate me. It’s cool. I just don’t have enough energy to deal with those people AND the people who love me and whom I love.

It’s really one or the other and I’ve made my choice.

On No Longer Being the “Fuck” Girl

I started this post by saying I wish I hadn’t become the “fuck” girl. Every message and product with this amazing four-lettered gift to the English language isn’t “my thing.”

Both are still true. But I do have fucks to give — I just spend them more wisely as fucks are a precious currency.

All my fucks these days are for Fuck Yeah.

Fuck Yeah is about LOVE.

If I’m spending my energy on fuck that or fuck yous (except fuck you, yoga and fuck you, sink), then I have less to give my Fuck Yeahs.

This life I’m living — including all of the bullshit and amazing and weird and ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! and cat vomit and love and loss and day-to-day just getting by — is amazing. And not too many years ago (four, to be exact), I almost hit the ultimate Fuck It button. The one you don’t come back from. Eject on life, goodbye cruel world, a note to friends and family and a sad shelter pet story for two dogs and two cats.

I’m so very glad I did not.

Because Fuck Yeah.

Because if I had, I wouldn’t be sitting here telling you I found Fuck Yeah and I’d have left you with nothing but fuck that and fuck you.

But I love this and you and life and all of the bullshit so fucking much it makes my heart burst.

So in 2016, be on the lookout. There’s a whole lot of Fuck Yeah coming your way from ME. And no, that doesn’t mean less swearing (seriously?), less funny (because life is fucking hilarious), or fewer opinions you might not agree with. I have a lot of opinions (just like you).

It means HONESTY — because it’s the ultimate Fuck Yeah in a world where too many people think that fuck this and fuck you gets you what you want.

They get you something, that’s for sure, and I got it. Oh boy, did I get it.

And it sure as hell wasn’t what I wanted.

Finding Your Fuck Yeah for the New Year

So maybe as you look to the year ahead, you’ll find YOUR Fuck Yeah. And yes, as Clark Kent would say, the “new year” is merely a demarcation point on an antiquated calendar…another day sandwiched between two other days truly no different than any other single day.

But if you’re going to pick a day to say farewell to fuck you and fuck that, I think the turning of the New Year is a fine day for such. Resolutions fail because our thoughts and behavior don’t align for the long haul.

Maybe this year you’ll find the resolve to transform a thought to transform your life. Or a life, even if it’s not yours.

Fuck Yeah, family.

Fuck Yeah, my business.

Fuck Yeah, my love.

Fuck Yeah, that book.

Fuck Yeah, standing up for myself.

Fuck Yeah, falling in love with your YOU.

Fuck Yeah, a puppy.

Fuck yeah, my first house.

Fuck Yeah, I love her/him.

Fuck Yeah, another day. Another BEAUTIFUL DAY I can go through as this gloriously fucked up human being I am, surrounded by other gloriously fucked up human beings like you.

And I can’t do any of that if I’m worried about being normal.

Leaving Normal Behind

At 43, I can look back and say that I’ve spent a great deal of my life in pursuit of a life that I thought was normal. Family, kids, the right job, a published book, an online course that people download that will fundamentally change lives for a scant $497 because everyone has one so I should, too.

Normal is a place in Illinois, not a goal. Not even the people who live in Normal are normal. They just pay taxes there.

I can stop trying to be perfect. I can stop wishing for normal. Because I’ll never be either.

So Fuck Yeah, Fucked Up Me. You’re a sexy beast. And you’re going to do amazing things with all that energy you used to spend on trying to be perfect and normal.

Oh, and fuck “normal.” If I’m going to say fuck that to anything, it’s being normal. My pursuit of it has done nothing but fuck me.

Happy day sandwiched between two other days on the calendar, my loves. Flip the calendar. Your life is waiting — and the only thing it’s waiting on…

is you.

See you in 2016. Happily.


f normal

3 replies
  1. Lance Zabrowski
    Lance Zabrowski says:

    Truly inspirational-what a journey, and to arrive at a place of self-awareness and understanding, putting it all in perspective, so amazing-I am glad you decided to soldier on, despite all the challenges. I too have struggled {and still do) with the “why them, and not me?” issues, daily WTF moments, and just the general question of why-why me, why now, why not them…and on and on and on. My issues seem petty and small compared to what you have been through, but your honesty, openness and willingness to share has personally helped me understand that life is just that way. It is possible to make sense of it, but it is that first big step when you are willing to toss it all, and finally make the tough decisions and changes to make it happen that is ultimately the only satisfaction for your soul. The end of one phase, and the beginning of a more fulfilling, positive, nurturing life that fits YOU, who YOU are, and who YOU want to be in the future, well, you have done it-thank you for sharing, it puts it all in perspective for me. Thanks Erika!

  2. AskAprilJ
    AskAprilJ says:

    Thanks for riding the wave, putting on your courage-shoes, and sticking around, Erika. Thank you for doing your work, and changing your life. You are a pioneer, a leader, and a friend (pen pal, maybe?:) to all of us struggling with “normal,” and “shoulds.”
    You matter. We all matter. As long as we are here, the world still needs our gifts, and talents (our brand of weird, as you might call it).
    Thanks for being you, Erika. And thank you for sharing a bit of your soul here so that we might be inspired to share a bit of our souls too.
    Peace to you.


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