Hard Truths, Day 7: Get Sucked Out

This post is part of my 41 Years in 30 Days series. You can read those here as I write them if you’re so inclined.

It’s easier to bitch about something than it is to do something.

Doing something requires effort. Committment. Some serious sacking-up. And integrity. Dammit, if integrity isn’t always hanging over like a little thundercloud.

Earlier this week, I talked about bitching and pushing down versus reaching down and lifting up. Today’s Hard Truth is about the bitchers.

I used to be one of them. Hell, this brand was started back in 2007 based on bitching. Redhead bitching, redhead ranting, redhead yelling — pick one.

But over seven years of wake-up calls, smack downs, and life not turning out the way I thought it should — a gal thinks about things differently.

I woke up one day and found myself surrounded by assholes. My “friends” and I would trade emails back and forth filled beyond the brim with snark, shitting on whos and whats and thisses and thats. And sure, I laughed. I nodded. I joined in. And many times, I even led.

I was surrounded by assholes because I was an asshole.

Hard Truths 7

And it’s easy to get sucked in. 

Think about the first high school dance you went to. Yeah, I know it’s painful, but think.

I remember mine. I stood around with friends and for the duration of the evening, we talked shit about other people. Who was wearing what, who couldn’t dance, who got asked to dance, oh my god — he asked HER to dance? How we were able to conjure enough shit talking up to last three hours is beyond me.

But you know what stopped the shit talking?

When I got asked to dance.

When I was dancing ever so awkwardly with a boy whose name I can’t remember, I escaped. I was pulled out of that Pig Pen swarm of negativity for about four and a half minutes.

And it was really nice.

And when I rejoined my friends, they started talking shit about me for dancing with him.

How much shit do you talk versus do?

I’ve found that the times where I talk the most shit are the ones where I’m the most insecure. Where I felt that tearing someone else down was the only way for me to rip a place free for me to stand in this crowded and crazy world. And when I did that, a few things happened.

  • I just reinforced that I was an asshole to everyone who wasn’t an asshole.
  • I hurt a lot of people who had done nothing to raise my ire other than simply get out of bed that morning.
  • Push away the people I really needed in my life. You know, the ones in bullet one who noticed that I was being an asshole because they had the consciousness to notice someone being an asshole to another human being.
  • I stayed trapped in the spiral of negativity, fed by people all too ready to hear the next scathing remark without any substance to back up my criticisms.

It’s easy to get sucked in. Honestly, it’s comfortable to be sucked in. Familiar.

And I wish I could tell you how to get sucked out instead of in. And it occurs to me that saying that sounds absolutely filthy but I don’t know another way to say it so you’re welcome. But here are a few things I did to transform my assholian behavior. (And no, I didn’t change it — change is rearranging furniture. Transformation is burning the house to the ground and building something better.)

  • I started to pay more attention to surrounding myself with people who made me feel good. Friends especially. Ones who didn’t talk shit about me behind my back because there’s nothing like discovering that someone you thought to be a friend didn’t even really like you.
  • I paid more attention to people who asked, “Do you need help?” than who expected me to help them.
  • I started speaking up — about what didn’t feel good. And I noticed the people who were invested in how I felt versus the people who didn’t accept their role in having done something that made me speak up in the first place.
  • I realized how much better it felt to offer a solution versus bitch for no reason. Backup feels good as hell.

And that transformation point — that’s when long-time readers started unsubscribing to this blog. I’d see comments ranging from I’d lost my edge to I talk too much about feelings (ew) to I used to write about business and now it’s about “life” (because the two have nothing to do with one another, duh).

But it’s funny. Because that’s when my brand really started to take off — when I allowed myself to get sucked out.

Smart people who like to think started showing up on my Facebook page. They kept leaving blog comments. And the notes filed away in my “reader notes” folder in my email started filling way the fuck up from people who said that I had made then feel something, made a difference. And yes, I do keep every one of those notes.

Because those notes are why I wake up every day. The notes you send me. Filled with praise, questioning, curious, grateful, angry — all of them.

Your notes keep me sucked out and increidbly grateful for the moment I realized that I was an asshole. Because it’s a much better ride in this lifetime (and a much lighter load) when you’re not an asshole.

Get sucked out. Because the difference between the people who are assholes and those who aren’t is simply this:

Assholes invest in talking shit. The people who aren’t assholes are the ones who fight for ways to get shit done.

Change your people. Life’s way too goddamn short to spend with assholes.

And it’s way to godamned short to be one of them.


6 replies
  1. wpadmirer1
    wpadmirer1 says:

    I really, really like reading this. I think the root of happiness is in not being an asshole. Seeing the good people, recognizing that you can do good, trying your best to do good, all make you feel damn good. 

    Thank you for sharing your own transformation. I made that trip myself a number of years ago, and have never regretted it for one moment.

  2. LoganMeller
    LoganMeller says:

    Bravo, Red  🙂 Why is it that every time I read your blog posts I feel like standing up and cheering?!?  I feel like that with almost every one.  It’s like you inspire me or something..   😉  When I was in High School, I was one of those people who got picked on by assholes A LOT, so consequently it taught me to choose my friends very carefully.  To this day I run with a very small pack, and I prefer it that way…  More honesty and “realness”; less phonies and frauds.  I’ve always preferred to use Facebook as a tool to communicate with people I know in real life, not to meet people I’ve never seen before, so I have a personal policy of not “friending” somebody unless I know them because of some real life interaction.  It’s all part of that policy of ensuring “real” friends, not fake ones, and how else can I know they’re for real unless I’ve actually spent time with them?  In the last few years I’ve bent that rule a few times, and added some wonderful people to my life… all the while noticing my Facebook Friend count drop slowly as I asserted more of my honest opinions online.  I’m down to 185, and have made some wonderful new friends.  I count you as one of them.  <3

    Thank you for inspiring me, Erika!

  3. edgyjunecleaver
    edgyjunecleaver says:

    I love this. i also made a choice about eighteen months ago to move away from the trash talk and being an asshole. And yes, I’ve lost my edge, too. But I really like who I am now. Most of the time. I still get sucked into trash talking my boss and bitching with my co-workers. That stupid false bonding is easy to fall into. I’m hopeful that the movers and shakers with brands like you have will make malevolence so 2013.

  4. EvoletYvaine
    EvoletYvaine says:

    I just discovered your blog–and tweeting the shit out of your quotes–and I’m loving these “hard truths”. I feel like I’m in the Church of Truth when I read this. <raises hand to the sky> Preach, girlfrien’.

  5. Emerald Bixby
    Emerald Bixby says:

    I put off reading a couple of your posts until today, and I’m catching up a few at once.

    I think a couple of days ago, I wouldn’t have gotten the memo I needed from this one.

    I’ve been quite more of an asshole than a shit-doer for a while lately, I think. Thanks for the wake-up call.


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