I Will Never…

why i swear so much - erika napoletanoLast week, I’d completed the first version of this blog post and when I went to insert a post image, WordPress ate it up like a tasty dish of hazelnut risotto. Well, my hazelnut risotto (I make a mean risotto). But I digress. The point being that I lost the entire post, sacrificed to the Blog Gods and here I sit a week later, crafting that which has been crafted before.

I’m writing this while standing on the ledge of my 40th year. While cliché, it’s a time for introspection. Who am I? What have I become? Who do I want to be? Where do I want to go? Never a fan of woo-woo-flavored advice (and of the thought that most things in the “self-help” vein do anything but help alleviate you of a specified amount of cash), I wondered what advice I could give myself as I embark on my next 40 years.

Simple advice.

Things I know to be true, yet I might need reminding of as I gallop towards 80 and try to forget that actuarial tables would remind me that my life is statistically half over as of Monday.

So, in the spirit of brilliant risotto – which is always crafted with the simplest ingredients that join together to create the most complex of flavors – here are the promises I’m making to myself as my birthday gift for Year 40. They are simple, no doubt. But as I’ve found in the first 40 years, it’s often the simplest things that end up having the most impact in my life.

I will never again take work “because I need the money.” Needing the money is a Me Problem, and work taken on account of it makes it an Everyone Problem. I didn’t want it. I don’t like it. I deserve to do work that thrills me (clients deserve to have their work done by someone who is thrilled to be doing it). There is a difference between creating work that is rewarding and doing something to get paid.

I will never again be told I’m too much or not enough. Those who tell me I’m too loud, too harsh, too closed, not feminine enough, offensive, too curvy, too slow, too edgy, or too much or not enough of anything need to take a moment and look at their own lives. When they can show me a proof that they’ve achieved perfection, I still won’t listen – as my imperfections are the most beautiful things about me. I would rather live a life powered my Toos and others estimations of Nots than live anyone else’s life. Also, see pie chart.

I will never again offer unsolicited advice. The most annoying thing in the world (to me) is someone who knows, “Hey – you know what you should do…” The Inferno should be updated and circles of hell added to accommodate those who steal iPhones, eat anything other than blue cheese dressing with hot wings, and think that they have the solution to everything that ails everyone. No one knows what’s best for me except me. If you want my advice about something, I’m confident that you’ll ask for it or I’ll ask before offering it.

I will never again let that moment pass me by. As I’m slingshot ‘round the corner toward 40, I can think of so many moments in my life where my heart wanted one thing and my head, the other. While I know that sometimes the head must prevail (as its job is to keep me safe from some instances of passionate idiocy), my heart deserves a stronger voice.  Knowing full well that life is short, I never want to think back with regret that I let another one of those moments pass me by again. Sometimes second chances don’t come (and sometimes you don’t deserve to get one, frankly). What’s the worst that could happen when I say or do what’s in my heart? Unless it’s murder. That’s rarely in my heart. But I do have cats.

I will never forget the reason I get to wake up every day and do what I love. It’s you. My friends, my readers, my family, my colleagues, my cohorts-in-crime. I think the reason businesses and relationships fail in many cases is that we forget that success is a partnership. I can’t write without readers (well, I can, but not successfully if my goal is to be heard, humble, and affect change). We can’t create a relationship destined to last through peaks and valleys without indulging in the arts of giving, sharing, and loving. We can’t build a business without honoring the only people who can make it a success – our audience. The most important part of this whole bit, though…is the “we.” Success is never an “I” or “you.” It’s plural by design.

I will never (ever) again plague myself with can’t. There’s only one instance where can’t is allowed to escape my lips: when I’ve tried and have proof to the contrary. And even then, it might not be a can’t. It might just be a not yet. I remember a day in October of 2009 when I took my first track cycling lesson. Exhilarated to start, I was convinced inside of 30 minutes that this whole one-gear-no-brakes NASCAR-for-people-with-college-degrees-and-shittier-sponsorships was death in an oval. On the drive home that afternoon, though, I told myself that I owed it to myself to give it one more try. So I took another lesson – and I realized that my can’t had turned into an “Well, I just might…” Which turned into three lessons a week, ordering a custom bike, and discovering a sport that makes me get up early in the morning with a smile on my face, excited for whatever bit of dirt (my latest passion) or pavement lies ahead. It’s hard – it always will be. But to think I almost missed out on something I love because I thought, “I can’t…” Fuck. That.

So I’ll turn it over to you – your nevers. The best thing I can ever hope to do is start a conversation, so I want to hear what your nevers might be. And like the can’ts, they’re all borne from having the audacity to try. I sure as hell like trying.  Doing. Goddamn, I love trying and doing.

I think you might, too.

37 comments
Colette BR
Colette BR

I am late to the party but I will never again white wash myself to please others. I will never again dumb myself down to keep my fans, I will never again do TV just because everybody else is doing it, I will never again conform to other people's expectations so I won't " lose" an opportunity. I have a zillion more never agains. Erika you rock. Everyone stuck needs to call you. You helped me immensely the other day. 

Colette BR
Colette BR

@Erika Napoletano @Colette BR me too - I am snorting up all your blogs now. I think one of the most profound things you do is give people permission to be themselves. This level of authenticity is contagious.

Liz Patt
Liz Patt

I will never again do the "expected" thing -- I bought into the white picket fence and the bajillion dollars of debt once. No more!

danny
danny

well damn girl, happy fucking 40th birthday! i'm pushing 49 now and i have embarked on a completely new field for making money. it ain't going great yet but it will soon. most people tell me to go get a job, as well as my wife, but i know i can make this work because i have passion and some good peeps telling me to go forward. forties are a great time to look forward and see the future and all it has to offer. cha ching. i am so happy to have found your blog and the tmf project and the pajama productivity and my first, crissy queen of fucking everything. keep up the nice work erika. enjoy your birthday and i'll raise a glass to you on monday, jack daniels preferrably

Ash Ambirge
Ash Ambirge

I will never again: 1. Write about boob jobs (Andddd we all know that's a lie) 2. Forget to outline client expectations so we're both on the same page 3. Commit to things I realistically shouldn't commit to. (Oh, the people pleasing side of me aches!) 4. Forget that we're all humans. And as such, we're all just looking to be understood...whoever we are. <3

Jim Matorin
Jim Matorin

Bon anniversaire Erika. My gift to you is this little kernel of arborio rice: "Be who you are and say what you feel because those that mind don't matter and those that matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss I will never worry about those variables in life I can not control.

Juan Carlos Vara Perez
Juan Carlos Vara Perez

I will never hit "Publish" without copying the content of the post to the clipboard and dumping it into a Google doc. Crazy annoying when it gets eaten by the lag monster, or sacrificed to the WordPress gods. I will never stop listening to those who have more experience than I do, even if I'll take their advice with a grain of salt and think hard about how it fits my life and/or situation. And frankly, as long as you keep posting, I will never stop reading your advices. Also, happy birthday when it comes, and remember that statistics are made so we can work hard to get off the charts. You go, lady, show'em what you got.

John
John

As a loyal reader 10 years your senior, I love your list of "I Will...". Do your best to take your excellent advice. The next 10 years (perhaps the most important of your life) will seem to pass in an instant, possibly making the difference between what Will Be and what Never Was.

Vidya Sury
Vidya Sury

I will never again get worked up over ridiculous comments and the opinions of others especially when they have no idea wtf it is all about.

Karen Hemmerle
Karen Hemmerle

I will never again apologize for being myself, doing what I want, or saying or writing what I think.

ShellyKramer
ShellyKramer

Sometimes unsolicited advice isn't so bad. I offered you some once and it was the beginning of a great friendship.Then I offered you a bunch more. It might have actually been characterized as bossing, but that's just semantics. And I'd like to think that what I suggested when you didn't ask for my advice but I barged in and offered it anyway might've helped change the course of your life in some small way. Sometimes saying "never" is tricky. I've been thinking about your bday all week .... hope it's a spectacular one!!! xo

Amelia Morrison Hipps
Amelia Morrison Hipps

I applaud your list and those are all excellent promises to make to oneself at any time - major milestone or not. However, I must confess that I have no "I will never again …" statements to add, because I removed the word from my vocabulary years ago. May seem weak on my part, but after the upteenth time of life coming back and making me swallow my "never again …" statements, I just just removed it. I've learned in my 52 years and almost 9 months (come Sunday it will be), that life has sometimes not-so-funny – and sometimes funny – ways of letting you know never is a long, long time. So, while I applaud your list, I would have to word the beginning as follows: "I will not ever again …" Play on words? Yep. Just don't like the word "never."

TracyKaye
TracyKaye

I will never again pull punches when it comes to telling anybody the truth about anything. No more mamby pamby approaches, no more putting the shine on the rose before shoveling the excrement sandwich. I will be kind because I am, but I will be direct. Man I have no more time for whiners, complainers, people who think they deserve what they don't work for, and passive aggressives. Please, God, if you're listening, I promise to my hold up my end of the bargain if you could curtail the passive aggresive onsluaght just a skoach. I'll be a good girl, I promise.

Joel MacCollam
Joel MacCollam

"40" is when people started to take my professional life seriously. I didn't do anything differently because of my 40, but "they" did. Your wise and mature (and fun)_ already, but now your FB "likes": should skyrocket. You have transcended one of our culture's artificial barriers.

Janine Smith
Janine Smith

I will never again miss an opportunity to thank someone for something they've done for me. Preferably in writing on really nice paper. Especially if they don't know me, and I send it to their boss (that gardener at the fancy resort? I'm told he cried when they gave him my thank-you note).

Paul Jones
Paul Jones

I own what I do, what I try, and what I fear. Its up to no one other than me, to get me to try. Except Bleu Cheese. That makes me gag.

John Trader
John Trader

*tink* -- that's the sound of me raising my beer growler and toasting your first 40 and wishing you continued ass kickness in the next 40. I will never forget that my problems are tiny specs in a vast galaxy compared to those less fortunate than me. Instead of lamenting and boo hooing about things that bother me or present a problem I will always remember that there are billions of others who struggle to provide the basic necessities for themselves and their families. Damn our materialistic culture for ingraining in most the idea that life's possessions are what define you. I will never forget that they mean nothing, the only thing that matters is the happiness you bring to others through altruism and sacrifice.

Nikki Groom
Nikki Groom

I will never allow myself to be hemmed in through fear of what "Other People" might think. Fuck 'em. This is MY life.

David Farrell
David Farrell

I will never go and read a link on Twitter which has Kindle/Amazon book in it, because there are far too many people calling themselves "writers" on Twitter when they can't write for shit.

Mike Masin
Mike Masin

I will never see 40 again and I will never regret what I did when I was on the other side of 40.

AliCatCO
AliCatCO

I will never say "yes" when I mean "no". I used to take on too much because I didn't want to say "no" and now I take pleasure in saying "no". P.S. Welcome to 40, you're in good company.

Rich Mackey
Rich Mackey

I swore 2-ish years ago that I would never bail on plans with friends because work had a "last minute something or other." Almost did it last night, but I stopped myself and said "Nope. I have plans to have tamales with friends. While that may sound trivial, it's important to me - so I'm not available tonight for a work dinner." And I didn't get fired. So I'll take this moment to remind myself of that one. Friends. Family. Life. All more important than "that work thing."

Mike July
Mike July

Nice post as always - but what does that have to do with turning 40?

Jamie Wallace
Jamie Wallace

I will never fence myself in with assumed impossibilities, unlikelihoods, or "not-for-me's." Instead, I will say, "Why not?" and then, "Why not me?" and then, "Why not now?" :)

Amy C. Teeple
Amy C. Teeple

Welcome (almost) to your 40s! I just joined this group this year myself. I feel pretty great and in the best shape of my life (well, since high school) and a big part of that is that I, too, have started cycling. Moving forward with no complaints! Have a great birthday!

D.T. Pennington
D.T. Pennington

I will never not hit publish or upload because I'm scared of what my audience will think.

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