I received an email late last week from a member of our community who has just recently left a violent home situation. Not only is she starting a new life for herself, she’s also decided to help other women in a similar situation. She asked the following question of me:
I am looking for any tips you may have that can help me embody a fraction of your strength and honesty, but more importantly, help me not chicken out.
First of all, I’ll tell you what I told her: she’s already done the bravest thing I can think of in actually leaving the environment she was in. Anything else from there is a bonus. She’s also putting herself in the service of others, which is another strong and selfless thing to do. I truly believe she’s going to go on and do rad things (I can’t tell your her name for obvious reasons, but just know that she’s glorious).
I get asked a lot about being brave. I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly brave person – put me in a small space with a moth, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. I’ve a complicated relationship with my self esteem: there are certain facets of myself and my life in which I have a quiet, unrelenting self-belief (my parenting skills, my marriage, my ability to prance on a stage in a leotard), but there are other areas of my life that may cause me to implode from anxiety and self-doubt (literally everything else).
However, it would seem a lot of you do see me as brave, which means I am a) eternally grateful and b) an excellent magician. So I sat down and thought about how I could help you guys find your inner iron, resilience and strength. I’m not an expert in any way (unless we are talking about Ru Paul’s Drag race, the early years of Madonna, or how to tell the time without looking at a watch), but I can talk you through my iron-clad thought process when dealing with the issues that I feel particularly vulnerable about.
The one that’s keeping me up most at night (besides the impending arrival of my son) is my career.
While half of my time is spent creating shows, books, merch and experiences for my community to love and enjoy, the other half is spent reminding, hustling and convincing them to consume the things I’ve made – or my family won’t eat! I left the security of a very high paying job because it stopped me from being able to do the things I love. For two glorious years I didn’t have to worry about people still liking me enough to show up for the art I made. I just made it with reckless abandon (and of course you all came anyway because you’re fabulous like that). Now it’s all on me. I’m in the middle of writing my first fiction novel and next year’s live show, and I swing between creative ecstasy and crippling fear. I have to constantly coach myself (even right now – this is like a live counselling session) to Take The Pressure Down* a notch. I desperately want my new book to out-sell my best-selling last book, so that I can compete with myself. Healthy? No. The birth of an amazingly hilarious fiction novel that definitely isn’t based on all the stories of my life that I can’t sell as a biography or I’d be sued? Yes.
The live show is flowing directly from my soul at this point in time. It’s about female rage and how we need to embrace it – Kate Miller-Heidke and I are working on the original songs, I have an all-female band, and hopefully there’ll be a dragon on stage – ’nuff said. History has shown me that if I put in real, honest and heartfelt work, you guys will show up – and that’s what makes me brave.
“Okay, Em…” I hear you fuming at the screen. “Besides this being a way for you to FLOG your wares to us, what is my take-away? You promised me bravery!”
Fair call, my love. Fair call.
Here is your take-away: Remember the times you rose like a phoenix, during the times you feel like a flaccid penis.
I mean if that’s not a fucking song lyric in the making, I don’t know what is. I should’ve put it on a picture of a sunrise, or some puppies, or a waterfall. Wait a minute:
You can’t be brave and fearless all the time, but at some point in your life you have been. That’s how I do it. If I’m feeling unsure, I reach back in for an occasion when I was owning life. When that annoying voice in my head says “you can’t”, I hit her with “yeah, but I have before and I will again”.
My all time favourite quote that doesn’t involve the cast of Steel Magnolias (honestly that film should just be made into an extra volume of the encyclopaedia Britannica) is the one I put in my book. It’s called ‘The Man in the Arena’… I just change the man bit…
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who never know victory or defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Whatever or wherever your arena is, get in it bitches. You’ve got this. (I just said that out loud to myself as well! I feel so much better, don’t you?!)
By the by this week is “bring a friend week” to my blog, so your job now is to send my words to a mate who may need a bit of steel in their veins at the moment.
*Yes, you spotted a subtle John Peter Farnham reference. We stick together like honey and the bee, okay?!
P.S I had a HUGE response to my top 5 newborn baby products blog. THANK YOU for your hundreds of comments and recommendations. Lucy and I will go through them this week and compose a helpful list for any other preggos feeling overwhelmed by all the new info out there!