“Your epidermis is showing.”
This, the earliest memory of scorching taunts from my highly intellectual brother.
Clearly, i was in perpetual fear that some sort of body part was lurking outside it’s clothed boundary. And in the 70′s, i couldn’t exactly google it. So after hunting down my Webster’s, i learned the meaning, and shortly thereafter he moved onto the next form of sibling torture.
But this memory stays with me.
It stays with me because i like to be liked. And liking to be liked is a hard game to play in life.
Because it means you need to watch your words. Not be too controversial. Always be optimistic, careful in the times you cast doubt, lest you lose your facade of being an overly optimistic, but seldom harsh, individual.
Contrasting with that is also my utmost need to create chaos and be overly melodramatic. It’s true, and i have done the testing to prove it.
So on a daily (if not hourly) basis, the “pleaser vs. chaos” left shoulder/right shoulder forces are hard at work on my soul, and somewhere in the middle my brain makes a decision.
Usually chaos wins.
But lately, my latent pleaser has reared her ugly head and really challenged my ability to speak my mind. It has taunted me, fearsomely, with the consequences of being judged harshly – namely, that it sucks.
I stop writing this blog, something out of which i get such JOY.
I choose my words carefully in the world of social media, so that not one of them can be spun out of context.
I warn others of their words (three times, just this last week!), for fear that they, too could be harshly criticized by others.
So i needed a proverbial kick in the ass. I needed that “thing” to expose my skin, to test it’s thickness.
And i got it.
Attending the 2012 International Women’s Forum World Leadership Conference this last week.
The subject, “Ideas Remaking the World – In a New Age of Discovery.”
The 2 day meeting kicked off with a panel on “Radical Openness.”
Out onto the stage walked Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. Donned in a patchwork plaid jacket and jeans, he spoke openly about “authorship,” the neutrality of Wikipedia, his extraordinarily influential role in social media…. And (thick skin) about his stance on Wikileaks.
which is this…
If we do not promote openness in Government documents, then the government itself will fear that it will be hacked (which inevitably someone will have the ability to do), and the result of that “non-recordness” – in that they will cease to create documents – will be at stake. The very foundation of how we trace history will be lost.
(disclaimer: i am TOTALLY summarizing what he said in terms of my brain retention, i did not – for fear of hacking ? – write down his exact words).
Another disclaimer: the above disclaimer shows my “pleaser” side – so that in the 1/1,000,000 chance Jimmy actually reads this he does not rail me for incorrectly summarizing him.
Then Ben Keesey walked out, and was asked the lesson he learned when a video goes completely bat-shit viral when published on You Tube.
He said, “make sure that when it happens, you have more than a single intern as your PR department.”
The second thick skin moment for me happened during a panel on female founders rising in the world of entrepreneurship.
Skyping in was Ann Miura-Ko, basically known as the single most powerful angel investor of Silicon Valley.
If you want to start a company, she’s “da proverbial bomb.” And on stage for the panel were three other extraordinary women (a shorter blog is a better blog, and i still have a lot to say, so please google them, they are mind-blowing. i have supplied the link), Leah Busque, Mariam Naficy, and Pooja Sankar).
The big learnings from this panel?
_if you have an idea, but you merely “like” it vs. LOVE it, you won’t survive the inevitable downs of being an entrepreneur.
_Just because you’ve been unsuccessful at something in the past, does NOT mean you won’t be successful at the very same thing in the future. (that comes with facing your weaknesses head on and dedicating yourself to mastering them).
_no one knows what you are capable of more than yourself.
_ NOT BEING LOVED IS A REALITY. Minimize your operational risk, and accept there is a whole new form of “social” risk.
_women need more access to information flow. That means access to conversations that happen over happy hour, on the golf course, at the freaking URINAL.
_Gender neutral is good. Invest in the best talent, the best Founder, period.
And throughout all this, something broke in me. for the good.
A layer of thick skin started to once again become porous.
And it is the reason i am writing again today, after almost 3 1/2 months of silence.
So i’m just going to put a few things out there – thoughts that enrich my chaotic side and dampen my pleaser side.
Firstly is this.
I don’t believe in God.
I do believe that when one dies, there is something more. And i believe this because of actual testimony from those who have spent extensive time “dead,” and come back to life. A light, A force, A source. There is something there. But to believe in a God that created the world in six days, in my opinion, is absurd, as one cannot dispute the science behind the creation of the Universe. And if we all follow the bible, then my gay and lesbian friends cannot wed each other.
Furthermore, i don’t want to have to live my life in a way that assures i have a super awesome afterlife. I WANT to make some incredibly BAD decisions. I want to mess up so horribly that if Hell existed i just might qualify. Not through intent, but through the premise that failure makes us better.
So what comes when i die? I don’t know. But the Bible does not “tell me so.” I’ll find that out when i get there. I have faith that it’ll be alright.
So i’ll take science any day. And i will quote from a tweet from Ricky Gervais last week that said, “Dear Religion, this week i safely dropped a man from space while you shot a child in the head from wanting to go to school. Yours, Science.”
need i say more?
Secondly, what the hell is up with people who still use leaf blowers? Honestly, we may all as well be driving around town in Hummers. To move a leaf from HERE to THERE with a machine that uses gas is fundamentally arcane. It’s a leaf. You won’t trip on it. So if it bothers you, if it makes your perfectly manicured lawn suck, rake it.
Thirdly, social media is for everyone. It’s not for those who are experts in a particular subject. This comes as i have read a few status updates from friends admonishing those who are not totally schooled in the subject on which they are speaking.
I am not an expert in ANYTHING i say. But that is the beauty of a democracy, of our Constitution, and face it, of the premise of social media.
To exclude a voice because they “don’t know what they’re talking about” is to turn Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, et al, into sites only for the uber-intellectual, which hurts us all. It’s bullying. All voices, no matter how far off base, are at the crux of our civil liberties, and quite frankly, need to be heard.
Fourthly (a word? YES!), gun control, capital punishment, and legalization of marijuana. I’ll take this point by point.
Gun control – bullshit. If a person wants to access a gun, he or she will get one. I do believe in our constiutional right to bear arms, though i do not believe i will ever choose to exercise that right. In my own obscure point of view (having never owned nor shot an assault rifle – and admittedly it’s on my bucket list), i generally believe that those who go through the legal process of obtaining a gun should be able to do so. I subscribe to the notion that it is not guns that kill people but people themselves.
Capital punishment – go for it. For those that are found unarguably and completely guilty of the most heinous of crimes, you should be DEAD.
Legalization of marijuana – I support. In the most basic and uneducated terms (see “thirdly”), and having been under the influence of both this drug, and that of alcohol (does that sentence negate me from ever running for public office???? shit!!!), i can say with all due respect, and in my humble opinion, that i find the latter leads to much worse offenses than the former. And, per my gun control comment, those who want drugs will find them regardless, so the legalization at least warrants a discussion on control and regulation should my daughter ever wish to experiment. ”Under the market” is more dangerous than “over the market”. period. (and i may have just made up those terms)
And finally, this.
I am not a bleeding feminist liberal.
I am a female liberal, who’s proverbial and literal blood will run if my skin is cut.
And in that, i do not fundamentally understand how, as a woman, one could vote for our Republican nominee for Commander in Chief. So my theories, for those females that are voting for him, are the following:
1) You are a LDS female, and your faith runs deeper than your politics. It’s cool. He exemplifies the Mormon faith, and having grown up in Utah, i don’t agree with it, but i see how that is possible.
2) You are a female living amongst the 1% and want more. Be that a corporation or an individual. You worked hard for your money, and no government is going to take that away from you, goddamnit. And i say this as an occupant of the 1%. But i don’t die with it, so what the hell?
3) You know Mitt. You have worked for him as a female, and found him to be a GOOD man. A strong leader. A guy who can balance a budget. And abortion isn’t really something that will affect you. Generally, what is decided upon for you on the control of your uterus is something that is not important in everyday life. You probably have not been impregnated from rape or have ever needed the services of Planned Parenthood (and you cannot try to defend his stance on that… he has overtly stated that if elected he will work to overturn Roe v. Wade).
4) You believe that global warming is bullshit. That coal is our friend. That all that plastic in the ocean is not a big deal so what the hell with plastic bags. Really, we should really worry more about other issues, because all that undisputed evidence around our planet not being able to sustain our abuse of it is just left wing scientific theories with no basis, and you know that because big oil is telling you so.
At this IWF conference of a dear friend of mine and fierce environmentalist, David de Rothschild, referenced R. Buckminster Fuller’s analogy that we all live on “spaceship earth.” OK, so it sounds crazy. but give me a second.
Nature is our airplane. It is the vessel on which we live.
So who is flying the ship? Me? you? who?
NATURE. That’s who flies it. It OWNS us. The hurricanes, the tsunamis, the earthquakes, they pilot our ship. Nature doesn’t back down if we ask her politely to do so.
When our spaceship is going down because we are causing it to crash, we can’t just ring the call button and ask for more “champagne and nuts.” The pilots are dying, the flight attendant is passed out.
WE have to be the agents of change. All of us.
Just a few things in the 3 1/2 months i’ve been dormant.
It’s time for chaos to rule, the pleaser to go back to 7th grade where “mean girls” was a reality.
In all my posts, i have only taken down one. It is safely tucked away, taken off the internet due to direct threats to my family.
And each post teaches me something, not because of the words I write, but because of the words YOU write in response.
So come after me. Test the thickness of my skin. Make me squirm, fry, wish i regretted every word.
Because here’s the thing.
Life is short and life is big and life is about expression and life is about showing every single skin cell.
We are alive for a second, and Darwin deemed it so.
So call me a bitch, call me a liar, call me whatever you are compelled to write. i can handle it. I love my epidermis.
and it IS showing.