“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!), capital punishment, and legalization of marijuana. I’ll take this point by point.
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.
Hi Andrea, I enjoyed your blog!
You should watch this TED- I’ll bet it will change you…if only a little bit. He has a few interesting ideas. 1) You’re more than the worst thing you’ve done 2) 1 out of 9 people on death row are exonerated.
Food for thought.
Hi John! thank you for the link… i shall watch it tonight!!!
I know you don’t me but I have read your blog for some time….I enjoy your pictures tremendously! I find yor writing interesting and thought-provoking. I don’t always agree with you…but that’s okay. I believe diversity of thought is as important as diversity of culture and ethnicity! I’m really glad you decided to write again. I think putting your thoughts and opinions out for all to see…and comment on is incredibly brave. Thank you for choosing to share. I’ve missed you.
wow, Denise… thank you so incredibly much. i am honored you read my random words and even more honored to read your reply. Amen to diversity of thought, and anytime you’d like to share your thoughts, be it public of private, it would be my humble honor to hear them. Have an amazing week. Andrea.
You know AC, for all of our differences, this post made me realize how many points of view we share. That’s refreshing in that people are allowed to have diverse opinions and sometimes still fall beneath of the same point of view. Oh, and chaos, let chaos reign! What’s that saying? I’d rather regret the things I have done, than to regret those I have not done. This was an inspiring post. I have more respect from you than I can say.
Ahhhh, my Diva pal! what a heartfelt and warm reply. thank you for the feedback, i’m still waiting for the one that sets me spinning, but what i’m hearing from a lot of folks is the “we may not always agree, but the one thing on which we can all agree is open discussion and respect for one another.” now, let’s go shoot that gun! hugs, AC
yes, open discussion and respect, something too many need to learn. So many times people hear the first word, form an opinion and it’s all downhill from there. And you just let me know a time and we’ll go to the gun range!
uh, that should have been “for you” and not “from you.” Damn getting old as a blonde!
What is it they say ” well behaved women seldom make history”? Chaos is a constant challenge to keep moving, keep thinking, keep getting better. Differences of opinions create dialog and open mind-ness. Judgement brings disrespect and hate. It is not easy being true to yourself and your beliefs, and thats one of the reasons why i love who you are.
I have learned so much from reading your blogs, whether i agree with them or not is irrelevant, because in the end you have pushed me to take a deeper and different look at life, and just for that I am SO THANKFUL for you and your friendship.
As always AC, I appreciate your honesty and the boldness to speak openly about your views and opinions. Its good to stand for something (especially in these times), else “we’ll stand for anything.” Each of us has been shaped by our up-bringing, our loved ones, our experiences and other pivotal life moments. Your voice has inspired many to find their own voice. By speaking up, we illicit a conversation and hopefully find understanding, tolerance and mutual respect. Part of that respect also includes a realization that certain positions may never align between two people. Hopefully, love, respect and admiration still drives the two to new and uncharted waters … where both discover something new just by sharing who they are with each other. Your post only provokes me to share who I am. I don’t see it as my challenging you, but more-so as a reciprocation of your thoughtful post in the spirit of sharing in return.
I am a Christian, African-American Husband and Father. My blood comes from ancestors of slaves. The concept of generational wealth … unknown, because opportunity had to come from “nothing.” Every generation had to fight for the next … grandparents repeatedly harassed by the KKK in the south … my mother’s house burned to the ground (by hate crime) when she was a toddler. My parents come of age … and fight some more … never blaming anyone, just digging deep and working hard for their kids (unspeakable sacrifice that would make most parents buckle at the knees) … and as adversity reared its head from time to time, I learned the importance of Faith. When life seemed impossible for us, God brought us through and my Faith grew. For me, it wasn’t about dogma … it wasn’t about joining a club … and excluding certain groups of people (i.e. “I’m in / you’re out.”) … it was about finding out what God’s Word truly intended … to help us build a relationship with our Master and each other. As wildly imperfect as I am, God is more real to me than this earthly life. And his time transcends my understanding of time and space. I just know He’s there … for me. I’m not supposed to condemn another individual (lest I be judged) if they have another set of beliefs. That’s not even Christian, when unfortunately a lot in my faith fall into the temptation to do it. My only hope is that others might see the Christ that lives within me (especially if I’m not being an ass on a given day; ask my wife when those days are), and become curious to know a bit more about what makes me tick. I would never “preach” someone into blindly following what I believe … I can only share and leave that at the foot of whoever’s willing to listen … and even better, hopefully provoke an opportunity for them to share with me in return. We’re still babies and we have a ton to share with each other. I am also a dreamer … and I think something (someone) put that in me. When the world said I couldn’t … or that I wasn’t good enough … or that I didn’t have the skill or experience … the seed was planted from somewhere, and nurtured by my loving parents … and hopefully something I will never take for granted so that my kids will take the seed and bloom …kgb