Jessica: Adult Women Who Wear Stupid Hats

Name

Jessica

Web

j-g-park.com

Issues

Adult women (especially ones who appear to be in their 30s or older) who wear animal-shaped hats (e.g., pandas, sock monkeys, kitty ears) in public, but not in contexts where costumes or unusual dress would be expected, like a comics convention or music festival.

First occurrence?

Around 2012

Frequency

Whenever I see one of these women, mostly in cold weather months

Duration

For maybe an hour after seeing a woman in an animal hat, if I have time to Google, I’ll find articles taking my side that grown women shouldn’t wear kitty-ear hats.

Evolution

Worse.

Reason

I don’t know if it’s envy, resentment or an unpleasant reminder of a past where I was unhappy. I won’t bore you with the details, but I used to call myself an artist. And I used to dress… differently. I dyed my hair unusual colors, bought weird clothes from thrift stores, and I crocheted my own unusual hats and wore them. I seemed to enjoy looking strange and getting comments. I would wear Halloween wigs in spring, wear neon orange gortex jackets as blazers, buy shoes just because they were ugly. I’d come up with unusual looks, like my life was performance art. I had fun, sometimes, but I think my style was so over the top partly because I thought I was ugly—an issue that a toxic boyfriend I was with for far too long in my 20s encouraged. He never called me pretty, ever, and said he was proud not to be dating a conventionally attractive girl, because it meant he wasn’t shallow.

I think I thought if I tried to dress like a “normal” woman, people would just see this ugly weird girl trying to think she can pull off normal.

Meanwhile, at the same time, I was depressed and not getting treatment for it. I let my boyfriend dissuade me. Instead I tried some psychedelic drugs, which probably didn’t help. My career was flailing—I couldn’t hold down a job or find one I liked long enough to stay more than a year or two, at most. And then the mean boyfriend who thought he was great for dating a not-pretty girl became physically abusive.

I’m 40 now. I dumped and distanced myself from the abusive boyfriend. I stopped the experiments and saw a doctor for antidepressants, which have really helped. I started seeing, then married a guy who told me he couldn’t believe how pretty I was on the first date.

During the economic downturn, after an exhausting search, I landed a job in a conservative company in a conservative industry was determined not to lose it. That meant no more face piercings, manic panic hair colors, rainbow platform sneakers, wearing mechanic shirts with strange men’s names on them as a dress shirt or a raincoat as a blazer. I checked out books from the library on how to dress for the office, I felt so clueless. I had a department store sales clerk show me how to put on makeup properly. I went to a nail salon repeatedly just to study all the steps so I could buy products to do my own at home. I have a hairdresser that I’ve been with nearly as long as I’ve been married. I’ve slowly built a wardrobe of nice, professional looking, tasteful clothes. I sold off the weird stuff to a consignment shop—let the students buy it. I still have my own preferences—I carry a Betsey Johnson bag, not a Michael Kors; I love wearing solid colored tights; I’m not a slave to trends; etc.

Not only have kept the job I felt lucky to find 7 years ago, I’ve been great at it. I’ve been promoted a couple of times. I always get stellar performance reviews. I was named employee of the month in a company with almost 2000 employees. And i really like my job. I keep learning new things and taking on new challenges.

I think when I go to the grocery store and see a woman about my age in a panda bear hat, I might be projecting onto her the person I was when I was inclined to wear panda hats to the grocery store. I think, “Well of course she must think dressing goofy will deflect criticism from your body or face, like I used to.” Maybe I presume her love life is miserable or her career is going nowhere. Maybe I think she’s afraid of taking on responsibility and is clinging to an identity like being an artist for the sake of being an artist.

Or maybe I resent that these women still feel free not to care what people think about them. Maybe if weirder, younger me had found a better boyfriend in my 20s, I’d still be dressing off the wall and loving it.

Maybe I’m making up lies that I prefer looking this way—although I do. Nobody’s ever said “You’re an ugly person trying to look like an attractive one.” In fact, well, I get attention from men that I didn’t get when I dressed funny. I’m not looking but… I admit it’s a little nice. It’s like, hey, guess what, you weren’t ugly after all. They just couldn’t see how pretty you were under all that novelty yarn and glitter.

I have struggled with feeling like an impostor over success at my job and have even been to therapy about it. I sometimes feel like people at work are going to discover I’m an unloveably weird person underneath my professional presentation. It’s like I’m straddling two worlds—too square for the weirdos, too weird for the squares. The ladies with the Michael Kors purses and the ladies in the panda hats know who they are, but I don’t.

But do you like  butter?

Yes but I found out very recently that I’m allergic ūüôĀ

Teneasha: People Who Walk Side By Side and Block Everyone Else

Name

Teneasha Pierson

Web

instagram.com/tmpierson

Issues

Hi Anna,

I love the show. I just listened to the episode with Josh Radner and had to write in my issues so I can concentrate and get back to work. Like Josh I have a list. Unlike Josh I do get really internally angry about these things. I’m super mellow and upbeat but when these things happen I become the incredible Hulk inside…and I curse people out in my head.

1. Friends who have to walk side by side on the sidewalk and take up the entire sidewalk so people walking in the other direction have to either bump them or walk in the street to get around them. It just speaks to a co-dependence and lack of respect for others.

2. Slow talkers. Slow talkers send me into a spiral of insanity. As they talk super slow in my head I think…hurry up and get your point out, are you dumb, do you think I’m dumb, are you high, are you present, why are you wasting my time.

3. People who don’t clean up after themselves in public places, particularly fast food restaurants. Yes, fast food restaurants hire people to keep the place tidy but clean up after yourself. Don’t make people’s lives harder for your own convenience.

4. People who try to make you feel bad because you’ve made a choice that they wouldn’t have made. This one is fresh because one of my coworkers did this to another coworker this morning. Coworker A went to a concert over the weekend. He had a blast, he said it was in a super hot venue…tons of people and he was sweating like crazy. He didn’t bring a change of clothes and had to wear his sweaty pants going home the following day. Coworker B is like ewww you wore pants with butt sweat…she said it like 5 times before I interjected and was like…IT WAS HIS SWEAT. It’s ok if he wore his pants with his own sweat because he didn’t have another option.

5. People who’ve gone on vacation or a short work trip and come back like they have any clue about the culture. I was on a conference call and this lady spent 1 month in Kenya and she gets on the conference call and is like “Habari Yako” which is a Kiswahili greeting and goes on and on about what she’s discovered about Kenya. I lived in Kenya for 2 years I have never and will never bust out a local language greeting unless I run into someone I know is a Kiswahili speaker. First, I think it’s bragging. Second, I think its falsely pumping yourself up to be this super cultured person. I will admit that there is some racial things that frustrates me because this was an older white lady who spoke about Kenyan people in a way that I took to be belittling…like they needed this savior to speak their truth.

For the questions below I’ll take frustration #1 because I live by a university and I go through this so often and it drives me nuts.

…sorry this is so long but I just finished typing and I feel so much more at ease.

Oh no…here’s another that just popped up…People who don’t get the Black Lives Matter Movement. (and even worse the people who rebuttal the movement with All Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter.) Ahhhhhh. There have been at least 16 unarmed black men who have been killed by the police in the last 30 days…do you really want the loss of all or blue (are you comparing an occupation to a race?) lives that would warrant a movement? We don’t!

First occurrence?

I realized this was an issue for me maybe 10 years ago. In the past month it’s been really tested.

Frequency

Weekly

Duration

I live by a university. This usually happens about 5 minutes into my walk from the train station, which is the time I’m passing the university and I’m PISSED the rest of my 10 minute walk into a few minutes of being home.

Evolution

YES. YES. YES. I have changed my routine to try to avoid this because I can feel there’s only a few more times I can take this before I will have to say something. If i come home around 7 at night this is more likely to happen because some sports practice gets out and they’re all walking in groups taking up the whole fucking sidewalk.

Reason

I get really frustrated with people who don’t know their place in the world, that the world is not all about them and just overall an inconsideration for others. This action makes me feel like they’re saying:

1. I’m here, you move.
2. You aren’t worth a second of discomfort.
3. I’m so enthralled in what I’m doing that I don’t even notice you.
4. You aren’t important
5. You don’t exist

But do you love peanut butter?

Yes, with apples.

Meghan Daum

Wisdom From a Bestselling Author

Many people write me who want to know how they can become successful writers. I only have my experience to go on and since we are all snowflakes and blah blah blah, I turned to several best-selling writers I know and asked them. First up: Meghan Daum.

Meghan is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author whose latest collection of original essays The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, won the 2015 PEN Center USA Award for creative nonfiction. She is also the editor of the New York Times bestseller ¬†Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers ¬†on the Decision Not To Have Kids. Then there’s ¬†the essay collection My Misspent Youth, the novel The Quality of Life Report, and the memoir ¬†Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House.

She’s also been an ¬†opinion columnist at The Los Angeles Times since 2005, covering cultural and political topics—an excellent gig for her since she happens to have a great many opinions. Other credits include writing for ¬†The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Vogue. She is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and is an adjunct associate professor in the MFA Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

When I asked her the biggest issue she’s had to overcome in her writing career, here’s what she told me:

My biggest issue has been wanting people to like everything that I’ve written or agree with everything that I say. It was actually ¬†a great liberation to realize that if everyone does like it and agrees with it, that’s actually a failed endeavor. What you want is to have equal amounts people hating it and loving it. I always say, “No one is going to love you unless somebody hates you.”

Shawn: People Who Drain the Office Coffee Pot

Name

Shawn Sarazin

Web

@sesaraz

What’s your issue?

When you go to the coffee pot at work and exactly two drops spill into your cup. It’s not late afternoon; it’s 9:19am. The person walking out of the break room as you walked in has a full cup of coffee AND knowledge that they left the pot empty. They either: lack knowledge of how to make more coffee; are too lazy to make more; or (worst) just don’t care.

This lack of common courtesy expresses itself in other ways in my life: an empty ice cube tray in the freezer at home (yes, in 2016, I don’t have a built in ice maker; I use ice cube trays). When I was actively drinking, this was a giant sore spot. I wanted ice for my cocktails! Now, I want it for my Perrier or my limeade or Pepsi.

First Occurrence

20 years ago when I started in the work force

Frequency

Weekly

Duration

Until I get back to my desk after setting up fresh pots and waiting to get my mug loaded with steaming hot java.

Evolution

Better

What do you think is the reason this bothers you?

It’s the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. We like when things are done for us, we should also do them for others.

Someone came in and got a cup of hot coffee, and it undoubtedly was running out as their cup filled. They liked it and want it again next time, so set it so the next person coming in gets a hot cup, too. My kids like having ice available for their water bottles, so should make more ice if they use a tray so there’s some for the next person who comes along.

Okay, now onto what’s really important: do you like peanut butter?

YES! In Reese’s PB Cups, on a sandwich, on a spoon, mixed into ice cream… how can I count the ways?

What Was Your Inciting Incident?

So what’s your point of view? And what was the inciting incident that gave it to you? Where does the passion come from?

These are questions I was asked in the past week and the notable thing about this is that it wasn’t asked in the context of a script or a story, which has to be when this is asked at least 99% of the time. I was asked this ¬†about my life.

The reason for this is somewhat  cheesy maybe.

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It’s that I’ve been wanting to do more public speaking and, with apologies to myself, I don’t think the two talks I’ve developed for college students ¬†are all that great. I worked hard to come up with, and then deliver, talks that encapsulated what I feel are ¬†important messages but trying to do that, adding a PowerPoint and knowing you’re doing it for college students (arguably a group less interested than ¬†any group in the world in going to hear some chick they probably haven’t heard of talk) is a Sisyphean task and that boulder is heavy.

I’ve spoken at about 15 schools over the past few years and some of the experiences have been spectacular. I like a crowd, which is to say that when no one shows up, whether it’s a talk or a storytelling show or a party or a meeting, I feel deflated. People say, “All you need to do is reach one person so it doesn’t matter if one person’s there or 200” and that may well be true or enough for some folks ¬†but I just can’t get all fired up when there are four people in the room, one of whom I bribed to be there by telling him I’d give him ¬†a free copy of my book ¬†(this actually happened at a college I spoke at in the Midwest). But oh, when the colleges have put effort into it (and by effort I mean required students to attend), the experiences have been epic. There have been hundreds of kids who’ve shown up and they’ve done all the laughing and crying and participating we all dream of. ¬†When I’ve talked about alcoholism and recovery, I’ve had kids who’d never heard anyone speak openly about the topic come up to me and share ¬†their own problems and the problems of family members for the first time in their lives. I’ve received emails from people afterwards that have literally changed my life.

Anyway, enough about me and blowing smoke up my own ass. The point is that even though the talks aren’t the most excellent writing I’ve ever done, I know how to sell them if there’s a crowd wanting to be sold to. But ¬†I want to come up with new talks and I don’t know how. And recently I was at a dinner party where someone happened to be talking about a couple he knew who wrote speeches for people—everything from wedding toasts to TED Talks. He put me in touch with them and while I don’t know for sure if we’re going to be working together (I haven’t gotten the final word about the cash I’d have to lay down), I got over this “I’m a writer so of course I should write what I speak” and realized I may well be a writer but I’m not a speech writer and there’s no shame in that.

So I had a fascinating initial call with the guy,  where he posed the question about my POV/the inciting incident in my life/my passion. What, he asked, drives me?

It occurred to me that I don’t really know and that this may be a solid clue as to why my public speaking career isn’t more robust. Sure, I talk and write about finding recovery and how it’s nothing like I expected it to be. Yes, I try to do what I can to destigmatize how people view addiction and mental illness. But what does that all add up to? And ¬†I finally asked myself something I never had: WHY DO I DO WHAT I DO? Why didn’t I become a lawyer the way my dad told me I should?

I’m still trying to figure that out. I seem to make career moves far more by instinct than by following some ¬†well-laid out plan. I think it’s why I’ve published six books on six entirely different topics and in different genres rather than following the sort of ¬†clean, clear, concise path ¬†so many other authors/podcasters/speakers have. I think my point of view has to do with breaking out of the identities our parents and society and we have saddled ourselves with—not only because we’re constantly evolving but also because no one is any one thing, no matter how much simpler it makes life to believe we are. I think it comes from ¬†how much freedom I’ve gotten from realizing I didn’t have to live by other people’s definitions of me and wanting other people to experience that. Was there an inciting incident where I got that? Alas, my life is not a movie. My second act bleeds into my first which seems to have elements of my third act ¬†and God knows there have been no musical montages.

Of course it’s hard, if not impossible, to sum up a life POV in a few sentences. ¬†Still working it out, folks. But it got me wondering: should we all have a clear point of view or passion in life? ¬†And if that’s the case, what’s yours?

The Top 10 Relationship Tips I Got Out of a John Gray Talk

1) When men are moody, their estrogen tends to be going up. When men are confident and give women what they need, their testosterone rises. Becoming successful increases a man’s testosterone but the more successful he is, the bigger the crash when the woman causes his ¬†estrogen to rise when she’s upset.

2) When a woman is stressed, her blood flow goes to the limbic system and she has 8 times the emotional reaction than men to moderate stress. When men get stressed, their blood leaves the limbic system and they get detached.

3) When a woman is stressed she ¬†needs empathy and a ¬†detached man cannot feel empathy. He ¬†feels like he doesn’t know what to do and then ¬†loses confidence, which causes his testosterone to turn into estrogen.

4) When a man does nothing, or watches sports, it rebuilds his testosterone. He gives advice because solving problems is a testosterone thing. But giving advice to women when they’re upset is never going to work.

5) A woman lowers her stress level by talking. Trying to talk a woman out of her feelings is like pouring gasoline on a fire. A man should say, “Help me understand you better” and “Tell me more” ¬†and not ¬†explain to her why she’s wrong.

6) A man’s thinking is never do anything you don’t have to do. He conserves energy for emergencies.

7) A woman’s thinking is that the man should be a mind reader; instead she has to ask him for things.

8) A woman’s entire desire is to feel safe; a man’s job isn’t to make her happy but to make her feel safe. If he doesn’t, she blames him and then man loses confidence, which triggers his fight or flight and activates his mirror cells so he becomes angry.

9) When a woman feels heard, it raises her oxytocin. Every act of love, big or little, registers the same for a woman; if you get her 1 gardenia or 100 gardenias, she’s going to have the same hormonal response—a 6 second surge of oxytocin—so men are better off doing small romantic gestures all the time instead of occasional big ones.

10) A woman’s ¬†oxytocin has to be replenished again and again. Hugging triggers oxytocin. Looking for her when you’re somewhere and have lost each other triggers her oxytocin.

If I’m supposed to feel offended ¬†by the generalization of women as hysterical or overreactive, I don’t. All I feel is that every bit of this rings true so I’m incredibly grateful for the information (as was my boyfriend, when I emailed him these notes; the poor man has certainly earned ¬†a cheat sheet to handling me).

Patty: People Who Say “Um” and Start Answers With “So”

Name

Patty Cohen

Web

FB/Patty Scanlon Cohen

Issues

The use of the the word “umm” or “emm” as it has evolved, in conversation. Once a speaker uses it, I just wait for the next “emm” ¬†and the next, until i can start to predict them. Then I don’t hear what is being said, and I start judging the speaker and his/her lack of important information, thus the need for filler. It especially grinds me when it is coming from the “so called” Valley girl, and the “emmmmm” starts downhill, and slowly climbs in tone with the “squeaky door” sound. (I the 20- something female has this down!) OMG I feel my resentment building on that one! I start to feel superior and then I feel really old for resenting that! I start sentences with “dude” at 62, so who am I to judge? BTW, what is that squeaky “thank you” exclusive to the millennial female? I just cannot!

Last year, my pet peeve was when a person started an answer with the word “so”, as if we need a backstory . When a person is asked a question and starts the answer with “so,” it undermines their credibility and it seems as if they are trying to sound really smart, or trying to avoid a straight answer. I love it used as a conjunction though, so, I don’t always hate it!!! I have a few more, as you can imagine; such as “I know, right?”, shit ton, my bad, and all the “izzle”s. I am working on it, though-I’m an addict/alcoholic in recovery going on 12 years. I try not to let the little things get to me, and say the Serenity Prayer many times throughout my day. LOL (i dig that one).

First occurrence

2005

Frequency

Daily

Duration

Seconds-unless its a long conversation.

Evolution

Better

Reason

I think that words are powerful, meaningful and beautiful. As Rudyard Kipling said, Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. I assess others by their words. I Love your words, Anna. They resonate with me. When i was in my active addiction, I focused more on appearances. Now, words rule! I think many others are bothered by silly lingo as well. I think what gets to me the most about this is the group mentality of it; the lack of free thinking. It figuratively drives me crazy! (Literally is another one, but enough for now.)

Do you like peanut butter?

Yes, I love peanut butter!

Trying to Become Strong Enough to Admit I’m Weak

This past weekend, I was hugged by a shaman. I was at a thoroughly amazing conference—the MindBodyGreen Revitalize event (which was shot and ¬†you can view here, btw)—and one of the speakers was a shaman who had, as the story goes, ¬†died and come back to life and now goes around the world healing people. As everyone was milling around the day after his talk, word got out that the guy gave amazing hugs. I thought it might be an Amma-like situation but without the having-to-wait-in-line-for-hours part and so the next time I saw him, I ran up and requested one. I got it and it was pretty good. (Side note: I always feel, with things like this, that it’s not quite “working”—that I’m not feeling the hug “as much” as other people; this is, I think, ¬†related to what I’m about to write.)

Post hug, I mentioned to Shaman that I had a headache (I had been hiking in the 100+ Arizona heat earlier that day and stuff like that can bring one on) and asked him if he could get rid of it. I pictured him putting his hands on my head and the headache drifting off in a puff of cartoon-like white smoke but he only did that for a minute and then tapped my stomach and declared that I had a serious “gut” issue.

“You care entirely too much what people think of you!” he exclaimed. WHAA? AND THIS WAS RELATED TO MY HEADACHE HOW?

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I was immediately defensive, as I think of myself as someone who’s moved beyond that. I have no problem these days with not being liked, with being a little brusque about people’s writing if it’s going to be published on the site, ¬†with standing up for myself despite potential consequences and can usually brush off negative comments I read about myself online. I started to tell him this as I noticed these two ¬†girls from the conference sitting at a table next to us watching the whole conversation. Immediately, I wanted to shame them—make them feel terrible for eavesdropping on a conversation that wasn’t their business—and so I turned to them and asked them if they could talk to each other or something because their listening in was making me uncomfortable. They were both apologetic—”I’m so sorry,” one said, “I just find everything Shaman says so interesting”—and started to talk to one another when Shaman exclaimed, “THIS is exactly what I’m talking about! You need to deal with this!”

It was a strange moment; here I was telling him that I didn’t care what people thought of me but ¬†I was simultaneously embarrassed that two people I didn’t know were hearing someone diagnose me with a problem I think confident people shouldn’t have. At the same time, I felt perfectly entitled to inform them that it was none of their business. So did I care or not care what people thought of me?

The answer: of course I care. When I first got sober, I heard the saying “What people think of you is none of your business” and I embraced it. I don’t care—unless you’re going to see me being weak and then I really, really do. ¬†I’m okay with you seeing an image I’ve crafted of myself and ¬†with being disliked or a little harsh or that “difficult” customer if it means getting ¬†what I want. And I have no problem stating (or writing) that I’m insecure. But now I see that I somehow see that declaration as ¬†a sign of strength because ¬†shows that ¬†I’m strong enough to admit ¬†I’m weak. It’s sort of the pre-emptive strike where if I say it before you do, my ego tells me that I ¬†win. ¬†If I’m not the one who’s controlling that judgment, ¬†however, I feel humiliated. (Example: if I raise my hand to share in a meeting and am not called on, I feel unspeakably embarrassed if someone acknowledges that with an “Sorry you didn’t get picked; if no one sees this happen, on the other hand, I’m perfectly fine.)

This whole line of thinking rushed into my head during my shaman-with-women-watching experience and I knew it came down to the v-word (no, not venereal disease). I’m terrible at appearing vulnerable. And I want to get better. In my opinion, that’s the next level of strength: being strong enough to allow you to see me as weak.

I suddenly just worried that nothing about what I’ve written here is revelatory or interesting and I should scrap it and come up with a new topic. But then: maybe it’s progress to send this out despite that fear? ¬†If a tree falls on me in the woods and no one sees it, after all, ¬†all I have to worry about is my own safety. If, however, I write a post about it and people think it’s stupid, then I have to be vulnerable.

So thanks for reading this. And if you think it’s stupid, now you know ¬†you’re helping me to grow! Shaman would be proud.

Michael: Cashiers Who Don’t Make Change Correctly

Name

Michael Wagner

Web

@mojomichael

Issues

As a teenager, I went from a paperboy to working in a supermarket. Beginning with stocking shelves and working my way up to running a cash register. The very first thing I was taught was to put the cash in the register correctly. Correctly? you say. Bills face up, Presidents smiling at you, and all going in the same direction. This seemed to be the norm to me, I observed and at the bank, restaurants,  etc.,  I adopted the procedure in my personal life. My daughter would ridicule me until she started working at a large box store chain and noticed the value of the practice.

Fast-foward to today, and no one seems to do this. I get that kids that can’t make change in their ¬†heads can’t see the value, but when I go to the bank and the teller give me my cash like the strip club bartender gives back change. Drives me crazy!

Love the podcast! thanks for the opportunity .

Michael

First occurrence

Years ago

Frequency

More & more often, weekly

Duration

A few minutes

Evolution

Oh yeah

Reason

Perhaps a thought that there is a certain standard to uphold professionally. It could be that as a society we seem to be much more casual personally and professionally.

Peanut-butter

Chunky, baby. And don’t forget Cookie Butter

The Question That Excites and Terrifies Me in Equal Measure

There’s a ¬†question ¬†that excites and terrifies me in equal measure ¬†and it is:

“Do you want to know what [INSERT ANY PERSON IN THE WORLD’S NAME HERE] said ¬†about you?”

This happened to me last week and so of course I started nodding emphatically as I was chomping at the bit for the wonderful/horrible news that was about to be delivered. ¬†It’s surely good that my first instinct was that it was something positive; God knows there have been times in my life when I would have assumed the opposite.

My friend continued, ¬†“I saw [person who I vaguely knew a decade and a half ago and never liked all that much] and mentioned your name. She said, ‘God, Anna had the biggest (I was certain she was going to say boobs, btw) ego I’ve ever encountered.'”

I was pretty stunned, mostly because I wasn’t really offended.

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It actually made me respect the woman for the first time because it was so on-the-nose and a part of me, I have to admit, was flattered (I ¬†usually can’t remember what I wrote yesterday but for some reason I remember that I have a line in Party Girl where the protagonist says, I love to be the most anything, even if it’s something bad; let’s just say that line came from a personal place.)

And see, I knew the woman who said this in an era when I was working at a magazine where I was in way over my head in terms of experience. And I handled that the way I always handled situations when I was insecure back then: I masked my feelings of fear and inferiority with bravado—the proverbial piece of crap in the center of the universe. I acted like I knew everything, far more than the people who were correcting me or ¬†offering me constructive criticism. If my boss told me I did ¬†something wrong, I tended to inform him that he should stop being so mean to me. I’d never learned to respect authority—my feeling was always “Give me a reason to respect you and I will (maybe)”—and I had so little respect for the main authority figure in my life (my dad) that I felt by behaving this way, I was being true to myself. Turns out all I was actually doing was setting myself up to be fired—which I was from that job and several others that followed.

So, yeah. This woman was right; I did have a massive ego. Of course I didn’t know then ¬†that a massive ego can only come from a massive inferiority complex (hey hey you presidential candidate, you). When ¬†I feel insecure now, I have the same instinctive response—to behave as if the opposite is true. I just have a lot fewer times I feel that way. And every now and then I am actually able to say the truth, which is that I feel ¬†threatened/confused/scared/fill in the blank.

It doesn’t make me the most anything but ¬†it’s about time I let that go.

(Photo taken below the Triana Bridge in Sevilla, which happens to be my favorite place on earth.)