It’s hilarious, really.
You spent the first twenty years of your life worrying what the f*ck you were suppose to do on this planet—with your ONE BIG PRECIOUS LIFE that every other Pinterest poster won’t shut up about—only to spend the next twenty years wondering if you did it right. Because, did you? Was this what life was suppose to look like? Did you do it right? Pass the test, check the box, score the A? Like, is your life actually a good one? Do you even know? Can you even decide? I mean, what does good even mean these days? And how do you know when everything is, in fact, exactly that? Will it ever be that? WHAT IF IT ISN’T? Does this mean it’s all been a waste? What have you done with yourself, Margaret? How dare you throw your life down the drain. You had potential, you know. Potential, Margaret.
When I was young I used to think I had to pick a life path and then follow it, faithfully, like a horse with blinders on (which is a beautiful accidental metaphor), to “build my career” and “work my way up the ladder” and “leverage my education.”
Because if you didn’t have a title in life, who were you? What were you? You were a nobody; a no-name Joe Blow who never made anything of himself. Because just being Joe Blow was akin to being just another generic human in a rat race full of generic humans. I needed a title to help me make sense of the world; to figure out where I belonged, so I could finally KNOW something as fact. After all, it feels good to know things, solidly, about yourself. To know, with absolute certainty, that you take one teaspoon of sugar, no more, no less. To know that you’re the kind of woman who would never wear mismatched lingerie (or always wear mismatched lingerie, AHEM). To know, with absolute certainty, that you despise modern art—and not feel sorry for naming that truth about yourself. And to know, without a doubt, what you do for a living, and what that says about you as a person, because now you’ve got a title that tells you that information—almost like a telephone reading a data chip. All of that comes pre-programmed with the title, and having the HR department give you one was the easiest way to figure out who you were.
At least, that’s my hypothesis. I always wanted to have a hypothesis of my own, so today’s my lucky day.
Imagine my surprise, however, when I was walking through Florence the other day, wearing sunglasses that had wing tips & lipstick that had gasoline, and the thought suddenly entered my mind: I want to design clothing.
WHAT THE FUCK? You know nothing about fashion design and you’re, like, 100 years old. You can’t design clothing. You’re not even wearing matching lingerie. And besides, you already have an entire career. You’re a writer, not a fashion designer.
And then you know what thought came?
You can do whatever you want. You’ve already proven yourself.
And, by golly, it was the most freeing of thoughts. Maybe the nicest thought I’ve ever had! Because, the thought was right: It’s been a decade since I was that young naive baby doe with wobbly unsure hands, clinging to a title to explain my worth, both to myself and to other people. Now I am Ash. I run an award-winning blog called The Middle Finger Project. I help babes all over the world get more balls. We become unf*ckwithable online together. We start businesses and launch passion projects and laugh at the hard stuff and do things we actually want to be doing with our lives. I’m represented by a literary agency in New York. I’m writing a book. And I am a writer. And a mentor. And a powerhouse ball buster. I make art & money with words. I love sunglasses with wing tips and lipstick that has gasoline. And for the love of everything Florentine, I also want to design clothing. Or maybe jewelry. Or, maybe only rings. Big, giant, oversized, chunky silver rings with really exquisite, gorgeous rocks inside them. Only the most jawdropping of rings; the ones that make you gasp into your hot chocolate. The ones that you simply have to have. The ones you’ve never seen before. The ones that belong on your finger and your heart. I also want to do that, too.
And the also is the most beautiful part about it. Because at some point, you’ll stop thinking that you have to be an either/or, black/white version of yourself. You don’t need to follow one path; put on the blinders; focus all your efforts in one place. You can be an also. You can be an all. You pull some Matrix shit and be everything and anything you want. You can be one big walking contradiction, if you like.
Because as more and more time passes, we are becoming less and less defined by our professional titles and more defined by who we actually are in our spare time, as the internet has allowed us to express that more. Maybe you’ve got a Pinterest board dedicated to herbs. Maybe you tweet about politics. Maybe you’ve got a Tumblr for sharing interior design inspo. Or maybe you’ve got a blog called The Middle Finger Project where you help women find their VOICE.
Whoever you are, don’t spend the next twenty years of your life wondering.
And whoever you are?
You’re doing it right.