A couple of days ago, Louise Fletcher, a professional resume writer, blogged about my ability to say whatever I want and not kill my career. That same day, Kathy Williams wrote this comment on my blog:
My son introduced me to your blog which I appreciate. I am your polar opposite. You have complete freedom to say whatever you want … for whatever reason is not important. We can all use a little more honesty.
In general, I think people can say much more than they think they can. It used to be that no one blogged about unemployment, bad bosses or screaming at their kids. Now these are all pretty common posts. This should tell you that topics that you think will change what people think about you don’t actually do that. Consider what you’re doing — if it’s within the realm of normal, people don’t care that you’re doing it—it’s not interesting.
Of course, things that I think are totally normal, like, having a miscarriage at work, turn out to be very controversial. But really, I am still not sure why. I mean, just thinking logically, hundreds of thousands of women have miscarriages every year, and most of those women have not had a kid so they are working, so hundreds of thousands of women each year have a miscarriage at work.
I think my inability to understand why this is controversial might be a blessing.
I also am not sure I understand privacy. I don’t understand why people use it. I have had a lot of talks with the farmer about this. He told me that we cannot be intimate if we don’t have some things that are private. So I told him I would not write about sex.
But then I wrote sort of about sex. I wrote about when he wouldn’t go down on me. I told him it was me writing about not sex. And sex is off limits but not sex is not off limits.
He was not happy. I’m sure most of you will agree with him. That I should not have written about that.
But then I think, he has known, since before he even met me, that I write about everything. And then, when he met me, he read my novel, which is not a novel but really a memoir that the publisher made me call a novel because no one would believe it was true. But it is not really a novel either, but a hypertext wishing it were a novel, which is what Publisher’s Weekly wrote when they said it was great writing with incompetent structure.
The problem of me not understanding intimacy is maybe because I don’t understand why we separate ourselves to be different people at different times.
I don’t think I am able to manage being different versions of myself depending on the social context. So everyone gets the same version of me. I have found, for example, that venture capitalists like my blog. After all, they have invested in my company. But it’s not just the investment. They tell me they like my blog and they like the blog posts that say things we’re not supposed to say. Like, I can’t handle my insane travel schedule, and my company is running out of money and I want to fucking kill the investor who is sailing in Bermuda without a phone to hear me panicking. Investors like that. Because they like honesty.
People like honesty. They might wince, but they don’t generally hold honesty against you.
What people do hold against me, I think, is that I don’t seem to be able to create intimacy with the farmer. It’s a downfall, I think.
But I also think that that’s why he picked me.
He read my writing, about sex with every other guy, when he first started dating me. (That’s probably why he dumped me. Well, one of the fifty reasons he dumped me fifty times. And, by the way, he hates that I always have a different number for the number of times he dumped me. But I tell him you don’t care. Whatever number it is, you get the point.
He knew I had never really been able to be intimate because I was too fascinated with writing about my inability to be intimate which requires writing about what should be intimate moments.
I want to tell you about this costume he bought for me. Well, actually, I bought it. He chose it. It’s a costume called €œAlice€ like, Alice in Wonderland. But it’s a different Wonderland.
We bought it when we were costume shopping with the kids.
I told him I couldn’t stand all the sword fighting in the Star Wars section.
Then I came back to the Star Wars section and told him I found a section for grown-ups. €œLet’s get one,€ I said.
€œYou said you wouldn’t wear one of those.€
€œWell, I will. Which do you like?€
€œAll of them.€
There were about 50 costumes. I picked one. I called him over to look. The dressing room was in the middle of the room, so I opened the curtain just a peek.
The kids came running over and said, €œMommy! I love your costume!€
The farmer said, €œNo. That’s terrible.€
He said that the key to a costume like this is to have a lot of space between the bottom of the skirt and the top of the tights. They are garter belt tights.
Okay. So I try on the other costume, and it’s the Alice costume, and we get it. And the boys spend the next month asking me if I’m going to wear it trick or treating.
I wear it to bed.
It is intimate, but it feels intimate because I’m doing something I’ve never done before. It doesn’t feel any more intimate to me than founding a company feels.
I know my Brazen Careerist co-founders, Ryan and Ryan, are going to freak out when they read that line. But they don’t have to worry because what I really mean is that nothing feels truly intimate to me.
And I kind of like it that way because I don’t have to have lots of different versions of myself. I don’t have to separate being a mom from being a blogger. I don’t have to separate being Alice from being a startup founder. It’s all the same me.
To me though, someone is a nutcase for pretending to not be both those people. Each of us can give good advice on something. And each of us has a messed up personal life sometimes. One person can do both those things. The only thing weird is that we don’t admit it. Why can’t career advisors also talk about the things going wrong in their lives? Why can’t startup founders also be sex kittens?
What I know is that I am really really grateful for not having to hide who I am at work. It is true, what Louise said, that I can say whatever I want, as long as I’m interesting. I can still make a living, and I can still have friends. (Well, I’m not that great at friends, but hypothetically I can have friends because there are people who have told me they want to be my friend.)
So I think the farmer picked me because I’m bad at intimacy. He is bad at it, too. He is comfortable with that—not being close to me.
So we are comfortable with our non-intimacy.
I mean, I say that, but I know there is more to life. I just can’t seem to find it.