It's a surreal feeling waking up to 65,000 views on your blog that the day before averaged about 15 views a day... presumably my Mom hitting refresh to check for typos and trolls.
It's a surreal feeling to wake up to an inbox flooded by shared stories of women experiencing sexual harassment all around the world. And choosing you to trust with their stories.
It's a surreal feeling to be inundated with interview requests from top publications like TIME, Huffington Post, Shape, SELF, various TV networks, and Runner's World... just to name a few.
But it was real. It was two years ago. And it will forever be the turning point in my life.
Two years ago I wrote a blog post What Do We Deserve?, while sitting at Stephi's on Tremont with my roommate, Julie by my side sharing lobster guacamole and red sangria on the hottest day in Boston... we were simply trying to escape our non-air conditioned third floor apartment. A scene I play over and over again in my head. I was mad. I was so frustrated I slammed down on my keys, face red with built up emotion, as words just poured out. And then I paused. I read what I wrote. And I sat with it for hours before I knew it was important enough to share. It was punchy. And something in me knew it was controversial enough that I might get some push back. I went to teach at EverybodyFights, came home, added images to the post, click 'save & publish' and went to bed.
Two years later that blog post now has over 5 million views and the whirlwind of unexpected events that arose since has taught me a thing or two:
1. Get out of your own way.
I almost never published that post. I didn't think I had the right to speak out, many women had experienced MUCH more severe harassment than I, they should say something. But what happened, was my words started the conversation. My words gave many women around the world the courage to speak out even if it was just to me. If we continue to be the ones to limit ourselves, who's going to be the one to speak out? Who's going to be left to make the change? If not you, who?
2. To act with courage is a practice.
No one is born innately courageous. Everyone has a little voice in their head saying "maybe don't do that, that sounds really scary." Some peoples voices might be a little louder than others, but that voice is in all of us. To act courageously, is a choice, it's a practice. To publish that blog post took an extra ounce of courage I didn't know I had. But that act of courage allowed me to get stronger. So a year later, I had enough courage to leave my job and start my own consulting business. And that took a crap ton of courage I didn't know I had. And now, I'm even stronger. And each time you choose to act with courage, each time you raise your own bar.
3. You just got your first troll? That means you said something right.
I woke up the morning after the blog post went live to a man by the internet name of Timbuktu leaving comments on my blog aggressively refuting everything I had said in support of women. And not only did he leave his own opinions about how I was "asking for it" and "deserved worse harassment" than what I had shared, but he then proceeded to refute every positive comment I received on the post.
I woke up freaked. Do I delete them? Do I block him? Do I take the post down?
I called my mentor, friend and coworker who was our Director of Global Content at our company and written comedy and blogs for everyone asking all of these questions. And that's exactly what she said to me, "You just got your first internet troll? Congratulations Erin, that means you said something right. That means you said something worthwhile."
If you want to see change, if you want to create change, you're going to have to say and do some things people won't agree with. And you have to decide to be tough enough to take it. To stand by your words, and know you are strong enough to take the beating. You did something important. You did something right. You are a renegade.
4. Success doesn't stop with one victory.
Things go viral all the time. So yes, I wrote a post that over 5 million people around the world have read, but ya know what? Those 5 million people have read a lot of things. So no, that one post didn't mean I had made it. It meant I had just begun. It meant I had doors opened to me that I needed to choose which were best to walk through. It meant I had a taste of what social change I am capable of, and it was my responsibility to do something about that. It still is.
5. Cliché, but yeah the world really is your oyster.
I used to see influential people whether they were CEO's, celebrities, entrepreneurs or social change makers as out of reach. I thought they had something different in their blood that meant they were destined for their success. That there was a divide between "them" and me.
What I learned is that not only did I want to be one of "those people" but I could be. And I was becoming one. I had the potential. And not just myself, but you do too. What I began to learn about "those people" was that they did a few things:
- They got out of their own way.
- They practiced living their lives with courage.
- They didn't let objection to their ideas or actions stop their momentum.
- They didn't settle at one success, but used it as a jumping off point.
- They took life, and ran away with it.
Two years later and my life is different. It was like that blog post woke up my life. It shook me, and said "Erin, you my friend, are capable of more."
Let this be the blog post to shake you. Let this be the post to wake you up. You my friend, are capable of more. Speak out. Act out. Live your life out loud. Your voice, your actions, your energy matters.
You have life, you have purpose.
Go live your life out loud.
All my love,