Check my recent Google search queries and you’ll find a lot of things including, but not limited to: post nasal drip, what is Taylor Swift’s Instagram and how many times a day does a cat meow.
Do not even begin to ask.
But on one particular Friday afternoon I found myself searching for a different phrase: honorarium. Maybe that word should have appeared at some point in some vocab book along the way, but it had not. That word did not appear until a few weeks ago when I received an offer for an upcoming speaking gig asking what my requested honorarium was.
I figured it was probably unprofessional and utterly coon-like to return the message with “SAY WHAT!?”
But, no, really. Say what?
I won’t detail the rest of the exchange or where we landed on everything, because that’s not important nor is it anyone’s damn business. What I will say is that I grossly underestimated my own worth, both literally and figuratively. Also, I feel like now is an extremely fitting time to cue Alicia Keys’ “A Woman’s Worth”, but I need to forego sarcasm in favor of actually making a point.
I’ve been holding on to this story for awhile and for a lot of reasons. I’ve been painstakingly teetering on a tightrope between staying true to what we got me here and telling the truth about where I am now. Every day I see the stark similarities and distinct differences between both of those places. I see how beautiful they both are. I see how inflated they both are with potential and promise and sheer, unadulterated terror. I see how blindly vulnerable I made myself to start this thing and how deliberately vulnerable I have made myself to keep it. I see how much I want to stay true to my roots, never forgetting the person I was nor the kind of writing I did three years ago when it was just my sisters, my best friend and maybe one more person reading this thing. And I see just how much it is all a part of an amazing, absurd and rip-roaring journey.
This year is the first year where I have been asked to begin thinking about and attaching a dollar value to my time and my work. And it’s strange and difficult and never what I set out to do. But, it’s also flattering and exciting and, maybe, always what I set out hoping would happen. If another ask about my honorarium never came along, I would still be content to curl up on the couch or sit at my desk and bang out posts. But, I also know that somewhere along the line, I stopped just blogging. I started brand building. And the stakes got high, the opportunities got bigger and the business of it all came into play.
I often times return to the words of one of my mentors, words that I wrote about almost a year ago. “This is your life now.” That’s what he told me. When I wanted to shuffle my feet and crack jokes any time someone threw me a compliment, he stopped me and said, “This is your life now.” It’s easy to run away. It’s easy to talk yourself down or conceal your accomplishments under layers of self-deprecation. It’s easy to do that stupid “Wait, you want little old me?” thing that women are too often times conditioned to do. I did that for a long time. Sometimes I still do it. Because it’s much harder, but so necessary, to stand firm in the attention which you command. It’s a way more ballsy move to own that you are a powerhouse and substantiate that yes, you built that house brick by brick. You built that house even when tornadoes threatened to rip it apart. You built that house even when people scoffed at the color of the paint. You built that house even when you were low on resources and tapped out on faith.
Bitch, you built that house.
I never feel like I’ve “made it.” I never want to feel like I’ve “made it.” “I made it” is a phrase for people who don’t understand the poison of complacency. But, I do feel like I’m making it in a way that is most authentic to me. And that feels so fucking good.