In addition to being my writing soulmate, Erica Nichole of EverythingEnJ will facilitate the discussion about fearlessness at “FBOMBS: Feminism, Failure and Fearlessness” on Oct. 25. In this Q&A, Erica discusses the role fearlessness has played in her own life and writing.
The overall objective of FBOMBS is to bring women together and create a space for them to share their voices. Tell us more about your “What Binds Us Together” series and how that has created space for women’s stories.
What Binds Us Together: Our Stories came about after hosting my first event of the same name with a slight variation back in August. I got fourteen of my closest friends and some new faces together to talk all things blogging and what happened exceeded my expectations. The women in attendance and I started discussing things that our audiences don’t usually get to read on our platforms and the overall feel of that event showed me that as women, we’re bound together by so much more than what we write on our blogs. It’s not that we don’t want to share these experiences with the world, it’s just that Internet can be such a scary place and feeling safe in sharing these stories that are necessary can often be difficult.
So I wanted to create What Binds Us Together in hopes these same women I was fortunate enough to dine with and know personally off of social media, would share these moments that others feel uncomfortable talking about, but have been through themselves. I opened up the series with my own story about abortion and I was so overwhelmed with the amount of feedback I received after posting it. I should be used to it by now, but it still amazes me how many people are going through these same situations, feeling these same emotions, and hiding these same truths. The series serves as a safe haven for women to candidly write about those moments that mold us, in hopes that other women know, despite our differences, we’re bound together by these experiences that would normally break us, but instead built us up.
You’ll be facilitating a discussion around fearlessness. How has fear propelled you? How has fear held you back?
I was recently asked the question at a mentoring event, what are your personal goals, to which I answered, to stop hesitating and just do and just be. For years, fear was the common denominator in why I kept missing out on opportunities because I felt like I wasn’t good enough or worthy of all of the doors that kept opening in front of me. Fear kept me in an unhealthy relationship, feeling like I didn’t deserve better. Fear kept me at a job I wasn’t happy at because I was unaware of how beautiful and powerful and crucial change is. Fear permeated my psyche in a sense and I grew comfortable in it, until I started lashing out on my children because of that job I outgrew, until I went to work with bruises on me because of that unhealthy relationship that I needed out of.
Fear made me look at myself in a different light. I didn’t know who I was after a while and I lost sight of my values so when I got tired of my situation and got sick of how I was treating myself, it was then that I saw the flip-side of fear. It drove me to test the unknown and I saw the positives in taking chances and how much we need to welcome risks in our lives. Leaving that unhealthy relationship, gave me a fresh start. Finding a new job, provided me with more. I didn’t know where I would be after I left both but just throwing my hands up and using the other f-bomb contributed to something bigger and better and I’m grateful for that.
How does fearlessness influence your writing?
Wow, well fearlessness definitely contributes the most to my style of writing. Fearlessness pushed me to blog about the things only my journal knew or the secrets I swore I would be buried with. I sort of equate it to freedom when I write – I feel liberated when telling these stories, if not while writing it, definitely after publishing it and it’s out in the world. I think embodying that sense of fearlessness makes the process of sharing some of those painful accounts a little easier and it has really helped other women open up and want to embrace that side of them as well. Being fearless in my writing serves as the catalyst in where I am with my work today.
Arianna Huffington has said that being fearless doesn’t mean living a life that’s completely without fear, but living a life in which we don’t let our fears stop us from pursing our dreams. What are some ways you’ve learned to master your own fear?
Great question and great point from Arianna. Well, I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered it, but I would say that I’ve learned how to deal with it when that feeling arises by remembering the possibilities that were birthed from fear. A lot of my good fortune derived from those initial feelings of apprehension and simply not giving into them. I love that part of living a life in which we don’t let our fears stop us because that’s something I have to remind myself of everyday. I know firsthand what living in fear and letting it consume you will do to you. I’ve gotten to that point of feeling confident in who I am and what I do and it’s not about arrogance, but I have to continually tell myself, no one can stop me, except me. I don’t give fear that power over my decisions and my life anymore.
The other two discussions taking place at FBOMBS are about feminism and failure. How, if at all, does fearlessness intersect with those two topics?
Today there is no “set example” of who is a feminist and yet, there are millions of women who identify as such for varying reasons and I believe there’s that feeling of fearlessness rooted in that. We saw it when Beyoncé stood in front of a screen with the word while wearing a bejeweled bodysuit, knowing that people would be pissed about that, knowing that there would be thousands of think pieces about her using that f-word again. She stood there confidently and that was bold. That was badass. That moment was an evident sign of ***fearlessness while flawless and I think that more people, especially women against feminism, should be accepting of those who are audacious enough to debunk the myth that feminism equates to “eff” men and are fighting to rewrite what the world believes it to be. We don’t have enough daring people in this world, let’s applaud those who are. Let’s applaud the Lena Dunham’s, the Emma Watson’s, the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s, the Audre Lorde’s and their journey in fighting for gender equality even with backlash.
Being fearful can lead to failure. Being fearless can also lead to failure, but it’s in being fearless that you’re able to deal with not achieving something a little easier. I think when you’ve encompassed that sense of courageousness, it’s not as hard to get back up and get back on track. You got this drive, this fortitude in you to keep on going regardless of how many times you know you’ll mess up because of that passion in you to fight for what you want. So are failure and fearlessness intertwined in a sense? Absolutely.
What can attendees expect from you at FBOMBS?
Anyone who follows my blog knows that I’m an open book so expect the same times ten, in person. Attendees can expect 25 minutes of a personal story that revolves around my relationship with fearlessness, questions directed at them to consider and reflect on their own lives and that classic feeling of “girl-talk” in an intimate setting. We’re going to talk about stepping it up after you’ve been setback, we’re going to touch on the notion that being confident in what you do makes you a bitch and we’re definitely going to discuss how we need to be unapologetic about the fearlessness that we all possess.
What do you hope to take away from the event as a facilitator?
This will by my first time facilitating a discussion of this capacity and so I know I’ll learn and grow from this experience. In sharing my own story, I hope that I can spark something in an attendee to live a life of fearlessness of her own. I’m bringing an each one, teach one attitude with me to D.C.
The event will close with a panel discussing, “The Final F: Fallouts and Forgiveness.” How have you learned to forgive?
Forgiveness is something that I have embraced and found the true definition of this year so it’s great that as 2014 comes to an end, the event closes with this topic. My biggest fallout was actually with my mother and I mustered up the strength to write a piece this past Mother’s Day called Finding Forgiveness. The liberating part of that post was letting her know that I forgive her because I forgave myself and it was something that I needed to do for me. I found holding on to hurtful memories and ill feelings doesn’t do us as the individual any good, so it’s in learning how to forgive that we find ourselves freed from those experiences and finally at a peace.