#FBOMBSEvent: A Conversation With Erica Nichole About Fearlessness

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.

Erica Nichole photo for FBOMBS
Erica Nichole is an Afro-Latina from NYC, a mother of two, and the sole writer behind her blog, Everything EnJ, a Best Personal Blog nominee for the 2014 Black Weblog Awards. Known for writing the nitty-gritty and keeping the art of storytelling alive, Erica uses her platform to document both the highs and lows of her life, while the blog also showcases the untold stories of various women for the What Binds Us Together: Our Stories series. She serves as a main writer for From A Wildflower and proudly exemplifies fearlessness with a glass of wine in her hand. Find her on Twitter @KaeNdKamsMom / @everythingEnJ.
F Bombs SM Piece FINAL
FBOMBS: Feminism, Failure and Fearlessness is a roundtable discussion and networking event that will invite women to share their stories, opinions and truth. The event will take place Saturday, Oct. 25 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at THEARC DC. Purchase your tickets here.

For Erica

Sometimes you meet someone, and it’s so clear that the two of you, on some level belong together. As lovers, or as friends, or as family, or as something entirely different. You just work, whether you understand one another or you’re in love or you’re partners in crime. You meet these people throughout your life, out of nowhere, under the strangest circumstances, and they help you feel alive. I don’t know if that makes me believe in coincidence, or fate, or sheer blind luck, but it definitely makes me believe in something. –Anonymous

May 2014

It’s the morning of “Brunch, Blogs and Books” and I am stressed to the point of a hernia. The event is sold out. My dress is hung in the closet and ready to go. But, I do not have an HDMI cable. And, I should not stress this much about a damn cord, but my inner perfectionist is revealing her insecure self. I need an HDMI cable to hook up my computer to the screen at the restaurant in order to show the Keynote presentation I pulled together the night before.

Best Buy and Radio Shack, two places that will surely sell HDMI cables, do not open until 11am. I need to be in DC by 11am. I call Target and the customer service rep stumbles through what’s in stock at their store–no HDMI cable. I call Walmart and the guy and I go back and forth before I finally give up and hang up. I want to get mad because I don’t know what the hell he’s saying, but chances are I am also not describing what I need accurately.

Erica is sitting on my couch scrolling through her beloved iPad. I sit on the floor and explain the dilemma. She looks through a few things on the iPad and calls Walmart (the same Walmart I called a few moments before). 

“Hi, I’m calling to see if you all have HDMI cables…yes…uh huh…no, I did not call here earlier,” she says. (Clearly the one rep from electronics at Walmart is getting annoyed). 

“Let me give you the product number from the one I see online,” she tells him.

A few seconds pass and I hear her say, “You have it? Ok, good. How much? Alright, we’ll be there this morning.”

And, just like that, I have an HDMI cable and a successful brunch.

We call this the holy trinity. Or, Erica, me and Yetti. Whatever.
We call this the holy trinity. Or, Erica, me and Yetti. Whatever.

I tell that story because it sums up who Erica (www.everythingenj.com) is both as a person and also to me. I wish I could tell you the story of exactly how we met, how our Internet love affair started brewing, but I honestly do not remember. What I do remember is this bubbly pistol walking into another brunch I held in NYC last year and feeling like I had known her for years. Erica has that way with people, this way of saying “Hey, mama”, giving you a kiss on your cheek and making you feel like everything is going to be alright. She puts you at ease and reminds you that in a fast and sometimes frightening world, there is someone who will have your back. I think it’s the mommy in her.

It’s hard to believe that Erica (affectionately known as “E” in our group chat) and I have only hung out in person three times because she has become a part of the daily fabric of my life. The quote I plopped at the top of this post is also the one I sent her in an email a few months ago on her birthday. But, today, she is celebrating a different kind of birthday–her blog’s 5th birthday. If you know anything about me and blogaversaries, you know I find them to be of the utmost importance–maybe even more so than actual birthdays. It is beyond special and incredible to spend five years nurturing an online space, evolving as a writer and growing as a woman. Blogaversaries must be celebrated, dammit. Hence this lovefest of a post. How do bloggers show other bloggers love? Blog posts, of course.

Erica has been a constant and authentic source of support and love for me. She has seen me through tumultuous times and a lot of self-doubt. She has pushed me. She has challenged me. Earlier this summer when I lamented that “I always have bad summers”, she did not just let me bitch and moan. Instead, she said “That means the universe is trying to tell you something and you’re not listening.” She has taught me that it’s better to have a lot of real love from one person than lukewarm support from 10 people. She has listened to me fret over everything from blog post topics to men to money. When I wanted to change my upcoming fall event because I was worried about the money for the venue, she told me to wait to do it until I could execute it the way I really wanted to. I waited and then the money came along to meet the vision. She was right. She usually is.

E, on your blog’s 5th birthday, I just want to say thanks. Thanks for being a beautiful person, a kickass writer and a woman who gives the world everything she has. Thanks for filling our group chat with ridiculous gifs and a lot of “WHET”s and an insane amount of love. Thank you for trekking to DC for events. Thank you for rallying with me as we rant about blogger issues. Thank you for believing in me and what I am trying to do. Thank you for being there when I am broke or when I am broken. Thank you for taking me in, a woman who has always been told I am not “approachable”, and for making me feel like I finally could connect with people, especially other women. Thank you for being my friend, my cheerleader, my blogging soulmate. Your talent is unmatched. Your strength is unrivaled. Your truth is changing the world and the women who are fortunate enough to read it. Your friendship is everything, no pun intended.