I don’t know about the rest of you, but I grew up around some catty, catty b*%ches.
Which means I often enjoy the company of catty b*%ches. I love a catty comment. I love a catty character on television. And once upon a time, I would fitter away an entire day being catty with the b*%chiest coworker in my building.
This is not my best side.
And as a result, I assume – take as a fact – that if I do anything that makes myself stand out, there is someone somewhere telling another person, I mean, seriously, who does that b*%ch think she is?
Whenever I send out a resume, I hear that phrase. Whenever I click submit after toiling away on a piece of fiction, I hear that phrase. Funnily enough, sometimes the second after I submit, I would get a rejection email from the magazine, agency, or publishing house that reads, Thanks for submitting, but who do you think you are to submit to us?
And then, when I decided that instead of sending out a series of anxiety-riddled emails to agents, magazines, and publishing houses asking for permission to have my work published and chose instead to publish my own work myself as an indie publisher, that voice got louder and louder in my ears. You think you don’t need us? Who do you think you are to not ask our permission? Who do you think you are?
The voice and the potential for failure was hounding me. I had been reading books about indie publishing and listening to podcasts about self-publishing, which was only making my anxiety worse.
And then, this book appeared on my recommendations for Audible – The Audacity to be Queen by Gina DeVee. I didn't need a self help book recommendation listicle to lead me to this book. It showed up right when I needed it. I took a break from my anxiety and learned what I already knew – I’m a queen.
Queens are not an unfamiliar concept in my world. It’s actually a word that I consider a lot. Often when young girls are growing up, they will have this fantasy world where they are a fairy princess (or a Disney princess). I did not because I grew up in a time of West Tennessee beauty pageants, so not only were queens wandering around eating orange push pops and working on their tans in the backyard, but it was a competitive sport designed specifically for little girls. It was what girls did before they had soccer. And you had to work like hell for that crown – hair, teeth, makeup, dress, body, talent, poise. We would practice walking around our houses in our mothers’ heels and answering pretend questions into our hair brushes. We’d gather around the TV to watch Miss Tennessee, Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss Universe.
I had no concept of princesses. You were a Queen or you were a maid. Maids rode the float at The Strawberry Festival, but only Queens took home the tiara.
But even without taking home the crown, I realize now as an adult that I was surrounded by all types of queens. The court of strong matriarchs who'd raised me were the ones who made the money because they owned their own business. I realized that I did not want to be a princess looking for someone to rescue me from a tower -- paying my way, picking out my jewelry, telling me what we were doing and where we were going. I wanted to make my own choices. I wanted to be a queen. I wanted to rule.
The Audacity to be Queen is the literary equivalent of the best friend/cheerleader you need telling you, “Gurl, if you want it, you just need to figure out how to get it.”
Some of her advice is not rooted in the tangible, but instead prayer, faith, and manifesting. And even if you can’t get on board with those concepts, the piece that goes hand in hand with faith is the hustle necessary for making it happen– setting goals, breaking those goals down into steps, executing those steps, and then reaching those goals. Also showing up for yourself.
Often what trips many people up is not the steps necessary to reach those goals, but believing that they will reach those goals if they execute those steps. It’s like a lingering doubt, “What if I do everything like I’m supposed to and it doesn’t work out?” instead of believing, “It’s all going to work out because I did everything I could.” And if it doesn’t work out, how can you possibly beat yourself up over it, you did everything you could?
And since I have read this book, I have adjusted my mindset toward my own self-esteem and self-image. One of my goals since I started my indie-author journey is to tell myself that I am worthy of this dream I have worked so hard to achieve. That I believe in myself. And as a result, I have started asking for more out of my newfound belief that I deserve more. Instead of my codependant habit of telling myself that my job is to be of service to others and give myself away to everyone, I have started telling myself, No, I will no longer set myself on fire to keep others warm. I have been establishing firmer boundaries and honoring my time as important.
And while I have shifted my mindset, every once and a while, the voice comes back. I will hear some faceless stranger turn to their cattiest friend and say, Did you see what Brandi posted on Instagram today? Who does that b*%ch think she is?
But now, when I hear that voice, I have a response. I’m a queen!
Read books. Wear boots.