Be yourself...
“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.” ― Frank Zappa
The five:
  1. Fertility is in decline, and everyone has a biological clock. Yes, guys, you too. Because we’re all gonna’ die, and Dads’ stress can be passed on to their kids. So get more sleep, you know you need it. Sleep will also help you get that side hustle off the ground. Want to get a side hustle off the ground? Here’s how to do it. Don’t forget to save your money. While we’re on the topic, here are the 401(k) and IRA contribution limits for 2019. Forget college degrees, it’s gonna’ be all about job skills
  2. Wondering why you’re exhausted (speaking of needing to sleep), think about what your “shadow work” is. And going back to that side hustle, here’s a piece on the psychology of selling. And here’s a story on the rise of the full-stack freelancer. Also, I live here in Palo Alto, and the President Hotel is getting converted from apartments to a hotel. Here’s the story of the people who live there and the insane housing market they are being shoved into. Also, you can see the smoke in the air here in Palo Alto. It’s scary, but nowhere near as scary as it is for the people who are losing their homes. Here’s the story behind these devastating fires
  3. Here’s a breakdown of Anthony Bourdain’s final episode in the LES. Meanwhile, Rosecrans Baldwin (that name is amazing) spent a month inside the L.A. “cult of bitterness” and lived to write about. This is how we’re killing a killer. I got some lovely succulents a few weeks back and planted them in some mini terrariums. Apparently, I am swept in the riptide of the plant love revolution. Also, Boudica the warrior queen. ‘Nuf said. 
  4. Here’s what you can do when life looks dark, and here’s why introverts don’t get a benefit from acting like an extravert. Also, the long game has surprising power, or so it appears. Also, believing without evidence is always morally wrong. Lift weights a bit, though, it’s good for you, but the healthiest people don’t go to the gym. Here are 10 impressive questions to ask in a job interview
  5. In case you ever wondered, here’s what happened to Darius Miles, and this is how feeling has taken over the world. Here’s the story of how a parent saved their kids from sugar. Also, you’re gonna’ want to diversify your social network. Got a bad boss? Here’s what to do about it. And learn about how our internal critics enslave us. The peopling of the Americas happened really fast, by the way. Here’s how to be a more patient person, and here’s how emotions can affect the heart

Wrap your head around this: There’s a problem with being perfect. So, even being perfect is imperfect. Also, if you’re wondering what happened to Manoush Zomorodi and her producer Jen Poyant check out ZigZag

How to be your one, true self 🙋
When you receive feedback once, you can generally take it with a grain of salt. When you get the same feedback twice, your ears might perk up. When you hear the same feedback the third, fourth, fifth … or fiftieth time, you should probably take it seriously, right?  

I was out with a friend last week. We were having a nice dinner in the city and talking about nothing in particular when the conversation turned to what I planned to do with my life. Did I see myself being a worker bee, an entrepreneur, a corporate chief executive, a stay-at-home mom, a media mogul? Where did I see my life taking me? 

I laughed nervously and asked why she was asking. She looked me dead in the eye, and said: “I’m asking because I see you're not just hitting the glass ceiling, you're cowering under a table waiting for rocks to get thrown at you. What are you afraid of? What’s holding you back from living?” 

I’ve never been kicked in the gut before, but I am pretty sure I know what it feels like now. She wasn’t the first person to say this. I had heard this feedback before from others in different ways.  

  • “What are you afraid of?”  
  • “You can do anything, why do you hold yourself back?” 
  • “I feel like there’s this whole part of you that you’re not putting forward.” 
  • “What’s stopping you?” 
  • “Why do you care so much about what other people think of you?" 
  • “Why are you always deferring to authority?” 
  • “There’s so much more to you; I’ve seen it. Why are you hiding? What are you hiding from?” 
  • “Where’s that book you keep talking about?" 

These are all the same message: “Why aren’t you showing up for your life?” 

Let me explain. I’m terrified most of the time. I spend most of my life living among people who don’t look, walk, and talk like me. I’m often the only person of color in my yoga studio, in my office, or at the local coffee shop. I can go an entire day without seeing another person of color. Silicon Valley is known for many things, but diversity is not among them.  

I am used to this state of affairs, and that may be the problem. I’m used to doing what it takes to be an inoffensive, non-threatening black woman. I know how to make myself small when I need to and how to stay that way for as long as it takes to weather the storm of the day. I know what scares white people (yes, even the most well-meaning ones), and I know what brings them closer and leads them to invest in a person of color, because it’s a sad fact that wealth is not concentrated among black people. So, if you want resources, you have to learn how to fit into the tiny crevices, nooks, and crannies white people create in their world. You need to know how to ignore the siren song of people who know nothing about what it means to be black and female. They croon seductively, "You can do what you want! Bring your whole self! Don't hold back! Don't be afraid!"

Heh, sure. I see you, siren. You say that now, but wait until I bring my full self. You'll sing a different tune. Then I'll be out of a job, and you'll be justifying the decision to close the doors on women of color. 

Ask Oprah, Beyonce, or Michelle Obama — I am sure they will all tell you how they all practiced this quiet, social jujitsu at some point in their lives. My particular practice entails getting quiet and small — small enough to fit under figurative table, behind a barricade waiting for an attack that may never come.  

From journalism and academia to Silicon Valley, I’ve navigated as carefully as I could, finding opportunities to put myself forward just enough to get in the door and not to get my head lopped off by someone else’s irrational fears. But the compromise has been this: I don’t dream too big, I don’t hold a strong point of view, I don’t chase after the things I really want, I compromise, and I hold back from committing to any one thing. The easiest way not to be disappointed or disappointing, is to never hold too tightly to a goal, a dream, or a point of view.  

Another consequence is that I see the world as an overwhelmingly hostile place (the past couple of years have done nothing but validate my position). Everything is a fight to be won or a trap to be avoided.  

I’d like to know what it feels like to stop smiling and laughing to make others feel comfortable, to say what I really think, to take a stand without worrying the ground will fall out from under me, to stop caring if people like me or not, to hold my own point of view, to live fully, and to stop caring about what other people think, to stop fearing the consequences, and to simply be my own, one, true, black, womanly self.  

Jeez, the simple act of writing that makes me confused and terrified. 

I know, this isn’t exactly an uplifting essay (and I can see the subscriber bleed it will incur), and it doesn't offer any answers, but it’s honest. The fact is, I don’t know how to be my true self. That was easily masked in my youth, but now that I am older, it's starting to show. If I am going to be truly successful in my life, both personally and professionally, I need to figure this out. 
Thank you a million times...
Thank you so much to my long-time donor Natalya Pemberton! Natalya is a culture and design enthusiast learning Sustainable Systems at the innovative Presidio Graduate School.

She has generously supported E is for Everything on Patreon. Please jump on through to learn more about how you can support this newsletter too.
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Emi Kolawole · E is for Everything HQ · Palo Alto California 94306 · USA
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