The first time I met Emily at the xoJane launch party a year ago, I was so scared of her. I introduced myself chipperly, and she said, "Yeah, I know who you are."
I felt like an over-eager asshole. Turns out she was exhausted from having worked for a week straight with almost no sleep before the launch. Because, and this is a lesson that life will give you again and again, it really isn't about you. Like, as in, no one cares. Really.
Then I worked with Emily freelance to coordinate Courtney Love's first column for the site. She would email me things like, "You are a gem." And I thought, "OK, maybe she doesn't hate me as much as I thought."
Then she emailed me and asked if I was interested in a job here.
Definitely doesn't hate me.
Then I started, and I emailed her about 800 times a day, and I would complain when something didn't go right because I was super stressed about the first impression I might be making on the site, and she emailed, "Seriously Mandy, you need to chill the hell out. You're scaring me."
OK. Maybe she hated me a little bit.
I asked someone else to do something for me when Emily didn't have time to -- but had promised she would do before a post went live.
She thought I was going around her, and said, "Mandy, you need to trust me."
Emily is very good at communicating her feelings. I am not. I do not like conflict. I do not like saying if I'm upset or if someone is scaring me or asking someone to trust me more. Or even saying, "Yeah, I know who you are."
Instead, I will bottle it up inside of me and fret that I have done something wrong and maybe I ought to work harder so that things can go more seamlessly so there will be no potential conflict whatsoever. Which may seem surprising in that I write about a lot of things that would piss people off or incite conflict. But when it comes to face to face, with someone you are intimately working with, it really scares me. Especially when you want someone to like you.
Emily is someone who very much owns her own personal power. She exists. And sometimes she gets mad. She asserts her boundaries. I think she's teaching me how to be better about doing that. Recently she emailed me, and said she thought I was being defensive about something. I said, "Please don't tell me how I'm being." This was huge for me. I normally swallow something like that, but I felt like we trust each other enough now, and I have also learned from her more that it's okay to assert myself, and it doesn't have to be the end of the world. We can be two women who love each other and assert ourselves to one another without either of us crumbling.
So what does that have to do with this giant box that Emily received in the office? Because it's awkward and uncomfortable and embarrassing and you don't quite know how you're going to manage it -- but somehow you just will. I think that's an honest relationship.
Also, the best part about working with her in the office is getting to listen to her on the phone saying, "I love you," to her fiance and watching her do spontaneous dances and seeing her every day look like she's straight out of "Cute Interesting Sexy Funny Pretty Hot Chick Magazine." We walked to a meeting together one time, and every man on the street's eyes gravitated toward her. She has that kind of energy. I also kind of want to get tattoos because I find hers incredibly sexy. Not in an I'm-going-to-do-her kind of way, but just in a way that I respect very powerful women.
Although, honestly, those are the only kinds of girls that I do slightly lezz out over. Powerful chicks. But I like penis like a million times more. Which should really be my online dating headline. So Emily's fiance is safe. Also, she put her engagement ring on my finger once. Which was sweet. Because I've never worn one before. When I was married, I didn't get one. OK, now this just got kind of sad. Um. The box.
Yeah, so remember: Life is like that giant-ass box that Emily got delivered. Don't be afraid of it even though it may seem intimidating or overwhelming at first. You'll be surprised at what it may hold.
Sorry for the terrible metaphor, guys. I just really like this box video.
Also, do you think I should get tattoos? Are you also afraid to express conflict with other women? How do you try to increase your honesty and personal power in relationships with other women? Or do you just swallow it? (Not a sex metaphor, I swear. No, really.)
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.