Tracee Ellis Ross: We’re told our job as women ‘is to learn to be choosable’

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Tracee Ellis Ross has an interview that came out a couple of weeks ago on Glennon Doyle’s We can Do Hard Things podcast. I’m reporting on it now as I saw some excerpts on Yahoo! and wanted to wait until I could listen to the whole thing. It’s an hour long and is well worth it. Glennon runs the podcast with her sister, Amanda Doyle, and her wife, Abby Wombach. It was my first time listening and honestly it wasn’t clear to me who was speaking other than Tracee and Glennon. The episode was so crazy deep and interesting that I found myself both fascinated by the work Tracee has done and annoyed by having to face hard truths about myself. I’m about the same age as Tracee and have been able to relate to her interviews for years. She said so many interesting things that it’s hard to know what to excerpt. I wanted to talk about how she’s come to love and appreciate herself after realizing who she is and what she wants out of life.

She’s grateful people came out for her 50th birthday party
I am one of those people that am like ‘yeah I would love to go, but do I really want to leave the house?’

On intentionally creating your life
We go back to this model that we’re sold. It’s everywhere and if you’re not careful you actually think it’s true, which is that ‘my job as a woman is to learn to be choosable,’ having nothing to do with who I am, what makes my heart sing, floats my boat, makes me feel safe, makes me feel comfortable, powerful, smart… but really is more about how I might be seen so that I might be chosen so that my life could mean something as a chosen woman who then gets to have a child and then be a mother and then do that for a child. Our culture sells us this … there’s nothing wrong with that journey, but it’s a chosen journey as opposed to one that you think is going to make you worth anything. There’s so many different versions of that.

On how she’s learned who she is and what she wants
I’ve been grateful enough to have found places where there are eons of tools in different ways to unpack that crazy messaging, make sense of it in a way that actually gives me a shot at genuine happiness and a robust life that’s actually mine. It’s like a daily reprieve, some days are better than others, some days the old messaging comes in and I’ve got a really nice matching story that goes with it of my unlovability. If I’m not careful and go into that thinking alone, I get stuck there.

I’m one of these people that I don’t get scared of stuff until after. I’m a girl that jumps off a cliff. Then I land and I’m like ‘what the f’ck did I just do?’ ‘Who would do that?’ ‘Why would you do that?’ ‘Oh my God you’re so dumb, this is actually evidence.’ ‘Put that in the fire of unlovability, that shit is going to roar.’ The next day, it’s out of control. It’s a risk hangover.

On being herself
So many of the things that I like about myself are the things that are difficult for people. I’m not afraid to say when I dont think something feels right. I’m not afraid to say when something doesn’t feel right for me no matter how far and deeply into that thing I am. That I have a really loud laugh. All these different things that make me maybe not everyone’s cup of tea. That really changed my relationship to those aspects of me that I think I was trying to hide in order to be chosen, to be lovable. I don’t know if my discomfort with not being everyone’s cup of tea, the unlovability and self loathing that comes up, I don’t know if those are ever going to go away. I think I have a different relationship to them. I can do hard things, I can also be comfortable when I’m uncomfortable, I can also be happy when I don’t like how everything is going. I have a larger container to hold myself and I know myself really well. It’s taken a lot of time to have the courage to actually live my life as that person.

My big fear was ‘am I going to ruin the course of my destiny if I make the wrong choice?’ My spiritual awakening has been ‘I’m OK, you can’t ruin it babe.’

[From We Can Do Hard Things]

There’s also section where Tracee talks about realizing her fertility is waning and that she owes a debt to the transgender community for helping expand the concept of gender. Yahoo! covered that part, it was deep and I’ve never thought about it like that, and you can read about it there.

A lot of what she said comes with age, like realizing you’re not everyone’s cup of tea and that you shouldn’t change or dim your light for a relationship. After that I think it was Glennon who said “Think of how weak you’d have to be, to be everyone’s cup of tea. You’d have to be water.” That’s so true! Overall I came away from this thinking that I’m fine, that I’m right where I should be, that I can’t ruin anything, and that I should lean more into the things I love and value about myself. I appreciate Tracee for being unapologetically herself and for talking so openly about it.

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