“You don’t know what’s on the inside until you put a demand on your potential.”
– Joel Osteen
And it has HUGE significance for me at this moment because (if you like drumrolls, this is a good time to use one!) …
August 18th is my Un-Stripper-Versary.
Whoohoo! Give me a high-five lady.
That’s right. 13 years ago, I hung up my silver bikini & put away my silver stripper stilettos for good.
(At least I hung up my stripper silver bikini – check around my closet and you just may find a civilian silver bikini.)
THIRTEEN years since I walked away.
I walked off the stage, packed up my little suitcase and minutes later I was rolling it down a dark Seattle street, with no money in the bank, no back up plan, not even a bus to catch.
(Why I was such a broke stripper is another story for another day…)
If only I’d walked away at 2 in the afternoon instead of 2 in the morning – at least there would have been a bus.
I remember that as soon as it was a reasonable hour, I called my dad to tell him my decision. I was pretty sure he was going to be overjoyed, and he was.
I was also banking on the idea that he would cut me a check ASAP – in fact, I was counting on it. But he didn’t.
I had just given up a 9-year stripping career (something he was never ok with), left a trail of false eyelashes and neon sequins down the street, and practically used my last quarter to call him with the news.
And you know what he said?
“Well, I guess you better pull up your bootstraps, and figure it out.”
NOT what I wanted to hear.
He wasn’t doing it to be mean, or brutal, or get in some ‘I told you so’ jab.
He said it because he knew I could make it happen. I didn’t know it, but he did.
And, damn it, he was right.
It took five months, and copious amounts of painful soul searching, seeking help & employment in odd places and selling almost all of my possessions, but I stayed committed to NOT being a stripper anymore – no matter what.
And trust me, it sucked all around.
Quitting stripping wasn’t just about a career transition. It was about a career transition AND quitting a 9-year addiction.
(Fast cash, flexible hours & high-drama are SEDUCTIVE for a 20 something.)
Walking into uncertainty, busting ass and committing to creating a new future for myself introduced me to the Universe’s magic.
Magic I never would have known existed.
(And you know how the rest of it turns out. The fact that you are reading something I wrote is nothing short of miraculous to me.)
When you make demands on your potential.
And, as I was thinking about this story, I realized that my dad is not the only one who pushed my potential.
Tough, smart, strong women who shaped my thinking & expanded my future. . .
: My 4th grade teacher Mrs. Conrey, who kept a paddle in her desk drawer for the misbehavers in class (yes, it was still legal to spank kids in school – she even had holes drilled in that paddle so wind resistance wouldn’t slow down her spanking).
She handed out discipline fairly – to let us know that our actions had consequences. And while I feared the paddle, I LOVED Mrs. Conrey.
Mrs. Conrey put a demand on my potential.
: Mme. Gramling, my towering (6 foot tall!) French instructor who drilled us to excellence, and demanded perfect demeanor as well.
She showed me how any skill worth having was worth working for, and the time she said “Tres gauche!” when I yawned in class without covering my mouth is a tres gauche I’ve never forgotten.
Mme. Gramling put a demand on my potential.
: Hisako Nakaya, my apparel design instructor was stricter than the Pope. My perfected paper patterns often looked like an episode of When Wolves Attack after her red pen had its way with them – 1/32 of an inch can make or break a garment you know.
My eye for detail? All thanks to her.
Hisako Nakaya put a demand on my potential.
: Professor Barlow, my thesis advisor. And the thesis itself – Gender & Western Identity in Chinese Cultural Revolution Memoirs Written in English. For realz.
I proudly handed in the 13 pages that I’d struggled with for weeks, and you know what she said? “Great start. Turn in 12 more pages in 2 days.”
Of course, I cried. But then I sucked it up and got it done.
I got an A+ on the paper and was invited to join her masters’ level class where I schmoozed with P.h.D. candidates. They RAVED about my progressive ideas and encouraged me to get the paper published.
Professor Barlow put a demand on my potential.
: Professor Novatny, with the constant bellow of “No passive language!” I can’t write a single line without hearing her voice in my ear.
Professor Novatny put a demand on my potential.
: Ruth Ann Harnisch – Founder of the Harnisch Foundation, who graciously mentored me when I wrote Think Like a Stripper.
Thrilled to have a SOLID rough draft of my book, I eagerly waited for her reply after seeing Chapter 1.
Her response? Something along the lines of, “Not good enough.” Followed by a succinct & powerful explanation as to why.
Chad said to me once, “Every time you talk to her you cry.”
“Yes I do. And she’s the ONLY person on the planet who holds me to such a high standard. So if I have to weep my way to success, I will.”
Ruth Ann Harnisch put a demand on my potential.
Looking back, I’ve been sooooo lucky to have this incredible army of women (and my dad) in my life, who were willing to put a demand on my potential.
Now my question for you? Are you actively putting a demand on your potential?
And yes, I DO demand an answer.