i know you are, but what am i?


I thought I’d go to the gym today, so I dressed for it.  Most of the battle is just getting there, so I figured I’d help a girl out by putting her in the right shoes, bra, clinging sporty pants.  I did what I could, though I’m still inside, writing at this computer, in my coat.  Everything is set to go.

I went yesterday.  A meathead trainer stopped me on my path to an elliptical machine.  His head was shaved bald, and all his questions sounded like statements.  "What are you doing here today," he said.  I turned to look behind me.  Did he want me to answer or was this rhetorical?  "It’s my job to find out if you have what you need."  I blinked this time.  "What are you working on today."  Now?  Should I answer now?  Or did he just want me to blink some more.  A smile, maybe?

"My heart," I said.  He nodded and walked away.  This was satisfactory.  Then I mounted the machine after turning myPod to my newly acquired Self-Esteem 4-disc set.  I’d never worked out to a lecture before.  New things.  My favorite part, without question marks, was about something I’ve already explored.  Ironically, I explored it and had the realization while writing my JAPS post, where I noted:

We always hate in others much of what we detest of ourselves.  I’m chewing my fingers now.  I mean, why else would I respond so vehemently when faced with a hand on hip jap?  Maybe I hate how jappy I can be. Maybe that’s what I hate about myself sometimes.

Many people point a finger and say, "My God, who wears that?" or "My God, why does she write about such intimate things?" or "She’s clearly screaming out for attention!"  It stops being a question and becomes a judgment, with an exclamation point.  And when it’s a judgment, you should ask yourself "is this my self-esteem issue?"  Because it is.  I’m being true to myself, opening myself up to judgment, but when I get the nasty email or comment, I remind myself, it’s really not my issue.  It’s theirs.  It’s hers.  It’s his.

When I look at the outfit she had the guts to wear… if I begin to think, "who wears that?" I realize, sometimes, I’d answer, "I wish I could."  Would it mean having a better figure, more nerve, what?  That ability not to care, to be confident no matter what anyone else thinks, that’s self-esteem.  It’s part of it.  The part I’m doing pretty okay with.  But I have a long way to go.  I’ve stopped needing the external praise, stopped caring one way or another about how the masses will respond.  My self-esteem issues are more intimate.  They’re smaller than that, in a big way.  They have much more to do with jealousy and insecurity when it comes to someone I’m dating.  I’m working on it, but it’s nice to know, "I love you even with all that."  I’m hoping he won’t have to.  And that is a fucking bear for me.  But I’m trying.  It’s harder than the gym.

I get asked by other writers, bloggers, journalists, how I feel about, how I handle, the hate or the criticism.  If it’s genuine criticism it comes in the spirit of kindness and good intention, with an obvious sentiment to help me improve or consider things in a new way.  Hateful remarks or judgments like, "you’re as jappy as they come," or "want to try something new for the new year, try killing yourself" come from fear or the hate they have for themselves.  I know I sound like a self-help tape; I don’t care.  I’m not perfect, either.  I judge and lash out, usually about the things I don’t like within myself.  I’ve never lashed out at another blogger, been hateful, even when provoked.  Really provoked.  It’s not about high and mighty or some higher road.  It’s not.  It’s about taking the time to let it settle in, without reacting straight away.  Then understanding what it’s really all about. And for a change, it’s not all about me.

People can’t be afraid they’ll be seen as braggy, or you’ll feel embarrassed and afraid of the consequences, if it’s what your critical self needs.  It’s why I do what I do, despite all the shit I take for it.  Because in my heart, the one I’m working on, I know I’m doing what I need to do. Period.



  1. Well, you're a few steps further along than I am today. I'm still sitting at the computer in my robe and slippers. Good for you, wearing your coat!!

    Okay, okay….I'm going too.

  2. i've often wondered about that myself… On one hand I do want people to read my work, but on the other hand…I have the self esteem of a skinny, freckled, buck-toothed 13 year old, and I'm just not sure how to deal with all the judgement. I know that you deal with it all the time, and yet, here you are every day, sharing the bits of you that mean so much to us. Ah Steph… we all strive to be brave like you.

  3. I think you're right. And so is that old saying that you have to love yourself before you can love others. For me, I didn't think it was about self esteem. I felt fine, as long as I was alone. As long as I didn't have to have faith in future. But it turns out that learning to trust myself and soothe myself allow me to let myself be loved. And you can't really love until you can let someone really love you and see you. The first person I had to start letting love me and see me as I am…was me.

    The older I get the more deeply I believe that judgment of others comes from a lack of acceptance of self. In all of us.

  4. I try my best to avoid eye contact with those trainers. That is my worst nightmare, that one will stop me and want to talk.

  5. now THAT was a (New Year's) resolution post. good job, a great read, and .. um.. keep on truckin' (sorry, I'm hopped up on Dayquil) :) ~ sarah g

  6. In my 70+ years, I have learned to disdain those who would judge me on the basis of my appearance, attire, automobile, or abode, (and perhaps also of my aroma). However, I do appreciate the admiration of those who would judge me on the basis of my attributes, achievements, and abilities. While I do try, with some success, to affect humility, I am really not humble to myself. I have been good, among the best actually, in a few of the things I have done or contributed to in my life, and I rest comfortable in the confidence that those, in the final judgement, will balance against my failings. After all, it is ones own judgement of the merit of his/her own worth that is all that really matters. That is why it is so important to strive to achieve worthwhile goals that have little to do with personal benefit or self-aggrandizement.

  7. I think the "I wish I had the guts" thing about people wearing certain clothing quite a lot. Not necessarily because I would like to wear spandex and expose my entire midriff, but because it would be nice — if I found a lovely spandex, midriff-exposing outfit — to feel confident enough to wear it.

  8. you have motivated me to get up and go to the gym. I just finished my first semester of college and of course gained weight…I must go to the gym because at times I too wish I could pull off what all my jappy friends wear. I love your writing and cannot WAIT for the book.

  9. I'm very glad you post as honest as you do.
    Although I don't always agree with you point of view, your still an inspiration.
    Oh, and the bragging thing: it's not bragging when you're stating facts. I hate that you're supposed to be quiet about your good/strong points. It's like we're not alowed to be proud of ourselves. Scr*w that!

    …And a Happy New Year to all!

  10. Hey Stephanie!
    Well, you are absolutely right. Everyone has to deal with these problems and has to strive for perfectness which is impossible. This is something you have to discuss with yourself.
    But it is great that you share your progress with us.
    I'd say: criticism is really just envy ;)

    Keep it up, have a nice day!

  11. I just don't get the hating-on that I see when I visit various blogs. Is it that difficult to just close the page and move on? One of the things I admire most, and return here for, is your honesty and openness. Whether or not I agree with it every time, it's still refreshing to read when I can't quite go there yet with my own writing.

  12. My mother once told me:"You can learn a lot about a person based on their compliments or the reverse." The comment actually says nothing about you, and everything about them. So she would certainly agree with where you're going here. And it's true, next time someone compliments you on something, you may find it more interesting. Do they gravitate to your name brand watch, or your home-made journal/folder? Do they only notice the tear in your jeans or focus entirely on your new and very expensive bag? It has something to do with the vibrational frequencies on which we all operate. But that's a story for an entirely different day.

  13. Not everyone is a critic. I love getting up on a rainy Vancouver BC morning and sitting down with a cup of coffee to read your latest east coast musings… I find your stories engaging and your writing lyrical – but it's the truthfulness of what you write that keeps me coming back. Thanks for sharing.

  14. This is my first time posting, but I read your blog all the time. Today's post really hit home with me. I really started to notice that my insecurities are very minimal when I am single, but blinding when I am in a relationship. I'm great when I am on my own, because I only have to trust myself, I don't have to rely on someone else for happiness, I generate it from my being. But when in relationships, I find my overanalytical brain reeling through everything that has been said and those left unsaid, it drives me nuts. My boyfriend and I broke up on Saturday night, during which he paraded through the list, touching on every insecurty that I have. He has apologized a million times since, even with the help of a dozen gorgeous gerbera daisies, but every time I look at him, I can't help but play through the blurb, which was the epitome of male stupidity, that erupted Saturday night. I want to know why it came about, I need to know why. Hell I deserve to know why, and to be asured that it won't happen again. I have a million demons that I need to fight, and I feel as if I need to heal myself too. It's great to read your posts and realize that I am not the only one going through these things. Thank you.

  15. I've been reading your blog for several months and insisting that my friends read it too. This post brings to mind a cliche that Margaret Atwood used in The Handmaid's Tale. I've repeated when I've needed it. She did it in Latin (very erudite): "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum." That's "Don't let the bastards get you down."

  16. Today, I came home from work, dressed to go to the gym, then sat down at my computer and read your blog. Irony?

  17. I have a feeling that your 'critics' may not necessarily hate you or themselves; it may not be that dramatic. I do understand why you said this; I'd probably tell myself the same thing if I poured my heart out in my blog (instead of just being snarky and hyper-analyzing pop culture). In some extreme cases it may be true that their comments come from a place of fear, but I'd be willing to bet that often times it's not anything more than a typed-out eye-roll. If they snipe at you AND still manage to lead perfectly well-adjusted lives, who cares? You're happy and (God help me, I'm channeling self-help now myself) that's all that matters. (Disclaimer: If they snipe at you more than once or twice, what I typed before does not apply: Those folks just have too much time on their hands and/or are certifiable.)

  18. "We always hate in others much of what we detest of ourselves."

    So very true. You can find an awful lot of projection in any criticism.

  19. I've never gotten the feeling that you were screaming for attention – I've seen people say that here before, but I've always been impressed with your honesty. A lot of what you say on this blog are things that I too have thought or felt or even done, but I keep them to myself for fear of someone I know reading it! Which I guess goes right to the heart of it – the ability not to care. It's not so much the things I've done that I care about people knowing, it's all of the other people I post about who wouldn't appreciate having their dirty laundry aired. Or so I tell myself…

  20. There seems to be a change going on with you. It is a good one, and one that is really interesting to read.

  21. KEEP WRITING DARLING!!! Do you even understand how your raw, honest disclosures help me? How it helps to know that I'm not the only beautiful, smart, sweet, sexy, talented jewish girl, who despite all that, has pain and vulnerability and anxiety and confusion…Your realness allows me to allow my own insecurities and to love myself anyway…b/c i can see how divine you are and how hard you are on yourself…and it just helps me be kinder to me by knowing that you should be kinder to you…And those crapass criticizers are sad, angry, powerless people…empowered people do not write mean, hurtful things…Also, I know some other well known bloggers, and one in particular portrays herself as the model of secure, balanced feminism….and she's quite jappy and insecure in real life…at least you have the courage to put the real shit out there…THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!! DON'T STOP!

  22. that was one of the best posts i've read on your site. it's all about discovering who you are and what you need to do to make yourself happy. thanks!

  23. Bravo! I enjoyed reading that post. I do my best to focus on the woman in the mirror and what I think of her, not what others think of her. And true, "it's harder than the gym."

  24. I'm from the UK so cannot fathom what 'jappy' is. It isn't preventing me from enjoying this post, but it is making me feel excluded. Can anyone help?

  25. @ Christine: I have no clue what 'jappy' is. I'm from Germany and there is very much which I can't understand although I've been in Britain for a long time. But I can understand enough and so I'm forced to like Stephanie's style.

    äöü and ß.
    Greetings from Europe ;)

  26. Naturally, the people that write the nastiest comments here are probably people who sometimes wish they're the ones that wrote what you wrote. I still think it's funny when people get upset that you're "self-absorbed" in your blog, as if a personal journal is ultimately supposed to be anything but.

  27. i agree that we hate in others what we hate in ourselves….but i know for a fact that i never whore myself on the internet. so then i wonder why i dont like you

  28. Stephanie, I completely agree with you on this one. You've echoed the song of my growth for the past year–learning to be more comfortable in your skin, taking responsibility for what is yours, and leaving the rest alone. Great post.

  29. You know, I'm having a hard time understanding how criticism equates with jealousy. This is a "comments" section it is not a cheerleading clinic – why do we all have to think that every word that Stephanie writes is fantastic? The world would be a pretty boring place if we all agreed on everything…and quite frankly, constant praise and fawning just makes people lazy.

    While I don't think it accomplishes anything to rip someone apart just for the heck of it, I do think that those of you who like to call Stephanie's critics "haters" have a rather one-dimensional idea of how the world works.

  30. No one is saying not to critique. A hater is someone who doesn't abide by the simple guidelines(this list was from Gina Trapani)-

    Stay on topic
    Contribute new information to the discussion
    Be courteous
    The best kind of comments come from thoughtful, knowledgeable people who add more information about a topic. However, tongue-lashings from condescending smartypants will go over as well on someone’s blog as they would in that someone’s living room. Expect to get shown the door in the form of the delete button. When fact-checking, pointing out a typo or dead link or asserting a dissenting opinion, do it in a respectful, friendly way.

    Do not feed or tease the trolls.

    No matter how many articles like this get written, there will always be people who surf around the Internet and inject pointless vindictiveness into any available textarea. Don’t let the terrorists win. Do NOT acknowledge these people with refutations, disagreements or even a mention of their screen name.

    don't confuse haters with critics.

  31. That's the spirit Stephanie. I know how you feel. I deal with it by forcing myself to feel positively towards others, that way I feel less judged myself somehow. But I think the biggest judge on our behaviour is us.

  32. I am going to be very presumptuous here and give my understanding of Stephanie's meaning, in regard to the 'haters'. If I am way off base Stephanie, please feel free to tell me to go piss up a rope.

    I have never seen Stephanie take offense to constructive criticism on this site. There have been a time or two that I have seen her ask for understanding, to state that what she writes here in her diary is often written on an emotional whim and that it sometimes has very little to do with the bigger picture, but everything to do with how she is feeling at that moment. I have seen people respond to those sorts of posts with absolute atrocities, saying really horrible things about Stephanie as a human being. WHO, out of any of her readers, or for that matter her friends and family and the general population, has that right?

    It is my understanding that sitting here reading Stephanie's diary is something of a privilege. The fact that she chooses to share her writing for our virtual pleasure and entertainment, much as she would talk to one of her friends and thereby giving us as the reader a tiny glimpse into her soul, sometimes feels very intimate and as though we KNOW her.

    Well, fellow readers, we do not. Lets face it, shall we? Even if we did know Stephanie and could call her a friend, would we not offer an understanding that sometimes our friends thoughts, feelings and even jibberish is sometimes irrational and said on a whim? Would we not cut that friend some slack sometimes, giving them the opportunity to clarify; without jumping down their throat with accusations and insults?

    I mean, come on. Mean people suck and no one likes to be shat upon, do they? We dont have to agree with what Stephanie writes. We dont have to jump on some happy bandwagon of Stephanie cheerleaders and do the rah-rah dance. But do we not have to show a little respect when it comes to the comments section? It would seem, to me, that all it takes is a little common sense. If you read something you disagree with, then disregard. If Stephanie asks for specific opinions then great, otherwise, what does it matter what we as the reader thinks? These are Stephanie's thoughts and feelings. No one elses.

    Yes, I know she could shut down the comments section. She chooses not to. Shouldnt we just respect her space, enjoy her writing for what it is and comment respectfully or move right along?

    The innate goodness of man and all that….call me naive.

    Besides, her writing cracks me up. Its fun and funny and very readable. Even the posts I do not always relate to. I appreciate the style.

    As an aside Stephanie, your introspection and growth this year has been huge. I applaud you for tossing it out here for us. Im sure you know you help a lot of people through your writings and piss a lot of other people off. The only ones that matter are the ones that hold a place in your heart and it is obvious to me that you are FIERCELY loyal to them. They are lucky.

    No, I am not a Stephanie cheerleader and no, I do not know Stephanie. But if I did, I'd be proud to. It seems to me like she would make a great friend and be HELLA fun to be around, especially when she is a little crazy.

    Jappy: Jewish American Princess in action. Stephanie, I believe, has the right to use the term, being Jewish. (The opinion of a gentile, before anyone chooses to slam her for the term.)

  33. I think mystery girl's point was directed at the commenters – not Stephanie herself. I've noticed that alot of people who comment here are very quick to judge when someone states a dissenting opinion.

    No, I don't think it's ok to assume that anyone who reads this blog "knows" Stephanie – but I do think it's ok to disagree or make a not-entirely-sycophantic observation about something she's written. It's called "feedback" and that is something that every writer needs to improve their craft and their interactions with the world at large.

  34. Self-esteem is something i think everyone is working at. I find that during our angsty teen years, our self-esteem gets such a beating that it takes the rest of our twenties to finally re-align itself. It doesnt help i guess that once you reach your twenties and are a bone-fide adult (as seen by your parents, the state and society), the pressure to be together and sorted out in life is very high…I think this is most evident in the 'graduate race', you know the one where the businesses go on expensive milkrounds to find those new bright things that will shine in their company?? Its what i am battling with at the moment, either to have enough self-esteem and self-respect not to bother tagging along and stroking their egos, or to join the race at the risk of losing out, of getting lost trying to get somewhere else….
    I would love to have the courage to write all this on a blog rather than in my journal, secretly, i dont think i would have anything valuable to say really….i wouldnt no where to start i guess….any suggestions??

  35. Very right, especially the part about letting it settle in and not reacting straight away.
    However, I commented once on your blog, probably 2 yrs ago, where I said what you're writing is not literature but some sort of chick lit, and you should be careful with using the word "literature" for what you're doing. I didn't mean that bad at all; neither did I want to provoke, BUT my comment was deleted right away. However, my comment came out of some sort of self inconfidence… I wish I could write literature (am trying to, but it's not paying the rent), and as much I wish that I could just write chick lit. Just: I can't. You can. So keep doing.
    (Am going to buy your book!)

  36. I think you suck. I think your books, lifestyle, thoughts, attitude, and self awareness suck.
    Thank you for letting me realize who I do not want to be.

  37. people can be so hateful. i’m not sure if it’s just a breakdown in civilty in our culture or what. if you look around the comment section in any site, it inevitably breaks down into nasty discourse between complete strangers. it makes me sad sometimes, everyone just needs to take a chill pill. good for you for trucking on. the only opinion that really matters ultimately is that of yours and your loved ones. haters can keep on hatin.

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