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Where would you be if you listened to … them?

I know it may be hard to believe, because obviously, I am the coolest and most delightful human being ever to grace the surface of the earth (ha … snarf!) but I went through youth known as a loser, a geek and a weirdo.

In high school? I was tormented by slut-shaming. In fact, I was called a “slut” so often over those miserable 4 years that I couldn’t imagine following any other path than “professional slut.”

If people say it enough, it must be true … right?

But I didn’t follow that path. Instead, I went to college hoping to start over with a brand-new identity — only to have my “highly respected” PR professor condemn me as an idiot and tell me to “shut my stupid mouth” in front of my entire senior seminar class.

High school name-calling, all over again.

Then, during my first internship, I was called “worthless” and “a terrible writer” by our company’s Chief Operating Officer, which prompted my boss to tell me I should consider choosing a new career path.

When I finally quit my high-stress PR job and decided to start my own boutique agency, I figured the days of nasty name-calling and criticism were over.

Ohhh, but … no.

Right out of the gate, my esteemed peers called me a “hack,” “stupid,” “ridiculous,” and (I kid you not — I still have the email!) “an abomination of my industry.”

The drama doesn’t stop there.

In my side-career as an actress, I’ve been called too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, and talentless.

Even today, I get hate mail from total strangers on the Internet telling me that I’m not original enough, not helpful and (my personal favorite) not “real.” (Damn! Caught red-handed. It’s true. I’m not “real.” Just a figment of your imagination. 😉

Where would I be if I listened to all of … them?

Would I:

:: Have created a sustainable and successful business that’s been going strong for a decade, filled with customers + readers who make me smile (and laugh out loud) on the regular?

:: Have married the love of my life — an amazing man who adores + respect me, and deserves my adoration + respect, right back?

:: Have had the courage to audition for TV and indie film roles, despite weathering hundreds of rejections, along the way?

:: Have created a beautiful home in California, on a farm right smack in the middle of wine country? (Yes: my backyard is a vineyard. Get into it.)

:: Have penned not one — but two — screenplays? Just because … it felt fun?

Nope.

If I had listened to them — and believed them — I wouldn’t have accomplished anything.

I would have a small, miserable life.

Just like they expected … and wanted.

I can’t tell you why some people feel a need to lash out and hurl violent words at people who are just trying to be … themselves. People who are actively seeking happiness … expressing their quirks and personality … or trying to do “business” differently.

I don’t know why some people get so threatened.

I don’t know why all the cruelty happens.

But I can tell you this:

Screw the haters.

Just be unabashedly YOU.

Success isn’t just the best revenge … it’s just the BEST.   TWEET IT.