I am now getting paid to be the Loud Mouth Brown Girl.
Specifically on Tuesday I am giving two separate talks about my experience with being a creative, dealing with mental health, and trauma, and using cannabis to heal.
Part of me is absolutely thrilled that I am getting paid to share my experience with these topics, because it means that the responsibility that I am carrying is getting heavier and heavier.
Part of me is absolutely terrified because money has always been held like a carrot, just out of reach. For women specifically, money provides a sense of empowerment, and there is nothing the world hates more than an empowered woman doing her best to elevate her experience on this planet.
The LMBG Brand – from a capitalist point of view – is about accountability. If I tell you readers that I am doing everything I can to get better, then I am standing by that in my real life. When I am taking time off from writing and editing to do the dishes, I am genuinely sitting there doing the dishes thinking “I have to do this because I told my readers I was doing this.“
Knowing that adds pressure to everything that I do, that I put on my own shoulders, because I never want people to be able to say “well here she is giving us advice on how to change our lives, but she’s not doing the same for herself.“
It’s frustrating because I hate doing the things that pull me away from the writing, but I also know that if I don’t do them, then I am not living up to the ideals that I am asking you all to live up to.
So you see my friends, it’s not just the talks that I am getting paid for, it’s not just the conversations or the time that I am getting paid for. I am getting paid to make sure that I do all the things that I tell other people to do, and I am also getting paid to deal with the emotional fall out that comes with sharing my experiences with the world.
It’s not easy to put your life out there for the world to see, it’s not easy to say “okay so I haven’t taken the garbage out in a week because I have a really hard time leaving the house.“
The thing that makes this website different from other “slightly well known” mental health websites, is that not only am I doing everything I possibly can to get my name and my story out there, (some are just comfortable writing about their stuff without doing the bigger platform stuff), but then when I step away from the platform to deal with my real life, I have to deal with the fallout.
The fall out comes in forms of PTSD, anxiety, depression, questioning every word I said and how I said it, wondering whether my words had an impact, worrying about people who are going to troll me for my experience, and on and on it goes, so yes, I am now requesting that I get paid when I sit on panels. Yes I am now expecting that if you want my time, you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is.
But it’s not easy. It’s actually really difficult, because I have to constantly question my own experience. “Do I deserve to be here?” “Why me instead of someone else?” “What do I have to offer that other people can’t?“
And I have to have all those questions answered over and over again, because every time I decide to put my name in the hat for a panel, I am going to have to prove that I have answers to those questions, even if they aren’t asked directly.
It’s a lot of emotional work being a public speaker, and I don’t think that I realized that until now. I didn’t actually think about all the men and women that I’ve listened to over the years.
When I think about Michelle Obama getting paid for her talks I think about the fact that she’s Michelle Obama, I don’t think about the emotional toll that it takes to be Michelle Obama.
Sure she’s married to the former President of the United States of America, but every time she goes out into the world to say “I exist, outside of that marriage and partnership” she has to put her emotional vulnerability on the table and let everyone who pays to listen to her, judge her version of her experience from the get go.
They are going to judge what I am wearing – do I look like someone who has it together?
They are going to judge my hair – does my hair look like my crown? Because as a Black woman my hair is supposed to be my crown.
Is my makeup on point? Because people are going to question that. And if it’s not on point they are going to spend more time focusing on what I look like, instead of what I am saying.
Next comes what I am saying, do I make sense? Am I speaking clearly? Am I going to get through not one but two back to back events without smoking throughout them? Because I am used to smoking whenever the hell that I want to.
More importantly, am I going to get through these two back to back events, without having a panic attack? Dear God please do not let me freak out on camera in front of the world!
All my coping mechanisms are going to have to be put aside so that I can share my experience, and talk about my knowledge base, to my audience in a way that they will understand and in the way that they expect.
I also have to know my audience, before I even start – the first group will be mostly women I believe, so that takes off some of the pressure but not all of it, because who doesn’t believe that women judge other women harder than they judge anyone else? If you said “me” you’re wrong. Or lying.
Women judge women harder because they want women to be their best – but also because women are just generally jealous of other women, those are both true facts, and so I worry about what the women in the audience are going to think about me, and on and on it goes.
But at the end of the day, all those fears, questions, and worries aside, I am getting paid to do a job and that means preparing myself to do the best job possible.
Which means announcing that I am the Loud Mouth Brown Girl with pride instead of a sense of trepidation, which is something that I am still working on.
The point is, The Loud Mouth Brown Girl is now open for business, and she is entertaining all offers to talk about her experience. I didn’t expect this part of my journey to come so soon but it’s here now and I refuse to step backward. From here on out I am going to continue to get paid to share my time with the world, and it’s going to prove that I can do what I say I can do.
I couldn’t be more proud.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall