Dear CK & KK,
Today I write to you about getting a conviction. OK. Not really ‘a’ conviction, just fucking conviction, although there are indeed convictions worth getting too – of the ‘a’ conviction type and many civil rights warriors have proudly done so. Why, because they HAD conviction of the not ‘a’ conviction type. Is this confusing? I hope not, but just in case, I’m hear to explain.
Having choices in life is fucking fabulous. Well, it can be fabulous, but, as there is no appropriate word that clearly illustrates what the actual opposite of fabulous is, I’ll just have to say that life with out conviction is an utter waste of oxygen, in my never humble opinion.
Every single thing we do in life has an outcome, a consequence, repercussions and ripples. Some of those are minor and completely irrelevant, at least to ourselves, while others create fallout of a different magnitude. How we live our lives, express ourselves, carry out mundane tasks, speak, interact, entertain, love, hate, explore and exist, all, actually, matters – and that’s pretty weird and overwhelming once you get your head around it. In my day, acid helped. You’re lucky, you have me to do it for you so at least you get to miss the come downs. Today, my little chickadees, I’m going try to explain to you why conviction is so damned important.
There are many words that people use to define different types of conviction and two of them, interestingly, involve anatomy. Those are ‘having a backbone’ or the contrary ‘being spineless’ and ‘having balls’ or ‘cojones’ (why does Spanish always sound better?). Of course, I’ve always taken issue with the balls thing because it somehow suggests that being in possession of testicles automatically means that you’re capable of great things and willing to do them with conviction, but we all know that isn’t the case and in a gigantic effort on my part not to digress (which pains me dearly), I shall leave it at that.
Your Badass Auntie has never been too much of a fence sitter. Part of that is that I was genetically deprived of an arse. I am one of the flat arse brigade. Long back, small crack. Your father is similarly blessed. It’s more suited on him. Never mind. It’s not held me back much and it also makes fence sitting very difficult and rather uncomfortable. Anyway, if I’m going to have anything between my legs, I want it to be something enjoyable – like a horse or a bicycle (your dirty mind!).
As I have gotten older, I do admit that issues that seemed perfectly clear to me, no longer are quite so easy to unravel. On the other hand it’s easier for me to admit when I’m undecided or poorly informed, which is one the most fantastic GNF gift that just keeps giving with age. (*sigh* GNF is where modern acronyms meet genius – look it up in the Urban Dictionary if you don’t know what it means) The insecurity of youth makes saying ‘I don’t know’ very, very hard to say and that’s why young people are often so fucking annoying. I certainly was.
Annoying as I was, I also had unbelievable amounts of conviction. Conviction could have been my middle name. Most things I have done in my life, no matter how stupid, incorrect, dangerous, illegal, brilliant, brave, artistic, hurtful, damaging or world changing I can honestly say I have done with conviction. Of course there are things I’ve done with conviction that I certainly wouldn’t do now and think were idiotic, wrong or perhaps a little bit unhinged. For example, in my anarchic youth, I may have misdirected my frustration at the windows of various buildings that in hindsight really may not have been deserving. I may have hurt the feelings and broken the hearts of a few young men who really were not the arseholes I made them out to be.
But hey, when during a flirtation with an extreme version of feminism, I graffitied ‘all men are rapists’ on the wall of a male friend, (once a lover) who had attended a Beastie Boy’s gig’ back in the 80’s (and yes, I really did do that), I did it with passion, I believed it and I meant it. Poor fellow. I’m also sure that the people or persons (and I’m guessing it might even have been Beastie Boys boy) who impaled my cheese to the wall with a knife and wrote ‘murderer’ on the wall next to it in catsup, were similarly passionate. I think you’re starting to get a picture of the way my community undertook free expression. And fuck! It was always with conviction. By the way, I love Beastie Boys and I think they are a perfect example of doing something with conviction. Sadly, I didn’t get them at that particular time as I was going through an ‘I don’t know but I won’t admit it’ phase and just mindlessly followed the angriest people I knew at the time. I missed out. But the founder of the band, who died a few years back, said something absolutely perfect for this particular blog.
There have been times that I have had to make decisions about people I love, whose lives needed saving. When lives are at risk, spinelessness is not an option if you are someone who believes in living with conviction. You have to be able to say to yourself ‘Even if this person hates me forever for what I am about to do, I don’t care because I’d rather they hated me forever and were alive.’ And you have to be willing to stand by that. There is no room for whining, regret, guilt tripping or blaming others in true conviction.
As a writer, who considers writing an art and as an art lover and believer in free expression, I am devoted to appreciating conviction in my own and the work of others although I do tend to get jarred at conviction, steeped in ignorance, even though I’ve been guilty of it myself. There is actually a fine line between doing something with conviction and just being an arsewipe so here, as always, to give you ever important life guidance, are –
Badass Auntie’s 5 Steps to Conviction
1. Be ready, willing and able to be criticised. This goes for life in general, but particularly if you are doing something in your life that requires conviction. It may be a piece of self expression such as poetry, writing, photography, painting or music. If you mean it and believe it, then criticism should be welcomed. Criticism, in its highest form, helps us to do things better. Criticism, in its lowest form, helps us identify people that we should give no fucks about.
2. Be well informed about who may be likely to not like what you are doing. Information is power and power is..well…helpful most of the time. If you do something and have no idea who or what you may end up against, you won’t be prepared for the ever important number three in this list.
3. Be absolutely prepared for the consequences of your actions, words or behaviour and take them like a Badass. Conviction has no room for bleating and claiming people are being mean. If you say something and if offends someone, then you better be fully fucking ready to take the flack that comes to you as a result. If you’re not, then you failed by not following step number two. Be aware that depending on what you are doing or saying, consequences can range from death, to losing friends and family, to splitting up relationships, to going viral on the internet, to being hated and reviled, to being loved and worshiped. None of those outcomes should matter to you if you truly have conviction in what you are doing, whether that is climbing a mountain, sitting in front of a tank, publishing a photograph, writing an article, saving a life, wearing clothes, fucking the police, or singing a song about Jesus.
Or just in case that doesn’t work, you could just get convicted and sing badly like this guy.
4. If you are doing something with conviction then do it like you mean it. There’s no room for being half arsed with conviction.
5. If after doing something with conviction you realise that you may have hurt others unintentionally or that part of the consequences mean that you get schooled about why what you did was wrong wrong wrong, be dignified and graceful and apologise, when appropriate. Do not apologise for having conviction. There is nothing wrong with getting things wrong. If you don’t fuck up it’s because you haven’t tried and if you haven’t tried, you’re a worthless shit. But do apologise for getting things wrong if, and only, if, you truly agree that you were wrong because if you refer back to number one in this list, you’re likely to receive criticism. Just because criticism exists, does not mean it’s correct and just because someone is butthurt (see my previous blog Two Nations Divided by Butthurt) that you need to pander to butthurtee. But, if they have a legitimate reason to be disturbed, upset or otherwise affected by your words and behaviour, it behooves you as a Badass to listen to them and learn from them. Oh and if you do apologise, do it with conviction.
And those, my lovely niece and nephew are the 5 Steps to Conviction. I don’t care how you do it, when you do it, where you do it, or, why you do it, but I expect you do to it with conviction because that’s what will make you Badass.
Much love from your Badass Auntie
Now for my Badass Agony Aunting time
Dear Badass Auntie,
My younger sister has recently told me she’s gay. She’s a lesbian, whatever. I don’t have problems with her or if she wants to be gay or not, but I think she needs to tell our parents. She’s 17 and still lives at home. They pay her bills and give her a car and they will probably pay for school later too. They have a right to know what’s going on in their own house especially as I don’t think our dad would approve at all if he knew what she was doing.
How can I make her fess up to mom and dad or should I just tell them myself? I know she’ll be really pissed at me if I do but they’ll be pissed at me even more if they find out that I kept it a secret from them. I sort of feel like I have no choice that’s why I think she should do it and not put me in this situation. What should I do?
Sister in the middle
This is a tricky situation for you and I’m sure it seems totally fucked up. I have sympathy with you and the position you find yourself in. By coming out to you and asking you not to share the information, your sister has made you a fellow conspirator and asked you to essentially lie to your parents and I can tell that makes you really uncomfortable and irritated. To be honest, reading between the lines, as a Badass Auntie is inclined to do, I get the feeling that you find your sister a bit irritating anyway. That’s fine. Younger siblings can be a total pain in the arse, especially if they seem to get away with shit that you didn’t.
OK. That’s me being sympathetic. Now time for some reality. If your sister came out to you, she trusts you with something that is really important to her. How do I know it’s really important? Because she hasn’t told your fucking parents – that’s how. So, now’s your time to do some adulting and make a decision because I’m not going to fucking do it for you. But, I will give you some information to make it easier for you.
Option 1 – Tell your parents. You’ve already said your father would not be happy. So, there will probably be a huge drama. Your sister will be really hurt, upset and may never trust you again. She may get kicked out of the house but if she doesn’t, she’ll have to live there knowing that your dad disapproves of her and it will be very unpleasant. Maybe she won’t get to go to university.
Of course, you won’t have to feel like you’re keeping a secret for your sister anymore so you’ll be all good. Your parents may or may not be grateful for your sharing. Don’t assume they will. They may already suspect and would prefer to live a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ lifestyle until everyone involved is ready to deal with this. If you decide on this option, then do it because you believe it is the right thing to do and stand by that, but be prepared to live with the consequences, which may be long lasting – possibly forever. If you are, then have at it.
Option 2 – Well, it’s not like in the history of siblings, they haven’t kept secrets for each other. I wonder if your little sister has some shit on you that your parents might not be too pleased to hear about. Might want to think about that. Maybe you could try to be supportive to your sister while also explaining that you feel uncomfortable about being expected to lie to your parents about something that is so important. I certainly do believe that in this day and age, coming out to one’s family is the best thing in the long run, if at all possible and you live in a culture where it won’t get you killed or seriously injured. But that’s just my own belief. I’m not your sister and I don’t know how she feels. What I do know is that she doesn’t feel ready yet, but she’s taken a first step and a very risky one. So, you could choose to work with her on this and to find a way to help her live her life freely and openly and not to lose the support of those closest to her.
If you go with this option, the worst that can happen is that your parents might find out on their own and then, if they find out you knew, might be really pissed off at you for not telling them the truth. That certainly is true. You might have sleepless nights feeling awful about keeping secrets from your parents but hey, let’s go back to what I said earlier, I’m sure there are things about your own personal life you don’t share with them either. This stuff about them supporting her and her living under their roof is even more reason to proceed with caution as she could end up homeless. Are you going to take her in if that happens? If you decide on this option, then do it to the best of your ability and as this is a first for you, a great way to do it well would be to talk to an LGBT friendly counselor who can help you and your sister through this together. Just think, if you do keep her secret, your irritating little sister will owe you for life and who doesn’t want to have that on a younger sibling?
Good luck whatever you do.