In Charge

The Energy Management Guide for Badass Women Who Are Tired of Being Tired

Book Publish Date: March 15, 2022

www.arinreeves.com

INTRODUCTION

SHE IS YOU
SHE IS ME
SHE IS US

She is a badass woman.

Even if she doesn’t feel like it every day. Especially when she doesn’t feel like it. She gets up and kicks ass anyway because she doesn’t have a choice. She is strong, and often much stronger than those around her. She loves that she can help others, but she also wishes they would get their shit together so she doesn’t have to do it for them.

She’s a daughter, a mom, an aunt, a sister, a wife, a partner, an ex-wife, a friend, a lover, a teacher, a student, a colleague, a leader, a fighter, a peacemaker, a healer, and so much more, and often all at once. She’s a pain in the ass to those who deserve it, and a fierce warrior for those who need it. She has learned that she can be exhausted and inspired at the same time, just as she can love someone and want to slap some sense into them at the same time.

She is kind but not always nice, because she’s exhausted. She’s compassionate but not a pushover, though she often lets herself get pushed over because she needs her energy for other things in that moment and for the future battles that she knows await her. She knows the difference between giving up and letting go but she also knows that letting go is so much harder than giving up. It pisses her off when she is seen as giving up when she did the hard work it took to let go.

She’s not afraid to be herself but she doesn’t believe that everyone deserves (or can handle) who she really is. She has been told she’s too loud, too strong, too ambitious, too determined, too much, and she wonders why any of that is bad, but she has learned to “tone it down” to survive. She knows how much energy it takes to not roll her eyes or slam the table with her fists when she is interrupted by people who have no idea what they are talking about. She knows how much energy it takes to swallow the words she needs to say in her defense because if she did say them, she would be called defensive. She knows how to dim her light, bend her will, mute her voice, pause her fight, and soften her gaze to make room for the insecurities and fears of others, because she cannot afford the price that she will pay for being brighter, stronger, and more powerful than those with the insecurities and fears.

She’s infinitely patient when she makes herself heard for the first time and rightfully impatient when she has to repeat herself…over and over again. She makes space for other people’s weaknesses and excuses even though she is not always given the space to be weak or to make excuses. She is soft and hard, comfortable and uncomfortable in the dualities she negotiates every day. She manages chaos she did not create and cleans up messes she did not make. She’s not happy about it, but she knows complaining will only deplete energy she does not have to spare.

People may not always know when they piss her off, but she will never forget the who, what, when, where, and why. She cares about candor more than propriety and is weighed down by how often she needs to choose propriety over candor. She has been told that she should choose her battles, but she doesn’t always know how to do that when there are so many battles she faces every day, battles that threaten her sanity, peace, and joy.

She doesn’t get over being hurt, she absorbs the hurt to make herself stronger. She doesn’t get over being pissed off, she absorbs the pissedoffness to use as fuel for her journey. She takes the big blows and wins and the small cuts and victories and blends them together into her unique brand of grace and mettle, a brand that is as powerful as it is weary.

She is exactly who you want beside you in a crisis. She is loyal even when it goes against her best interests, but once she decides someone no longer deserves her loyalty, they should watch their backs… probably for the rest of their lives. She has no use for revenge, but she will never give up on justice. She has been told many times that she is too angry, so she has learned how to smile through her anger. But those who deserve her just anger should be afraid, especially when she is smiling.

She’s not afraid to break the rules, but she breaks rules to create order, not chaos.

Did I mention that she’s exhausted? Is there any doubt as to why?

She is not alone. She has women in her life who have her back, sisters who make the space for her to break down, who tell her to get back in the game when the time for tears is over. And if she doesn’t, she knows that she is the strongest advocate she has on her side. She knows how to wipe her own tears just as well as she knows how to console others.

She is badass woman in other women’s lives — and in her own life when necessary, not because she feels a sense of obligation but because that is just who she is. And has always been.

She knows how talented she is, and she knows that she will not always be recognized for her contributions because she doesn’t have the time, the energy, or the space to jump up and down and whine for credit. There are a lot of things she doesn’t speak up about, not because she’s afraid but because too many people have convinced her of their inability to understand. She’s not arrogant, but she knows there are many people in positions of power who are just idiots with great self-promotion skills.

She has been underestimated more times than she can count, and she has also transformed that underestimation into a superpower more times than she can count. She has been pushed around, pushed down, and pushed out, but she is still fighting every day.

She knows many books have been written about how she should be more ambitious and confident, how she should lean in, how she should better balance her life and work, and how she should do all of this with glowing skin, a toned body, perfectly coiffed hair, and a wide-ass smile. She reads them all (or at least quick summaries of them online) and consciously feels like they are full of shit and unconsciously wonders what’s wrong with her and why she just can’t pull it all together. These books have been written about her but not always for her, because there is actually nothing wrong with her. There is nothing about her that needs fixing.

This book is written for her, this badass woman living in this twenty-first-century world with all of its freedoms, constrictions, expectations, limitations, celebrations, pains, successes, and disappointments. She navigates them all with equal — or unequal — parts grace, joy, determination, anger, and exhaustion.

This book is written for her…and by her.

She is you. She is me. She is us.

As a fellow traveler, I have gathered hundreds of stories of her journeys, and this book is an homage to her energy, resilience, passion, kindness, courage, and creativity. This book honors her deep exhaustion and her powerful spirit. It is also a conversation among sisters who may not know each other but who have much to share with each other about ways to be in charge of our lives in a world that doesn’t always make it easy to do so.

I have written other books as a researcher, but I write this book as a fellow traveler, a fellow traveler who fought my own battles as I tried to capture our collective dance through the muck. I don’t have all the answers, but I have learned that we badass women have figured it out more than we give ourselves credit for.

This badass woman is you, me, the women we lean on when the most important things are on the line, the women we are raising, and the women we honor as trailblazers who made it a little easier for those of us who came after them. This badass woman doesn’t need help with how to do her job, raise her kids, lead her community, have her friends’ backs, or keep her family better connected. She doesn’t need help being confident, ambitious, brilliant, or anything else.

She needs acknowledgment that she is kicking ass in a world that’s not set up to work for her.

She needs to know that she is not alone in feeling exhausted, frustrated, pissed off, unsupported, etc. etc. etc.

This book is that message of acknowledgment. It is also the gathering of our collective wisdom on how to make this journey less exhausting and frustrating and ___________ (please fill in whatever word(s) feel most relevant in this moment for you). Or draw a picture, because sometimes words are just not enough.

To each of the women who trusted me with their stories, I am more grateful than I could ever express. Even if I had not written this book, your stories inspired and empowered me to get and be more in charge of my own life.

Thank you, and onward!

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Arin N. Reeves

Arin N. Reeves

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a fierce advocate for justice, a geeky catalyst for smarter thinking on inclusion and equity & a firm believer that most rules were meant to be broken