The I Hate Erin Fan Club

Grade ten. A folded up piece of paper. The crinkle sound as I unfolded it to read the contents of the sheet.

“THE I HATE ERIN FAN CLUB”

Scrawled across the top in black ink. Signatures. People signing in solidarity.

Nausea. Hiding in the bathroom. Solitude. Depression.

* * *

199710_16807984040_9021_nEarly Years

I had a very happy childhood.

My parents were young when they had my sister and I (I was born when my mom was 19 and dad was 20) and the benefit of my parent’s youth was that we got to really and truly play with our parents on a regular basis. My dad was the flagship when it came to play. He led us through weekends spent fishing, biking, hiking, playing video games, board games, card games and more. There didn’t seem to be a time when he wasn’t down on our level coming up with the next imaginative journey using our toys as the props in his stories.

198182_16807904040_5079_nMy mom, although in her early twenties, showed us a more mature side. My mom took care of us and the household with such efficiency that I rarely saw our house messy or a night where we didn’t have a home cooked meal. She was, in my opinion, Superwoman. This balanced us out between the ideas of play and hard work, which I thought were two incredibly valuable lessons of equal importance.

1909578_45150699040_9812_nWith two great examples of adult human beings in our lives, who taught us the importance of dreaming, play, creativity, goal-setting and hard work, my sister and I grew up with a solid footing in humility and gratitude with a side dose of “you-can-do-whatever-you-want-in-life.”

My parents also placed a high value on family and because of that, we moved a lot while I was growing up. We seemed to bounce between my dad’s birthplace and my mom’s birthplace a lot through my childhood depending on what was going on with the family. While it was never traumatic, as we always had cousins and family to lean on with each move, it did mean that establishing long-term roots with friendships was difficult. It also meant starting over a lot, which gets tougher as you get older.

High School

In 1996, I moved to a small town in rural Ontario right before starting grade nine – the beginning of high school. The town we moved to had a total population of 9,000 people, which was a big leap from where I had just come from – a village with a population of just 384 people, most of whom were related to me.

195826_16808374040_4216_nTo get myself prepared to start at a new school, I got a summer job at a local ice cream factory and met a few people who went to the same school as I did but who were much older than me. However, a few of those people had siblings who were starting in grade nine so I was able to make a few connections over the summer, which lessened the fear of the unknown just slightly.

Grade nine started with an orientation where I was able to meet some of my fellow classmates. I found and bonded with a few girls almost instantly and grade nine started on a high note, even though the knee socks they made us wear during gym class should have thwarted all possibilities of aforementioned “high note.”

I don’t remember much from grade nine aside from the usual routine of wake, school, home, video game, homework, sleep, rinse and repeat. I’m sure there were moments of tragedy and of bliss but I’m fairly certain that grade nine ended fairly uneventfully.

Grade ten, however, was where everything went to hell.

Life-Changer

I’ve sat down to write this part of the story many, many times and every time that I do, I can never seem to remember the events that led up to that piece of paper with the words scrawled on top and the signatures of people who agreed below.

THE I HATE ERIN FAN CLUB

I can remember being a girl who so very badly wanted to fit in. Be accepted. Be acknowledged.

1924215_46825924040_9152_nI tried hard to do that, sometimes by following others and other times by trying to lead, but all-in-all, I kept a fairly low profile. I wasn’t in the “most popular” group in school but I did have a great group of friends. I wasn’t dating anyone then, I wasn’t actively involved in causes, I just was. I was trying to meander my way through high school while battling hormonal changes, anxiety and math classes where my undiagnosed dyslexia made everything so much harder than it needed to be.

And, to be honest, I thought I was doing okay with it all. Until the day I was handed the paper and found out that the reality was, I wasn’t good enough. In fact, it went beyond not being good enough, I was hated. By a group of my peers. By people that I didn’t have regular interaction with who had no reason to hate me.

The lesson I learned that day was that I was a terrible enough waste of space that I could be hated for simply being me.

Depression

200610_16807974040_8589_nIt’s hard for me to look at the photos from my high school years now. I see emptiness and sadness in my eyes and I see a fake, plastered-on smile. I see the face of the depression that hit me like a ton of bricks. The depression that drove tiny shards of concrete into my skin to a depth that made them impossible to dig out. It’s still viscerally painful to think about.

My depression reared its ugly head sometimes. In one of my depressed states, I can clearly remember my mom asking me to vacuum the stairs and me struggling with the cord of the vacuum and screaming at the top of my lungs about it. Throwing myself down on the floor in a fit of hysteria. Hot tears streaming down my face.

After the fan club was established, I also developed intense anxiety around social events. I held so much fear during these events that, when I was in attendance at a sleepover, I would go to another part of the house and hide. Usually under blankets with my Discman playing Smashing Pumpkins’ Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness album over and over again.

I measured my worth by the number of minutes it took for someone to come and find me. If they came to find me within two minutes, I was loved. If five minutes went by, I was forgotten and my worthlessness was confirmed. If twenty minutes passed, I was wishing that I were dead.

The effects of my depression went beyond a normal state of sadness. I wrote and re-wrote my suicide letter a hundred times that year. Each time I did so, I reflected on my childhood. Wishing and praying that I could go back to a time before I was told that I was a worthless, hated piece of garbage. Longing for the days where my mom and dad made me feel like I could conquer the world and that my life held meaning.

I could never actually follow through with it though. I was weak and somewhere deep down inside, even though the entire world seemed to be dark and meaningless, I thought there had to be a reason that I was still alive and breathing. I hoped there was. Through all of this roller coaster of emotion, I never once told anyone how I was feeling. I hid away the fan club like a dirty secret and prayed that it wouldn’t go beyond high school. Prayed that my parents wouldn’t find out how worthless their daughter truly was.

Leveling Out

196650_16808299040_1873_nI somehow made it out of that year and headed into summer. While the depression still had a grip on me, being out of school and surrounding myself with fewer people, mostly family, seemed to help. I worked at the ice cream factory again, thought less about ending my life and began to feel joy again. As school approached toward grade eleven, I felt the anxiety creep in and the grey cloud begin to form again over my head. I dreaded going back to school and being immersed back into a world that was not so kind to me.

1909578_45205074040_5283_nGrade eleven was, for as much as I can remember, uneventful. I joined a few committees to keep myself busy and hung out with people in higher grades than myself. I did a few things that I wouldn’t normally have done, like skip school to go to a bar in the middle of the day (I was sixteen at the time), but for the most part I stayed the course. In May of 1999, as I headed toward summer, I began dating Steve (who would later become my husband and then the father of my daughter, Willow, and now my ex) and quite honestly, that relationship changed my life. I finally had someone telling me that not only was I enough but I was desirable. Interesting. Someone who deserved love.

Some of my friends at the time did not agree with the relationship and I lost friends because of it (he was a year older than me and because I was dating outside of our “inner circle” there was great upheaval) but I forged forward because there he was. Showing up and seeing me for me and actually liking who that person was.

Adult Years

Fast forwarding from 1999 to the present, you’d be skipping over the start of a company, traveling the world, a marriage, psychotherapy, marriage counseling, the birth of my daughter and the breakup of my marriage.

Through all of this, except for that period of time when I was seeing my psychotherapist, I had found ways to manage my anxiety around acceptance and fitting in. Although it still creeps up from time to time, I have done a lot of self-work to measure my own self-worth instead of seeking it from external sources.

I’ve also been quite fortunate. Although being online has its challenges, especially when you have a successful business and you put yourself out there a lot, I deal with “mean girls” (and boys!) virtually. This means that I can shed my tears on this side of my screen, process it and move on. I’ve developed a thick skin over time — for better or for worse.

When the Bricks Come Crashing Down

I haven’t had a moment in my adult life where I’ve felt that crushing feeling like I did in high school. In fact, I’ve probably never had a face-to-face confrontation with someone who disliked me since receiving that letter. I go out of my way to avoid it. If I feel like someone could potentially be a part of the I Hate Erin Fan Club in my adult life, I push them away, sever ties or simply focus on the people with whom I have no doubts. It’s easier to manage my anxiety if I know my place with people and I feel loved and accepted. It’s not the best coping mechanism but it works for me.

Until this weekend.

IMG_1708This past weekend I went to a blogging conference, which was great and I loved every moment of it, and on the way home from the conference, my friend Crystal and I stopped by a non-conference related blogger shopping event. It was focused around Halloween and was supposed to be a fun event that would provide us the opportunity to connect with other bloggers that we knew in the community. I was introduced to new people and people I had connected with online. I was having a great time. Until I met a woman who delivered a sucker punch to my gut. Not literally, of course, but the emotional kind of sucker punch that leaves a deeper, darker bruise than a physical one would have.

You see, two years ago (two years!) I had been invited to partake at a conference that happened to be the same weekend as a conference I already had tickets for. The invitation initially extended an offer to set up a booth at the conference but since the blog I had co-founded at the time was new, we declined the offer. A secondary offer to speak on a panel was extended and, because I was already going to the other event, I offered up Friday as a speaking option. I was cordial, I was flexible and I tried to make it work for her.

Steve was running the marathon the weekend before, I was still breastfeeding and only traveling with Willow and I was attending the other conference that weekend. When we weighed out what it would mean for travel (Steve would have to take the entire week off, I’d just stay down in Toronto, he’d watch Willow while I spoke, etc.) and we realized that meant extra nights in a hotel, more expenses and no incoming payment for the speaking gig. So, I politely declined the speaking opportunity. It just didn’t make sense for me to lose those days of work, Steve to use vacation for it and to put out the money for exposure alone. There was no communication after that. I had no idea how the person felt about it but everything, at the time, seemed fine and I completely forgot about it over time.

Sucker Punched

During the event, I was standing with a group of my friends, fellow bloggers and women I respect greatly, and the woman came over to talk to us. Out of the blue she said, “I tried to get you to come to my event in the past but you were too good for me.” I laughed it off at first thinking that she had to be kidding and I began to explain the circumstances at the time. She brushed it off. “Little did you know who I was… you wouldn’t have said no if you did. But you were too good for everyone, weren’t you?” she continued.

At this point, my smile had disappeared. My stomach was in knots. I was fighting back tears. Biting my lip. Wondering how she got it so terribly wrong.

“So, I put you on that list. You just didn’t know who I was. You didn’t realize that I was a big deal. You were too good for us.”

My friends changed the subject and the conversation moved on with her over-compensating by delivering everyone else compliments.

You see, I’m not the girl who thinks she’s better than everyone else. I’m the one who thinks she is worthless. The one who longs to fit in. The one who wants everyone to like her. To be accepted. To be acknowledged. I’m the girl who had an I Hate Erin Fan Club in high school. The one who does everything in her power to never, ever make anyone feel that kind of hurt.

Crystal looked over at me in that moment and simply asked, “Wanna go?” and I nodded. I walked out defeated, mortified and embarrassed. Everything that I was so afraid of came crashing down into my real, adult life. This woman, as brutal and unprofessional as she was, cut deep to my biggest insecurity. That I was hated. So much so that calling me out in front of my peers had to be done. That I deserved to be treated like garbage.

Post-Processing & Life Lessons

crystal-erinIt took me awhile to muster the ability to say more than a few words on the drive home. Crystal was great about it though. She kept trying to bring up subjects that were unrelated in an effort to make me forget about what had just happened (one of the many reasons I love her so). It took me awhile but I finally had the emotional strength to talk about what had happened and I processed it with Crystal in the car. As I talked it out, I realized that I had been trying to learn an important lesson for quite some time and sometimes, when we don’t listen to the little nudges, we get slammed against brick walls. Hit over the head. Sucker punched in the gut.

IMG_2138I realized that I was in the car, headed home and even after having this woman say such hurtful things at a public event, I was okay. More than okay. I was headed home to see my daughter who loves me more than anyone else on this entire planet. I was headed home to an ex-husband who, despite our relationship differences and our current separation, still loves me immensely. I have a house. A career that I love. Friends who love me. Family who love me. And, I had just left a blogging conference where I connected on a soul level with people that I had not done that with before. I realized that I’m surrounded by love.

bloggingThe other lesson for me was that it’s okay if I’m not accepted everywhere and with everyone. That woman is just not a part of the tribe that makes up my people. She’s not like me and whatever was going on with her that day, whether it was insecurity or something deeper, that is not my burden to carry. I will be okay even if people hate me so much so that they’ll call me out at a public event. I am still okay.

It’s funny how we think we move past the insecurities and the challenges of high school once we leave it behind but the truth is, some of those pieces never really go away until we have a collision with a brick wall moment. Until we truly remember who we are, where we’ve come from and where we’re headed. It doesn’t make what she did right and I’ll still need a few days to untangle the emotional hurt but at least I’m reframing it in such a way that I get a positive reminder out of it. I’m remembering that even if the fan club fills up with members, there are still many people who haven’t subscribed to it.

I finally feel like, for the first time in my life, I’m chopping up that membership card once and for all and rescinding my own membership to the I Hate Erin Fan Club.

Comments

    • says

      Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your journey and opening it up for all of us to see and be a part of. Sharing a lesson many need to learn. We are who we are and that is enough. Hugzzz

  1. Janna Lamarche says

    Tremendous courage to post this blog. Moving too.
    As your cousin, I am part of your tribe I would like to think, in your corner always and although geographically distant, am here for you for anything! (Stamped it, no erasies!)
    Bless And Release is my advice and I believe you are doing just that!
    I am no doubt, an Erin Fan!

  2. says

    Wow Erin, that is a beautiful story. Very well written and really heartbreaking and heartfelt. I think most of us can relate in some way. I do however truly believe that when others attack, it’s merely out of their own insecurities and their undervaluing of their own self worth. This by no means makes what any of them (high school or recently) right or justified. It’s so terrible that that’s how “they” cope.
    I love your ending here. I do hope you know how respected and loved you are.
    You are my role model.
    Hugs.
    Christine

  3. says

    How absolutely, utterly awful. To think that someone so cruel is in our circles makes me so sad.

    Brush off your shoulders and keep that head high. You are loved.

  4. says

    That’s horrible. And it says way more about her than it does about you. This is a powerful post, and I’m so glad that you learned something so positive from this negative experience.

    You are indeed way more than OK :)

  5. says

    Hi Erin, I’m so sorry you were treated this way. I was shocked to read your story, and wanted to let you know that one of my disappointments this weekend was that I didn’t get to spend any time with you. I have a crap memory, so I’ll tell you straight up, I can’t remember if we’ve met before, but I feel like we have. As someone who hires bloggers, I can honestly say, I enjoy your work, and when I saw you were at Blissdom, and I hadn’t hunted you down, I was disappointed. Take Care.

    Maureen

  6. Natalie Rea says

    I’m stunned and sickened that this happened to you. I hope I do not know this terrible person, and I want you to know that we’ve all been there and you wrote this so amazingly-well that all those feelings came rushing back… Sour taste in my mouth, lump in my throat, butterflies in my stomach.

  7. says

    When my children were young, I would tell them the truth “some people are just not nice”, that woman was one of them. In a lot of ways your story reminds me of my middle child, who has dyslexia, among other learning disabilities, who was told she would never amount to anything by friends and even teachers. Yet today she has graduated from university, and is now in graduated school. She fought depression for years, and with the help of her rescue dog (she bought him instead of groceries 2nd yr university), she beat her depression, though still has issues with self-doubt because of the learning disability.

    I think it is wonderful you attended the blogging conference and you found realization. I wish you only the best in the future.

  8. says

    I say we start a new club.,”We think Erin..ROCKS club”
    Beautifully written.
    Strong women build houses with the brinks other throw at her. Well built and written,Erin,;)

    • s says

      “Strong women build houses with the bricks others throw at them” …or, just blow them away ! As insubstantial after all. You beauty!

  9. says

    Erin, I feel for you. I really do. That must have been awful. I avoid confrontation at all costs and know the feeling I get when something does happen. It makes me want to crawl under a rock and hide until everyone forgets everything. Ug. Hugs.

  10. MaryRuth says

    I hope you don’t mind if I share this with my daughter (12) who has been and still is being bullied. She has started self cutting and we are working on her self esteem, but she mentioned this evening that she does not know if she will ever feel better or worth loving by someone who does not “have to”.
    Reading your blog has reached me and I am hoping it can reach her and give her hope.
    Your story is very powerful, and one I can personally understand and relate to. Thank you for sharing it.
    MRMc

  11. Mangala says

    Hi Erin, not sure you remembered me. I hosted the shredded wheat one perfect day a few years back that you attended. Just wanted to say that your blog post totally touched me. Having suffering from similar anixities, and having a wonderful family and great job, my seventeen year old insecure self rears it’s sad self often for me. I got “sucker punched” often and it totally threw me too. My kids and husband always ground me back, but the feeling lingers. Thanks for posting.

  12. says

    I’m probably not the first to say that I relate to this post a great deal. I was so bullied in middle school that I was set on fire and had to switch schools. And then I was bullied there too. And I’ve spent my entire life trying to be “enough” because I wasn’t back then and so I don’t feel like I can be now.

    It’s changing – slowly. Having a trans kid has forced me to grow a tougher skin. I can’t care what everyone else thinks anymore because I have to direct my limited energy where it matters. I think the same can be applied to most adults, eventually. At some point, we have to innately believe that we. are. enough. You really are enough, just as you are. And that woman’s venom and resentment are coming from inside of her.

    You know that logically, of course, but emotionally it might take some time. That’s ok. The fact that you can feel this vulnerable means you can also feel other emotions deeply. That’s a precious gift – far more precious, actually, than putting up a wall so fast against hurt feelings that you stop feeling everything else, too.

    Sending you hugs. Lots of them.

  13. says

    Wow, I’m so sorry that she said that to you, and that it crushed you so much.

    (Also, how sad that she is so intimidated by your power that she feels the need to spend her time and energy cutting you down in public. I’m sorry that she felt the need to do that.)

    *hugs*

  14. Elayne says

    Erin, the more successful you are, the more ‘little’ people will try to bring you down. What that woman did and said speaks to her insecurities and fear, not yours. You are an awesome inspiration to many younger (& older) humans who learn from you and admire you.
    It’s hard, I know, but you’re just simply better than that.
    Hugs

  15. says

    When your friend said “you wanna go?” I thought….”awesome, they are going to pop that bag in the nose.” Then I realized it meant leave….I was cheering for you and ten my mature voice took over and I see you took the high road. I might not have been so zen about it.
    People like her fill their bellies on the pain of others, and they seek out the most sensitive and undeserving people to target. It is terrible and even if she thought you were arrogant, she had no right to be so cruel.
    What a hard post that must have been to write, but freeing. You are strong, stay that way.

  16. says

    For what it’s worth, I think you’re a brave woman. You’re brave because you are speaking out about a bully and being bullied. You are giving a voice to the millions out there who have similar experiences.
    You could hide and just not talk about it.
    But you chose to speak out. That shows your strength. That shows your character. And that shows that you won’t take it anymore.
    Bullies back down when people take a stand against them. Well done to harness the power. Karma is a bitch Sweet Lady… and you got the good Karma on your side. XO Chin up Girl.

  17. Zchamu says

    my jaw is on the floor.

    Thank you for being vulnerable with us.

    And as for rude woman…. Karma is one hell of a leveller.

  18. says

    Thank you from the center of my artichoke heart. I want to share this essay with grand daughters who are in high school or junior high. It continues to amaze me how cruel some people can be in an attempt to be funny.

    When I was writing blog posts on http://www.cyberbullyinghelp.com I heard similar stories often. There are no winners in a bullying situation.

    Blessisngs on you and your beautiful child. I am confident you will teach her to be kind, considerate and show empathy to others. Your suffering will have touched the lives of many who read this and share with their families about being kind.

    Thanks again, Judy Helm Wright aka “Auntie Artichoke”

  19. says

    When someone has to bring themselves up as powerful, it’s a sign that they really aren’t. By saying things like “you didn’t know who I was”, is like saying “Do you know who I am! I am this great and powerful person who deserves to be respected (or rather feared) by all”. If you have to say it, you aren’t.

    And you handled it beautifully. You walked away. She may have hurt you in the moment, but she’s provided you with a wonderful stepping stone toward your stronger self. The one that knows her worth, the one whose worth is known by those who matter.

    A beautiful post – and one I think most of us can relate to in some way. Thank you for sharing. And by putting it out there, I hope you are able to just let it go. You are worth much more than you know as your sharing has obviously given hope to others. :-)

  20. Ghislaine says

    Hello Erin. We met and worked together briefly in Victoria. Really loved this article. My first reaction:
    That woman did not hate YOU… she has no clue who you are. She is somehow blinded be her own feelings of inadequacy. You can simply turn around what she said and then you hear her truth: “I didn’t realize that you were a big deal. You were not too good for us. We were.” May all this wash away. The one who knows the truth is your daughter.

  21. Anastasia says

    Erin, your story touched me a lot. I remembered almost the same from my childhood.
    I am sure that that woman does not deserve spending your time on even thinking about her. You are a strong woman, you are a beautiful mom, please step over this situation and go on.

    *Hugs*

    Anastasia

  22. says

    I sit here wiping away tears, for you and the pain you had to endure and for me and the pain I keep hidden.I have no words to make things better but I can send you my strength and support and thanks .Thanks for writing this ,I “hear” you and know you are good enough.

  23. says

    Erin,
    How brave of you to write this! It must have been hard.

    The woman’s behavior spoke volumes about her and not at all about you.

    And you are not just okay. You’re an amazing person!

    I’m glad you were able to fairly quickly regain your equilibrium and realize how great you and your life are.

    Sending love your way…

    Peggy

  24. says

    “You just didn’t know who I was. You didn’t realize that I was a big deal.”

    Who even says that kind of garbage? In public? Without movie cameras rolling?

    You are beautiful and kind and generous and anyone whose spent any time with you would know how wrong she was. Thank you for sharing Erin. It was very brave of you.

  25. says

    Erin, every time I’ve interacted with you online, spent time with you in person, or scrolled past your photos of Willow on Instagram and Facebook, I’ve thought to myself: WOW, this girl has it all. She’s beautiful, confident, successful, has a beautiful family, and she’s nice as hell to boot.
    I know we’re all our own worst critics, and I also know we have that one searing, painful memory when someone made us feel less-than in elementary or high school. But I’m glad you’ve come to realize that there will always be people who try to tear you down, whether due to jealousy, ignorance, or cruelty, and they shouldn’t determine your happiness.
    Keep putting out positivity into the world, and you’ll get it back in spades – hopefully with only an occasional bad apple. Oh, and if you want we can start an “Erins Rock” fan club – that sounds like way more fun to me :)

  26. Pat says

    Hi Erin,

    I have been following you since the early days of Ask Erin Live, have admired you and the way you put yourself out there. I have thought that wow wouldn’t it be great to know you in person instead of just virtually from 3000 miles away. The world needs more women like you. I guess that’s a way of saying I’m signing my name to the page of the We think Erin..ROCKS club.

    much love and many hugs,
    -Pat

  27. says

    I say we let Crystal create the We Love Erin club as long as she isn’t the clubs driver. I will proudly become a member and carry that member card loud and proud. I think you are amazing. Even as adults some people try to push others down to make themselves feel better. Know that they are the ones who are truly ugly and their insides are disgustingly ugly. You my dear are an amazing beautiful woman. Wish I was there. I would have told her off then you guys could have dragged me away. I hate people like that.

    • says

      Oh Nolie, you know I am the capatin of the I <3 Erin Fan Club…and what are you trying to say about my driving 😉 (Still doesn't get old…baha!)

  28. says

    Eek! So much of this high school thing rings true to me and who ever tried to bully you at the event was lucky i was not there to hear it. Being a bully is not okay and i have recently grown a pair of balls that i like to confront people with. You have priorities and prior arrangements that are right for you and your family. Don’t let others self loathing get in the way of your happiness

  29. says

    Hi Erin,

    My friend Lyal shared this post on Facebook… I clicked because I recognized your name and then I read your story.

    It takes so much courage to share your story and your vulnerability with us. It’s also a great reminder how similar we all are – not always in shared experiences or upbringing but in our desire to belong, to be part of a community and to be loved. It’s also a good reminder to be kind to others and to ourselves.

    Thank you for putting this out there. I hope you come away from this more than okay and truly believing you have a lot of fans out there. Personally, I have been a quiet fan for a while and I hope to meet you one day soon. :)

  30. Chris says

    Erin you should always know that we all love you. And want nothing but the best for you. Which is why I keep seeing all of these comments of encouragement and love. You did nothing wrong at all. At the end of the day we all need to just focus on what’s best for our families. And you did that. For that lady to try and sucker punch you like that, there’s obviously a further back story to the issue. And I hope she gets that resolved. And I hope she sees this blog to see what her negativity can do to someone. I don’t care if it’s on a professional or peer level. It’s just not a good practice to do what she did.

    But you, twin, just need to keep being awesome! Like you always do! And know that you have the best people behind you to rally and support you through every adventure you experience. :)

  31. says

    Erin, thank you for posting this. There is so much here I could relate to and although I never had that piece of paper handed to me. I’ve definitely felt the same way and have always deep inside been looking for that simple validation.

    You can’t always say yes to people. And at the end of the day you just gotta do what is right for you.

    Life is way too short to dwell on the negativity of others.

    Big hugs.

  32. says

    Hi Erin,
    I just read your post and am touched by it. I can relate to your experiences of “feeling hated” by people for no reason. It takes alot of strength to move on and make the most of your self (especially in high school), and then finally get to a place where you don’t allow other people to “define you/your worth”. I am flabbergasted that this woman (after 2 years) would approach you and attack you – this is mostly about her and the condition of her heart. Who cares about “her list”, she has no power over you and your life, your success, and uh, if she hadn’t noticed, you have plenty of speaking opportunities. If I was standing next to you at that party, and some chick came up and starting talking to you like that, well, she is going to meet the Portuguese side of me, as we are fiercly loyal…lol…she would end up eating her words.
    “I’m sorry, If you’re so famous, why haven’t I heard of you?” lol
    anyhow, there are people in this world who live “small” and you have to dust your feet, and move on. yes, it stings but for a moment, then you emerge remembering that NO ONE defines you and your worth.
    God Bless YOU Sweet Erin!
    xoxo, Ana Lucia

  33. says

    …and if you haven’t read it, you might want to take a look at Michael Neill’s book, ‘The Inside Out Revolution’. It’s an easy afternoon’s read that is so simple and so transformative.

  34. Julie Auger says

    Thank you for sharing Erin!!

    I feel for you more than you could possibly know.

    You can’t do everything for everyone. All you can do is be the best “You” you can be. Love your family and friends and try to let the rest go.

    You’re great just the way you are. Never change and know that you have many people in your corner!

  35. Crystal says

    Amazing! I enjoy your stories, your strength to share. You are stronger then you know. Keep doing what your doing. <3 I have been a fan of yours from day 1 #support #momslife who needs to be judged by someone who is clearly portentous? Not You! Xo

  36. says

    I KNOW THIS WOMAN…and I told to her TO FUCK THE HELL OFF……………OH I wish I was there with you…I could go another couple of rounds with this douchebag…yes woman can be douchebags…

    This woman did the same thing to MANY of my friends at a blogging conference she was running quite a few years ago…Blogging conferences were new and none of us even knew who she was..But let me tell you she never forgot me after it…And has said shit behind my back now for years….But the thing is..it’s behind my back because she is a coward…She would never say it to my face…

    Erin as you can imagine I am on many “Lists”…because I just stopped giving a shit about all the hate…I have a fan club and it is made up of people who truly have my back…and I am a bigger fan of theirs than they are of mine..

    This woman is “NOT” a big deal and no one likes her because of all the horrible shit she has pulled time and time again..

    The thing to do is to tell your story to other people, make sure they know WHO she is and don’t support anything she does…She has burned so many bridges I think she lives on a match stick…

    Great post Erin I just really wish you didn’t have the shitty experience that caused you to write it…

    Skip the conferences from now on and go to the spa..or VEGAS baby!

    Cheers

  37. says

    Oh honey, you are ENOUGH…plus a thousand times more with a cherry on top, too. I know you through the VA world and am immensely grateful for all you’ve done and continue to do in this industry. Over the years I’ve listened to you speak and used your products to give me “a-ha!” moments that no one else could open that locked door in my mind. The footprint you make has impact plus rippling effects, too. Willow is a lucky little girl to have such a Mama with courage and strength. I’m Team Erin, too.

  38. says

    People who speak like that need to put other people down in order to feel important. When you hear people say, “You didn’t realize that I was a big deal,” or a term I’ve heard myself, “I don’t need a name badge, everyone should know who I am…” – you have to just laugh. Can you say, EGO?!

    Shame on those high school girls – and shame on that adult “woman”. You are a beautiful, strong woman and you should be proud of all of your accomplishments.

  39. says

    Erin although I don’t know you well I know you well enough to know you are kind. I know that you always have a friendly word for people. I know that you inspire people to be better. I now also know that you are strong!

    I read this post last night and came back to reread it today with fresh eyes. I’m so sorry for what happened to you this weekend. You don’t deserve to be treated this way. You made a calculated decision in turning down this woman’s invitation two years ago, not everything is a good fit. Having had someone that stood up to her a few years ago on my behalf I only wish that someone would have done that for you in that moment. You are worth defending and this woman needs to be stopped. Treating people like she treated you is unacceptable. From this moment forward I will no longer support a brand that uses her services. I know I’m only one person but as we keep being told – one person is all it takes.
    Erin I know nothing can take away what happened but as you can see from all these comments you are truly cared about.

  40. zchamu says

    I will say one more thing.

    You know exactly who she is now. Because she just showed you.

    xoxo

    • Suzie says

      Zchamu, perfectly stated! My exact thoughts.

      I experienced an incident two years ago. An acquaintance emailed me offering to connect me with someone who was putting on a small local networking event. He suggested I offer my services to the guests. I accepted his invitation and he put me in touch with the event sponsor. With everyone’s okay I sent an email explaining what I could offer (free of charge). I “cc’d” the first gentleman. I was politely rejected with a lame excuse but I was okay with that as, like you, this would have been a huge inconvenience with very little advantage for me. I had felt pressured by this acquaintance and was actually relieved. In the meantime he emailed me, blasting me for my “poorly” written email that was “supposedly” filled with typo’s. I showed my husband all the of this correspondence and he said this guy was crazy and I should avoid him. I received another email saying I was welcome to attend the event but was on my own as he would be busy networking. I politely declined saying something had come up and I have avoided him since. I think the Universe was sending me a message and I’m glad I listened.

      BTW, my 40th high school reunion is this weekend. Thank goodness it also happens to be my wedding anniversary. Oh gee, sorry won’t be attending.

  41. says

    Our family loves you…. especially my 12 yr old son! lol :) you left quite the impression on him this weekend, all I heard was “Mom, you need to be more like Erin.” Any hero of his, is a hero of mine. Forever and a day.

    <3

  42. Cynthia says

    Thank you so much for sharing. As a mom, I have reason to believe my daughter may have experienced something similar in high school, but she won’t talk about it. Self esteem, worthiness, depression are so intertwined in the lives of teen girls. And not sharing with the moms who love them so adds to the depression. I applaud you for having the courage to put it in writing. I know it will help many.

  43. Pam Dillon says

    Thanks for sharing and for articulating, so well, the impact of bullying. Whether it’s a high school hate note with signatures or an adult woman’s words at a shopping event, it hurts and it’s not okay. Never okay.
    You are quite wonderful and lovely and admired. Period. #ErinRocksfanclubmember

  44. says

    Anyone who can belt out a tune to karaoke at 12:30 in the morning is on my ‘like forever’ list. I am sad that there are people like this in the world, but the problem(s) is there’s, not yours. It is their own story that they are inflicting on you, and I am sorry you met with such an ugly experience.

  45. says

    Erin, I’m in your FAN CLUB! What is most disconcerting is the fact adult women like this suckerpuncher are allowed to say “flippant” comments of zero consequence. When you examine what truly transpired, she was actually HURT enough for the FULL year, enough to still hold on to that venom by lashing out at you! In fact, she may have been experiencing the very same hurt feelings of not fitting in. Something to ponder is the fact that although she didn’t know WHY you couldn’t or wouldn’t come (nor you need to explain), when you throw around “who” you are, no one listens. I have no tolerance for bullies, great or small, that is all. xxx lulu

  46. Keri says

    Erin, YOU ARE too good for her. I really enjoyed reading your blog post. Subtlety mentioning her name or giving a clue to who she is may seem unprofessional, but for those who are professional, we may want to her on our “do not associate” list.

  47. says

    Erin,

    This woman chose to read into the situation negatively because of her own self-doubt and insecurity. She then choses to harbour that anger and to carry it with her as time passes by. She must spend a lot of her energy on being pissed off and sadly, sounds like she is determined to spread her poison. BUT, you’re right when you say that it isn’t your burden to carry. I am so happy for you that you were able to find the words to tell this story. It’s funny ’cause I had some thoughts of high school over the wknd too. It was nice to meet you, my little twin. Take care. Shannon (Martinis&Motherhood)

  48. Jackie Gillard says

    Hi Erin,
    I met you for the first time this past weekend at BlissDom, and was so excited to do so. I knew of your accomplishments and reputation as a successful savvy social media mogul, and was a bit nervous to come up to you, my own insecurity making me fear that you just might “think you were too good for me.” HA! What a fool I was – you were warm, friendly and ROCKED the mic at late-night karaoke! The woman who treated you so poorly must be an absolute idiot to not see you for the great person you are, because I recognized it within five seconds of saying hello to you. At some point, that woman will be held accountable for what she did to you, and no doubt to others, but I hope that you can find a way to put her completely out of your mind and focus only on all the friends you obviously have who have commented here – don’t let one bad apple spoil your tree of love and support – the majority rules! xo

  49. says

    Erin,

    I followed you here from Marie Forleo’s site and I’m glad I did, if only to see how much you are appreciated and loved. I am always intrigued by a story like yours, where there is so much love, acceptance, and encouragement in early life, and then one event turns a life upside-down. It keeps me cognizant of the effect our actions can have on another’s life. It’s really good to know that, however long it took, you were able to turn it around. When I encounter someone like the woman who felt the need to put you down, the thing I try to remember is that her actions come from one place–fear. All bad or cruel behavior is the result of fear, baring, of course, the occasional psychopath. And here’s the thing–there are only two things in all the world that human beings are afraid of: 1) that we won’t get what we think we want and; 2) that we will lose what we think we have. I am always humbled by that. There are so many things I think I want. There are so many things I fear losing. My prayer is that I can give up all the wanting and worry. My prayer is that fear will not contribute to another’s pain. Thanks for this post and the reminder.

  50. says

    I had a bunch of thoughts as I read through every word of this extremely well-written post:

    – You never owed her an explanation in the first place. If you don’t want to speak, you don’t want to speak.
    – In one breath she’s saying you think you’re too good for them and in another she’s saying you wouldn’t say no if you knew who she was (like she’s more important than other people).
    – I was going to say ‘kids’ can be so cruel, but so can other people.
    – I love Crystal.

    So sorry that you went through that as a child!

    I had boys bully me daily and I would hide out in the girls washroom until my mom (who was a teacher at the school) found out and made them apologize to me. It took many years to get over.

    As a result I’ve always taught my son if people are mean to him it’s their issue, not his. Seems like the case here, too.

    It’s so brave of you to share this story… I’m sure it will help others.

    Keeping being you! Hugs.

  51. says

    Wow. I thought I was the only kid in school who desperately tried to mind their own business, only to have a group of kids so dedicated to attacking them, that they created an OFFICIAL ORGANIZATION specifically devoted to hating them.

    When I tell people this happened to me, they assure me the kids “weren’t all that bad” and “no one really does these things.”

    Let me just ask this: when’s the last time you heard any of their names, anywhere, associated with anything of importance? In my case never, but results may vary.

  52. Olga says

    Hey neighbour!

    If there is one piece of advise I can give you, to continue a Superstar life that you have created for yourself and you loved ones and friends, is that it is practically impossible to please everyone.

    I am sure most of us been there at some point of our lives. And the way to deal with that is exactly the way you do – think of all the people that LOVE you for who you – Superstar- are!!!!

    You rock girl!!!

    Have a fantastic day!!!

    Olga

  53. says

    Sadly I am not surprised by her behaviour as I have been the victim of public shaming and online flame wars too. The hardest lesson to learn is it’s not about you. It’s about her. Have you read The Four Agreements? I took Lesson 2 to heart and it has helped. The more you “put yourself out there” the bigger and more frequent the daggers generally are. Focus on your friends and supporters because they can see the real Erin, the flawesome person that tells her truth online. Hold your own and ignore the trolls. (I wish all your supporter’s comments had LIKE buttons as I would have give you a heap of thumbs up.)

  54. says

    What courage you possess. I feel angry about how cruelly this woman treated you. You’re not the only one she has treated this way. You are right, she has a burden you do not have to carry. I am happy you can move past this experience. You have been blessed.

  55. says

    As part of the former “nerd herd” (as so many rude kids called me in elementary school), I can relate to your post. I often wished I could be part of that “cool” group that seemed to be perfect. The truth is, I don’t care how they are now and I don’t care to know how successful they turned out to be (or not to be) in life. What so many kids don’t know is that once you leave high school, those labels don’t follow you. You can be part of the “nerd herd” and still manage to have a successful career, a loving spouse, beautiful children, etc. Those labels don’t follow you through life but that’s a tough thing to understand when you are a kid going through it.

  56. Sue says

    HI Erin

    I am so shocked and sorry that someone would be so very hurtful to you or to anyone. I only know you through your mom who is so proud of you and your many, many accomplishments. The way you are raising Willow is wonderful. You seem like such a together young woman. You are certainly to be commended for writing about this extremely personal, difficult time in your life, then and now. I am sure that somewhere, someone is reading your post and is realizing that they too can overcome the depression they are experiencing.
    Congratulations on sharing this important story. I pray your gentle heart mends quickly.

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