My Letter to Fear
by Patricia Steffy
Over the course of two years, Steffy conducted interviews with the fabulous women around her and their equally fantastic friends. She put no restrictions on age, or ethnicity. They just needed to be willing to answer some questions. The questions covered a variety of topics, including aging, body image, abuse, rape, addiction, confidence, loss, beauty myths, and fear. Steffy asked them about the expectations they had for their lives when they were very young versus their current realities as adults. She asked them to tell her the best things about themselves (a question which was surprisingly difficult for people to answer) and the worst things. Those answers—the funny, the heartbreaking, and the hysterical—and her own experiences became the basis for these essays.
From Beautiful Women
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get a woman to admit that she is beautiful? Seriously. Give it a try. Ask five of your friends right now if they are beautiful. You might get their best two minute stand-up routine on why they are "FINE," but a quiet moment of admission is rare—even from women who are held up by society as being examples of physical perfection.
Do we demur because we're afraid that an admission of beauty makes us shallow, vain or arrogant? Or do we deny so that we can beat others to it? Ask a woman what she loves about her looks, and you'll see her searching for an answer. Is she looking for an acceptable answer, or is she genuinely searching for something that she wouldn't change?
Now ask a woman what she hates about her looks. Watch her not even pause ...
Patricia Steffy attended Kenyon College and American University. She is a recent refugee from the corporate world where she worked as an analyst for a law firm for more than 16 years. An escape plan started to develop as she pursued her interests as a writer and producer through Circe’s World Films. She has been involved in co- and exec-producing a number of feature and short films ranging from broad comedy to psychological drama, including the award-winning short Touch. She is currently developing Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths as a web series. The series is based on her long-running blog of the same name.
Pieces from My Letter to Fear were featured in a one-night only special showcase event. The showcase was directed by Danielle Turchiano and featured readings from Nikki DeLoach (Awkward.), Lesley Fera (Pretty Little Liars), Stevie Lynn Jones (Crisis), Jen Lilley (Days of Our Lives), Roma Maffia (Pretty Little Liars), Dennisha Pratt (The Sunny Side Up Show), and Carla Renata (Hart of Dixie). You can see excerpts from the readings here: http://www.patriciasteffy.com/showcase/
What is the most interesting thing that's ever happened to you?
In April of 2011, I decided to take life in a radically new direction. After nearly 17 years of working as an analyst for a major corporate law firm, I quit. The economy was terrible. I had no job waiting for me. The only thing I really had, other than some savings, was the absolute certainty that my life would not be what I wanted it to be if I stayed.
Now, I don't want this to seem as though I made this decision over margaritas during happy hour. It had been months, if not years, in the making. Changes, big and small, had happened at work to make me truly understand that the work was not going to improve. So, I began to plan. And because I am not one for big leaps, I also began to stall. I kept playing those “if they xxx, then I will stay” games. But when your gut knows that things have run their course, they are over. In the end, it took me eight months to make the jump.
I'd love to say that it has been wine and roses ever since. It hasn't. I'd love to say that I immediately knew I wanted to be a writer, and started submitting things and getting paid for my work from day one. I didn't. But it was a start, and that decision will impact the rest of my life.
My life looks nothing like it did then. My health has improved. My love life is different (for instance, I have time to have one now). And I frequently go through phases of downright hopefulness because I'm actually invested in the work I'm doing. Do I miss Christmas bonuses? Oh, wow, yes! But on balance, I like the life I've chosen. And I'm working on embracing and learning from the new challenges that a freelance life offers.
Would I change anything? If I could go back with perfect awareness of the results of some of my decisions, I would definitely change them. I would focus faster. I would say yes to opportunities sooner. I would get out of time-consuming and emotionally damaging situations when my gut first told me to get out. But those experiences and stumbles have continued to shape me and to inform my work.
I'm more than five years out now, and I have a lot to show for the leap. Am I satisfied? Of course, not! I'm never satisfied. There is so much more that I want to do. I want to connect with a broader audience for “My Letter to Fear.” I have written a film script that I love, and I want to see it get made. I'm starting to write a new comedy, and I have a web series that I'd love to get off the ground. But I'm grateful for what I have. I have wonderful people in my life. And I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to each day.