My Secret Weapon For Success
At the height of my dorkdom, I had this one thing going for me. And speaking of which, I may actually be at the height of my dorkdom now, so luckily, I still got it.
I’m always marinating in my Earth School lessons with you. And you know me…I get my ass handed to me on a platter plenty. But this week, I’m going to talk about something I’m (surprise!) good at for a change. It came up for me this week, because I speed-dated (meaning 3 dates and tons of FaceTime) this cute yoga teacher and, of course, we were exploring every inch of our respective internal lives. (That sounds dirty…I mean, we talked a lot!) He thought my lack of self-doubt was kind of alien. I honestly, ever really thought about it.
Well…that’s not totally true.
I often tell the story of the NY Post reporter who was interviewing me for the 1-year anniversary of CosmoGIRL! (Yeah 2000 nostalgia!) The very first question she asked was, “How did it feel that noone thought you could do it?” I was like Huh-mana-what??? I literally had no idea people thought I couldn’t do it. It didn’t even occur to me in that entire year of developing the magazine! I mean, in retrospect, of course I get it! I was 26; a fashion editor who had only ever worked with clothes and photo shoots. It was really unconventional to let someone like me run an off-shoot of a huge brand like Cosmo at a venerable company like Hearst. Yes, yes, yes! Of course people would doubt me. With hindsight and some years under my belt…Sure, I can see it! But at the time? I was like “Yeah, girl! I’m gonna rock this shit!” 🥸🥸 It’s actually kinda embarrassing when you think about it – but there you have it. Meet my internal voice. I once even asked my former boss, Hearst President, Cathie Black, years later, how she felt so confident taking such a big risk hiring me. She didn’t skip a beat. “I would’ve just replaced you.” Gulp. REPLACED ME????? I swear, I nearly passed out. Again, not for one second did I think that was a possibility.
This positive internal voice has come up a few different times recently.
You know I’m getting divorced. It’s a process that feels both like a sprint toward freedom and a marathon that is taking forever, but luckily I have my awesome friends on the sidelines with metaphorical You-Got-This signs and squirts of cold water when I need it! But one time I didn’t need my friends to boost me? When my ex revealed my 49th birthday present: (Sit down. Seriously. Sit down) Plastic surgery. He was like, go get whatever you want so you can be ready for the dating world. I know. I know. 🤣
Girl….I wasn’t even mad…for real.
You would think that at 49, I’d be offended because it was hitting a nerve. Or really fucking psyched because it was hitting a nerve that I could try to anesthetize with the surgery. But I still remember my response. “That is so generous of you. But I just don’t really subscribe to that standard of beauty.” Sister, don’t get me wrong. I’ve birthed and breast-fed three babies. I have that little c-section bump that no amount of exercise will fix. I’ve definitely wondered about a little tucky tuck tuck. In fact, a Manhattan plastic surgeon could find plenty of reasons to carve me up like a Thanksgiving Turkey. But it just doesn’t stress me out. In fact, my ex-boyfriend used to say I was one of the most body confident people he’d met. It’s not because I think I look like Emily Ratajkowski. I just don’t compare myself with anyone else. When I was young and hot, I worked it. Now that I’m older and less hot, sure, I work what I got. 🤷🏻♀️ It’s what I got! I love it. To me, it’s like wishing I had someone else’s kid because they may be better at soccer or school. I like the exact kids I have. I like the exact person I am. Maybe I’m deluded but…am I? Is it delusional to think I’m awesome?
In that case, I’ve been delusional for a long time…
At the height of my awkwardness, the height, the height. THE. HEIGHT. I specifically remember looking in the mirror deep into my brown eyes and thinking, Gosh you are so beautiful! I really thought that. I have no idea where this was coming from. I was not remotely considered beautiful or cool at school. Of course, my mom would tell me I’m beautiful. And I thought she and my sisters were beautiful. So I guess I just believed I’m beautiful, too? I have no idea. It’s that same confidence that had me selling my autograph for a nickle: “Atoosa Behnegar RS.” Behnegar being my last name and RS being rock star…obv. Again, I’m at a loss for words. This piece was just in place for me.
Fast forward to college, before there was Facebook. There was The Facebook…an actual book that freshman at universities would get with a picture of everyone in the class. Can we just discuss the picture I submitted for this? I mean…for goodness sakes. Look at it! You would think I would want to submit a typically cute picture, right? After all, it’s the book all the guys would pour over to identify the girls they were going to go for. Same for the girls. I literally submitted a picture that shows my complete and utter wackiness…plus I look naked! (I was wearing a strapless dress.) In all fairness, I didn’t think it would be cropped like that. But that’s me, right? I’m out there. That picture really does represent my spirit – back then, and today.
Listen, this thing is what has helped me manifest success my whole life. Like once, when I was newly Editor-in-Chief of Seventeen, I was in a budget meeting with a big team of men from corporate. Our company, Hearst, had recently bought Seventeen, and it was a total mess. It was bleeding money all over the place and we were meeting to come up with ideas to turn the ship around. I had a big idea: Let’s make a reality show! I was inspired by The Osbournes and Newlyweds (Nick Lachey & Jessica Simpson’s show). You could hear a pin drop in the conference room. Then one of the VPs rolled his eyes and just went onto the next idea without even acknowledging what I had said. I guess I could’ve felt embarrassed. I could have berated myself for the dumb idea. But instead, I just got busy. MTV’s Miss Seventeen had it’s debut within the year and I believe it brought in more money than any other category that year. Oh, and our production team was the same one that created The Osbournes and Newlyweds. Snap!
What took me down this rabbit hole is that Friday night while I was taking my daily bath, I was trying to figure out TikTok…filters, songs, just generally tooling around to understand out how this thing works. I found my favorite song, “I feel like shit” (although I don’t, in fact, feel like shit – I feel great – hope you do, too. I just love that Tate McRae, she is my college era alter ego!) and I made a goofy video. In this case, I don’t just look naked like my college Facebook picture. I am naked. When I showed my beloved colleague, Hallie, she was a little like, “Ummmm…what’s the point of posting a naked lip-synching video?” Fair question, Hallie! And I’m literally cackling out loud now, even as I type this. The point is, I’m a crazy fucker, that’s why! Why the heck not?
I’m not unhinged. But I am Unedited. It’s that Unedited part of me that thought I was beautiful when nobody else agreed. It’s that Unedited part of me that introduced myself to my freshman class showing my true wackadoo nature. It’s that Unedited part of me that believed in myself as a young Editor-in-Chief when (apparently!) no one else did. (Those dicks!) And it’s that Unedited part of me talking to you now. Take a risk with me today. Whatever that means for you. Whether it’s posting something on social media. Or pushing a crazy idea at work. Whatever lights you up, but you’ve been dimming for fear of judgment or failure. Light it up, my sister. Let it light up your pathway home…to yourself. I’m posting that fucking bath video tonight. Not because I think I’m the next Charlie D’Amelio. But because I’m the only Atoosa Rubenstein. Let me know what you’re going to do today. You’re so good at emailing me. But try the message boards here, too. Come-Unity, my sister. Come-Unity. I’m with you, 24/7, as always, at email@example.com.
The soundtrack of my 🤍🖤❤: