Yesterday we spent some time luxuriating in Gabourey Sidibe's inspiring words from the Ms. Foundation Gala, where Sidibe taught us all some good lessons in believing in yourself. Turns out that confidence, though? Takes more than one great speech to really sink in. Which is why we're also grateful to Amy Schumer, who also spoke at the Ms. Gala about her journey to becoming a confident, hilarious, badass lady — and on how it's not always as cut-and-dry as never feeling crappy about yourself or the world around you.
Schumer's main anecdote centered around her rocky transition from high school — where she basically ruled the school and had life perfectly figured out — to college, where she did not. And listening to her talk about her journey from a place of true self-loathing then to her life as a successful, confident comic now? And how bumps in that road are par for the course? Well let's just say we're grateful this Ms. Foundation Gala existed, because some good words came out of it.
She starts off in a place not all that emotionally buoyant.
All of a sudden, being witty and charismatic didn't mean shit. Day after day, I could feel the confidence drain from my body. I was not what these guys wanted. They wanted thinner, blonder, dumber ... My sassy one-liners were only working on the cafeteria employees, who I was visiting all too frequently, tacking on not the Freshman 15, but the 30, in record-breaking time, which led my mother to make comments over winter break like, "You look healthy!" I was getting no male attention, and I'm embarrassed to say, it was killing me.
As a result of this she dived into some terribly lackluster sex with a guy who didn't respect her and who she didn't respect. You can read the full speech over at Vulture (her descriptors are worth it), but let's skip to the end of the sex for our purposes — because the world doesn't always bend to your commitment to bettering yourself:
Now I feel strong and beautiful. I walk proudly down the streets of Manhattan. The people I love, love me. I make the funniest people in the country laugh, and they are my friends. I am a great friend and an even better sister. I have fought my way through harsh criticism and death threats for speaking my mind. I am alive, like the strong women in this room before me. I am a hot-blooded fighter and I am fearless. But I did morning radio last week, and a DJ asked, "Have you gained weight? You seem chunkier to me. You should strike while the iron is hot, Amy." And it's all gone. In an instant, it's all stripped away. I wrote an article for Men's Health and was so proud, until I saw instead of using my photo, they used one of a 16-year-old model wearing a clown nose, to show that she's hilarious. But those are my words. What about who I am, and what I have to say? I can be reduced to that lost college freshman so quickly sometimes, I want to quit. Not performing, but being a woman altogether. I want to throw my hands in the air, after reading a mean Twitter comment, and say, "All right! You got it. You figured me out. I'm not pretty. I'm not thin. I do not deserve to use my voice. I'll start wearing a burqa and start waiting tables at a pancake house. All my self-worth is based on what you can see." But then I think, Fuck that. I am not laying in that freshman year bed anymore ever again.
And how she ends it is practically guaranteed to become one of the next big mantras worth repeating to yourself every morning:
I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I will speak and share and fuck and love and I will never apologize to the frightened millions who resent that they had it in them to do it. I stand here and I am amazing, for you. Not because of you. I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you, and I thank you.