Musing X: Me, Myself and Grace


Hello, my name is Grace and I am a strong, badass woman. I wouldn't necessarily call myself a narcissist, but there are certainly more inaccurate things that could be used to describe me. But believe me when I say that it's a deep form of altruism that is at the root of what could be called my self-obsession. I can be better understood by knowing a little bit about my upbringing. I have always been extremely competitive and preoccupied with self improvement. During my formative years, that propensity was applied to academics and sports. I grew up in the northeast, in a city of hard knocks. I played the poor kid's version of racquetball against the back of a halfway house with the local boys in the hood, being the only girl who could easily keep up with them. As a tough city kid, I developed a natural swagger which married nicely with my deft physical prowess (one of my earliest desires was to be a back-up dancer for Janet Jackson). Growing up playing "sports" on concrete riddled with potholes made the soft turf I used to run on as a decorated high school sprinter seem like a cakewalk on pillowy clouds. I was also naturally bright. Excelling academically in a school where a fifth of the students were not expected to graduate might not seem like a considerable accomplishment. Fortunately, I had a few teachers who took an active interest in fostering my growth and my parents, who despite their lack of disposable income, poured as much as they could into cultivating my extracurricular pursuits. After years of back-breaking hard work, distinctly characteristic of immigrants aspiring to achieve the “American Dream", my family moved to the suburbs prior to my entering the high school years in a district catering to upper middle class families. I became a star athlete and graduated valedictorian in a class of over three hundred students, mostly composed of privileged WASPs. I was accepted early decision to one of the top schools in the country and awarded a prestigious private scholarship specifically geared towards girls entering the mathematical sciences. There I was a intercollegiate rower, competing Division I. If you went to Yale or Brown, then you might incite me to go on a long tirade about your crew teams (but no personal offense given). Being a D-1 athlete at an Ivy league school with a rigorous training schedule coupled with trying to maintain a high GPA in double STEM majors is no small feat. I graduated magna cum laude and went to work as an analyst at a top tier investment bank... those 100hr weeks, I'll never miss them. After the subsequent few years in finance and then completing grad school, I found myself in the high-tech world, which catered more aptly to my intellectual creativity and independence. My resume is peppered with credentials that would impress even the most high-brow elitists, and my whole life has centered around defying my socio-economic background and gender to become an alpha among alphas. But I am fully aware that in one moment you can be on the top of the World, then life unexpectedly throws a sucker-punch, and you're left struggling to pick yourself up and start over. So I take nothing for granted, because I have always had to fight for everything.

Yes, I compete a bit too hard in driving myself toward success, I obsess about how much I've got in the bank and in my investment accounts, I constantly self-study and search out things about me that could be improved upon. And who knows if it's always healthy and of course, it's self-serving too -- since we only get one go-around at this life (as far as we know), why not spend my time on Earth as the best 'me' possible, for my own satisfaction? As I've gotten older, improvement was measured by benchmarking against my own past. How can I be better 'me' now and in the future than the 'me' that I was? But the rubric to becoming a better version of myself has always been non-linear. That non-linear road most definitely involved the creation (or, more appropriately, the unapologetic embracing) of 'Grace'. Knowing some of the superficial facts about my background and assuming that it's all true, you might be wondering "Why do you do this? Why be 'Grace'?". I have been asked that more than once -- usually from new suitors who don't have the slightest understanding of women (not really your fault, guys) and are mixed up in their sheer awe of me. I am happy to be a source of enlightenment, invalidating all of your preconceived stereotypes and assumptions of why a woman might become a companion. The question really is, "Why not?". The lady who you chose to spend your hard-earned dollars on has, more often than not, made the conscious choice based solely on desire or curiosity, not necessity, to become one. I have touched on this subject before and why this "mutually rewarding dynamic" between lover and beloved is the healthiest of all intimate relationships. But I find that I still get asked this question regularly, deeply rooted in male misunderstanding and naïveté. What Henry Kissinger calls the equilibrium of power, mine manifests itself in the nexus of 'Grace'. Fact: when I take off my tailored Elie Tahari work suit and throw on the 'Grace' cape, I feel most empowered. Now, am I the type of woman that some men find hard to accept because they are threatened by this notion? Absolutely. And as we have seen in recent news, the male obsession with asserting their dominance over the softer sex will always be alive and well. Thankfully, I only surround myself with men who find my levels of confidence and brilliance rip-roaringly appealing (I'm talking to you, my treasured suitors!).

There was a time when I used to combat my own sensual curiosities. Until one day, I realized that the only way to live the unconventional life that I desired (or thought I deserved) was to embrace them. This lifestyle has taught me so much, and not just about my sexuality and sensuality; it has allowed my ever-seeking-ways-to-be-better self to become an extension of the ultimate badass dream-girl. I've found a form of empowerment that I never could have had otherwise, even considering the other mediums I have at my disposal to easily access it. My relationship to spirit, my relationship to language, my relationship to manifestation and creator-ship have all shifted in ways that I can't explain. My voice is becoming clearer, both in the auditory and linguistic senses. My perception is becoming stronger. The things I talk about are becoming more and more complex. And all of this is shifting me away from a safe harbor of simplicity and linearity. Life is about taking risks, adopting acceptance, love, and transcendence. It's about kicking fear in the ass and living as big and as fully as you possibly can, beating the self-sabotage impulse and not letting trivial things like stigma or shame get in the way, embracing it all and creating the life that you want to live.

I constantly seek ways to improve the quality of my life, to be better, to feel more powerful and fulfilled through whatever avenue that may be. And beyond this tough (yet strikingly beautiful) exterior and "no bullshit" alpha attitude of mine is a woman with a completely lovable and nurturing disposition who can make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I don't covet luxury bags, shoes or superficial trinkets which hold no intrinsic value to me (Birkins and any Veblen goods being the exception). I covet a heart where I never lose my deep sense of compassion and empathy. I covet experiences where I have special moments with extraordinary people and the memories of them make me smile. I covet a life worth remembering, where I placed a flag at the top of my own Everest and could proudly proclaim "I made the best of it". And in that life, I'll never lose my inherent ability to show gratitude for those who appreciate and empower me.

With all that said, I am so thankful to all the amazing people I have met as 'Grace'. You have made this finite go-around exponentially more exciting and stimulating. You have allowed me to become a better 'me'. You have enriched my life; you have enriched my mind, my body, my soul... and my investment portfolio too ;).

Appreciate and adore you,

x GLR


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"Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art." 

© 2020 Grace Lee Riley