How to Be a Difficult Bitch: Empowering YA Readers

Warning: the following post contains strong language.

Being a powerhouse is a choice, a lifestyle, a code of ethics. It takes work, a thick skin, and perseverance. In How to Be a Difficult Bitch: Claim Your Power, Ditch the Haters, and Feel Good Doing It young adults learn the basics of being a Difficult Bitch, from school to friends to body to life.

Halley Bondy, Mary C. Fernandez, Sharon Lynn Pruitt-Young, and Zara Hanawalt collaborated to encourage readers to be themselves no matter what. Read on to discover the Commandments of the Difficult Bitch and to hear from Mary C. Fernandez on what empowers her everyday.

The Commandments of the Difficult Bitch

A set of guidelines can help make the right decisions in difficult situations. While following them may be difficult, doing so can build confidence and healthy relationships. The commandments below come directly from How to be a Difficult Bitch. Read the rest of the book to find out how practice these guidelines in your daily life and unleash your best inner self.

Difficult Bitches Shall

  • Stand up for themselves
  • Love themselves
  • Be themselves
  • Help those in need
  • Ask for help when they need it
  • Be empathetic
  • Break boundaries for a better world
  • Stand up for what they believe in
  • Stand up for others
  • Experiment
  • Embrace diversity
  • Be loud and proud
  • Be imperfect
  • Do their best
  • Respect themselves and others
  • Practice safe and healthy habits
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Own up

Difficult Bitches Shall Not

  • Be silenced
  • Be cruel
  • Be petty
  • Be dicks
  • Back down
  • Be apathetic
  • Worry about haters
  • Engage in bullshit
  • Tolerate toxic behavior
  • Be exclusionary toward others because of race, gender, sexuality, disability, or otherwise
  • Let fear get in the way.

Mary C. Fernandez shares the secret of her own empowerment

For me empowerment means being authentic, playing to my strengths, a supportive community and persistence.

I feel empowered when I am able to show up in the world in my most authentic way. That doesn’t mean that I behave the same in all areas—for instance when I hang out with my friends, I am a lot different than when I’m consulting at work. It means that I can bring my core values of integrity, honesty, kindness and empathy into the room, no matter what room that is.

The journey to truly finding my voice in the world and hence empowerment, has been deeply influenced by the people that surround me. My mom always encouraged me to be myself and put my best foot forward. Even if I failed, for her the most important thing was to know that I tried, because there is something to be learned in all we do. But also, finding my community and my people has been crucial. As a disabled teenager the first time I felt like I belonged was when I first met other blind and low vision peers at summer camp. That feeling only increased as I got involved in disability rights work when I was 14.

Of course, there are things I do when I need a boost of confidence. I am a huge fashion addict, specifically shoes! So even though I work from home, for important meetings or presentations, I’ll wear a favorite pair of shoes. Additionally, having relaxation/grounding rituals, as well as straight up practice helps! Before an important event, I’ll take a moment and just take five to ten deep breaths letting them out slowly. Last, I know what my strengths are, and when I’m playing to them, I simply forget the nerves and do my thing, but this skill has been honed after much practice. I am a good public speaker, but I didn’t become good at it by being quiet, from my teenage years I accepted any presentation opportunities I could. As a vocal performance major in college, I learned to master my nerves and accept that they are a result of caring about what you are doing. And even today, when I have presentations at work, I’ll run them through a few times, so I know I’m comfortable and prepared.

Building confidence in our strengths and skills means that we are more likely to pursue opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise. One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my most important mentors was that it’s true that I am not guaranteed every opportunity I pursue. However, the only guarantee is that I won’t get it if I don’t try. As I’ve traveled through life, I have faced a lot of nos, and in all those moments I sit back and reflect what I have learned, because there will be another chance, another opportunity and every piece of knowledge and wisdom I can apply means I’m more likely to succeed.

Mary C. Fernandez is a business consultant and writer based in Durham, North Carolina.

Praise for How to be a Difficult Bitch

★”A thoughtful, engaging, bad-ass crash course in moxie, self-confidence, and self-love.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

“[U]nleash that inner bitch! . . . The title and bright cover art will attract browsers; the real-world applications and affirmative messages will keep them reading.”—Booklist

“A beautifully designed advice book on self-empowerment. Covers relationships of all kinds, school, jobs, activism, internet interactions, and more with hypothetical situations, personal notes, and tons of tips on standing up for yourself and others.” -Teen Librarian Toolbox

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Find more empowering posts on the Lerner blog here!

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