Ego Is The Enemy: An Interview With Ryan Holiday

IG: ryanholiday

IG: ryanholiday

Ryan Holiday hit the real world hard and fast. At 19, he decided to drop out of college because he was offered an opportunity any ambitious would-be writer would pounce on: a job as a research assistant to Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power. This would lead him to working with and advising several bestselling authors and multiplatinum musicians.

He kept the ball rolling from there and became the marketing director of American Apparel, where he put into place a very successful campaign that produced both big profits and heavy criticism. But he grew disgusted with the state of online media and released a book that put his name on the map, Trust Me, I’m Lying. The book detailed how easy it was to manipulate online media because of its lack of source verification and its traffic-driven outrage-porn business model.

After reading that book, I discovered and devoured all of his writings. I studied and applied a lot of his stoic principles about business, life, and writing into my own thought process and actions. He is one of the most unique, practical, and highly respected contemporary thinkers.

In his new book, Ego Is The Enemy, he seeks to advise the reader through the lives of notable and not-so-notable historical and current figures about what havoc an untamed ego can have on a person’s life and how one goes about controlling it.

Raul Felix: Ryan, in this book, you analyze how the ego can have destructive effects on people. You even mentioned seeing one of your mentors transform from someone you aspired to be like to never wanting to be like that person. Egos don’t only exist in people of high achievement or celebrity; it is also quite common in the general population. What common examples do you see today of people with high egos yet little substance to back it up?

Ryan Holiday: Yes, exactly. It is precisely because we see this type of behavior in a lot of prominent public figures that we try to reverse-engineer their success and manufacture the right pose. There are plenty of “wantrepreneurs” out there acting like mini-Steve Jobs and plenty of musicians who think that behaving like Kanye West is acceptable. We falsely assume that ego—manifested in their entitlement, arrogance, braggadocio, and swagger—is what drove success. In fact, it was the talent that compensated for the ridiculous, destructive ego. We don’t think about the survivorship bias that hides from view all the people who’ve failed and flamed out because of their own ego-driven sabotage. What is also hidden is the huge subset of successful people who are not clamoring for the limelight.

We also live in a culture that actively promotes constant self-promotion and grandiosity—all of it magnified by a thousand by social media. It is also hard not to think you’re the greatest if that is the message you’ve been hearing constantly from your parents since you were born. Combine these factors, and you see why we have a downright epidemic of ego.

Part of why I initially wanted to write this book is because I would get a lot of emails from really overconfident and brash young people who would send me all these ridiculous emails. And then at large, you see it for instance with people who are not willing to take entry-level positions—But I went to college! But it was the Ivy League! —or people who are not willing to listen or take any sort of feedback because they think they’ve already figured it all out. You see it with people bragging and boasting about what they’re going to do—their ego craving for validation and applause before the fact.

Raul Felix: A line that really stuck out to me was, “If you start believing in your own greatness it is the death of your creativity.” I’m sure any artist who has produced a piece or two of topnotch work has fallen into that trap—even gloating to themselves or others about their creative genius. I’ve done it a few times when I wrote some really good stuff. How does one avoid falling prey to that part of the ego while keeping the fortitude to drive on?

Ryan Holiday: I love that line, too; it’s actually from Marina Abramović, the performance artist. There is another quote from UFC champion Frank Shamrock that I try to think of on a regular basis: “False ideas about yourself destroy you.”

The second you start gloating and letting success get to your head—that you’ve figured it all out—that’s precisely when you make some critical mistake or miscalculation. In that moment of self-satisfaction, learning grinds to a halt. What I love about writing, actually, is that those feelings are constantly elusive. You can’t get a big head with a craft which requires decades and decades of work before you even begin to approach mastery. There is no “graduation.” If you think like a craftsman, become an eternal student, and adopt a beginner’s mindset, ego is suppressed and you can go on working and working.

The problem is when you start to listen to other people. My last book has started to sell very well, so I could let that puff me up. I’ve gotten some very kind and generous reviews. It would be a mistake to listen to those things too closely. For the next book, you have to continue to approach it with humility and self-awareness. Essentially you have to start from zero.

And in the book I talk about how ego separates us from reality—we start living in our heads. This sort of intoxication with positive feedback and success makes us forget that there are people in our field who are infinitely more successful than we are. Someone recently mentioned that one of the best things about attending TED is how humbling it is to be in a room with all these people. It doesn’t take away what you’ve accomplished, but it puts things into perspective—it grounds you back to reality.

Raul Felix: You also mention the incubation process, that period where you must trudge through a long period of obscurity as you wrestle with a topic or a paradox. What would the incubation process look like for the normal person, who can’t really drop everything and live in a cabin cut away from society as they hone their skills?

Ryan Holiday: I’ve mentioned the incubation process, which is what the strategist John Boyd called his ‘draw-down’ period. It is the time after we’ve had what we think is a brilliant idea and then take the time to process it and think it through before we embark on it.

I do not think it requires you to drop everything and go live in a cabin away from society—I certainly didn’t do that (although living on a ranch helps!). It’s simply the moment after you’ve had the idea, after you’ve put the first round of thinking into the project and then have to step back and say: “OK, what do I really have here?” “Do I actually have something?” “What is this really going to be?”

Otherwise, we have ego telling us that we have the best idea ever and blinds us to all the components that we need to work on. Ego Is the Enemy ended up being different from the initial book proposals precisely because there was time between conception and execution.

And wrestling with a topic or a paradox requires you to invest a serious amount of time in a state of what the author Cal Newport calls “deep work”—that place of intense concentration and cognitive focus where real progress is made. Two examples for me are walking and running, during which I wrestle with ideas. I also have an article on this site on how to accomplish more deep work in our lives where I give some other examples that can be helpful.

Raul Felix: You made an a sharp distinction of how the ego affected two Civil War generals: Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. Grant sought the high office of the presidency and chased after big money, causing him to have one of the most corrupt administrations in our nation’s history and going publicly bankrupt, while Sherman chose to be content and lead a private life afterwards. How can a person distinguish if what they’re chasing after is genuine or if it’s their ego yearning for more?

Ryan Holiday: It’s funny because I really admire both of them. This country we live in would not be possible without the personal heroism and bravery of both of them—probably Grant most of all. At the same time, I find the end of his life to be very sad. I wish he could have enjoyed the success he had.

In my view, the main reason doing that is so hard is because we try to have it. We want what we want and what other people have, too. We want to do our own thing but not be left out, either. We want a quiet life but also want to be the center of attention.

It’s our ego telling us to always say yes to more things, more projects, events, meetings. It will also always say yes to more money if given the opportunity. (Ego doesn’t care whether that’s the right decision for us.) Ego rejects trade-offs. It wants it all. It’s incredible how hard it is for us to say no to anything—again, especially money.

The solution? Really ask yourself: Why do I do what I do? What is important to me? What is the one goal or thing I want more than any other? That’s the question you need to answer. Stare at it until you can. It’s not easy by any stretch, and I am telling you that from my personal experience. I’ve had to do so in my own life and it’s why I have an entire chapter dedicated to that idea. Understand what’s important to you and know your priorities.

The goal is to make decisions with clarity and purpose—not ego. Only after spending time alone and asking ourselves these tough questions can we know which way we are swaying.

Raul Felix: Hitting rock bottom, whatever that may be for a person, is one of those humbling experiences that can make or break you depending on how your ego responds to it. I’ve been through a couple of hard times in my life where I needed to fight for every bit of progress while I got back on my feet. Along the way I learned some lessons. Yet I remember being warned that my actions would lead to that. What do you feel it is about our nature that makes it so we don’t always learn from others but have to fuck up big time in order to drive consequences of our actions through our skull?

Ryan Holiday: Nobody gets very far or lives very long without getting their ass kicked a few times. It’s not pleasant at the time when in retrospect we tend to appreciate those experiences—because we learned so much from them. The problem is that those lessons tend to fade over time, because we start to feel like we’ve moved past them—that we’ve got it. When I got Ego Is the Enemy tattooed on my forearm it is exactly this part of human nature that I wanted to warn myself against on a daily basis. It is this part of us that says that we know better, that makes us unwilling to listen to others, to remember to be objective and clear-headed and honest. I have made those mistakes myself, and having a daily reminder is one way to prevent it from happening again.

And it will always be the case that the hardest lessons are learned from direct experience. Plutarch says that we don’t “so much gain the knowledge of things by the words, as words by the experience [we have] of things.” That shouldn’t be an excuse to not study and learn to prevent those from occurring. Reading books—especially biographies—becomes helpful here. Whatever situation you are currently facing, others have gone through that and written about it.

There’s a quote from Bismarck that says, in effect, any fool can learn from experience. The trick is to learn from other people’s experience. It is why the book is full of cautionary tales—so that we see what ego-driven choices and decisions others made in history and how that led to their downfall. Still, though, I understand that we’re often going to need to experience some of that directly. I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.

~Raul Felix

Read: Teaching Men How To Mate: An Interview With Tucker Max
Read: Keep Moving, Young Man
Read: An Army Ranger Interviews A Navy SEAL On Resilience

Read more of my work at Thought Catalog
Follow me on Instagram.
Follow me on Twitter.

Maybe I Shouldn’t Have Taught A Psycho Bitch How To Shoot

Duke decides to make a pot of tea to ease his stress and tension. He sits in the living room waiting for it to boil. His ex-wife was released from jail a week ago after violating his restraining order. Still, he isn’t sure whether she would at last leave him alone. He can still smell the faint scent of her perfume. It made the hair on the back of his neck rise up. Even though he’s a foot taller and about a hundred pounds heavier than her, he fears this woman. He thought he would be able to start over here at his brother’s home. His family had urged him to leave that psycho bitch for years. He loved her. He was a man of his word. He couldn’t leave her when she was sick. That’s how he reasoned holding onto her in those dark days.

He remembered when he first met her. He was twenty-two years old and had just returned from a year’s deployment to Iraq. His previous ex-girlfriend had Dear Johned him with a two-sentence e-mail and refused to answer any of his phone calls.

He met Jade the psycho bitch at a classy piano bar with a wide variety of lovely women from which to pick. About seven or eight beers deep, he laid on eyes on her. She was dancing in a silky black dress with a skirt so short that it barely covered up her ass and pussy. At times, he was sure he could see her white panties. Under normal circumstances, Duke would not have the nerve to talk to her. But liquid courage and the fact he hadn’t touched a woman in over a year took away his inhibitions.

Stumbling over toward her seemed like a quest in itself, for he was shit-canned hammered. A year of no alcohol was taking its toll. He tapped her on the shoulder, gave a quick smile, and started grinding himself on her. Jade, who was equally as drunk, proceeded to rub her ass on his crotch. Their conversation, barely coherent to the outside world, had a wicked chemistry of teasing, flirting, and touching. They were lost in pure, alcohol-driven lust for each other. They fucked at her apartment later that night.

Suddenly he hears her footsteps coming down the stairs. “How did she know I would be here?” he thinks. The steps grow close and closer. He can’t move. Move, damnit, move. He can’t. Even in Iraq he never froze up, yet here he was, unable to move a single muscle.

“Hello, my love,” she says.

He sits there in silence, focusing on her devilish smile and the .45-caliber pistol in her hand. She moves with swift precision toward him and sits down on the recliner across from him.

“Don’t make any sudden movements or I will blow your fucking brains out,” she says. “Now listen. Remember what I told you when we first decided to get married—that I would never, ever let you leave me? Well, I’m keeping true to my promise.”

His body begins to shake. He looks into her dead, emotionless eyes.

“Who is she, Duke?”

“I’m not cheating,” he says.

“Bull fucking shit! You think I’m some sort of fool, don’t you? You think I’m going to let some other woman just have you? You’re fucking mine. Your cock and fucking balls belong to me, Duke!”

He sits there stunned, looking down at the pistol she holds in her hand like a pro. He regrets teaching her how to shoot.

“Let’s say I was cheating on you,” he says. “What would you do then? Kill me? Kill that other bitch? Kill our daughter? What?”

“Oh, Duke, you’re so simple. Do you really think I would let you off that easily? By the time I’m done with you, you’re going to wish for death. I just need a name.”

“No.”

“So you are cheating on me?”

“No. We’ve been done for almost two years now. I have never cheated on you. But I do have someone new in my life,” he says.

“For us to be over, both of us have to agree. I never agreed to it. So you are a fucking cheater. I’m going to kill you and that dirty fucking whore.”

“Fuck you.”

“Oh, Duke, you would love that, wouldn’t you? I know you miss having me all over you. I know you miss my mouth on your cock. I know you miss having your hands on my boobs and ass. I know you miss the way I would fuck your brains out. I’ll be honest; I miss your body, too. But now you’re tainted with the stench of that bitch’s cunt. I can’t let you just slip away. You have no right to leave me.”

They sit there in silence. She never takes her eyes off him. She seems cold and calculating, as if she’s going over any possible routes for him to escape.

Duke can’t seem to come up with a plan. His eyes shift between her, the pistol, and the living room. He tries to think of something, anything that could get him out of this situation.

The pot of tea on the stove begins to screech. Jade hears it but attempts to ignore it. She has her eyes fixed on Duke. After a few minutes, the hissing starts to irritate her.

“Get up and take that goddamn pot off the stove!” she yells. He heads into the kitchen; Jade follows with the gun locked on his skull. Duke slowly picks up the pot, then as quickly as he can, he turns around and throws the boiling tea into Jade’s face. Jade shoots one round, hitting Duke on top of his right shoulder blade. She howls in pain as the water scalds her skin. Temporarily blind and panic-stricken, she shoots wildly. Duke keeps low and attempts to crawl out of the kitchen. He misses being hit several times by mere inches. He then hears the unique click that signifies the gun is out of ammo.

His shoulder’s bleeding, but Duke gets up and musters his strength and charges toward his blister-faced ex-wife. He tackles her into the kitchen counter, causing knives to be knocked down all over the floor. He’s on top of her, choking her with his left hand. Struggling for air, Jade frantically tries to locate a knife with her hand and grabs onto a knife handle. She picks it up and stabs Duke in the thigh. The pain is unbearable and he rolls over. Covered in their blood, Jade stands above her injured former lover. She grabs another kitchen knife and stabs him in the other leg. “Fuck! Fucking bitch!” he screams. She finds the pistol, heads back to the living room, looks through her purse, and fishes out another clip of ammo.

“My love, I will now purify you.” Jade aims the pistol right at Duke’s forehead. She gently squeezes the trigger and Duke’s brains splatter on the kitchen wall.

~Raul Felix

Read some more of my stuff at Thought Catalog.

The Woman Who Taught Me I Was Good For Everything But Loving

She kissed the back of my neck as we rode the Ortega Highway on my motorcycle. She had asked me to take my jacket off. The reason why was unclear to me, but as we rode, it made perfect sense. She wanted to caress my chest, arms, and stomach. She wanted to rub my shoulder blades and feel the bulge of my biceps as I shifted gears. Her breasts would press against my back, and when I didn’t need to have my left hand on the clutch, I would reach behind, place my hand on her calf, and slide it up to give her ass a firm squeeze. Happiness is very simple for me: I just need a beautiful woman, my motorcycle, and an open highway.

I would always catch her looking out the window of the bar next to the one where I was a bouncer. Our eyes would briefly meet, then I would smirk and continue walking to work since I never had a moment to spare; I have the bad habit of getting to work two or three minutes late. I would do my beginning of shift duties: stand at the door, check IDs, and stare off into the beach. Occasionally, I would walk over next door to see if I could catch another glimpse of her. She seemed to have a sixth sense, because she would always turn in my direction as I did this. We would lock eyes and exchange smiles, but nothing more.

One night I went to have an after-work drink at that bar because I knew she would be there. I spotted her sitting at a booth with her friends. I couldn’t be as aggressive as I normally would have been, since I work around there and a lot of these people were regulars who knew my face if not my name. I needed to be coy and suave. After her friends left, she spotted me and called me over.

“You have a thing for me, don’t you?” she asked. I looked into her green eyes, her pink lips, and took a quick glance at her fake breasts.

“No,” I lied as I shook my head. She was what society would label a cougar, MILF, or mature woman. But I didn’t give a fuck; I wanted her.

“Yes, you do. I always catch you looking at me through the window.”

“I do.” I’m pretty bad at playing coy and suave.

“Well, I don’t really go for young men…”

“Well, if you change your mind, you know where to find me,” I said and headed toward the door. Once outside, I looked through the window, locked eyes with her, gave a smirk, and headed home. Maybe I’m not that bad at playing coy and suave.

Monday night, save for a couple of regulars, the bar was dead. She appeared through the door and walked up the steps.

“Can I see your ID, please?” I asked her.

“Really? Oh come on.” she tapped my thigh as she passed me, then headed toward the bar. She sat right in front of me. I bit my lip as I looked at the top part of her ass crack that rose above her jeans as she sat on the barstool. She stole glances at me but acted coquettish.

“I’m going outside for a smoke,” she said to the bartender as she walked down the small flight of stairs. I walked down also and stood in front of the entrance.

“There is something about you,” she told me. “You seem way more confident in yourself than a lot of men I run into.”

“Don’t let the fact that I’m a bouncer fool you. This is just a job. I have more life experience than a lot of guys who are ten years older than me.”

“Oh, yeah? Like what?”

We talked. Flirted. Stole a touch here and there. Had short pauses where we stared at each other, resisting our primal desire to rip each other’s clothes off. She would go upstairs, drink a bit more, talk to other patrons to seem inconspicuous, and then come down to smoke another cigarette. She’d repeat the charade several times.

“All right, its time for me to go bed,” she said. “I don’t usually stay out this late.”

“Yeah? Hold on a second.” I grabbed her hand and led her outside to a blind spot out of the bar security camera’s range. I passionately kissed her lips and neck. I gave her sweet and tender goodnight kiss.

I would see her after my afternoon shifts. We would go into alleyways, make out, I’d finger her pussy, slap her ass, and do every form of heavy petting short of oral and actually fucking. She became the highlight of my week.

We arrived at a bar on Pacific Coast Highway and hopped off my motorcycle. I took out some weed we’d been smoking from my saddlebags and took a toke. Then we headed inside, holding hands. She ordered a drink and I just got water. As she stood I sat on the barstool, analyzing her beauty. I pulled her close, wrapped my arms around her, and rested my head on her chest. Heaven. I exhaled every ounce of oxygen in my lungs.

“Why do I feel all this tension released in you?” she asked.

I looked up at her. “I don’t know…”

“You haven’t been loved in a long time, have you?” I didn’t answer. I pulled her close again.

Later we’re in her bedroom. “Eat that fucking pussy!” she moaned. Her legs were on my shoulders as I was tongue-raping her cunt. I was determined to make her cum with my tongue, using every bit of force I could muster to ravage it as her juices and my spit dripped all over the bed sheets. Her body began to spasm, her legs squeezed in on my head, and her hands grasped what little they could of my short hair. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” she was getting closer. “Oh Fuck! Oh Fuck!” her body thrashed wildly, but I kept her under control. Then she came. She breathed heavily, trying to catch her breath. It was time for me to fuck her.

We were lying in bed together a couple of weeks later. I was cuddling up and kissing her all over. “You’re starving for love and affection, aren’t you?” she asked.

“Why do you say that?” I kissed her neck.

“Because you’re so passionate. You give so much. You work so hard at pleasuring me. A person doesn’t do that unless they want to be loved.”

“I do.”

“You know you can’t get that from me. I’ve already done that marriage and family stuff. You need find a girl your age to experience that with.”

“I know.”

“You have other girls, don’t you?”

“Yes. Just none have tried to get close to me. I’m just a fling, a rebound, and an adventure fuck. Something to keep them entertained while they’re bored, nothing more.” I kissed her shoulders and back. I never told her, but this was the closest I’d had to love in a long time. I wrapped my arms around her and buried my nose in her hair. Heaven.

I would walk to work and wouldn’t see her anymore as I looked through that bar’s window. I would text her and wouldn’t get a response. Then she paid me one last visit and told me she was seeing someone. She, too, would fade away from my life. It was to be expected, after all. That’s what men like me are only good for: a fling, a rebound, and an adventure fuck.

~Raul Felix

Read more of my work on Thought Catalog

Why Should I Write About Her?

“Will you write about me?” The question is always on the tip of her tongue. She may not ask it immediately because she doesn’t want to seem like another one of your admirers. She’ll take her time, earn your trust, and maybe win your heart—but she’ll eventually ask it.

You don’t know what to say. You’re barely able to focus on the articles you’re writing, let alone whether this tryst will be something you’ll remember and feel is worth writing about a week, month, or year from now.

Girls all seem special in their own way when they’re in front of you. But the moment of lust eventually passes and only memories remain. That’s the tricky part. What will you remember about her? How her piercing blue eyes and her charming accent made you melt. Or maybe the way her body conformed to yours effortlessly, as if every one of her limbs was custom-made to fit your body. Or how she would visit you at work and wanted you to stick your fingers in her pussy when no one was looking. Maybe it will be how she snorted coke and took shots of whiskey before you fucked. Or the way she made you feel emotionally secure, even on the first night you ever spent with her. Or the way her youthfulness and naivety made you feel grizzled and ancient.

These are the random little things you remember about several of the recent women that passed through your life. Some used you for their own purposes and moved on, others rejected you when you wanted something more, and others seemed to fizzle away with no drama.

“Maybe,” you respond.

You’ve noticed that the women you’ve encountered all wish to be your muse. It feeds their vanity to know that they may be immortalized in one of your essays.

“What will you write?”

“I don’t know.”

That answer always seems to disappoint them, as if you’re supposed to be able to instantly pick sugary prose out from mid-air and assemble a lean, insightful account of this affair. You never know if she will be a footnote in your heart or have her own book.

You barely know her and her true character. She’s a woman and thus skilled in the art of deception. Not all women are liars, but enough of them are that you’ve learned to not fully trust one until she earns it.

She snuggles with you and tells you sweet nothings. She tells you of her life, philosophy, and aspirations. She tells you of her family and friends. She tells you about her job, coworkers, and career goals. She tells you about her ex-boyfriends and how she wants to focus on herself and isn’t ready for a serious relationship right now.

Maybe you’ll write about her. About how you met her. About how you charmed her. About the way she made your heart skip a beat with her beauty. About the conversations you had. About the times you fucked.

More than likely, she’ll be out of your life as quickly as she became part of it, whether it was after a one-night stand or having a several-month fling. Only when she’s out can you truly know if you want to write about her.

You don’t want to write about her. Writing about her will bring back the emotions you started to develop. Writing about her will put you in the state of vulnerability that you recklessly allowed her to see. Writing about her will be a confession of your need for a romantic connection. Writing about her would mean she meant more to you than you did to her. Writing about her will mean she won, and you’re too proud to let that cunt win.

~Raul Felix

Read more of my work at Thought Catalog.

Ode To La Doña: The Linchpin Of The Mexican Family

FamiliaFelix

The Mexican man takes pride in the fact that he is the man of the house. In his mind, he possesses the huevos, so he naturally runs shit. If he wants to stay up late on a Friday night listening to musica norteña from the $1,500 after-market sound system of his ’95 GMC Yukon while drinking Bud Light, eating carne asada, and bitching about life with his carnales, he’ll do it, damn it!

Then his phone rings. “Es mi vieja,” he says as he looks down at the screen of ay-phone. He quickly picks up and answers. “Si, mi amor?” His friends hear the muffled sound of his wife yelling at him that it’s time to come home. “Mandala al la chingada,” say his carnales who are single. But they are well aware that he is in a powerless position and when his wife says it’s time to come home, he better move his fucking ass or run the risk of having his favorite Chivas soccer jersey cut up again. His wife may be young, but she is stubborn, brave, and resourceful. She has the makings a future “La Doña.”

In the Mexican family, much like the British monarchy, the man is the figurehead in name only. La Doña is the one who is the true shot-caller. La Doña is the alpha female. She could be the grandmother, oldest sister, or the most assertive, fiscally responsible, and reliable female out of the many characters that comprise the family. She has a commanding presence and rules with love, fear, and respect.

There is no love like the love of La Doña. Upon seeing you she’ll give you a hug, kiss, comment on how fat you gotten, and ask if you’re hungry. Then she’ll immediately get in the kitchen and throw together whatever she can from the contents of her fridge. Even with minimal ingredients, La Doña is able to magically assemble a delicious meal that you eat to the last bite.

La Doña will be the first person you call when life has kicked you in the balls. If you’re broke and struggling to pay your bills, La Doña is hardworking and frugal enough that she can lend you money. If life gets to the point where you lost your place to live, she’ll be the first person to let you stay in her spare bedroom until you reestablish yourself. When you’re downtrodden and everyone is looking down on you, La Doña will ferociously defend you and make it clear that your bad luck is only temporary.

She’ll be at your birthdays, graduations, and major life events. La Doña will be your biggest fan and supporter in all your dreams and endeavors, however farfetched they may be. She will speak proudly of you to others and highlight all of your accomplishments whenever the opportunity presents itself.

But La Doña will also fill you with fear. She will be the first person to confront you when you are fucking up. Get a bad grade in school? Be ready for her to yell your ear off about how if you don’t get good grades, you’ll be washing dishes at Denny’s with the other dumb Mexicans. You want to be cool and hang out with the little gangster kids across the street? La Doña isn’t going to let you become a good-for-nothing cholo that gives the rest of us Mexicans a bad name. She’ll go to their house, find you, and berate you in front of everybody with a combination of your name, swear words, your last name, and more swear words. Then she’ll grab you by the ear and drag your ass back home. Did you decide to get drunk and get your ass bounced out of the bar again? Don’t worry, La Doña will pick you up. The price: her beating the crap out of you for being tan estúpido. It doesn’t matter if you’re 27.

La Doña rules mostly with respect. Maybe she isn’t highly educated or well traveled, but her knowledge of how the real world works in invaluable. She has worked long, hard hours for low pay. She has seen life come into this world and has seen it leave. She has had her share of love and heartbreak, excitement and disappointment, happiness and sadness. She has selflessly put her family’s needs ahead of her own. She has made the right connections and has become a key figure in helping the family establish themselves in a new country.

La Doña knows how to get shit done and has connections who speak Spanish. Your ’92 Camry is having transmission trouble, but you don’t trust any of the gringo mechanics because they’re always looking to rip off Mexicans? Don’t worry; La Doña knows a guy who speaks Spanish and is trustworthy. You need a job? La Doña has a friend who owns a little taco shop and will hook you up. You’re traveling back to Mexico to visit? Just let La Doña make a couple of phone calls and you’ll have yourself a place to stay.

La Doña has more balls than most men. While many men willingly abandon their offspring, La Doña has more character in her right pinkie and will never let any child in her bloodline feel unloved. La Doña leads by example, never expecting anyone to do anything she isn’t willing to do herself. She’s the most levelheaded of the men and women in the family, often putting herself in the middle of their petty feuding to help find a solution so the family stays whole.

La Doña seems superhuman in the way she skillfully governs the chaos that is the Mexican family. Her fuel is her love for every member. Their trials are her trials. Their burdens are her burdens. Their success is her success. Their happiness is her happiness. She will have her favorite picture of you hanging up on some wall in her home. Even as you grow older and start building your own life, she will always worry about you because to her, you’re still esé niño who barely knows how to wipe his butt.

~Raul Felix
Read more of my work on Thought Catalog.

Politically Incorrect and Loving It

“I’d rape the living shit out of her,” is what comes out of my mouth when I see a hot chick walking down the street wearing some rather provocative clothing that causes my dick to bulge. I forget that phrase isn’t quite socially acceptable in the setting of a polite society. A feminist will probably say I’m encouraging rape culture just by uttering those words. Because of those words, I have shown that women are still being discriminated against and are being judged by misogynistic males, such as myself. That now I am directly responsible for any rapes that may occur because of it. Maybe I should say something along of the lines of “I find that female highly attractive, while I find her fashion of dress extremely alluring, it doesn’t give me the right to think I am entitled to have sex with her. I would, if given the opportunity, engage in consensual sexual intercourse that she, at any moment, has the right to stop.” Then I will be balls deep in politically correct pussy.

Maybe my mind has been warped by spending the formative years of my youth in the Army. Not just the Army, but in a combat arms unit full of solely males with too much testosterone, vanity, angst, and bloodlust. A place where “Fuck” and its many different variations is used more often than “the” and “a”. A place where being miserable, hating your life, being over worked and under paid is standard operating procedure. A place where going to war again and again is a fact of life. A place where being politically correct will get you eaten alive faster than a prepubescent girl at a pedophile convention. If you want that politically correct bull shit, go down the street to that support battalion full of females waiting to slam you with a sexual harassment charge.

I forget that most people don’t understand the uniquely vulgar and fucked sense of humor you acquire from just being a man with only men to talk to. A group of men who you tell the intricate details of the women you fuck, drunken and drug infused hijinks, the fights you were in, missions you were in, and the fucked up shit in your life. Most people spend their employment hours in politically correct bubbles where the most exciting conversation at the water cooler is that Cindi may have gone on a date with Brandon and how that’s against company fraternization policy.

I have devolved into an eloquent baboon. Nothing I say or think, as hard as I try, can be completely politically correct. I have lost that sense and probably need to take a women studies and cultural sensitivity class. While I do say those rapist words, I really don’t mean them. I mean I would just like to her fuck her brains out while pulling her hair, biting her neck, and spanking her ass raw, consensually of course. A woman with a college degree who is attractive, intelligent, and fast tracking through the corporate ladder can never simply be that. More likely she’s, “That smart ass bitch with a degree, total dick sucking lips, and amazing ass. She’s a fucking director at some company or some shit.” I can never ride my motorcycle through the Little Saigon area of Orange County without being terrified that some Vietnamese with shitty driving skills isn’t going to run me over. I can never look at a retard or a dead chick story on the news without thinking of the Ranger S&M Man song:

Who can take a retard,
7 stories high,
give him hits of acid,
then tell him he can fly

The S&M man, the S&M man,
the S&M man cause he mixes it with love
and makes the hurt feel good, makes the hurt feel good

Who can take a dead chick,
break into her tomb,
stab her in the gut,
then fuck the bloody womb

The S&M man, the S&M man,
the S&M man cause he mixes it with love
and makes the hurt feel good, makes the hurt feel good

Catchy ain’t it? The most horrid thing is that I’m laughing writing about that. Does that mean that I am waste of human flesh that should’ve ended up as a pearl neckless on my mother’s neck instead of being conceived and raised to be the insensitive man-child I am today? Probably. How dare I have a sense of humor that isn’t in line with a pre-approved list of acceptable subjects to laugh at? I made a sexist a joke. Oh fuck, I just punched the woman’s right movement in its clit and sent it back five years. A racist joke. Holy fuck, Martin Luther King Jr. is resurrecting from the grave and about to give me a stern talking to about judging a person by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Oh right, I have to be sensitive, because some peoples ego’s are so fragile that whatever little hint of criticism will send them spiraling into oblivion. I guess my first amendment rights don’t apply if they hurt your feelings.

Negro Community

I may be a lost cause for political correctness. I should probably do something about it before the baboon mind completely takes hold irrevocably. I got an idea. I’ll apply to a liberal arts college, I’ll make sure to put in my latino status on the FAFSA and give a good sob story on my essay about how I powered through adversity despite my poor Mexican roots. Once accepted, I’ll major in political science because instead of spending tens of thousands dollars on a real degree, I’ll just waste it on a major that teaches you in four years what you could learn by watching the Discovery and History Channel in a week. Then I will join various clubs and groups that empathize political protests and being politically correct. My peers will be a bunch of girls with hair on their armpits and boys who shave their armpits. I will then talk about how passionate I am about women’s rights or the ozone layer, depending which nets me the most liberated, feminist pussy that particular week. I will also spend a semester studying abroad to some place like Italy. I’ll bring it up in every conversation for the next two years and talk about how it changed me to my very core, when in reality, I just got drunk with my fellow study abroad students and banged two Italian chicks. Then, I will graduate, move to Portland, and say I’m an artist but never work on my craft. I’ll have pseudo-intellectual conversations with my fellow barista’s and customers. I will act like I’m too good for my little $9 an hour gig and hold it in contempt because I have a college education.

Cultured as fuck, mother fucker!

Cultured as fuck, mother fucker!

Or maybe, I can actually have a sense of humor and not give a fuck if I offend you. Maybe I’ll just live life on my own terms and decide what is proper to say and do and what isn’t on my own accord. Maybe, instead of hanging with someone because they are a certain race and thus will show I am not racist by having them as friend, I’ll hang with someone of a different race because I actually like them. Maybe, instead of worrying about who I offend and may not like me and delete me from their Facebook, I be myself and attract the kind of people who get me and like me for who I am. Maybe, when I travel, I will accept it for what it is: Seeing a bunch of pretty things during the day and getting so drunk you forget about it at night. Maybe, when I go to a coffee shop to write, I won’t make pseudo-intellectual conversation with anyone, and instead, shut the fuck up and actually work on my writing about my unreasonable lust of women. Speaking of which, there is a pretty cute chick sitting on the other side of the coffee shop. Man, I would rape the living shit out of her.

~Raul Felix

“You offended me! I demand to see your editor!” No, fuck you and read: Every Race is Worthless