Nigerian-born, Chicago-raised author and speaker Luvvie Ajayi Jones, encourages everyone to embrace their fears in her latest book, “Professional Troublemaker: The Fear Fighter Manual.” Already a New York Times best-selling author, Luvvie Ajayi Jones released her first book, “I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual,” in 2016. Known for her razor-sharp wit and social commentary, she is bold and unapologetic, and her fans love her for it.
The Whitney Young and The University of Illinois alum was born in Nigeria but raised in Chicago, the place she still calls home. She says Chicago is still her favorite city in the world citing the Silver Room Block Club Party as one of her favorite events. She began as a blogger over 15 years ago. Her successful blog, “Awesomely Luvvie,” offers hilarious and quick-witted critiques on everything pop culture and politics. In 2018, she launched her podcast titled “Rants and Randomness.” The podcast was an extension of her brand, covering all things pop culture. Each week viewers enjoy her thoughts, rants, and musings on everything happening in the world. Luvvie Ajayi Jones recently renamed the podcast “Professional Troublemaker.”
Her latest book, “Professional Troublemaker: The Fear Fighter Manual,” was released March 2. The book is a guide and lesson in tackling fear and living with boldness. Luvvie knows firsthand what it is like to struggle with fear. Having wrestled with imposter syndrome that could have stunted her professional growth, she decided to acknowledge her fear and press forward in spite of it. She believes it is life-changing.
The Chicago Defender had a chance to speak with this incredible creative about “Professional Troublemaker: The Fear Fighter Manual” and why being fearless is not the goal.
What is a Professional Troublemaker?
Luvvie: A professional troublemaker is somebody who is committed to disrupting for the greater good. They are truth-tellers, and people who know what they have to do may be difficult but necessary. They are the people who are at work or school who say, “Hey, we don’t like that idea, or it is not as thoughtful as it should be.” People who will say at the dinner table, “hey Uncle, that joke is not appropriate.” Or the people who tell their friends, “let’s have a difficult conversation.”
They are necessary. Professional troublemakers save us from ourselves. If you don’t have somebody in the room who is speaking up and telling the truth, that’s when things become a “dumpster fire”. Who’s making sure you are showing up as good as possible? I think professional troublemakers do just that.
So much is said about being fearless, but in your book, you are saying the opposite. Why did you want to write about fear in your latest book?
Luvvie: I realized the way we talk about fear is not as honest as it should be. We need to talk about fear in a real way. We will never stop being afraid, but we have to move forward regardless of the fear. We must do the thing that feels tough anyway. I realized in the times in my life where I’ve been afraid, and I’ve stopped myself from doing what was necessary, I didn’t grow. I missed out on opportunities I could have said yes to. But when I say, “I’m afraid,” but I keep going anyway, I win.
“I tell my story because I want someone to see themselves in me. I want someone else to be able to say, “Because Luvvie went through this thing, came out on the other side, and gave us the cheat codes, I can move forward.” Our lives don’t exist just for us. If our journeys don’t lead to someone else’s ease, then what was our hardship for”?
You speak very candidly about imposter syndrome. Why were you afraid to call yourself a writer? How do you deal with Imposter syndrome?
Luvvie: For a long time, I didn’t call myself a writer because it felt so big. I was afraid of what came with that title. I mean, Toni Morrison is a writer. To call myself the same thing felt like a big shoe to put on. We are thinking we aren’t worth it, or we don’t have the credentials.
Imposter syndrome is useful when we use it to drive us forward, but not when we use it to stop us from doing the things we are supposed to be doing. The rooms you think you don’t belong in don’t exist because you are in them. You’ve made your way in. While you are there, find value.
You wrote the book “Professional Troublemaker” in the middle of a pandemic. How were you able to create amid such a chaotic year?
Luvvie: I was shell-shocked initially with everything going on in the world for a hot second. I felt convicted to write. The fact that I had to write a book about fear in the middle of a pandemic was very meta. I felt like I needed the book right then. I needed this book that I was writing. I felt a sense of urgency. So, after I procrastinated for a couple of weeks, I got to work. I knew I had a job to do that selfishly was for me. I needed this book.
When I finished it, I knew this book would give someone power because it gave me power.
How do you deal with your fear?
Luvvie: I have to know that what is important goes beyond what I am afraid of. I ask myself the three questions:
- Do I mean it?
- Can I defend it?
- Can I say it thoughtfully?
What do you want readers to take away from “Professional Troublemaker”?
Luvvie: I want you to walk away knowing you can take action today and something good can come from it.
“Professional Troublemaker: The Fear Fighter Manual” is available now from independent books stores here and on all major bookseller websites. Follow Luvvie Ajayi Jones on Twitter and Instagram @Luvvie and Facebook @AwesomelyLuvvie.
Danielle Sanders is a writer and journalist living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSandersOfficial.