• Tough Titties

    Laura Belgray Author Tough Titties Book Quotes Ally Brennan Website Archive Essays BlogTitle: Tough Titties

    Author: Laura Belgray

    Read In: 2023

    Description: Coming-of-age essays on growing up in New York in the 80’s, being a late bloomer when it came to finding a passion and a career, and her decision to not have kids.

    Purchase: Bookshop.org (affiliate link)


    Favorite Quotes:


    Be a disappointment for a while. It could be the best thing you do for your future.

    Jim asked me what I wanted to do with my life. People love this question when you’re just out of college, as if there’s a code on your diploma you can scan at checkout to get your Life Plan.

    One day in May, a full year into my “job search,” my phone rang at ten a.m. Okay, it might have been eleven. “Sorry yo wake you,” my friend Jody said.

    “No, I was awake.” Total lie. It’s been out ’til four and had planned to rise at the crack of noon.

    Now that I’ve achieved it, I can confirm, getting paid to express yourself is nirvana. On the other hand, when you’re starting out, settling for nothing less than work that aligns with your soul purpose and provides a valve for your greatest gifts can make finding a job somewhat tricky.

    For the rest of summer, I went back to my non-working life. Sleep late, work out, watch TV, eat, buy crop tops, nap, go out ’til four a.m., repeat. All without the nagging thought, “What am I gonna do with my life?” My father no longer asked if I was “making any headway.” The only thing better than a great job? A great job on the horizon.

    It was my first time earning an income for writing in my own voice, as myself. Being paid for self-expression became, and remained, my definition of bliss.

    It’s rare and lucky for someone to offer you money to show up and be you. “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Yeah, duh. Give me something to do that I love, and I’m there. It’s what I’ve spent my whole career looking for and—fine, with varying degrees of effort and initiative—working toward.

    I didn’t know it, but I was looking for what the Japanese would call my ikigai, my “reason for being.”

    Steven wouldn’t tolerate a glossy self-help paperback in full view on our shelves. New-Agey—script font personal development covers, which people now send me unsolicited for review, were and still are a “no.” When he unboxes them for me, his face crinkles in mock sorrow. Plus, he’d worry if he saw me come home with the title. While he was all for me finding my thing, he distrusted anything that might take away my “edge.” When I went on antidepressants, he claimed I didn’t seem like myself. “I like you crazy,” he said.

    People say you “deserve everything you desire,” but then get so upset when you express a desire for money, especially easy money.

    I got the idea of loving what is, but what was wrong with wanting more?

    Should I, or shouldn’t I? Rather than a fertility journey, I went through a decision journey. No hormone injections, no husband whacking off in a sterile room to sticky porn mags and bottling his man jam, no devastating calls from a physician about unviable embryos. Just years of uncomfortable fence sitting.

    You’re not supposed to want that life out of the gate, though. You’re supposed to earn it by powering through the kid years and then becoming an empty nester. Living large, without peanut butter and jelly on everything you own, is a luxury meant for people with salt-and-pepper hair who relax in side-by-side tubs. You may enjoy the kid-free life only when you’ve paid your dues and hit the age of needing help with your boner.

    Until then, you’re to focus on the pursuit of “Having It All.” No woman’s Having It All kit is complete without:

    A happy marriage;

    A successful, meaningful career;

    Plenty of playtime with her kids.

    Feeling fully expressed is what keeps me going.

    One day, I got so much engagement, I told Marie, “Holy shit, my blog post today is going viral!” She asked how many shares. I couldn’t believe it, but… seventy! To me, that was viral. And with my email list of nearly two hundred subscribers? In my mind, I was Lady Gaga. Had I known how small potatoes I was, I probably would have felt behind, said “What’s the point, and given up. I wish this cluelessness for anyone starting out. Ignorance isn’t just bliss, it’s confidence.

    Helping these clients required a skill that came easily to me: writing the way I talked, instead of the way we were taught to write in school—and helping them write the way they talked, too. Most people have a problem breaking rules; it happens to be where I soar.

    As business-geeky as this sounds, once I found the right outlet, blog posts and emails, I did become obsessed. Especially since I could write about whatever was obsessing me. I grew self-assured, which kept me in a groove. As my friend Susie says, “Confidence is the best productivity hack.” For me, it’s confidence plus obsession.


    I’ll start by acknowledging how hard this book—my first—kicked my hiney. It made me cry for Mama, beg for mercy, question my talents and existence, chow fistfuls of CVS kettle corn, and pluck hairs that weren’t there. I finally understood why people do drugs, voiced that thought aloud, then promised I didn’t mean it, though I did order a shroom chocolate bar over the Internet because a friend said it gave her lasting clarity. Tried it, and… meh.