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Six Life Lessons I Got From RuPaul’s Drag Race

I’m not sure what it is about RuPaul’s Drag Race that I love so much. I’m about as far from being a fashionista as you can get. Geeky tee-shirts and jeans are more my style. But here I am, binge-watching the most fabulous drag queens serving realness, throwing shade, and wearing the most ridiculous outfits anyone can imagine. AND I LOVE IT.
And you know, when I talk to the girls on the screen– I mean, c’mon. If anyone can hear me calling across the distances of time and space, it would be these Glamazons. But yeah, when I’m talking to them  through the screen, there are a couple of things I find myself shouting season after season, and the weird thing is, that with just a little twerk tweak here and there, the same things apply to me as I learn more and more about how to survive in the “real world” jungle.

 

1. OMG! Learn to sew! Like, before the cameras roll.

Come on, girls! We are in Season 7! Every single season, the first challenge is to create haute couture out of random material: curtains, party props, garbage. Stop whining that you hate hoe-downs. You’d better werk… with what ya got. The people weeded out at the very beginning are the ones who insist on their own incompetence and refuse to step up to the challenge. Stop bitching or Sashay Away.

Life translation:

When you volunteer for a new adventure/career/whatever, there are skills that you are going to need, that even people on the outside know you are going to need. If you’re signing up to do the thing, get the damn skills. You don’t need to be an expert, but have a general idea of what you’re doing. You’ll get the polish and the finesse along the way, but you need to show that you want to be there, and that means stepping out of your comfort zone. Learning a new skill is a great way to do that.

2. Learn to love the hoe-down.

This one really baffles me. I may have heard of RuPaul (a drag queen with a talk show?) before the show began, but I knew nothing of her personality until Drag Race hit the air. By the end of season two, I was very clear on this: RuPaul loves All Things Country and hoe-downs. Seriously, it’s amazing how many queens are not getting this. If you’re going to be on HER show, you’re going to be working with podunk. Materials, props, situations, scripts, food, music– in some way, ol’ fashioned Country is going to be worked into the show at least three times. Cowgirl up!

Life translation:

Your host / boss / guide / lover / friend is going to be quirky and LOVE some things that you just don’t get. Like, at all. You can either fight it or embrace it, the choice is yours, but understand that there are consequences to your actions. If you Fight It, you may very well present yourself as anywhere from unbending to a downright Shady Bitch. Either way, you distance yourself from someone who you want or need in your life, if only for the time being. On the other hand, if you embrace it, maybe you’ll learn something new– even if it’s only, “No, I really do hate this as much as I thought I would,” but at least you are showing a willing attitude. People like that. Bosses like that. Lovers appreciate that. And your little, tiny world has grown just a little, tiny bit more. That’s always a good thing.

3. The judges are offering you critiques to help you. Stop defending yourself and listen.

OMG! Stop saying you’re just being true to who you are, bitches! You think the judges don’t know that? Of course they get it: you are drag queens on national TV, gurls; you are already being true to yourself. But you can only see so much in a mirror. They are offering you tips so that the next time you look in the mirror, you’ll see what the rest of us see. These are people who have some sort of experience with the road you’re trying to travel. They are experts in something (even if it’s just being a regular audience member watching a professional entertainer on the stage.) Shaddup and listen, so that you can shine!

Life translation:

We all have experts in our life, in things that we want to do better at. Stop telling them why you made this choice and instead listen to why you shouldn’t do that again. OR… continue to make that choice, which will definitely make you an expert also– in the consequences of bad choices.

4. Stop relying on your body-ody-ody!

Nice ass! But seriously, how many times has Michelle Visage told you and told you? We already know you look beautiful / fierce / weird / alternative. The competition is to show your range. Showing us your same strengths week after week is BORING, no matter how much fish you’re serving. Try something different and get your hands dirty. Surprise us! If you’re werking it, it’ll work. The Next Drag SuperStar needs to have range, and to be able to enjoy herself, even when things look impossible!

Life Translation

We all have strengths. When we are feeling our weakest, it’s our strengths we turn to, to carry us through the hard parts. The thing is, usually the “hard parts” are helping us strengthen the parts of us we’re not used to using. By definition, this would be both difficult and rewarding. But you only get the reward after the work. Self-improvement is not one of those competitions where you get a medal just for showing up.

5. There are two kinds of people: those who like the brass ring, and those who have no other choice.

Nowhere have I seen it more clearly than with Drag Race: there are people who want that crown, and there are people who want the cash prize. Raven is my prime example, but you see it every season. The Final Four are up in front of the Judges’ Panel, and Ru asks each of them in turn, “Why do you want the crown?” The answers that win are the ones talking about being an example to the kids who don’t know who they are yet, the ones who want to use their fame to inspire someone else.
You can tell by their speeches at the end which one is which. Hell, you can tell by the Sickening Six who is ready to commit to doing whatever it takes to win, rather than doing what it takes as long as it doesn’t include THAT (whatever THAT is– singing live, sewing, going outside in drag, whatever.) The ones who feel defeated in the Werk Room are the ones writing notes on the mirror at the end of the episode.

Life Translation

We all have our brass rings dangling in front of us. What I have witnessed, in my own life and witnessing others live theirs, is that there is a difference between wanting a thing and refusing to take no for an answer. Which one do you think gets the brass ring?

6. OMG Stop whining! Nobody cares!

What is up with these queens who keep announcing that they’ve never sung in front of an audience before? Really? Have you not been watching the show for the last six seasons? Because you’re gonna have to get your (gorgeous) lip-syncing ass up in front of a live audience and sing and dance. If you don’t want to be doing this, then maybe you don’t want the crown as badly as you thought you did. Because those other bitches are ready to push you off of their path to glory.

Life Translation

You know what? Life is full of challenges. Cowgirl up and get goin’, because no one (except your mom) wants to hear your troubles— everyone else is too busy dealing with their own. You haven’t done everything this world has to offer— no one expects you to know what you’re doing every step of the way. They DO expect you to show up on time and with a smile. If you can do that, you’ve nailed the bit that most people trip over. Tell your Honey your woes at the end of the day, but when you’re up on stage, you’d better have your game face on, or you’ll stand out by being the only one who doesn’t.

BONUS. We are all stars.

What blows me away about this competition, is that immediately after a queen has been eliminated, Ru’s last words to them are words of inspiration and empowerment. In fact, she closes every show with more inspiration. I love that she is not there to tear people down, but to lift them up.

Life Translation

Remember your worth. It’s not your value to others, it’s your value to yourself. You ARE a star, if you only remember to shine.

“And remember, if you can’t love yourself, how in the HELL are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen?”