Commentary: Do Your Worst Like Tracee Ellis Ross

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 22:  Actress Tracee Ellis Ross attends Mercedes-Benz USA and African American Film Critics Association Academy Awards viewing party on February 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz USA)

Commentary: Do Your Worst Like Tracee Ellis Ross

The kind of illogical, absolutely brilliant philosophy we should all adopt.

Published June 24, 2015

Ask a lot of women what they think about Tracee Ellis Ross and they will use the word “best” in their answer. Best sitcom actress on TV today! Best wardrobe! Best hair! Best attitude! Best, best, best. So it’s surprising that Ross claims that she got to be her best by being her worst.

In an interview with NY Mag, she got honest about how she had to go low to get to her higher self. And her words are ones that can help every woman who has ever been hard on herself — which is, let’s be honest, just about every woman.

“Everyone's always like, 'Be your best self!' And that drives me bananas, because when you're not, it makes you feel really bad,” Ross said. “And so someone asked me the other day, 'When are you your best self?' and I said, "When I make space for my worst self." Ross’s worst self is probably wearing an insanely amazing vintage dress from her mom’s closet, but fashion fabulousness aside, that woman is just her — her "worst self" is how she is when she’s alone, the woman she was afraid to be in front of others.

Sometimes, Ross says, that woman does great things and other times it is pretty dismal. But at the end of the day, it is always authentic and leads to the experience she was meant to have. “My standard of perfection often paralyzes me, or makes me terrified, or makes me feel ashamed," she said. "Instead, if I can make space for the idea that the goal is not to be perfect, but the goal is to be me, then I get to revel in the mixed bag of what it is to be a human.” 

For Ross, the realization to let her true self out helped her let go of the need to be perfect and she says it changed her life and led to a breakthrough way of seeing her career (its ups, downs and in-betweens). So that might not mean we should all be going around doing our Beyoncé private solo dance performances in the office, but it does mean that we should be as Sasha Fierce in a board meeting as we are when we’re in the mirror practicing at home. 

It also helped her realize that there was absolutely nothing wrong with being single and 42-years-old without kids in a culture that still pushes women to believe that the happily ever after comes with a man and a baby. She got her happily ever after by answering this question, she said: “Am I looking for my partner, or am I actually on a quest to live a fulfilling life, and hope that by me doing that, I find a match?”

The takeaway that we can all commit to memory and then apply to our lives is to lower the bar on our way-too-high expectations of ourselves and then revel in the freedom of living naturally and authentically — however that looks.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.



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(Photo: Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz USA)

Written by Ayana Byrd

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