Name: Trisha O’Bannon
Occupation: Sex columnist, freelance writer, bondage performer, burlesque queen, sex and body positivity advocate
Describes self as: I’m a loud, emotional mess, just trying to experience everything all at once and do some good in the world. I’m a call center supervisor by day, and self-confessed semi-professional hubadera hoe 24/7.
Why did you decide to take your chosen path and what did it take to get there?
I do a lot of things – spoken word, bondage, burlesque, and sex-positivity work. I’ve always had a stubborn streak, so it made perfect sense to me to pursue things that are shocking or loud, and that challenge a lot of the conservative views we grew up with. I was lucky enough to have a liberal hippie for a father who encouraged me to go against the grain, ask questions, and try everything once. I don’t think that this is exactly what he had in mind, but I know he’s proud of me nonetheless.
What are three of the most difficult challenges you’ve had so far?
Juggling the different things I’m doing, like finishing school, maintaining a stable career, and pursuing all of my different passions, sometimes takes a toll on my physical and mental health.
Money is always a challenge, especially because the things I love to do cost more than the money they bring in.
A few years ago, my self-confidence took a huge hit. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted out of life, much less how to achieve it. I spent every other day paralyzed and crying in bed. It was several slow and painful months before I had some sense of self. I’m still recovering from that really bad period in my life, and I relapse every so often if I don’t take care of myself, but it’s much easier now than it was before.
I can’t overstate how important it is to surround yourself with the right kind of people – the kind that know you’re a good person, will nurture you, and genuinely want what’s best for you. It was those people that taught me that I deserved better, I deserved happy. I also had to learn the value of taking much-needed breaks when everything is stressful and overwhelming.
What are three of your biggest life wins?
Being able to move out of my parents’ house and support myself financially – it allowed me the freedom to do what I’m doing now.
Finding friends and a significant other who love me for who I am, push me to achieve greater things, and can put up with all the emotions I have!
Discovering what it meant to me to be a sexual being really changed how I related to myself and others. It made me more empathetic, and helped me land my dream job as a sex columnist.
What is your biggest insecurity?
My body image is definitely one of the biggest things holding me back, which is funny because my body is the medium through which I express my art.
On the flip side, what do you love most about yourself?
I love that I’m an adventurous spirit. I love learning and trying new things, even if it absolutely terrifies me. I’m really open about the things I want to do, and the kind of person I am.
What is your idea of success?
My idea of success is directly tied to being happy. There are so many things I want to do in life, but there’s nothing I want more than to be content with what I have and happy with who I’ve become.
If you could go back and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Don’t let the bullies get to you; one day, you won’t even remember who they are, but they’ll never be able to escape you.
Off the top of your head, what are three most exciting things about being alive?
Learning new things, sharing new experiences with the people you love, and marveling at how different the world is today from yesterday.
If you could write your own eulogy, what anecdote from your life would you definitely include?
I want my funeral to be nothing more extravagant than my friends and family coming together for drinks and talking about how crazy and inspiring and sweet I was – so I’d want them to share what kind of gift baskets I’ve gotten for them over the years. I have a knack for personalized gift baskets.
What are the most important things you’ve learned about life so far?
Life isn’t always fun or fair; it can even be downright cruel, but always live with compassion and kindness and love – towards others and yourself.
What do you still have to improve on?
I need to work on how I feel about myself because that affects everything I do and how well I do it. I have to stop letting fear of failure hold me back, and I have to stop beating myself up for not being at the level I want to be.
What are you grateful for?
I’m extremely grateful to have the support of my friends and family, no matter how outrageous or defiant my endeavors get.
Where to next?
Hopefully, more workshops and platforms to spread sex-positivity! Me and a couple friends have set up a group called Now Open, and we’re looking to educate more people about kink, polyamory, and sex, as well as build supportive communities around these alternative lifestyles.
Connect with Trisha on Twitter @trishaobannon and Facebook fb.com/obannontrisha.
The Self-Makers is an interview series with brave and big-hearted individuals who have risen above overwhelming odds, whether by choice or circumstance, to “make it” in the world. Through a mix of insightful and lighthearted questions, they take us through their struggles, wins and lessons, and show us the different kinds of wonderful life and success can be.
I hope you can take the time to get to know our Self-Makers and find the encouragement to embrace your healthy idea of success and fulfilment. If you know someone who can be interviewed for this series (even if it’s you!), please reach out to me with their/your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.