Photo: Kenzie Ferguson//empowermentphotographer.com

Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hi! I’m excited to be here right now! I identify as a fat, queer, creative. My pronouns are she/ her. I’m a painter and a writer—creator of xoxolib.com and co-creator of &/Both Magazine. I live in Central Kansas with my partner and our pets. We spend a lot of our free time sitting outside on the porch, soaking in the sun or watching reruns of The Office, together.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Let it go.
It applies to everything, really. Am I having really big feelings that I’m trying to suppress? Let it go. Let those feelings happen—they’ll work themselves out so much faster than when you’re fighting it. Am I implementing self-harming techniques in order to fit in with what society seems to want from me? Let it go. Be who you are—it’s more freeing. Are you growing your hair out for some reason that you don’t understand even though you’re envious of everyone on Instagram with an undercut? Let it go! Cut your hair! Let it all go.

What message do you think every woman should hear?
You are enough just as you are.
Now, I don’t know if every person is always in the right frame of mind to hear it—which is why I’m saying it all the time always! I want everyone to feel like they’ve got permission to quit trying to fit into a certain mold of what kind of a person they’re supposed to be and just start living as they are. It can take a long time to figure out who that is, but it’s a worthy journey.

What is your favorite thing about where you live?
I love so much about where I live. First of all, it’s smack dab in the middle of Kansas. We’re about an hour from the beautiful Flint Hills and at the right time of year, we’re surrounded on all sides by sunflower fields.
Kansas, politically speaking, has its downsides. But I’m not leaving. I’m excited about engaging in my community and blooming where I was planted.
I live in a small town called McPherson and I love this place. There are so many cool, young entrepreneurs bringing fresh life into our town. I, myself, am so excited to say that I work part time for a young, female store owner who’s not only a savvy business person but someone who’s excited about the empowerment and betterment of marginalized people everywhere.
People have a lot to say about Millennials but I have to say that the Millennials in my town are putting the ax to the grindstone and making this world that we share into an awesome place.  

What do you love most about yourself?
I love the way that I’ve started saying “yes” to myself and to new opportunities. Last year I decided that I wanted to stop saying “no” to things that I knew I wanted to do but was afraid of. Because of that, I’ve had so many new, incredible experiences open up to me. In the past year, I helped to create an incredible art and literature magazine, I got to explore my queerness instead of running from it, I modeled in my underwear for an incredible photographer, I joined teams that I would ordinarily be too intimidated to participate in, and I have gotten really, really personal on my blog. This is just everything I can think of off the top of my head but there are so many other cool experiences that I got to have just because I stopped letting fear dictate my life choices.

What motivates you most?
Probably my own freedom. There have been times where this freelance life has gotten pretty overwhelming and I’ve thought to myself, “Eh… I’ll just quit and go back to a regular, reliable 9-5 gig.” But I can’t even finish that thought before a new one floods in, reminding me that I’d have to give up a lot of freedom to make that happen. And not only that but every 9-5 job I’ve ever had has left me sick, depleted, and creatively dead. So as hard as this hustle is, it’s so much more fulfilling than anything else I’ve ever done. It’s not for everyone but it’s for me and I know it’s a privilege that I don’t want to take for granted. Just remembering that I’m doing what I was made to do is enough to keep me fueled through the tricky parts.

How do you manage your work-life balance?
Before I primarily worked from home, I thought that it would be really easy to have a work-life balance because I, like, worked at home? So, what’s the big deal? But in reality, it’s actually something I struggled with for a long time. Turns out, it’s actually quite hard to turn off work-brain when you work where you sleep.
My partner works a 9-5 job and I usually try to make a point that when he’s at work, I’m in work-mode, too. That means I don’t turn on the television and I’m writing or working on marketing or returning emails or even taking care of the house—but I’m never in lounge mode. Unless I can tell that’s what I’m going to need in order to get my best work done later on. I try to pay close attention to my intuition—that’s what’s going to give me my best work.
But once Ryan is home from work, it’s family time. I close my laptop, I don’t return business-related texts or emails. I’ve had to draw some hard boundaries with other people who don’t have the same “office hours” I do, but I’ve learned this is what works best for me.

What is your favorite meal?
Oh this is my favorite question. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Toast is my most favorite food. On my perfect day, I’ll have two slices of homemade, toasted sourdough bread. One with lots of salted butter and another one with smashed avocado, black pepper and a lemon squeeze and then for dessert—an overly ripe Colorado Peach in August.

What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
I make sure that I’m following the right people on my social media. I don’t follow anyone who makes me feel bad about myself. I follow people who want to make the world a better place and people who are free and unapologetically themselves. I follow writers and artists who inspire me and keep me thinking.

What is something on your bucket list?
I have a lot of things on my bucket list! Like, I really want to visit the fjords of Iceland. I want to open an art gallery full of work that is affordable in order to make beautiful art more accessible to a wider range of people. I want to make homemade pasta. I want to take a road trip along the whole west coast of the US. I want to wear a crop top in public without even thinking about it.

What are your biggest passions?
My biggest passions are all centered around truth. I want, more than anything, for people to find out who they are and what makes them unique and beautiful and important and I want them to live their lives whole and free. And I wake up every day wondering how I can do this more in my own life, and how I can help other people to do this, too.
Right now that looks like me writing on my blog, connecting with people over social media, and being myself unapologetically.

I believe that honesty is contagious and that’s why I tell my whole and complete story for all to see—it gives other people permission to do the same and I really think that the world will operate at its best and most peaceful self when everyone embraces themselves wholly and completely. Yeah, that’s pretty idealistic but I’m pretty idealistic, so.

More About Libby

Libby Monaghan identifies as a fat, queer, creative. She is a painter and a writer—creator of xoxolib.com and co-creator of &/Both Magazine.
Libby lives in Central Kansas with her partner and their pets. They spend a lot of their free time sitting outside on the porch, soaking in the sun or watching reruns of The Office, together.