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She Does What She Wants (Self-Respect)

The Song

The Story

She Does What She Wants – Lyrics

Some people ask if I have babies on the mind.
At 40 I shouldn’t be taking my time.
They tell me how they had their first at 22
and there’s no more important job I’ll ever do.
And I thank them in kind for their good advice.
Promise to talk to my partner tonight.
Walk away feeling like a debutante.
In the end, I’m gonna do what I want.
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
You can call me selfish you can call me naïve.
You can tell me all the reasons I’ll never succeed.
Up until now, I just chose to believe
everybody had the answers except for me.
And so I choose not to argue or taunt.
I just smile and nod and then do what I want.
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
Sure it doesn’t always work to my advantage.
Some bosses like to micromanage.
But as soon as they leave, I just get the job done.
Doing it…they way that I want.
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
Some say I shouldn’t write my silly hip-hop rap.
They say “come on Ang, you’re better than that”.
And shouldn’t you be thinking 
how you’re gonna retire?
Buck and admit your career has expired.
And I thank them in kind for their advice on art.
Hold my tongue to make ‘em look smart.
Completely agree I have no money to flaunt.
Then I head to the mic and do what I want.
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
As I get older I’ve come to depend
on everybody’s advice being great for them.
But I’m one of a kind. Personalized.
I’ve got my own set of values, truths, and lies.
And I can listen as long and as hard as I can
to someone else’s version of my master plan.
I’ll smile and nod from here to Vermont.
But trust me on this: I’m gonna do what I want.
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
She does what she wants
She does what she wants

 “Creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence.” 

~ Osho 

There’s something moving in this time of chaos. So many secrets bubbling to the surface of society. Monuments are coming down, businesses are being closed, conduct is being observed, and transparency is being demanded. Many leaders are falling. Many voices are speaking. Many are dividing… countries, neighbours, friends and even families. There are varying levels of fear from within our own social circles. Opinions are strong. Self-righteousness seems to be at an all-time high. It’s interesting to watch people express themselves so fervently. But then, isn’t that what freedom should look like? Shouldn’t we all be allowed to have different opinions without fear of expressing them?

She Does What She Wants was written as a bit of a self-indulgent joke, but like most jokes, it holds a lot of truth. It is an expression of who I am, who I want to become, and a reminder of the freedom I have to do what I want even when others don’t agree or approve. 

When I was in the first grade, our commanding teacher, Mrs. Allen, left the classroom for a few minutes to speak to another teacher. Before she left, she warned the class to remain silent and finish our work. She wasn’t even gone a minute when the first eraser flew across the room. Seconds later, erasers, paper planes, and pencils were being launched in all directions. Kids were running, chairs and desks were being dragged across the floor, and by the time Mrs. Allen returned, her grade 1 class was complete MAYHEM. She stood in the doorway with a look of disdain. We all zipped our lips and scurried back to our seats, terrified of what was going to happen next. 

“Who in this class was talking?” Mrs. Allen asked with a firm tone, arms folded in front of her chest. We all looked at each other in fear, but no one moved a muscle or said a word. It was as though we’d all turned to stone.

“I asked you a question!” she commanded even louder. Just as I thought her tone couldn’t get any more authoritative, she repeated, “Who in this class was talking?” 

Suddenly, I could feel my little arm raising meekly into the air. I had assumed we were ALL going to collectively raise our hands since EVERYONE was talking. To my horror, no one else budged! I stared at my closest friends, signalling them to put up their hands with me. They looked away as though they didn’t know me. If I had known what the word “betrayal” meant back then, I definitely would have used it that day. 

“Angie? You were talking?” Mrs. Allen zoned in on me.

“Yes,” I said quietly even though I felt like screaming at the entire class for betraying me. 

“Go to the office then!”  

These were the most dreaded words a grade 1 student could ever hear. I’d certainly never heard them before this day. I was petrified. As I walked to the principal’s office, I could only imagine all the dreadful things that were going to happen to me once I arrived. By the time I entered her office, I was in hysterics. My side of the conversation was a flurry of scream-crying as I desperately tried to explain that the ENTIRE class had been talking, not just me. She told me to sit in the office and wait until Mrs. Allen arrived so we could discuss my punishment.

In the end, my punishment for talking in class was that I was going to have to stand against “The Wall” (the infamous “bad-kid” wall where all the wrong-doers stood for the entire duration of recess while all the other kids played). I was mortified! On that particular day, I was the youngest kid in school to stand against The Wall with all of the lawbreakers from the higher grades. I was terrified the entire time, but I paid my penance quietly with anger brewing in my belly. I was angry at Mrs. Allen for the unfairness of her judgment, but I was even angrier at my classmates for letting me take the fall for them. 

When I returned home from school that afternoon, more scream-crying ensued as I told my parents what happened. They both laughed lovingly. They commended me for telling the truth. My Dad tried to explain that Mrs. Allen needed to “make an example” of me to show the other students what happens to kids who disobey. This marked my very first glimpse into psychology. Although I didn’t fully understand it at the time, I was already starting to see that there was some kind of “smoke and mirrors” to the way people manipulated and controlled each other.  

I returned to school the next day still feeling confused by Mrs. Allen’s actions and by my parents’ explanation of why she did what she did. I expected Mrs. Allen to keep up the facade of treating me like a lawbreaker, but she didn’t. Instead, she greeted me at the classroom door with a big smile and eyes that looked straight into mine. Whatever had happened the day before, it was over. Today was a new beginning. I breathed a sigh of relief as soon as I realized I wasn’t going to be treated any differently. 

I decided my parents must have been right and that Mrs. Allen needed a scapegoat to show the class what happens to kids who step out of line. This rationale allowed me to see her differently and from that point on, I felt like Mrs. Allen and I had a secret between us. I knew I had helped her, but many years would pass before I realized how much she’d helped me. For starters, after experiencing The Wall first-hand, I was no longer afraid of it (which worked out well because I ended up there quite a few times in the following years). Sometimes, the fear of punishment is worse than the punishment itself. Secondly, other than Mrs. Allen and my classmates, no one else knew why I was being punished so they made their own assumptions. This meant that, according to the rest of the school, I was a bad-ass grade 1 kid. I didn’t particularly want this reputation, but it wasn’t my choice.  This taught me that people are not judging you on who you actually are, but on who they think you are. Everyone sees the world through their own lenses and we have no control over how they see us. Lastly, as I stood against The Wall watching my friends in the schoolyard, I could see the guilt in some of their eyes for letting me take the fall. I innately knew that even though I was the one being punished, I was more free than they were. I had no secret to hide.

It was my first taste of rebellion and there was something delicious about it.

The rest of my grade school years would be filled with wild outfits, horrendous talent show performances (unchoreographed dance routines in spandex suits that made my mother cringe), and a few more visits to The Wall. Then in high school, I adopted some teenage angst, trying to find my place in the world and feeling misunderstood. For the most part, I did my best to fit in and I rarely shared my opinions unless they matched everyone else’s. But, once I hit my twenties, I was back at involuntarily “raising my hand” and hoping I would not be punished for it. I abandoned my formal education for a career in music in the totally frightened yet, unable-to-stay-on-course way that I eventually grew to accept about myself. (see Chapter 1 “All Your Courage”). As I approached my thirties, I found a bit more self-control and relied on wit and sarcasm to explain my often controversial decisions and ideas. I learned about the power of setting boundaries and gained the confidence to back them up without apologies. I could feel the strength of conviction building in me as I stood in my own opinions, even in the face of disapproval. In my early 30s, I no longer felt the need to express my boundaries so intensely. Instead, I started using vague phrasing or pre-packaged responses when it came to saying no. I’d say things like: “Please don’t be offended. I’m a ‘NO’ person. I just say NO to everything.” Or, “I’m an elusive person. I don’t always stay in touch.” I suppose, at times, I was still a bit scared of upsetting people and ending up on The Wall. 

I wrote “She Does What She Wants” in my late thirties at a stage in life when I no longer felt the need to defend my opinions or justify myself. I didn’t want or need to expend energy trying to get people to understand or agree with me. So, instead of explaining myself to them, I’d smile, nod, act agreeable, and then did what I wanted. 

Since writing She Does What She Wants, I’ve come to soften my actions even more. The act of nodding and agreeing while internally disagreeing tends to carry the frequency of contempt and inauthenticity. This is not something I want to perpetuate. So, whenever possible, I try to lean into the idea that I might not be right…about anything. In fact, it’s very possible that I’m wrong. In this world full of division, I try to loosen my grip on my own opinions. Doing what I want has taken on a different meaning. I do what I want by following my heart, but I am careful not to trick myself into thinking I’m perfectly right in my choices.  And, I’ve worked hard to allow space and acceptance for being wrong and for changing my mind many times over. 

I continued to check-in with Mrs. Allen long after I finished first grade. I visited her class from time to time to let her know how my classes were going. She always seemed to have time to listen and she became a powerful role model. Her strong, decisive, unapologetic yet compassionate nature made her easy to like. I could trust her. She did what she wanted and although mistakes were made, she was quick to forgive both herself and others. 

As I get older, I realize that doing what we want doesn’t have to look like rebellion and it doesn’t always mean we’re doing the “right” thing. It’s simply a way of taking risks and then taking responsibility for our choices. Mrs. Allen never actually apologized for using me as an example that day but, in her own funny way, she made it up to me. Some apologies are given without words. In fairness, I never apologized to her either…after realizing that raising my hand totally screwed up her strategy for quieting the class. It’s obvious to me now that she knew the entire class had been misbehaving and she wasn’t looking for a confession when she asked WHO was talking, but instead was trying to produce an effect. Up until that day, the simple act of asking authoritatively had been enough to scare any grade 1 student into compliance. My hand-raising was an anomaly and Mrs. Allen handled it as best she could given the unexpected circumstance. For the remainder of grade 1 (and possibly her career), Mrs. Allen never again used the same tactic to quiet the class.  

It was suggested, by more than one person, that I leave She Does What She Wants off of this album. It doesn’t match… it doesn’t fit in… it stands out from the rest of the songs on the album. And that’s one of the reasons I love it so much: the song combined with the production sounds like a joke (note the flute solo playing throughout…I laughed and laughed). And it IS a joke…but then, aren’t most things? 

I took these opinions into consideration but, in the end, I did what I wanted! Nowadays, it’s pretty hard to scare me into changing my master plan. I’ve already stood against The Wall. I’ve already been judged based on assumptions and inaccuracies many times over and I’m still standing. And, most importantly, I know that freedom is the opportunity to take chances even if I might be wrong. 

We live in a world full of differences. We started off in large populations divided by race, religion, social issues, and economy. But, lately, the division has begun to show up closer to home within our own social circles and families with growing differences in opinions and ethical ideals. It is my current belief that we’re evolving into a species that will, one day, allow each other the freedom to think, believe, and act how we want. And the result won’t be a perfectly conformed world…it will look a lot like art. 

It seems to me that if ever there was a time to do what I want, it is now…on this album called “I Have No Idea What I’m Doing”…for this song called “She Does What She Wants.” 

Content Edits: Lise Leblanc
Copy Edits: Quentin Evans, Pat Lang, Del Nussey


Thanks to the many friends and fans who contributed their versions of “
She Does What She Wants” to create this video collage of fun photos! 

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