At age 39 Amanda Jette Knox, who uses the moniker The Maven of Mayhem online, is going through a self-professed period of transition. She said that she never really expected that her life would turn out this way, “I’m not where younger me thought I would be, and yet I wouldn’t change a thing. I love that life still surprises me.”  After the past year, which has included milestones such as winning a journalism award and earning her high school diploma, Amanda has come to realize that she will in fact never have life all figured out, “It has been a whirlwind in so many ways. I’m still processing [the year], to be honest.”

Honesty is an important trait to Amanda and it is a quality she works hard to imbue in every interaction she has, be it through her blog or in person. “Authenticity is important to me. I tried to be someone I thought people would like more for so many years, until I realized I could only be me. Trying to be someone else is exhausting,” she stated when asked why she specifically values integrity. On her blog, some might say that Amanda is not being herself since she goes by The Maven of Mayhem instead of ‘owning’ her name and identity but that is not how she sees it. The Maven of Mayhem is a part of Amanda’s personality that she felt rarely had a chance to shine and now it does – she is more authentic now than she was before she began blogging.

Amanda emphasized that she is more interested in people, flaws and all, than in their social media presence or any other societal construct used to qualify members of the human race, “Just be who you are. We try so hard to Instagram our lives into perfection, to show only the shiny stuff. I’m trying to embrace every part of the human experience, including the not-so-great stuff. And you know what? It’s surprisingly liberating.” While The Maven of Mayhem has certainly helped her to accept and even embrace her world in a more positive way Amanda maintains that her greatest challenge to contentment is often herself. “My greatest challenge is my inner critic. At times it can be so loud, and it affects all aspects of my life, from parenting to writing to relationships,” but she does note that these days, “[The] positive side of me is so much stronger. My greatest triumph is finally accepting that this inner voice is always going to be there—that it’s a part of me—and learning to put it in its place. I will literally tell it to shut up sometimes.”

As a proud, self-professed human rights advocate Amanda has dealt with her own fair share of critics – and with her inner critic under control for the most part, she has consistently devoted her time to fighting for the rights of others. There are several causes that are especially close to her heart though, and these are ones that she consistently returns to discuss as The Maven of Mayhem. One of the causes Amanda has turned her attention to over the past few years is the cause of trans rights, specifically in relation to children, because two years ago her daughter, Alexis, came out as transgender. When asked about her role as an advocate Amanda said, “The trans community does a great job at advocating for themselves. I’m always happy to lend my voice, of course, but I do it with the knowledge that I need to listen more than I need to speak. This is their journey, and I’m an ally.” She cites her daughter as her inspiration and identifies all three of her children as models of what unconditional love looks like, “Alexis and her brothers have shown me what true, unconditional love looks like. There was no pause in my boys’ acceptance of their sister; it was automatic and heartfelt. If I ever felt pride as a mother, it was the moment Jackson and Aerik wrapped their arms around Alexis after she told them. I’ll never forget that moment.”

There are not many moments that have occurred since Amanda began to blog that she is likely to forget, be they thorny memories or rosy ones, as The Maven of Mayhem she embraces them all. Currently, between living her life as a woman, an advocate, a mother, and a wife, she is also attempting to find the time to complete her book. Sadly, she has come to terms with the realization that, “Apparently, life doesn’t stop just because you have a pet project.” So, for the foreseeable future Amanda has no idea what her life will hold and she is okay with that, “I used to make plans in my head, and learned long ago that I never quite end up where I expected. That’s ok. As challenging as it might be at times, there’s a hint of adventure in my life that I’ve really come to appreciate. I’ll take that over a solid life plan any day.”