Getting Dumped

It’s over. You’ve bit your nails, done the follow up, waited for the feedback, and then you get the bad news. You’ve lost out on that opportunity, that advancement, that career changing, monumental THING. Whatever it may be. But it looked and felt like a door to something big. And you’ve officially snapped off the key in the lock. What happens next? Well, if you’re me, you go through several stages of mourning.

First, you get upset. Like, really upset. Almost as if you were just dumped after you had sex on the first date. “I thought we had something special!” Then realize, no, you didn’t, you’re just kind of emotionally near-sighted, and maybe a little mentally slutty.

Next, sleep off the defeat. Nothing takes the edge out of an ego sting quite like shutting off you brain for a bit.

The morning brings the recovery period. Listen to Tom Petty. Lots of him. No one gets your soul quite like that brilliant Floridian with enviable hair for a gentleman of his age. Also, it is physically impossible to remain negative while hearing the opening bars of “American Girl.” Seriously, give it a try.

Read some inspirational quotes on Pinterest. See what Seth Godin has to say on the matter of professional rejection. Then dig your heels in. As lame as it sounds, you’ve got to be your own cheerleader. At the moment, my internal cheerleader is probably a little buzzed, smoking behind the bleachers during the big game. That girl needs to get her ass in gear.

How? Think about why you wanted that opportunity in the first place.

Why am I in social media? Why do I want to remain in social media?

It boils down to one very basic, simple reason. Storytelling. That’s it. That’s what the core and heart of social media really is. It’s not an obsession with ever changing platforms. It’s not sitting around counting your fans or retweets. (Let’s not start any wars here, those things are important in their own ways.) It’s about telling a story. A brand’s story, a person’s story, a 3-legged dog’s story. It doesn’t matter.

Social media is one moment. Social media is the constant striving for that instant when you deliver your message, pause, and the audience goes, “And then what?”

There is nothing more rewarding than that moment. In elementary school, I created a talking ladybug character with superhuman strength. When given a creative writing assignment, I just busted out good old Wizz (Miss Wizzleheimer was her full name), and regaled my teacher with another of her adventures. In reality I was just being lazy, but then, after a few public recitals to my classmates, I started to hear it. “And then what?” The idea that someone else joined me in that made up world, and wanted me to create more of it for them, was just elation.

During college, I worked at a mall after classes wrapped for the day. It was the most insanely boring thing I’ve ever experienced- until I realized that the computer we used as a register also had Word installed. As my shift ground to a close each night, I killed time by writing a story segment, printing it out, and leaving it for whoever opened in the morning. Nothing was ever said to me, until the one night we were busy and I closed the store without updating the story. The next morning my boss called to make sure I was okay. She assured me I hadn’t screwed up the closing procedure, but I hadn’t left the story.

“I needed to know what happened next.” She said.

I was addicted.

I live for that moment. That’s how I know I belong in social media. I live for the moment when I’ve captured a brand’s lifestyle, their purpose, their story, and I’ve delivered to their audience in a way that interrupts their thought process. It causes them to pause. Look again. Smile, laugh, think. And ask for more. It’s the participation. Their voices coming back, excited to have found this character within what they once pictured as a flat organization, devoid of personality.

Yes. There is an immense amount of work that goes into making those moments. Finding the right platform, the right audience, the correct tone, and content creation. Analyzing the results, and honing the engagement to reach a goal.

But.

Really.

Without that moment, there is no social media. And that moment is what makes me light up. It’s my thing. I create that moment. (Alright, cheerleader, come on.) And I do a damn good job of making those moments.

So, social media, I’m not about to give up on you. I’m especially clingy.

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Just Jump. Or Black Out.

No.

No. No. No.

That’s that last thing I remember. Standing on top of the “Walk the Plank” obstacle of the Philadelphia Tough Mudder. A 25 foot leap into very murky water.  Perched on a hill, the top of the scaffolding gave you a spectacular view of the rolling farm land around you, creating an even further effect of height. 

I had been mentally preparing for this moment for just under a year. As soon as I registered for a Tough Mudder event, I knew this obstacle would be here. Specifically created to basically mess with my head. 

I’m not a fan of heights. And I can’t swim. Minor details. 

I sort of swim. Growing up in land-locked, short-summered Vermont, the opportunity to learn never arose at a young age. As I grew, I came to dread the shocked looks and exaggerated gasps that came with telling someone I couldn’t swim. So I developed a drastically wounded doggie paddle and avoided water altogether. 

But for some truly disturbed reason, I was obsessed with taking on this obstacle anyway. I was sure that if I did it, I would learn some valuable life lesson about conquering fears. And that I would naturally become an excellent swimmer. Logical. 

So here I was. I had trained hard for the runs, the hills, and the climbs. I had even jumped into a pool a few times. Although, the drop was into about 5 feet of water from the concrete edge. This whole time I thought that the memory of my brother, whose name was stitched on to the back of my shirt, would give me the courage to get through everything. 

But as I grasped from ridge to ridge, climbing the scaffolding, his memory became buried in the growing cacophony of warnings from my basic instincts. 

Water bad! Heights bad! Ground good! CLIMB BACK DOWN. 

As I very ungracefully rolled my body over onto the platform, and climbed to my feet, I had the immediate urge to sink down. Sit. Breathe. Close my eyes until someone carried me down. I grabbed the rails on either side of me as joyful racers leapt passed, striking poses for the cameras as they crashed into the water. I don’t think I was breathing. The race staffer next to me kept saying, “Go. You’re fine. Go.” I think my boyfriend said something supportive. 

The racer next to me leapt. I watched him disappear into the dark water. His head broke the surface a moment later and he paddled to the side. I shifted my weight back, away from the edge. This wasn’t for me. I couldn’t even feel my feet anymore. 

Then, I was in the water. 

It was dark and cold and much louder than I ever imagined it would be. Sinking is the worst physical feeling I’ve ever had. Kick. I was confused and scared. But I kicked. My eyes were closed but things got lighter. KICK. I broke the surface. Inhaled a big gulp of water and ducked back under again for a moment. Kick harder. I broke the surface again and flipped onto my back. The lifeguard yelled at me to swim away from the jump. I wanted to scream back, “YEAH, because I’m having SUCH a blast in here!” 

My wounded doggie paddle sufficed to slowly bring me to the edge of the pool, where my boyfriend, who jumped after me, was already out of the water, reaching down to pull me out. I staggered to my feet. Limped to the edge of the course. Doubled over and dry heaved into the tall grass. Gasping for air, tears streaming down my face, I wanted to scream, “I DON’T WANT TO JUMP.” 

At that moment, my boyfriend ran to my side, wearing a huge smile, and yelling, “You did it! I can’t believe it! You did it!” I straightened up and turned to look at the ledge. Wait. Had I already jumped? 

I don’t remember jumping. I don’t remember falling. I just remember sinking. And then kicking. Then it was done. It was horrible and scary and I’m not sure I would ever do it again, but I’ve already done it once, so who cares? 

My boyfriend said I hadn’t even hesitated. That I had jumped immediately. I can’t imagine that was the actual case. 

Survival instincts. They’re the ones that tell you not to jump from high places into dark water if you can’t swim. They’re also the one’s that understand that walking away from the leap might be just as damaging. 

There’s a life metaphor in here, I can feel it. 

 

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