A Year in Review and Why I Refuse to Suck

2016 was one of the craziest years of my life. Seriously blindsided by its contents, I stumbled into this year stunned, a little afraid, and, at the heart of it all, pretty dang proud that I survived the way I did. (It is important to note here that I did not survive by my own means, but by divine means and sometimes making guesses.)

First, the story from the beginning of this journey that takes us back to the tail-end of 2015. Fair warning, there will be some delicious little bits of cussing.

Last November, I was let go from a job for the first time ever. It was a BAD DAY, and everyone a part of that day will let you know that no one enjoyed the situation. I have no problem admitting that I was one of handful-and-some people that were dropped off the edge of a slowly sinking boat. I remember driving to a park right after I got off the (very short) call, realizing I needed to gather my bearings, and immediately feeling like, "Okay, okay, okay. Breathing. Cool. This isn't so bad."

To be candid, I was surprisingly relieved to be off the boat and floating out at sea, a whole world of possibilities at my fingertips again. I was smarter than I was before. I was more equipped, and had built up that "I've dealt with clients that make me want to rip my eyeballs out, so just GO AHEAD AND TRY ME" attitude. (Really, a huge thanks goes out to all those partners from long ago that burned with a radical, epic self-centeredness, because I am only now more patient and enduring because of your flames.)

I sat in my car, called my friend Kyle to just let the words fall out, and then returned some voicemails. Eventually, I got hungry, ate a burrito, and decided to turn another g-dang page in life. I babysat my ever-lumpy ASS OFF for a few weeks (and thank you, LORD JESUS, for all my friends with kids) and housesat through the new year to pay my rent. I am still astounded by how a whole host of saints entered stage left and changed my life during those insufferable months.

I spent most of my time applying to jobs all over Bend and remote options to never even hear a measly peep from 95% of them. RANT: Come ON, professionals. I know you get a lot of applications no doubt, and I used to work in a doctor's office and know how it can be to see the referrals pile up and wonder if you'd EVER get back to everyone. But when someone applies to your company, I would say its a fair wager that they *really, really, really* need a job. And if they aren't right for your company? Friggin' tell them. Be honest and prompt. You'll honor them by doing so, as they can relinquish the 'maybe' they are carrying around for that job and pick up a new one. 

After not hearing from most of those companies, I took to writing blogs for little magazines and organizations online. That was utterly draining. I like to write, but I'm not a hulked-out writing machine turns out. 

Then a woman contacted me out of the blue about possibly working for her "doing social media". At first, I had no idea how she knew me or why she thought I'd be remotely interested in that, and then I remembered. Sometime that previous summer, I'd been dropping-all-my-eaves on some women in Backporch on brightwood talking about eCommerce. After a certain point of hearing so many questions I *knew* I could answer (#pride), I interrupted them to give them what I could. One asked my name and then eventually left and I truly believed I'd never see her again. And then suddenly, there she was again, signing a contract, becoming my first client. What the. 

So, then 2016 just started to unravel from its tightly wound beginnings into a year that taught me things I had no idea I wanted to learn. Eventually she introduced me to a group of local business women who were killin' it here in Bend, and the word of mouth just skipped along merrily from there. I started building websites, doing family photoshoots, shooting products, driving all over town for in-home meetings, getting to hang with their families, eat at their dinner tables, laugh and cry and yell with them about Facebook algorithms! It built itself up into something larger than me. I'm pretty sure my mouth just hung open for a few months as I tried to keep up with inquiries and wonder if people were all just taking the same DRUGS, BECAUSE WHAT?!

There were days that I was sure a client was calling to tell me that I was 'okay, but just not good enough', and then they'd end up asking if I were free to do more work. I was humbled constantly, and I had no idea that I was even capable of work that would bring me such pleasure, keep me on my toes, let alone make my clients stoked enough to use THAT many exclamation points in their email replies.

Of course I ran into soul-sucking issues that tend to creep out of the work that someone like me does. I said yes to WAY too much, had shitty follow-through, saw emails, avoided emails, favored some work over other work, and that entire, bloody, uphill climb of getting over your damn self. I would bury myself in work, get overwhelmed, and then hide. No, literally hide. Some months, I would be slaying it with work, but then my friends were like "Uh.... hi?" Church was like "Uh.... hi?" Everything but work was on one, flimsy back-burner. I learned a lot about my hidden pieces immaturity very quickly, and very painfully.

I learned how to apologize for my own wrong-doings, but also not to apologize for what I did not do. I  found the strength to say "I wish I could help, but I can't!" My grade is rising in the 'returning emails' department. Frankly, every single project and client that shows up on my desk is a massive learning opportunity. And I LOVE THAT.

I don't always nail it. I don't always know what I am doing and have to stay up all night watching Youtube videos to learn how to use everything in the Adobe suite because I decided to study Cultural Anthropology in college (which primarily required me to get very good at typing "Australopithecus Afarensis", "participant observation" and "anthropomorphized.")

I've decided to not be angry at myself for not knowing how to do it all. For having to be a learner.

I've decided to not be angry at the company that let me go because I truly wanted to "go". And because I would've never had the ability to leverage ANY kind of expertise had they not asked me all those years ago if I wanted to start a marketing department from scratch. 

I've decided to especially not be angry at having to make-up my own job because I found out I'm pretty good at that. Because of that, I'm also allowed to say "no thanks, I don't want to do that because I don't like it/I'm bad at it." WHAT FREEDOM IS THIS?

I've decided to make myself proud. I've decided to make my mother proud, my step-dad, the people that consistently say "I love you" to me, the clients that took a chance on very-green-me, the friends who still reach out to tell me that I'm doing something right, the internet-pals that message me telling me they learn with me and laugh with me. 

I've spent a year getting really excited about new clients, but now I'm looking ahead to getting excited about the right ones. Here's to the right ones!

Brooklyn WagnerComment