2012 began with life in a new, beautiful apartment, two teaching gigs, two online writing gigs and two book pursuits. Two seemed like the magical number. Additionally, the Career Coaching clientele began to build and life, for the first time in three years, felt peaceful.
In mid 2011 I reconnected with a man I had dated in 2008 and given our mutual experience with the economic downtown, we’d bonded over something new and in 2011 began dating, again, and continued to do so into 2012. It felt like a more mature relationship as once two people walked out on the other side of a tumultuous storm, perspective shifts. So do priorities.
One of the big trends I began to notice in my business is that clients no longer came from just the Corporate America/Consulting arena. By this point, I was working with people from all kinds of sectors: Education, Media and Transitioning Military. Additionally, various women who weren’t sure how to handle the next step of their career, reached out because they simply felt lost. By this time I had developed and optimized a series of Career Coaching Assessment Tools; proprietary exercises that helped clients zone in and focus on what mattered most. And these Assessment Tools began to work. Some women stayed in their current roles, some shifted out of corporate and into non-profit and one had a baby. Finally, a couple of former students began to reach out as they needed Resume help.
As I transitioned my life, discontent adults turned to me to help them transition. They knew my story and trusted me with theirs.
And so the year progressed, full of healthy momentum, though Fall. And during Fall, always my personal season of change, things began to feel odd, both personally and with one of my teaching gigs. Back in January I had already quit contributing to the online film publication because, well, after two years of no pay, the free movie passes no longer mattered all that much. And the access to major cinema events dwindled. I’d done a pretty good job of networking with some Hollywood talent and have maintained those relationships, including my support of their craft, in an ongoing basis. And working for free just to possibly meet more felt absurd.
But there was something bigger than that going on. 2012 was the year that I finally began to feel my worth, again. Yes, it took three long years since that painful corporate exit to not just rediscover who I was, but, more importantly, to comprehend, consciously and subconsciously, that the projects you say yes to when you’re feeling low and insecure end up costing you far more of your life than the projects and jobs you say yes to when you know exactly just how much your contribution matters.
The tremendous 1946 film noir, The Postman Only Rings Twice, has a powerful quote: “Guaranteed poverty is not job security.” And a lot of what I allowed into my life, with full pursuit, during 2009, 2010 and 2011, was anchored in that guaranteed poverty. Yes, exceptions occurred, like all those fantastic, yet temporary corporate gigs. And, as anyone who has ever started a business knows that in the beginning you reward the people who take a risk on you – whether via pro bono work or deeply discounted services or free samples. You must give people a reason to try you. There was a lot of that giving.
Finally, beyond the whole cost benefit equation of time and resources vs. reward and payment, one critical element began to surface in 2012, first quietly and then ringing like a giant church bell. And that was how certain people treated me. I primarily quit the online film publication because at one film screening the promo company’s rep got into it with me over seating and then blackballed me from any event they ever hosted again. My publisher? Never came to my side and didn’t want to fight for me. (I do want to note that a prominent film producer did defend me – because he knows my character.) While I absolutely loved teaching film studies at Tri-C, consistently basing your schedule and budget on enrollment and not knowing if your contract ensured teaching the class till just days before the semester would commence began to take its toll.
And that personal relationship? Well, something was a muck there, too, and someone I had known for years began to treat me with declining respect. In fact, come Mid-October, I “accidentally” discovered his truth and realized that I truly didn’t know that person at all. Everyone changes, everyone evolves. But when the values snap this much and in such a dramatic fashion, you realize, in the kindest scenario, you two grew apart. In the worst scenario? Someone you cared about and genuinely cared about you and a man with whom you began to plan your future has become a total stranger.
And, just as 2011 began on a gain and existed on a loss, 2012 ended in a completely different place than where it started.
I use the line, “markets never rest” a lot. It was my first lesson at business school. It also applies to every facet of our lives because the nature of human condition is forward motion. In the first true modern romantic comedy Annie Hall (1977), Woody Allen says the following brilliant line, “A relationship is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies.” By the end of 2012? Several of my relationships began to wither off. For they no longer served a place in my forward motion. In fact, they simply slowed me down. And I had other plans.