Happy New Year!
I’m not at all prepared for a new year. I don’t have any resolutions or big life goals. I don’t have an exhilarating feeling of renewal and opportunity. I don’t even have one of those things that you blow on where the little paper tube unrolls and makes a dying squeaky toy sound.
I do have a new dart board; that’s pretty exciting.
A lot has changed in the past few months, and if I really sit down and think about it, these changes have some significant implications for the coming year. So I thought I’d ramble about them a bit..
My Big Six of 2015
1. Fear is Stupid
It’s amazing that we are all so limited by fear when we are all so capable of amazing things. We have different fears that manifest in different ways, limiting our ability to understand others’ fears and their manifestations. We create a great big mess for each other, but are too afraid to be vulnerable enough to clean it up.
My fears are pretty easy to identify. Or at least I thought they were until I started actually telling people what they are. The general reaction is genuine surprise. People are surprised that my confidence is accompanied by fear of failure. They’re surprised that though I believe I’m a woman worth catching, no man would want to catch me. They’re surprised that despite my bold pursuit of greatness and my childlike love for life, I am crippled by the fear of disappointing the people who love me.
These fears then send me into an awful state of laziness and I do nothing for fear of doing something disappointing.
The goofy thing of it all is that if we could just step forward in spite of our fears, we’d probably end up a lot closer to the awesome people we so desperately long to be.
2. I Live With A Female
I live in a little two-bedroom apartment with a wonderful little lady named Haley. I don’t know her at all, we met on the day she moved in, but she’s wonderful and our dogs are best friends.
Now I didn’t realize this until just a few weeks ago, but I haven’t lived with just females in almost four years. My past five living situations (I’ll just roll past how ridiculous it is that I’ve lived in five different places in four years…) have included men. A couple gay, a couple straight, an occasional woman mixed in, but always men.
I don’t have anything significant to say about this, just an interesting observation. I’ll let you know if I have some sort magnificent revelation about my inner woman.
3. Goodbye Camel, Hello Fox
I moved to Nashville after being offered a job at cj Advertising, a full-service agency serving personal injury attorneys. It had its ups and downs, I could list the good things or rant about the bad, but instead I’ll just acknowledge that I learned a lot, loved the beer camels, met some wonderful people, and I’m glad to be gone.
One day as I was standing at my desk, I got a phone call.
“Hey Rach, I have a series of questions I want you to answer, they’re all yes or no so that no one around you will get suspicious.”
I was immediately annoyed. I was in the middle of something, but it was a friend and I’m a good friend so I listened.
Me: “Hey Colton, I’m great, thanks for asking! How are you?”
Colton: “I’m good. Are you happy at your job?”
Me: “Am I happy…”
Colton: “Ya, just generally speaking, are you satisfied, do you feel like you’re accomplishing all you could accomplish, [insert 10 minutes of asking the same question in different ways]?”
He spent the next 45 minutes telling me about something he wanted to do with some company and a possible position that didn’t actually exist yet but might exist and that I might be a good candidate and that it was all top secret.
I hung up the phone and laughed as I told my coworker about how crazy my friends are.
After a few other conversations, an interview, and about a week on the new job, I finally figured out what it was he was trying to communicate.
I am now a proud employee of FoxFuel Creative, LLC. A strategic digital agency in Nashville, TN, founded by three brilliant men, one of which is my friend and boss, Colton Mulligan.
4. The Lady in the Fox Den
Did I mention that it’s me and a bunch of dudes?
FoxFuel has five employees, four of which are men. I love them all, they’re crazy brilliant and kind men who care about other people. Also, they’re men.
I’ve never had trouble being “a woman in a man’s world”, I can hold my own pretty well. But I have to admit, this little chapter is a bit more challenging. I’m wrestling through this internal battle of being gentle and compassionate and being a feminist. I know the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but it’s a tough balance to build. Two character traits of mine make it particularly difficult: I tend to take on the weight of others, and I have an innate ability to see the heart behind someone’s actions, which is what I then base my own actions on.
These are both wonderful and awful traits to have. They’re particularly difficult to manage in the business world because I’m a woman surrounded by men who equate meekness with weakness and submission with surrender. I’m quite confident that many have doubted me, have discredited me, have ignored me entirely.And while they can’t understand why I care more about them as individuals than I ever will about their profit, I’m also confident that in time, I will earn the respect and trust of my coworkers and clients.
Because ultimately, the next big thing always ends up the last old thing, and the greatest victory is shadowed by the smallest failure. The only consistent and unwavering truth in any field is that we need each other. From the blue collar mechanic to the 1% CEO, without other people, you have nothing.
5. But Really, My View of Men Sucks
Right before the whole fox thing popped up, I realized that I have a pretty terrible view of men. Which is funny because I like men. I tend to get along with men better than women and I like that I don’t have to talk about my feelings or body image or The Bachelor.
It may be more accurate to say that I have a terrible view of what my role is as a woman in relation to men. I’m a motivator, a rock, the elephant that carries the world. I carry the weight of others without reservation.
The problem is that I’m a really tiny elephant and I’m really bad at balancing an entire globe on my back.
6. The Peach Inside
Once I got past the elephant thing, I started asking other people who I am. Their responses were encouraging, flattering, ego-boosting, and all those warm fuzzies you expect. However, I have friends who are just as blunt and bull-shit-intolerant as I am.
There was one warning that I received from every individual I asked in one form or another: I am a soft fuzzy peachy person, until you reach the core.
I will give anyone almost all of me. Sweet and nourishing, tender and pleasant. But there is something in the pit of me that is hard and jagged. It’s not bitter or dangerous, but it is a fortress. It grew and hardened through life’s challenges and for a time, it was necessary in order to protect what is held within it. It didn’t seem to have an impact, I could keep it hidden beneath the luscious fruit with no real consequence, and I succeeded in sustaining others for quite some time.
In 2014, I ran out of fruit. The tender skin torn away, the sweet nectar depleted. My hardened core was left exposed. I couldn’t hide the anger and bitterness I held for people in the church. I couldn’t hide the guard and resistance that I built from my family’s destruction. I couldn’t hide the little hermit cave I built with weird scary things hanging at the entrance of my heart to deter anyone who might find it. I was terrified, humiliated, ashamed that I couldn’t offer more. And then I discovered people.
These people aren’t here to ask me for more. They aren’t here to ridicule my pit or tell me how to hide it. They don’t give a damn about the pit. They want to release what it holds inside.
Inside? I’ve been so focused on the pit, that I forgot what it was there to protect.
There’s something amazing in that pit. A seed that at one time was small and vulnerable and needed protected. And now, it waits. Ready to grow and bloom, creating not just one little peach, but a magnificent tree that produces life season after season. That provides protection in the hurt of the world and sustenance in a starving culture.
I have life within me and yes, it is vulnerable, and yes it is small, but if I can just have the courage to break away the pit and face the sun, I will become a new fortress.
No longer sustained by my own fruit, this fortress will be a temple. A place of everlasting hope, life, and love.
And yes, you are invited to sit in the shade of my branches, but know that I won’t let you stay there–you have your own fortress to build.