I watch an embarrassingly inordinate amount of television. Not only is my TV consumption off the charts but it is also composed of hours spent watching some of the worst stuff on TV. Don't believe me? Ancient Aliens is on in the background as I type. Be that as it is, I have learned a lot from my hours staring at the screen. For example, did you know aliens were responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs? Me either but Girogio Tsoukalos said so and it's on TV so must be a least plausible. While I do learn a few things here and there from the "educational" channels, most of my lessons from TV come from reality shows. Yes, those scripted reality based dramas filled with bad acting and women who are setting the feminist movement back decades. After years of zoning out to housewives, socialites and just girls off the street behaving badly, here are the lessons I've learned from reality tv.
1. "You ain't 'bout that life." Yes Evelyn, you are correct in assuming that I am not about a life that includes throwing wine bottles, demanding clique loyalty, hitting below the belt and chasing jocks. I haven't been 'bout that life since high school and that was 10 years ago this year for me.
2. Anyone can be famous if she's cute enough, lough enough, crass enough or has money and a sex tape backing her. I loved Simple Life but I blame Paris and Nicole for this. *Sidenote: Where are Paris and Nicole now? Paris is laying low living off of Hilton money and Nicole is a mom, wife and fashion designer. In other words they were a mess at 23 and now at 31 they've *gasp* grown up.
4. The worse you behave the more likely it is that you will get a spinoff, book deal or at least get invited to a late night talk show or something.
5. Women are suffering from an extreme case of low self esteem, or better yet a lack of self love. From Kim Kardashian to Joselyn on Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, and everyone in between, the ladies of reality TV are in serious need of a hug. Only someone who doesn't love who they are would go on TV and degrade themselves for a dollar. Whether they are looking for love and approval from a man who is cheating on them or at the bottom of a bottle or better yet from the American public, these girls need to look for love and approval in the one place that it lives...themselves.
"Anastasia, we need to talk." As my breath quickened and my entire body tensed, I tried my damnedest to not let my internal breakdown crack my cool visage. While I waited for the other party involved in this conversation to return from the restroom I couldn't help but think that we need to put a moratorium on that phrase, "we need to talk." I mean, never in the history of mankind has that phrase been uttered with something positive hung on the other side of it. People never say, "We need to talk, you are awesome let's get married" or "We need to talk. You are awesome here's a raise." It's always "We need to talk. You haven't done anything wrong, things just aren't working out...you're fired/I'm breaking up with you."
So when my boss of three months uttered those damning words and followed them up with "You haven't done anything wrong..." my eye stayed trained on his but my mind when for a quick spin on the fear merry-go-round. I knew that despite my best efforts my performance had not been exactly extraordinary and that a large portion of the company's future was hitched to the success of my region. I also had a sneaking suspicion that the company owners would not fly down for a long weekend just to help me set appointments to make my bonus. The minute those words were put on the table my mind quickly added 1+1 and came to the conclusion that I was being fired. All I could think was, "How much of a loser am I? I'm being fired form the only full time, salaried job I've had in my field." Then immediately I thought, "How the hell am I going to pay my car note and rent now?" The next thought--again all of these thoughts are taking place in the time it takes for one guy to go to and return from the restroom--was "So what if they fire you, you'll find another job." My breathing immediately relaxed followed by every muscle in my body, because I knew that this thought unlike the other was true. I'd put in my two weeks at one job and walked right into another, and was hooked up with this job by a friend not long after being laid off. I also never went hungry and none of my bills ever went unpaid thanks to my hustle mentality, unemployment and my daddy. In that moment, I knew that no matter what was said and done, I would be all good because something bigger than I am had always had my back. I took a deep breath and looked my boss in the eye, ready for the worst.
It didn't come. Instead, I was given the answer to a prayer I'd sent out the night before. After struggling with how exactly I was going to go back to school later this year and manage a job where I was supposed to be home 2-4 days out of the month, I'd decided to give up on my job and look for a new one. But on Monday morning, after reminding myself that things usually work out for the best whether I know it or not, my bosses told me they were putting me in the showroom and hiring a more experienced salesperson to work the territory. Whew! Not only was I not being fired but everything was working out the way I needed it to. I would be home more often, able to focus on my writing and going back to school to hone my skills, and I wouldn't have to worry about money since my pay would stay the same.
Would this situation have worked out had I not taken the time to refocus my thoughts and let the chill in? Of course, but instead of hearing that they are hiring someone more experienced that I can learn from and share the workload with, I would have heard that they hired someone and my job was being threatened. Same story, different perception. In the end, what you perceive in a situation holds more importance than what is actually happening.
This pretty much happened to me last week, only I drive an SUV.
Living in this material world means that a girl has to eat and pay the occasional bill, or rather you fork over more than half of your paycheck to the bill collectors that is if you are me. To pay these aforementioned bills and for food, I schlep rags around the Southeast as a regional sales rep for FIVE (thats V) wholesale apparel lines. This may sound glamorous but all it really means is that I drive around the country battling rolling racks, weather and colorful buyers just to make sure your favorite local boutiques stay stocked with your favorite brands. (Oh you thought elves made the clothes and left them under the pillows of sleeping shopkeepers? Yeah so did I until I got a BS in the rag trade.)
While spending two-three weeks at a time away from home living out of hotels has earned me more in three months than a year of working in the mall, I'm exaggerating but not by much, the best thing my j-o-b has done for me is teach me life lessons that must be passed on. So instead of giving you life lessons from fictional characters or celebs, here's a little life advice from little ole moi:
1. Make like a Boy Scout and always be prepared! Snagged a nail? Spilled coffee all over yourself? Cut your exposed ankle while wearing freshly laundered Keds? Anything that can happen, will happen so always be ready for shit to hit the fan because eventually it will.
2. Never underestimate the power of a smile. Whether I'm asking what's edible in the general area that is NOT fast food, in need of a hand to get my rolling rack full of stuff down the street to my car or the buyer I'm working with is in a mood, I generally find that an ounce of compassion and a SINCERE smile work like a spoon full of sugar. I even smile, sincerely, when I'm calling to set up appointments to tell someone they are having credit issues. They feel it and it helps.
3. You can find familiarity in the most unfamiliar places if you know where to look. I've stopped at metaphysical bookstores in Asheville, vegetarian restaurants in Baltimore, pubs in Nashville and burger joints in Ft Lauderdale and each and every one of these places felt so much like home to me that being homesick never crossed my mind.
4. And while you're at it, bring a little home with you. I love a regimented life. Ever the Virgo, schedules and lists make my life go round. When I'm on the road I take a little of my routine with me and keep my yoga mat, journal, laptop, and meditation tracks close. Not only do they keep me on a routine but they are all things I associate with home and home is where my shoes are.
5. Always know where your hoodie is. It keeps you warm, dry and stylish as you traverse the country.
I have way more life lessons but I'll share those later...for now