Monday, November 25, 2013

The Day My Dreams were Crushed

I've never told this story before so dear readers you are getting an exclusive. 

I never knew what I wanted to do when I got older until senior year of high school. My best friend talked me into joining her in the Newspaper class. I always loved to write and having a class with my BFF was a bonus. Easy A. I completely fell in love with the craft. I loved learning how to write grafs, complete layouts, writing editorials, and copy editing. I can't even describe the feeling you get when people are reading what you write. 

In community college I declared journalism as my major and signed up for the Newspaper class. The paper had been dormant for years. I was proud to get it up and running on campus. We were pretty successful; winning awards at our first conference. I even became editor during my last year.  

When I transferred to Howard University. I felt slightly intimidated by the sheer talent of the journalism students. They had passion. They were amazing writers. They had unbelievable resumes. I didn't feel like I measured up. I persevered although those feeling were just below surface level.  

The summer before senior year I completed my (required) internship. I slaved interned at a small family-owned newspaper. I was so proud of that job. I was proud of the work I did. Of course seeing my bylines in the paper was validating. I met a couple of great reporters that mentored me. Despite everything I felt like wasn't "getting it." I also felt like I didn't fit in. It was the same uneasiness and insecurity I felt when I was in the school's newspaper meetings. 

When my internship was over I turned in all my paperwork and didn't think anything of it until I went to pick up my completed packet with my evaluation from the editor.  

Here is what she wrote: 

"She didn't show a lot of initiative to take advantage of while she was here, trying to do more stories, etc. She was cooperative enough but needed a lot of direction and editing on stories. She needs more energy, more spunk, as well as better skills in writing and reporting. She was very willing to do what was asked, but never tried to do much more" 
I was crushed. I sat there stunned. The department chair offered a couple of conciliatory words [Sometimes perception may or may not be accurate]. I went back to my dorm room and cried. I could take the editor talking about my writing; it's part of the job, but she shredded me personally. I didn't show initiative?? You shot down my ideas so I gave up. More energy? Did she forget I was taking summer school classes AND working AND doing the internship??  

I took it as the final sign that I was not meant for journalism. It was too late to change my major and I intended to graduate on time. I finished my last year at HU knowing that I will probably never be a journalist. It hurt. I felt more lost and confused than ever before. 

I was probably not as thick-skinned as I needed to be. I'm mad that 23-year-old me let insecurity and one nasty evaluation shake me to my core. I changed my entire life direction because of this. 

There is no way I'd let that happen today. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Stop Talking Sh*t about Marriage

I'm reading Mindy Kaling's book Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me (and Other Concerns)  She has a whole chapter entitled Married People Need to Step It Up. 

Mindy writes "I've also became familiar with and entirely new category of people: the unhappily married person. They are everywhere, and they are ten thousand time more depressing than a divorced person." 

Completely true! I am so sick of these negative people.  I always end up in the conversations with these people. It is like they can sense my complete happiness and they must crush it. 

The conversations usually goes like this:

Me: Something mushy and awesome about my husband 

Person: How long have you been married?

Me: Almost 4 years. We've been together 6 years. 

Person: oh you're still newlyweds [SN: seriously how long do we have to be married before we're not newlyweds].  Wait until you've been married 7 years. Then you'll be sick of each other. Tired of looking at his face. You'll start looking at other people (I wish I was making this up). 

Why would someone say that to me or any married person? For some reason I expect people to be more supportive. One of the things I love about premarital counseling is that they usually pair the soon-to-be-married with an older married couple. The older married couple encourages the younger couple; they give them insight, they support them, they guide them. 

That is how it should be. We should be celebrating love and being married all the time. It shouldn't be the butt of a joke. It shouldn't be easily dismissed. It's important. 

Another thing that upsets me is the couple-y/married  who always proclaim how relationships are a ton of work. I completely disagree. 

And so does Mindy:  "I guess I think happiness can come in a bunch of forms, and maybe a marriage with tons of work makes people feel happy. But part of me still it really so hard to make it work?" 

No it's not. I'm not saying that relationship don't take work but not the kind of "work" usually mean. I don't think relationships should be stressful. I don't think there should be a constant struggle. Relationship work in my mind should be remembering to compliment your partner,  randomly buying them their favorite candy, rubbing their back, saying I love you. 

So yes it's time that marriage people step up. Represent love and marriage proudly. Isn't that what we are all striving for?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

FEAR: F(alse) E(motions) A(ppearing) R(eal)

I have this amazing idea for a company.

It makes me mad because I know this is probably the "right" time for me to start a company but most likely I will not do it.

I know it can be successful. I know the products. I've been a manager. I know business.There is a pretty big demand and almost a non-existent supply. I've outlined a basic business plan. I would love to be my own boss. I love my idea. It makes me excited to plan it but everything stops there. 

I can't or won't execute it it. Besides not have the start-up funds to get this company going; it could be a huge financial gamble. 

And I don't gamble. 

I've come across a few articles lately outlining the difference between how rich people think and how middle class people think. My thinking is a textbook example why I am not a millionaire. Rich people take risks. Middle class people don't. 

It's scary. I think about all the bloggers/You Tubers/Etsy-ers who took their idea and started making money. They were not scared to jump in and follow their dreams. They make it seem so easy.  

How do people get over that fear? It feels bigger than a fear of failure. It is like a fear of wasting money, failing, being broke, hating it, not being good at it....I could go on. That's how big the fear is. 

Fear is a future emotion yet I let it rule my present life. I'm disappointed with myself. I find that as I get older the risks get bigger so I take fewer of them. In reality we're supposed to be able to gauge our risks better and make better choices. It's cliché
 but true "the greater the risk; the greater the reward." 

I recently met a small business owner. I loved her enthusiasm and passion for her products (bras). My goal is to visit her on Small Business Saturday (November 30, 2013) but also pick her brain about starting a business. 

Baby steps! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ten Worse Customer Service Infractions

Last year I wrote about the Top 10 Annoying Habits of Customers. As the holiday shopping season approaches I thought I would revisit except I'm doing the Ten Worse Customer Service Infractions. 

I expect the BEST customer service.  I've gone through the best training programs and have personally trained staff members. I treat people extremely well and I expect to be treated the same.  I think it is important to speak up when customer service is not up to par.

Top Ten Worse Customer Service Infractions is when people...

1. are rude: I completely understand they have had a very long day. I know my face is a long sea of faces but a customer service rep should always be polite. 

2.  carry on a conversation with their co-worker  (Or have an entirely inappropriate conversation): 
I get it. I use to have amazing (and sometimes inappropriate) conversations with my coworkers but never in front of customers. I should not feel like I'm intruding on their conversation. 

3.  play with their cell: Unless the customer service rep works for Apple or Verizon I doubt they are allowed to be on their phones. I also should not have to wait for them to  "finish the level" before I can get assistance (true story) 

4.  hide: we've all be there; trying to find a sales rep to open up the dressing room door but they all have disappeared. 

5.  don't know their job: Why do I know more about their inventory than they do?  One time at Target an employee told me that he is only a seasonal employee and he didn't know anything.  WHAT?? 

6.  don't listen: is there anything worse then explaining your issue and the person didn't hear anything you said?

7.  don't follow through: If you told me my car was going to be done in an hour and two hours later, I'm still sitting here= bad customer service. If  you say you are going to return my phone call...RETURN THE CALL! 

When I...

8.  Can't find a phone number to call: I should not have to Google a telephone number only to find it on some random message board (true story) 

9.  Can't get a person on the phone: When I call a certain local government phone number I literally have to hit a bunch of random numbers in a row to trigger the transfer to a real-live person 

10.  receive crappy quality product: Standards, Standards, Standards! 

I found this great article about how to deal with bad customer service. Remember no matter how bad the customer service is maintain your cool. 

Have fun shopping! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

When Did it Become Ok to be a Flake?

I recently posted this article about "How did it Get to Be 'Ok' for Everyone to be Late for Everything" on Facebook. Many people commented on it expressing their agreement on people being late and justifying it.

The writer points out that people don't even bother with excuses anymore. They just show up late without apologizing.  Am I supposed to plan around knowing you will be 25 minutes late?

The husband and I planned a party. I was freaking out because we forgot something that required a run to the store. Of course we didn't realize it until 5 minutes before the party was to start. Needless to say all that worrying was for nothing. Everyone was LATE. The party didn't start until an hour later. Then I had a minor freak out that no one was coming because of course no one call or texted [is that correct?] to let me know they were running late. While the party turned out great I was a little annoyed because I times the food perfectly.  

What is worse than the late phenomenon is the flaky people. When did it get to be ok for people to make plans and constantly cancel or worse don't show up at all. No call, no text, nothing.

It is like people agree to do a bunch of events and then cancel the one that seems less exciting. It is ridiculous. Is it that hard to commit to a function?

For some reason we don't want to say 'no' to our friends but sometimes we should.  If you don't want to do it, don't do it. 

When you plan a wedding you typically pay for each person- if they show or not. If I am paying $150 a head I expect everyone to show up. Now if they have a completely valid excuse e.g. their child is in the hospital, giving birth, or fell down a flight of stairs. I completely understand them not showing up. 

But please call or text.  Let's all try to be more considerate of each other. It will make the world a better place.