Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fifteen Minutes To Live

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.
1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.

My life changed when I was laid off, in November of 2008. This is a fact.

Until that time I had been totally - for lack of a better word - comfortable with my life. That year, itself was miserable. A lot of bad things happened that, in the long run, don't really matter as stories, just as the pieces that fell down and put me into the position to be who I am today. And to see that being someone is to keep striving to be better at being you.

On that day in early November, my boss called me into his office and told me that I was doing a great job. But the company was hemoraging money and, as one of only two salaried people, I would be working my last day that day. I was amazed. I had worked my ass off at that job. I had worked long hours. I had put sweat and tears (and probably a little) blood into that job - working longer hours than even the start-up owners themselves. And suddenly I was being asked ot pack my desk and being escorted out the front door.

I was devastated.
I moped.
I slept too much.
I drank too much.
I looked on Craigslists for jobs that were well below my intelligence and skill.
I was, to say the least, depressed.

And then one morning, I woke up.
And I started writing.
I started this little blog to share my feelings with the world.

And I found out there were more people like me. People who were smart and loyal and beautiful and cared about each other and their communities - online and local. And I started to make a whole new world of friends.

That's the important part of the story. It's about the community that you find when you put yourself out there - truly put yourself out there and let yourself see the world in a different way. It's about the people you meet who you admire and you want to be friends with - who you find inspiring and whom you hope you can inspire.

The most important thing I  have learned, over the past few years, is that if you just put yourself out there - heart wide open - open to pain and to joy and to all the amazements that the world has to offer, even if they terrify you, that is the way to your truest self.

Through sharing my hopes and fears and pains on this blog, I realized that there was a tribe of people out there - some near, some far - who felt those things, too. I met people who were terrified of starting over after being laid off. I met girls who felt like they would be single forever. I met people in my own neighborhood who love it as much as I do and who thought there must be a way to introduce those people to one another - to foster community and relationships. And the best part of all of that is I am still doing it. And I'm helping other people do it. And I'm trying to work with people who are more tech-savvy than I to make it happen more and better and bigger.

The thing I know is that by being your true self - not apologizing, for either your strengths or your weaknesses, you gain so much. You meet the most amazing people. You find your tribe. You learn things you might never have known. You are offered experiences that, were you hiding behind a facade of what you think you're supposed to be, you never would have been privy to. It is a terrifying way to live, at times, with your heart on your sleeve. But, for me, there has never really been any other way.

The best thing that ever happened to me was getting laid off in November 2008, at the height of the recession. It put me on a path that I never would have gone down otherwise. And I can't imagine living any other way.

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