Why I was Crying in a BRAVO! Cucina Italiana

I felt as if I had peaked and hit rock bottom all at the same time. I joke that I was having my mid-life crisis so that when people started to see the change in me and my work, they wouldn’t think I was a lunatic. It was easier to turn it into a joke like I usually do. But deep down I truly felt that I was completely lost as to what my next move would be and I didn’t understand how I got to this point. I ALWAYS knew the solution. But what I realized in that moment is that I always had the solution… for other people. I could always find a solution for someone else when they felt stuck.

I didn’t know my purpose anymore. I knew I had talents and strengths and wisdom to bring to the table, but they didn’t feel… enough. My talents and strengths didn’t set me apart anymore. You know that saying Jack of all Trades, Master of None? That’s what I felt. I had spent so much time figuring it – it feeling like everything - out on my own and learning and absorbing, that I knew how to do a lot of things. And I could do most pretty well.

But this feeling of not being enough – I didn’t know how to navigate this thought and I promise you, I looked high and low. I sought out mentors, I made internet friends and industry friends and non-industry friends and I read books and listened to podcasts and read blog posts and signed up for webinars and workshops and masterminds.

I DID ALL. THE. THINGS.

Some twice.

I felt like that little fish in the big pond. My voice wasn’t loud enough and my reach wasn’t long enough. It was a very lonely place for me to be. I was no longer competing against 10-20 people for jobs. I was competing against 10,000-20,000.

(And can we all just cut the shit and admit we’re competing here?)

So I sat in a booth at BRAVO! Cucina Italiana drinking prosecco with two of my most supportive friends I’ve known since high school and I cried. Like, ugly cried. I pulled a Busy Phillips #cryinginrestaurants and I cried because for the first time in my life my path wasn’t clear. The path I felt drawn towards was a huge, risky jump for me. A jump that would expose a lot more of me to everyone, thanks to the internet and social media. My introvert ways tend to win-out. Some see it as bitchy. I see it as self-preservation.

The two things I want most in life are complete contradictions : I want to succeed, but I want anonymity.

The sheer thought of walking into my gym or a party or even a family get together knowing exactly who follows me on social media and has read the few posts where I got all emo and a little more personal than usual makes me really, really uncomfortable.

I want to sit with you and talk to you and ask questions… so we can properly form our opinions of each other instead of basing it off a beautifully wordsmithed captioned with a pretty picture.

Because one thing I will totally own is being able to wordsmith the shit out of a caption.

I miss the days of hanging my artwork in the hallway and people trying to decipher the signature, asking themselves “who did this?”

This entire thought makes me envy Banksy.

There were definitive truths about my career that I felt were being discarded when I would attempt to talk about my struggle. No matter how many times I searched and asked and answered the questions I was supposed to be asking and answering in hopes of finding my next course of action, I always landed on the same outcome – I knew that the conclusions I had come to were right. 

And I was still told I was wrong – that I just had to speak louder and lengthen my reach and do this and do that and consider this and consider that. I was tired of consistently attempting to “one up” the next person. Because that’s really what we’re doing  -we’re hoping to one-up the other person so you choose us.

Choose me.

Love me.

Meredith Gray had social media figured out before we did.

So I stopped.

I stopped talking. I stopped conversing. I stopped searching. I stopped asking. I stopped answering. I just… stopped.

I let the overwhelm overwhelm me and I let the doubt settle in and I let the anxiety work its way through me. I spent time with me. I acted proper around people when I had to go out in public, but it was like slipping into a cozy pair of sweatpants when I came home. I curled up into myself and told myself I needed to be okay with me before I had to make any decisions.

But what I most needed to realize was I was just starting my story. That moment of crying in a booth in the middle of BRAVO! Cucina Italiana while drinking prosecco with my friends was the beginning of my story. That moment of total and utter breakdown. Of failure, confusion, and fear. THAT sucker punch was the beginning of starting over.

Breaking down allowed me to build myself back up again with a stronger foundation. It allowed me to build back my confidence. To tell myself that it's okay if people get to know me. I'm not that bad.