Monday, October 14, 2013

a rambling post on loss and professional success.

You know that scene in The Devil Wears Prada, where Stanley Tucci and Anne Hathaway are standing outside at a photoshoot, commiserating about their boss and work? And Anne is sharing how great her professional life has become, but then confesses her personal life is falling apart? 

Stanley delivers this little life's lesson: "That's what happens when you start doing well at work. Let me know when your entire life goes up in smoke: then it's time for a promotion."

My personal life isn't falling apart. Not really. I have a good husband, a supportive family, friends I love stretched across the states. 

But today, I was supposed to be on a flight to Kansas City, visiting girlfriends for a trip that's been in the works for months. I waited too late to get my flight and simply couldn't justify spending $600 on airfare for one. So now I'm at home, wondering: What is going on with 2013? 

And it's not just expensive airfare or missing girls' trips. It's friends who have moved and grandparents who have died. It's watching the things that took up so much of your life before slowly find themselves in the background. 

We received some heartbreaking news last night regarding some people we love very much. I won't go into details here, not yet (I'm sure I'll blog my way through it when the dust settles), but it felt -- like so many things this year -- a bit like a punch in the gut. 

The fact is, yesterday was a pretty good day. Jordan and I went to the launch of Thom magazine, a new project created by the arts center in Thomasville. The Bookshelf is one of the magazine's sponsors, and we used our ad as a way to introduce me as the owner (!). So we went to the launch together, and I mingled, which I hate. But it's good practice, and we chatted with some people we knew. 

As a bonus, I also found out some wonderful news: The store's sales are up significantly from last year. That makes me so happy. It's nice to get confirmation that maybe you're doing something right after all.

But the news we received put a cloud over all that, at least for a little while. Because, once again, we're watching people we love leave. 

This week, while out to dinner with a friend, we were talking about moving and teasing about which one of us would move first. And I -- half-jokingly -- begged this friend not to move; we just wouldn't be able to handle it, I said. 

My friend rolled his eyes. "You'd be fine. You're pretty resilient." 

It's a compliment, I guess. But I am so tired of being resilient. I'm tired of 2013 and the havoc she's wreaked. 

But the complaints feel silly when I'm owning a bookstore and making money doing it. It feels ridiculous to talk about how crappy 2013 has been when it's brought me so much good. 

I guess every year is made up of all these things, the giving and taking, winning and losing, heartbreaking and life-giving. And this year, for us, has been huge professionally. I'm sure we'll look back on 2013 as the year our careers changed, both -- I'm confident -- for the better. Please make no mistake: I am grateful for that. 

This is also the year, though, that we've lost people we love. Lots of them. Back in 2012, I lost my grandmother. It happened in January, and it was heart-breaking and sad, and it affected my entire year, as grief often does. Fast forward a year later, and 2013 opened with the loss of Jordan's grandpa. In February, my boss told me she was closing the Thomasville store. (She later changed her mind, closing Tallahassee and offering Thomasville to me.) We struggled through major church hurts in March and April, hurts I haven't ever blogged about because I'm numb, I think, to the pain we've sometimes experienced at the hands of the church. We watched our best friends move in May, then again in June. In July, I began to really take over the Thomasville store, and in the process, faced major brick walls and professional (and personal) challenges. 

At the end of the day, I know life is good. The Father is still good. He has been faithful. 


The heartbreak we've experienced this year has taken its toll, if not on Jordan, then on me. I am tired and running out of steam. I'm watching a lot more TV than usual, mostly because I'm not sure what else I can handle. And just when I get a grasp on one loss, on one frustration, I feel like two more grow up in its place. It's like playing a life-sized game of whack a mole, and I am losing. 

I was supposed to fly to Kansas City today, to be with dear friends and receive the encouragement and life that gives me. But that's not happening today, and I've tried so hard to be grown-up about it. I shed some tears earlier in the week, but I did what I guess my friends expect of me: I shook it off, and I moved on. 

Jordan and I leave for a mini-vacation of our own tomorrow. It's my consolation prize, I suppose, and I'm grateful. We're a couple who loves to travel together, and we haven't been on a single vacation yet this year. (Again, thank you, 2013.) 

So, no, I don't get to see my sweet friends this weekend. I don't get to stay up late and chat, slumber party style. I don't get to shop or go apple picking or sip hot chocolate. 

But I get to be with my husband (who lovingly informed me that he's not going anywhere, so at least I have nothing to worry about there). I get to take advantage of competent sales staff and leave the store in someone else's hands. I get to be by the water and take deep breaths and -- hopefully -- read good books. 

I'll be okay. I know I will. It's just been hard, this year. I am tired of loss and the people we hold very closest moving away. When Jordan and I look back on who we've watched go this year, it's an unbelievable list. It's our best friends. Our walking buddies. Our spiritual mentors. It's the people we've had in our home, who love us like family. 

When you're someone who only holds a few people close, I think it's even harder to watch them go. 

The news we received this week? More people we love moving away? My parents love those people too. They love them so much.

And it was a reminder to me that this is life. The professional ups and downs, personal wins and losses. This is what life is like, and it's not going to change. Sure, I think 2013 has been unusual in the amount of people we've said goodbye to. But at 27, I know this isn't the end of goodbyes. My life will be full of them, and I hate it. 

But I'm reminding myself that life will also be full of hellos. It will be chock full of new experiences, kindred spirits, fond memories. 

It's been a bittersweet year, but you know what? I think it's just a bittersweet life. And perhaps if I can learn resilience now, if I can -- to borrow a favorite verse -- learn to laugh at the days to come, I'll survive all the ups and downs, the bitter and the sweet this life has to offer. 

That's the hope I'm clinging to today, and you know? For today, it's enough.


Kate said...

This was beautiful, and I can relate too much. It is a bittersweet life for sure.

Brittany said...

Oh Annie. Your 2013 feels a lot like my 2012. I wish we could grab dessert and chat about it, but from my place here at my desk, I'm so sorry that it's been so hard for you. The best changes always are. And it happens to the best people, it seems like. I'm reading, and I'm thinking and praying for you. If it makes a difference, I think you're brave to share it all. It matters to a lot of us, I know.

Anonymous said...

2013 hasn't been my year either, but you have to remember the small blessings. My year has included life changes worth than the death of a loved one or friends moving away. It has left me in a position where most people would say it is perfectly acceptable to wallow and throw a pity party. I used to come to your blog because I loved how you wrote, but lately it is full of you feeling so sad. Remember the little things. Today I walked through the rain and I got free ice cream. And that was enough for today.

Susu said...

Years like this one are part of our story. The events of today whether happy or sad shape us into our tomorrows. It's okay to be sad about friends moving. Isn't it a great blessing to have had friends in our lives worth missing? Something fabulous is just around the corner!
You are loved!

Ray Sherlock said...

The three previous comments show me something, you have a great ability to share your story, people care about you, and you make a difference in the world. I wish I could tell you 2013 is an anomaly or a once in a lifetime year, but you and I are both aware that there will be tougher times to deal with as years go by. Your honesty and courage offer hope in a world that needs hope so desperately. May today bring new joys and blessings your way. UR

Laura said...

It's so true that life is bittersweet. You could be going through something wonderful and at the same time your heart is breaking over something (or someone) else. You WILL get through this season. I hope you have a wonderful and refreshing time away with Jordan!

Anonymous said...

"I'm so tired of being resilient." THIS.

Just yesterday I was crying and saying similar words: "I'm so tired of struggling through things." And Justin didn't even have words to explain or comfort, because I suspect he, too, is tired of living in a permanent stage of struggling, but instead he chose to do something to make me laugh. And I did laugh. And then I thought, maybe that's what life is about? Not understanding the struggle, or even making it go away, but learning to spot the tiny happy and funny moments hidden within each day, and being strong enough to focus on those instead. Maybe? I don't know.

Like you, I'm ready for 2014. : )

Sydney said...

I'm so sorry to hear that more of your community are packing up, that is so challenging. Particularly since you have already gone through, and are going through, this before. I always love to come here and read about your perpetual self-awareness and strength to keep your chin-up. Really. It's such a...relief? comfort? to read about people living real lives, filled with serious challenges and disappointments. I don't mean to turn your challenges into my comfort, at all, simply to acknowledge your ability to live your life and how that comes across as inspiring.
Have you read Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love from Dear Sugar? If you can get a copy, I highly recommend it, I have mine stashed away for such down and out phases.
That photo of you in your store is just lovely!