This post was originally shared on February 14, 2015.
Now, before you start shrugging and thinking, "Oh, God. Here she goes again about love, having it or not having it and loving yourself and all that romcomdram inspirational crap that I'm just not in the mood for this Valentine's Day and why didn't I just start drinking when I woke up because I'm not prepared for this" WAIT! I promise this is will be different!!!!! (Well, you probably should start your day with a mimosa either way, so your choice!)
While, yes, today is the day where we celebrate our love for coupled relationships, family members, friends, OR celebrating the fact that we can drink ourselves into a whiskey-induced coma to try and erase the horrible memories of love that we've lost, or love that we've never had, today is Valentine's Day. Whether we want to celebrate it or not, I don't think the holiday is going anywhere anytime soon, so it's best just to acknowledge it.
A few posts ago I referenced the quote,
"A flower does not think about competing with others. It just blooms."
I talked about how we are constantly looking at others and what they have versus what we don't have and how we put ourselves under such harsh light and deem ourselves unworthy. It's important for us to find our own path instead of mimicking others and hoping we can be as successful. I've always watched others fall into love or out of love and couldn't help but feel jealous that they had those experiences while I sat on the sidelines. This year is different. I know I know, I've said this before, but shouldn't each year feel different?
This Valentine's Day, today, while I may not have a bae to take me to a fancy dinner, send me roses and tell me how I'm everything he's been waiting for in his whole life, pull out a 2 karat emerald cut, engagement ring, just for me to turn him down because engagements on V-day are THE worst and how I'd rather have him propose at a gas station like Jim & Pam on The Office, I am proud to say that I've gotten the best gift I could have ever dreamed of..... A NEW JOB!!!!!!!
(Gasp! Shock! Awe!)
Yeah, instead of celebrating "Single's Awareness Day" and drinking over what I don't have, I'm happy to be spending my last full weekend working at the job that made me who I am today, and prepared me to take this next big leap into the future and rejoicing in what I do have.
If someone had asked me 5 years ago where I saw myself in 5 years, hell, if someone would have asked me that just a few months ago, I probably would have choked on my Vodka Tonic and rambled about how I'm too young to know what I want and how I have plenty of time to figure it out. More importantly, I would have never said I'd be pursuing a career in marketing for a start-up social media company in Manhattan. While many people spend years laying the perfect path to a life-long career, I never saw my path clearly, I was just lucky to know that I could take a few steps forward without falling flat on my ass.
I remember my first day, almost 3 and a half years ago, walking through Lord & Taylor Flagship Store, days after Hurricane Irene, from my black polka-dot dress to my short-bob haircut, heavy framed glasses and bottled up insecurities. Without much knowledge of the brand, but intrigued by a position in the "plus size" department that was 5 times the size of my local Lord & Taylor, I was told there was a position working for Eileen Fisher and I just needed to interview with their coordinator. (I know she'll make fun of me for this but it's worth it.)
Now, to fully put yourself into the situation, I'm going to need you to forget the ME I am today and picture a heavier, more awkward, 50% less confident, 65% quieter (I know!), and 100% different version of me. Got it? We will continue...
I made my way to the 6th floor, unsure of who I was looking for, and saw a young woman with red, auburn hair (the unicorn of hair colors. You're welcome, Diana!) changing a mannequin under the sign that read Eileen Fisher. Awkwardly breaking the ice, I think I made some joke about the recent Hurricane and how most of my neighborhood was under water, and she laughed, ironically/not ironically at all, she and her husband lived in the next town over. Before too long, we were chatting like college friends and bonding over our not-so secret obsession with The Bachelor.
Now, I know she'll probably hate it if I give her credit for who I am today, but without her instant friendship, there is absolutely no way that I would be the person I am, or the person who is now moving forward. Over our working relationship and our "secret outside friendship", I've gained a mentor, colleague, listening ear, and most importantly, a lifelong friend. Between changing looks for the upcoming line, we always had something to chat about. Diana has always helped give perspective into a successful life in NYC that takes hard work, trial and error, and taking that leap of faith. With encouragement in being the best work-self I could be, I was able to evolve into someone that I believe in and love. My walls and barriers came down and realized that I could be the person I always wanted to be if I was willing to work for it.
As I look back on my past three and a half years, the countless friendships I've made is incredible. Some for just a few months and then others from the very beginning, between management, specialists, floaters, and beloved clients, it's bittersweet to be saying goodbye. Now, while I hear laughing from some who can't believe I'm actually sad about leaving, of course it was always a job, a way to pay my bills and start a life for myself on my own. But when reflecting, this was way more than just a job. This store gave me more than hours clocked in the time clock, and more than money to pay my bills. This store, with the people that keep it opening every day, rain, snow, ice and sun, has given me a life I never expected. With friendships from people from around the world, memories of laughing until I cried, or crying until I laughed, I've grown to be the woman I always wanted to be. I can say that without this "just a retail" job, I would not be able to start a new chapter elsewhere. To most, they never understood why someone with a college degree and years of experience, would take a job like I've had and you know what, that's fine. They'll never understand what it's like to watch someone take a glance into a mirror and feel pretty, worthy, beautiful for the first time in their live. I've seen that. They'll never understand how in a world so full of different beliefs and ideas, that when it comes down to it, as individuals, it's how we see ourselves that's important and now how others see us. I've learned that. This "just a retail job" has given me something that money can't buy, life, love and happiness. THAT is why it has all been worth it, that is why I have stayed for these years, and that is what I will take with me as I adventure out into the world.
You tell me, is a Valentine's Day filled with chocolate and fake promises better that a new life full of excitement and adventure? I don't think so. And hell, maybe I'll pick up a real Valentine in the next chapter? All I know for sure is I am happy, healthy, blessed and loved! You are too!