By Leann McDonough, Account Executive, R&J Public Relations
Sometimes (and by some, I mean most), after staring down the barrel of a weekday, my husband can barely ask me how my day was before I’m in my sweatpants, on the couch, mindlessly trolling through Pinterest’s treasure troves on the iPad for some inspiration, and devouring a glass (or two) of wine. Like some cunning mastermind, Pinterest wooed me with the promise of a better me; with pin upon pin, my cooking could rival Martha’s, my home would surely grace the cover of Home and Garden, and I’d finally master French braiding my own hair.
Really, Pinterest? Because I’ve since learned that those inspiration boards are constant reminders of my inadequacy – Christmas came and went, and I never DIY-ed any of those creative decorations I pinned away for a snowy day. I anxiously searched for someone else I could blame for this lack of personal progress as I sat on my couch and drank my wine – people usually blame their moms, right? So maybe it’s my mom’s fault.
But it’s not; it’s mine.
Shortly before New Year’s, I got a call from a non-profit I had interned for a while back. I jotted down a note to call my contact back after New Year’s, and I cast that Post-It into a sea of fellow stickies swimming around my desk. Months into the New Year, as I’m reminding myself of those resolutions I made to use my juicer, hit the gym more regularly, eat more vegetables, get organized, etc., my notebook hooked onto something, and I reeled in that forgotten sticky.
That sticky took me back to college and taunted me with those familiar questions: “What are you going to do with an English degree? Read books for a living?” It reminded me of those people who mistakenly viewed the literature classes I took as a joy ride through four years of academia. I was immediately annoyed. I grabbed my phone, dialed that number, and left a message for my contact to call me back, letting her know I’d happily lend my time to the organization that opened doors for me, back when people slammed them shut so I could, “read in peace.”
Literature classes are hard. They’re time-consuming. They require deep, analytical thought, meticulous attention to detail, an open mind and a creative tendency, intense focus, and most of all, passion and dedication. Shakespeare isn’t for the faint of heart. Poe isn’t a quick read. Crane isn’t straight-forward. I’m not lazy.
It’s tempting, during the daily grind, to ignore items on your to-do list that aren’t required. It’s easy to blow off that optional webinar, or ignore a call from an old contact, when you’re living from deadline to deadline. Communications is a tough field, with new to-do’s constantly arising – much like Shakespeare, it’s not for the faint of heart. It requires strategic thought, careful attention to detail, clear focus, and, yes, passion. I’m happy to say that I’ll continue to freelance for that non-profit organization, because it’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart and it reminds me why I took the path I did. Though my body might try to reason for a nap or mindless escape, as I continue down the career path I’m carving, I won’t take the easy route. As communication professionals, we owe our clients the passion we started out with, fresh ideas, and creative thought. And we owe it to ourselves. It won’t always be smooth sailing, and I’m sure I’ll need to reel in reminders now and again, but:
“Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.”
So, don’t be lazy, and remind yourself why you’re in the field you’re in. And yes, I read that passage in one of those “English major books,” and I’m all the better for it. And hopefully, so are my clients.