It seemed like the stars were magically aligning. A few weeks before I launched This Is Thirty Four I saw that Visit SLO Cal—our local destination management organization--was looking for digital influencers. (They're calling them storytellers.) At a very basic level, storytellers are people who blog and post on social media about how cool San Luis Obispo County is, in exchange for free experiences.
I literally teared up when I read the position description. As a marketing professor, I know that being a digital influencer is a great way to build a social media presence—something I’m obviously looking to do as This Is Thirty Four gets off the ground. PLUS, I love living in San Luis Obispo County. I love writing and sharing my experiences with other people; and (shocker!) I love free stuff.
I spent the last few weeks planning out exactly what to write about and what pictures to take. I planned to take the entire day on Friday, while my husband was off work, to create and submit the application. I was ready. I was going to nail it. Who had two thumbs and was going to be the next Visit SLO Cal storyteller? THIS GIRL.
While I’m pleased to report that I still have two thumbs, I’m probably not going to be the next Visit SLO Cal digital influencer.
A lot of life happened last week: My blog launch and teaching prep took a bit more time than anticipated. A friend needed me to watch her kids so she could attend a funeral. My son went on a nap strike; and my husband--who normally has Fridays off--got called into work. The application was due at 11:59 p.m. this past Friday, and at 9 p.m. that night I finally sat down to start writing.
Needless to say, the application didn’t turn out quite the way I planned. In fact, at about 10:30 p.m., I seriously considered giving up and going to sleep. Instead, I decided to scrap my original idea and take my blog post (which you can read here) in a different direction. I don’t know about you, but any decision I make after 10 p.m. is questionable at best.
I went to bed that night second-guessing myself and my writing abilities and questioning why I’d even wanted to apply for the position in the first place. I wondered why I spent so much time preparing for something only to have it turn out, quite honestly, so substandard.
When I woke up Saturday morning, the answer hit me: Sometimes, the process is more important than the product. Going through the process of applying to be a Visit SLO Cal storyteller drove home three important lessons. These are things I know in my head but now feel in my heart a bit more deeply:
People always come first.
I could have said “no” to my friend who needed a sitter for her kids. I know she has a large pool of babysitters she could pay to watch them. I also could have politely declined my other friend who, at 4:30 on Friday, asked my boys and I to come to the local park to support her daughter’s free face painting booth. But I didn’t. I said “yes” to these women because they would do the same for me. At the end of my life, no one will remember the things I did on social media, but they will remember the things I did for them.
I am not defined by my successes…or my failures.
I’m proud of what I did last week while launching This Is Thirty Four. I’m proud of myself for simply SUBMITTING the application to be a SLO Cal Storyteller; but if (when?) I don’t get chosen, that’s ok too. I’m not saying this to discount how badly I want the "job." (Remember the aforementioned tears?) I’m saying this because sometimes we don’t get what we want. Sometimes that’s because of some “failure” on our part to make it happen or because of some confluence of unfortunate events or simply because God has other plans.
If the thesis of my blog is that we all have something to contribute regardless of how “famous” we are in the eyes of the world and the thesis of my life is that I am a child of God with an identity firmly rooted in HIM, then my successes or failures should have little impact on my self worth. Perhaps it’s time I start walking my own talk.
My ability can only take me so far.
I truly believe that I could write the EXACT post that Visit SLO Cal is looking for and NOT get chosen. I also believe that I could write something way worse than what I actually did and still become a SLO Cal storyteller. Why? Because the deciding factor isn’t my ability to do something, it’s the God who is charge of those abilities. He directs my comings and goings, the opportunities I receive and the very breath that I breathe.
That’s not an excuse to phone it in, and that doesn’t mean I can’t dream big. It means that whether or not I’m the next Visit SLO Cal storyteller, I can confidently know that I’m exactly where God wants me.
So, what about you? What are you dreaming about doing these days and what’s standing in your way? I’d encourage you to go for it--no matter how much or how little time you have, no matter how confident you are in your abilities. It’s in God’s hands anyhow, and the process is sometimes more important than the product.