Inside: A hyperbole driven story of my youth, coupled with some surprising career lessons learned.
My mom HATES this story.
And as a parent now I get why she hates it. She was going above and beyond as a mother; I was being kind of clumsy, and then I proceed to blame her for my inability to be a knee model and bring it up on a semi-annual basis for no reason. If my kids so much as look at me funny after I just made them pancakes I get hot under the collar.
But this is my 100th blog post, and this is the only story I have about 100 of something. Also, I’m going to hyperbolize the bejeezus out of this thing and add some career lessons at the end, so it’ll be fun.
(I love you, Merm!)
Keeping it 100
The year, 1992. The month, March? The day, the 100th day of school. Nowadays schools have kids dress up as 100 year olds that day and I’m SO here for that. Do I already have two pairs of non prescription kid’s glasses and little canes in my attic? The world may never know… Except you will know. In about 3 years.
But my elementary school was riding the STEM train early and our homework was to bring in 100 of something so that we could sort and count them as a math exercise. 100 pennies, 100 pom poms, 100 baseball cards, etc. I chose buttons.
I had my buttons, I had my jar, but Merm insisted that it would be much more professional if my buttons were glued to a poster board in neat lines of 10. I said that they were supposed to be in a jar. Merm said jars are for underachievers and as long as I was living under her roof I would excel at the highest of levels or be banished, or something like that.
So left with limited options, I helped glue the buttons onto the poster board. It looked cute probably.
Then the story takes a dark turn.
Oh the Humanity!
It a dark and rainy day.
And if memory serves I was running a tad late to school because I had some stocks to trade in China before the market closed. #BossBaby
So when my mom dropped me off at school I had to hustle in with my button poster to avoid getting wet and maintain my perfect attendance record. Now I’ve always been tall, but even Yao Ming wasn’t that much taller than your standard poster board at age 7. I was managing to maintain some semblance of control while sprinting over the concrete, but the poster board covered in buttons was a tad cumbersome for my little body.
So I went down. I went down hard.
Finding My Inner Strength
I don’t remember much after that. But there was blood and several news crews there to document what would later be referred to as “the incident.”
My guess is that I blacked out and was rushed into the nurse’s office on a gurney to be given SEVERAL band aids. Stitches are for snitches, and nope… that doesn’t apply here. But there weren’t any stitches.
After receiving the finest medical treatment, I hobbled my way into 2nd grade dragging my poster board behind me with the determination and strength of an Olympic athlete. You can’t break me, sidewalk. You won’t break me.
When I got into class with my professional button board ready to be counted, I was informed in no uncertain terms that the assignment was to bring 100 things that the class could count and sort. Glued on buttons would okay for counting, terrible for sorting. Every button would need to be removed from that board. And that’s how I failed second grade.
The Fall Heard Round the World
In retrospect, maybe stitches would have been good. Because my gaping wound morphed into a scar over time. A scar that marred my physical appearance and severely damaged my self confidence in a sea of scarless adolescent knees. Everywhere I looked there were beautiful, graceful knees bending and unbending… A painful reminder of what could have been.
Throughout my life, whenever a knee model scout has been in town, I’ve had to say “No, I’m sorry, knee model scout. I couldn’t possibly audition. You see, I have… No it’s too hard to talk about.” As you could imagine, this became more and more difficult over time as knee model scouts are so omnipresent in New England. Merm was left picking up the pieces of my broken dreams on the regular.
Yet alas, like all great entertainers, I’ve learned to turn my heartache and painful childhood into comedic fodder for others to enjoy. Call it what you will – a defense mechanism, a rouse, the act of being a terrible daughter…Well yeah, sure, it’s all of those things. But don’t worry, my two small apples fell dangerously close to the tree so it will all be coming back to me in spades.
Career Lessons Learned
As I come back to review this blog post three years later, I should add that my daughter now has a matching scar on her knee and I have no idea where it came from.
That’s arguable WAY worse than the button board incident. Yikes, Becca, pay attention…
But I should also add some career takeaways to this ridiculous story.
Scars Build Character
A lot of my coaching clients are worried about a blip on their resume, a layoff, or a mistake they made in their career that doesn’t fit the pretty picture they want to present.
To that I say, scars build character.
The wound did NOT feel good at the time, and you may still not be psyched about it now. But you learned lessons from the experience you are going to take with you that make you better, stronger, and wiser. And those stories you tell about scars might make you stand out in future interviews as someone resilient and self-aware.
On Time is Late
I’m quite sure the reason I was running a tad behind schedule to school was my fault. I probably found a book on the floor, starting reading it with one shoe tied, and had my poor mother pulling her hair out.
The lesson here, manage your time, especially when it comes to interviews. Show up early that way you aren’t going to be running into the building tripping over your poster board. You’ll be sauntering in like a pro.
Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
Take your responsibilities seriously? Yes. Take yourself so seriously that you can’t laugh at yourself and bounce back from hard days, and rejection, and mistakes? No.
The ability to laugh at yourself and move on will take you places, my friend. So go ahead and shake it off, move along, and enjoy that beautiful, silly, imperfect life.
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