I recently found myself in a situation where I responded to life in a pretty ugly way. I didn’t want to come back and explore this, but I know I have to. Humility. It’ll cold cock ya.
So, especially this year, but maybe the last six months to be sure, I have been working on attitude, positivity, Christlike living and poof! Out of nowhere a wrench is thrown into my system and pangs me right where a super ugly piece of my heart is revealed.
I saw in my response someone who relied on the approval of others to be complete. I saw someone who confused what it was to be liked and to be loved and to be valued. I saw someone caught up in earthly worth. I was so embarrassed with myself.
The matter at hand I’m talking about involves the pressures of small town living, business’ing, and social media. I missed an opportunity that somebody else took, and totally nailed. As a business person, I felt I had failed. In these moments, it was also revealed that there was more that I had missed in the background. Another florist popped up with roots in valley. Their business is shared on social media and in these tender moments of scrolling through images, I also realized I had lost customers. It is as painful to me today as it was the day I had discovered it. It felt like I wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t look myself in the mirror.
This experience caused me to reflect inward, hard, and find out what was really making me tick. There was so much pain. Why is this hurting me? Instead of running from the ugliness I tried to understand what caused it. I felt so vulnerable. Rooted in my DNA, part of my environmental childhood expectations, being liked has always been important to me. Winning is extremely important. Not being liked is hard. It means not good enough. It means bad. It means losing. Losing is my fault.
Winning likes and status in social media is something my children are very well aware of in their tender ages. With social media, you can see who likes and who does not like your posts as an individual. I have a lot of “acquaintances” on my Facebook page. Some people who really dislike me in real life. I have no clue why we are social media friends? And, does this “friendship” have different rules than real life relationships? Although I have a few people I question, I am confident most people I am “friends” with support me as a human being.
In business, however, your view is different. Your goal is to make a product people like, people want, and that people will value. How do you respond when your product isn’t liked, isn’t wanted, isn’t valued?
Is not liking my craft reflective of how people feel about me? How do you de-personalize the situation? How do you unfold the virtual dislike with the physical? In a small town, you are in close proximity to your competition, to your customers, to your friends, and to your un-friends. Not being liked on Facebook feels the same as the people who see me in town but look away or only respond to me if I smile or wave, first. They don’t like me. They have enough energy to click like on any flowers that aren’t mine, but I am not even worth eye contact. People who I feel look down on me. People who really do not believe I am good enough. How do you handle this as a human?
Ultimately, my God has to be my base. He provides my work. He provides my paycheck. He provides my skill. I do not have to be afraid that I will be abandoned by all my customers. I do not have to feel humiliated that I didn’t do good enough. I can love others who despise me with the love of Christ.
I am learning to accept that we are all extensions of God’s spirit. We are all connected on a human level. I have no reason to fear. No reason to fear.
I’ve learned to keep a short list of whose opinions matter most to me. God’s voice has to be first and He thinks I am pretty rad. Instead of feeling threatened by competition, I am embracing that God uses all of us to express His beauty. It is embarrassing to admit to having to go through these emotions and thoughts. They feel childish and selfish, but they are true. I feel constantly shaken down by my internal voice. My internal monitor for self value relied so heavily on how the town around me responded to me.
Letting bits of Weiser go and realizing that I may not be all the people’s first choice florist in the valley was hard. I thought it meant I sucked. It’s taken a bit to realize that I have actually done more than just failed as a floral designer: I’ve kept an itty bitty flower shop alive in a small town when flower shops everywhere are vanishing. I’ve kept my doors open for twelve years, I’ve learned to process and design affordable flowers that my community can buy. I work hard to keep a cooler full for walk-ins as well as monitoring specialty flowers for custom work. I’ve kept multiple people employed with a reliable form of part-time work. I’ve learned to sorta balance the areas of the floral industry – funeral, wedding, holidays, commercial, plants, gifts, and more. I am not able to be the center of the downtown activities association, but I have been content with providing the best possible product I can with what I have for a town that holds a piece of my heart.
I sacrificed a big piece of my dignity to be liked earlier this year. Liked by one person. One person who is never going to like me! I made a business commitment I wouldn’t have made if I had seen more on social media. They don’t even like my product! Here I am trying to win this person over and the whole time, and in “real life” I didn’t even have a chance. I have to honor the pledge I made. I feel so foolish. I will keep my word when the time is right. If I do not have my word, I have nothing. It is the most important piece of me I can give.
I am also pushing myself to give more to the creativity and growth end of things at the business. Designating the basics to my staff to save my energy for the blossoms and final product. The pressure of having competition has spurred me to step up my game – educate myself, make thoughtful new choices, and branch out. Creating a higher end arrangement while still maintaining an affordable product that is realistic to duplicate and resell in a small country town.
There are advantages to being aware of your competition. Competition will always exist. I realize, now, that I am not going to be everyone’s favorite and I am okay with being ordinary and consistent. I am okay with people buying flowers from somebody else because we genuinely do have different styles, availability, affordability. Loyalty, though? There will be heaps of love for those who remained loyal. It is the ones I wasn’t good enough for that get me sad. Learning how to navigate through the unique world of social media, while also rubbing shoulders with the people who virtually don’t like you in the grocery store, is a pretty awkward storm to splash through, and I will get there. If it weren’t a small town, it wouldn’t make a lick of difference.
In all circumstances, if my anchor isn’t buried in my identity in Christ, I will be shattered. I will drown. He alone gives me value. He gives me the strength to keep trying. Believe me, I want to quit. Where is the quitting place? I’ve really asked myself this. “If we choose to quit, where does one enroll in quitting? Can I drive? Shall I text me an uber?”
I know I can’t quit. I know it’s not an option. I’m not going to lie, though. This past summer I have thrown up my hands a few times. The eye of the storm isn’t easy but, it does make you a bit productive. You learn to get rid of dead weight quick. I am throwing off the shackles of pleasing people who I cannot please. I know who my people are. I know who my employer is. I know what my mission is. I know someday this will all be a little mist on an otherwise extraordinary eternity.
In this vapor, it has been a tremendous gift to be used in a unique way of illustrating God’s beauty on the canvas that is little town Idaho.